A Great Victory for Working and Oppressed People
Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez Are Freed
In the final days of his Presidential term, Barack Obama announced that two important political prisoners held in U.S. jails would be released. People around the world are celebrating the forthcoming freedom of U.S. soldier turned Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning, and Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar López Rivera. Their release is a victory which took years of tireless campaigning to achieve.
Chelsea Manning served in the U.S. Army during the Iraq War. She was responsible for leaking nearly 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables, as well as videos and documents. Published on the whistleblower site Wikileaks, they further exposed U.S. war crimes around the world. Chelsea was sentenced to 35 years in jail. After seven years of imprisonment Obama commuted all but four months of the 28 years of Manning's remaining sentence.
Oscar López Rivera is a Puerto Rican independence leader who has already served 36 years of a 70 year prison sentence. At the time of his capture, he proclaimed himself a prisoner of war, protected in the first protocol of the Geneva Convention of 1949. The protocol protects Lopez from prosecution for having been arrested in a conflict against colonial occupation. The U.S. did not recognize Lopez' demand, and he served more than 12 of his 36 years in solitary confinement. Obama commuted his sentence.
Both Chelsea Manning and Oscar Lopez will be freed on May 17, 2017.
Despite these two positive development, Obama also blatantly ignored many other political prisoners, among them Mumia Abu Jamal and Leonard Peltier.
Imprisoned since 1982, Mumia Abu Jamal has served 34 years of a life sentence for the unproven killing of a Philadelphia police officer. Amnesty International said Mumia’s trial “failed to meet international standards” due to a severe climate of racism and hostility. He suffers from diabetes and his health is constantly at risk due to improper medical treatment.
Leonard Peltier was convicted for the deaths of two FBI agents who died during a 1975 shoot-out on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. In a trial full of discrimination and manipulations, the prosecution even conceded that they did not know who shot the agents. He has been in prison for over 41 years, with a projected release date of October 11, 2040 at the age of 96. He also suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and a heart condition which make the need for his immediate freedom even more important.
Two important factors brought about the freedom of Chelsea Manning and Oscar López: their dedication to the social justice causes they were defending, and the ongoing campaigns demanding their release by people around the world. Both Mumia and Leonard have shown their incredible spirits of resistance, and we must continue to support the ongoing international campaigns demanding their freedom.
FREE LEONARD PELTIER NOW!
FREE MUMIA ABU JAMAL NOW!
FREE ALL U.S. POLITICAL PRISONERS NOW!
Cuba and Chicago initiate health care collaboration
January 12, 2017 ( Granma )
CHICAGO.—With the visit by three Cuban experts to the city of Chicago, a collaboration project between the University of Illinois and the Cuban Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) began this week, as part of which Cuban and U.S. professionals will work to evaluate health care for vulnerable and low-income communities in the city of Chicago, in order to suggest measures to contribute to improving their health indicators.
The visit will extend through January 13, and marks the beginning of a joint work program, the first stage of which will last approximately one year and will be focused on maternal and child care and on cancer screening and prevention, according to a press release from the Cuban Foreign Ministry.
During their stay in Chicago, Cuban doctors Sonia María González Vega, director of Primary Health Care in the municipality of Camagüey; José Armando Arronte Villamarín, Provincial Health director in Las Tunas, and Carlos Calvis Cabrera, coordinator of the island’s International Medical Brigades, will exchange with representatives of health centers, universities and other community actors on the experiences and strategies of the Cuban health system, based on preventive medicine.
Regarding the project, Dr. Robert A. Winn, associate vice chancellor for community-based practice and director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, stated the hope to work with Cuban professionals “to identify the medical practices that have worked for them, while allowing them to observe some of the ways we deliver health care that may be very different from how they operate, in the hopes that this exchange will lead to improved health for populations in both our countries”.
Goal Complete: Venezuela Builds 1.4 Mil Homes For Poor Families
January 27, 2016 (Telesur English)
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that the government has reached the goal of delivering 1,400,000 homes to Venezuelans across the country.
"Today we reach an incredible goal, after so much war: 1,400,000 homes built and delivered to our people. Let's continue winning," Maduro posted to his Twitter account.
The public housing program is either free or low of cost, depending on the family's means.
In another message, he said that despite the economic war and the drop of over 70 percent in crude oil prices, his government has not stopped investing in social care policies.
"In 2016, foreign exchange earnings fell by 87 percent and we built twice as many new homes for our people. Doing more with less. (We are) succeeding," he said.
The mission was first launched to provide housing for Venezuelans who lost their homes in the devastating 2010 floods. However, since then the GMV has been expanded to provide low-cost housing to the wider population. In 2011, then-President Hugo Chavez explained the mission would address the “social debt” left behind by former governments that failed to provide quality housing to all Venezuelans.
The project aimed to involve Venezuelans in the process as much as possible, with home owners responsible for 60 percent of town planning.