Cuba

CUBA: Still a Target for Ill-Informed Media Opinion & Hysteria !?!

2017-02-21:  The day after the death of Fidel Castro Ruz, Revolutionary Leader and Former President of Cuba … Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, issued a News Release on 26 November 2016, which can be viewed here … http://www.president.ie/en/media-library/news-releases/P24

Media reaction, in Ireland, to this News Release was hysterical and grossly ill-informed !

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery ;  it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous.  A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”

Mao Zedong

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So here are some images from the ‘real’ Cuba … or ‘real’ images from Cuba … whichever you prefer …

Fidel Castro was one of the Principal Leaders of the Cuban Revolution.  Raul Castro, President of Cuba (and Fidel’s brother), is now the only surviving member of that Group.  Click to enlarge.  [M-26-7 = Movimiento 26 de Julio. See below.]

In 1961, the United States of America attempted a Counter-Revolutionary Invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.  This attempt was an embarrassing failure for the USA … but a resolute and consolidating success for Cuba and the Revolution.  Photograph by CJ Walsh of a museum exhibit at Playa Giron.  2007-04-13.  Click to enlarge.

Playa Giron … one of the 1961 Invasion landing areas in the Bay of Pigs.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-13.  Click to enlarge.

Every group of houses … every street in a community … has its own Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR) … an important cohesive feature in a Socially Resilient Society.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-04.  Click to enlarge.

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Hatuey, Indigenous ‘Taino’ Chief … Cuba’s First National Hero … burned at the stake in 1512 by Spanish soldiers … at Yara, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-10.  Click to enlarge.

Monument dedicated to Perucho Figueredo, who wrote the Cuban National Anthem: ‘La Bayamesa’ … in Bayamo, Cuba.  The Anthem was first played in a local church, 1868.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-10.  Click to enlarge.

Statue of General Antonio Maceo … Plaza de la Revolución … in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-09.  Click to enlarge.

Mausoleum of José Martí, Santa Ifigenia Cemetery … in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-09.  Click to enlarge.

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Moncada Army Barracks (formerly) … now a school and museum … in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.  On 26 July 1953, an attempted attack on the Barracks, led by Fidel Castro, failed.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-09.  Click to enlarge.

The Sierra Maestra Mountains … in Eastern Cuba … birthplace of the second, successful phase of the Cuban Revolution … which began with the landing of the Granma in December 1956.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-10.  Click to enlarge.

Early photograph of Dr. Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara de la Serna Lynch, in Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh of a museum exhibit in Yara.  2007-04-10.  Click to enlarge.

1958 Armoured Train Ambush Site & Monument … in Santa Clara, Cuba.  The successful ambush, on 29 December, was led by Che Guevara.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-14.  Click to enlarge.

Bosque de los Héroes … Santiago de Cuba, Cuba … white marble monument in honour of Che Guevara and the comrades who died with him (1967) in Bolivia.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-08.  Click to enlarge.

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José Martí Statue, Parque Central … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-03.  Click to enlarge.

The Capitolio … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-03.  Click to enlarge.

Statue of the Republic, Capitolio … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-04.  Click to enlarge.

Salón de los Pasos Perdidos, Capitolio … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-04.  Click to enlarge.

Gran Teatro de La Habana … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-03.  Click to enlarge.

El Floridita Bar & Restaurant … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-07.  Click to enlarge.

Main Staircase, Museo de la Revolución (formerly the Presidential Palace) … in Havana, Cuba.  Notice the bullet holes in the marble !  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-06.  Click to enlarge.

Salón de los Espejos, Museo de la Revolución (formerly the Presidential Palace) … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-06.  Click to enlarge.

Paseo del Prado … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-03.  Click to enlarge.

The Malecón … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-07.  Click to enlarge.

Ministerio del Interior, Plaza de la Revolución … in Havana, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-04.  Click to enlarge.

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Mural de la Prehistoria (1959-62, and restored in 1980), by Cuban painter Leovigildo González, in the Valle de Viňales … Pinar del Rio, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-05.  Click to enlarge.

Tobacco Harvest … in Pinar del Rio, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-05.  Click to enlarge.

Statue of Benny Moré (1919-63) … Cuban singer, bandleader and songwriter … Paseo del Prado, Cienfuegos, Cuba.  Photograph by CJ Walsh.  2007-04-14.  Click to enlarge.

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International Work Brigade (December 2011 – January 2012) at the Campamento Internacional Julio Antonio Mella … in Caimito, Cuba.  Click to enlarge.

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Belmayne Timber Frame Construction – Cometh An Inferno ?

2013-07-11:  Further to the Posts about the ongoing Fire Safety Fiasco at Priory Hall in Dublin, beginning on 2011-10-18 … and my recent reply to Ms. Saffron Willetts, dated 2013-06-09, which can be found at the top right-hand corner of this Page …

A house with a timber-framed party wall, whether the wall projects above the roof covering or not … in a terrace, or semi-detached … and constructed in 2004 (approaching the height of the Celtic Tiger frenzy in Ireland) ??   Not even torture in Guantánamo Bay (Cuba) would persuade me to buy … or rent !

One last word of caution … carefully examine any ‘Opinion on Compliance’ covering this property.

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On Sunday evening last, 7 July 2013, I received an e-mail notification from Mr. Del Tillyer about a Belmayne ‘Fire Safety’ Press Conference to be held in his home … 19 Churchwell Place, Belmayne, Dublin 13 … on Tuesday, 9 July 2013, at 11.00 hrs.  I was pleased to attend.

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (1)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

Back in ye good olde days of the Celtic Tiger … the price paid for this 2 Storey Timber-Framed Dwelling Unit was a staggering € 530,000 !   However, following occupation of their new home, it was noticed by the family that there were BIG problems concerning nuisance sound transmission from neighbouring units.  And that’s when their long shabby saga of ‘Fire Safety at Belmayne’ began … or, more correctly, it should be called the tortuous saga of a ‘Serious Lack of Fire Safety at Belmayne’ !!

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (2)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

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In order to satisfy the Legal Requirements of Part D: ‘Materials and Workmanship’, Second Schedule to the Irish Building Regulations … this form of construction was covered by an Irish Agrément Board Certificate …

Front Page of IAB Certificate No.04/0198 (rev.2007) - Kingspan Century Medium Rise Timber Frame Construction SystemKingspan Century Medium Rise Timber Frame Construction System – IAB Certificate No.04/0198 (rev.2007)

Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (1.43 MB)

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Unfortunately … any connection between IAB Certificate 04/0198 and the bitter, cold reality of how 19 Churchwell Place was actually constructed … is, at best, extremely tenuous … as the following photographs clearly show …

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (3)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (4)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

[ It was difficult … but I resisted the temptation to add an elaborate caption to each image which would describe the original Shoddy, Careless, Incompetent Site Workmanship !   And please bear in mind that the opening-up shown was limited … more problems cannot be seen, or will only become apparent in the future, e.g. the inevitable settlement of low-density thermal insulation !! ]

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (5)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (6)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

[ This is the other unreported and completely hidden Irish National Debt … over 20 years of ‘Lite’ National Regulation of the Construction Sector and an Entirely Inadequate and Ineffective National System of Local Authority Building Control / Independent Site Technical Control have resulted in a New National Building Stock which will require an enormous amount of difficult and costly repairs during the next decades … which will have to be paid for by the citizen !   Those responsible … National Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s), Professional Institutes and Societies, Property Developers, Construction Product Manufacturers, and Politicians … have all quietly slipped away from the crime scene !! ]

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (7)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (8)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

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The Fire Consultant on this Project is Mr. Noel C. Manning.

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Explanatory Note:

In the event of a fire incident at this dwelling unit … why are the construction failures shown in the photographs above so risky, so hazardous, so dangerous for its occupants (more precisely – their health, safety and welfare) ??

Even within the Construction Sector, it is not well understood that the Fire Safety Objectives of Building Regulations, generally and not just in Ireland, are limited in scope to the protection of people who use and/or occupy buildings from fire (i.e. heat, smoke and flame).  These Fire Safety Objectives only ‘extend’ to the protection of property (i.e. the building fabric) … insofar as the protection of that property is relevant to the protection, including the safe evacuation, of people in the building.

The biggest original construction failure shown above is that there is an extensive warren of continuous, hidden cavities within the walls, floors, service duct and ceilings of the house … which facilitates the unseen spread of fire, including toxic smoke, very rapidly throughout the building and to adjoining dwelling units.  This type of insidious fire spread cannot be detected by smoke alarms located in the area of a staircase.

The serious ‘cavity’ failure is compounded by another serious construction failure … the weak and inadequate protection from fire (i.e. heat, smoke and flame) to the staircase itself … which is the only means of evacuation from the house for the occupants.

The limited Fire Safety Objectives of Building Regulations must be clearly distinguished from Project-Specific Fire Engineering Design Objectives which have a much wider scope.  For an elaboration of this issue … go to:  http://www.cjwalsh.ie/2012/12/sustainable-fire-engineering-for-all-sdis-professional-service/ 

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Driving Harder & Deeper Into Sustainable Development !?!

2013-01-13:   The 13th … a lucky day !

As we drive harder and deeper (at least some of us anyway ?) towards a future of Sustainable Human & Social Developmentor are forcefully driven by the anthropogenic (man-made) pressures of Resource Shortages (e.g. water – food – energy) and Climate Change, in the case of millions of people living in poverty throughout the world … or are dragged screaming, which I fear will have to be the solution with the privileged classes in every society who are addicted to lavish and wasteful lifestyles and who show absolutely no interest in either Climate Change or Resource Shortages until they rear up and bite them in the ass (!!) … there is a desperate need for a more complex and precise language of Sustainability, which will give shape to the innovative trans-sectoral concepts and trans-disciplinary policy and decision-making support tools required for Tangible/’Real’ Sustainability & Climate Resilience Implementation.

At the time of writing, the Principal Challenge before us is …

Transforming Social Organization … the Ultimate Goal being to arrive quickly at a dynamic and harmonious balance between a Sustainable Human Environment and a flourishing, not just a surviving, Natural Environment … with the Overall Aim of achieving Social Wellbeing for All.

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Climate Change did not directly cause Hurricane Sandy, a severe weather event which hit the Caribbean and the East Coast of the USA during October 2012 … but it was a significant contributing factor.  Scenes like those in the photograph below will be experienced far more frequently in the future.

This is not Manhattan, in New York City … so, is the development shown below to be removed altogether … or renewed with the necessary and very costly construction of a massive system of flood protection measures ?   Not an easy choice.  Which choice would be more sustainable ?

However … WHEN, not IF … Average Global Temperatures rise above 1.5 degrees Celsius, many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will suffer a similar fate … permanently …

North-Eastern USA After Hurricane Sandy (October 2012)

Colour photograph showing a flooded/inundated coastal community, in north-eastern USA, after Hurricane Sandy. Click to enlarge.

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The Type of Lightweight Development in the foreground of the photograph below … damaged beyond repair or re-construction during Hurricane Sandy, is not Resilient … which is a different concept to Robust, or Robustness.

Notice the building in the background, on the left, which appears to have survived fully intact … why ??

North-Eastern USA After Hurricane Sandy (October 2012)

Colour photograph showing the destruction of beachfront buildings, in north-eastern USA, caused by Hurricane Sandy. It will be ridiculous, and the height of stupidity, to repair/replace buildings and infrastructure using similar methods of construction. Will Insurance Companies and Federal/State Authorities understand this ?? Click to enlarge.

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In complete contrast … the Type of Development, below, is more Resilient.  Furthermore, however, as a normal human reaction to decades of aggressive, but ultimately unsuccessful, political bullying and economic assault by the USA, the Social Fabric of Cuba is very strong … making this a Resilient Human Environment

Santiago de Cuba After Hurricane Sandy (October 2012)

Colour photograph showing the damage caused to a local community in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, by Hurricane Sandy. Click to enlarge.

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So … what is a Resilient Human Environment … particularly in the context of Sustainable Climate Change Adaptation ?

What do we mean by Transforming Social Organization ??

And … as we drive forward, harder and deeper … why is it critical that we practice a balanced, synchronous approach … across ALL Aspects of Sustainability … to Tangible Sustainability & Climate Resilience Implementation ???

Let us confront some more interesting new words and thought-provoking concepts …

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European Sustainable Development Network

2012 – ESDN Quarterly Report Number 26 – Umberto Pisano, Author

ESDN Quarterly Report Number 26, 2012

ESDN – ‘Resilience and Sustainable Development: Theory of Resilience, Systems Thinking & Adaptive Governance’

Click the Link Above to read and/or download a PDF File (2.17 Mb)

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Abridged Executive Summary

The term resilience originated in the 1970’s in the field of ecology from the research of C.S.Holling, who defined resilience as ‘a measure of the persistence of systems and of their ability to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations or state variables’.  In short, resilience is defined as ‘the ability of a system to absorb disturbances and still retain its basic function and structure’, and as ‘the capacity to change in order to maintain the same identity’.

Resilience can best be described by three crucial characteristics: (1) the amount of disturbance a system can absorb and still remain within the same state or domain of attraction; (2) the degree to which the system is capable of self-organization; and (3) the ability to build and increase the capacity for learning and adaptation.

In the need for persistence, we can find a first connection with sustainable development.  Sustainable development has the objective of creating and maintaining prosperous social, economic, and ecological systems.  Humanity has a need for persistence.  And since humanity depends on services of ecosystems for its wealth and security, humanity and ecosystems are deeply linked.  As a result, humanity has the imperative of striving for resilient socio-ecological systems in light of sustainable development.

Resilience thinking is inevitably systems thinking at least as much as sustainable development is.  In fact, ‘when considering systems of humans and nature (socio-ecological systems) it is important to consider the system as a whole.  The human domain and the biophysical domain are interdependent’.  In this framework where resilience is aligned with systems thinking, three concepts are crucial to grasp: (1) humans live and operate in social systems that are inextricably linked with the ecological systems in which they are embedded; (2) socio-ecological systems are complex adaptive systems that do not change in a predictable, linear, incremental fashion; and (3) resilience thinking provides a framework for viewing a socio-ecological system as one system operating over many linked scales of time and space.  Its focus is on how the system changes and copes with disturbance.

To fully understand resilience theory, the report focuses therefore on the explanation of a number of crucial concepts: thresholds, the adaptive cycle, panarchy, resilience, adaptability, and transformability.

As shown, humanity and ecosystems are deeply linked.  This is also the fundamental reason why to adopt the resilience-thinking framework is a necessity for governance.  The resilience perspective shifts policies from those that aspire to control change in systems assumed to be stable, to managing the capacity of socio–ecological systems to cope with, adapt to, and shape change.  It is argued that managing for resilience enhances the likelihood of sustaining desirable pathways for development, particularly in changing environments where the future is unpredictable and surprise is likely.

This exposes the strong need for Sustainable Development Governance to embrace resilience thinking.  It is not only about being trans-disciplinary and avoiding partial and one-viewpoint solutions; what is needed to solve today’s problems – and especially those linked to sustainable development – is a new approach that considers humans as a part of Earth’s ecosystems, and one in which policies can more effectively cope with, adapt to, and shape change.

In this scenario, the concept and key characteristics of so-called adaptive governance seem to be a practical means for societies to deal with the complex issues that socio-ecological systems are confronted with.  Therefore, adaptive governance is best understood as an approach that unites those environmental and natural resource management approaches that share some or all of the following principles: polycentric and multi-layered institutions, participation and collaboration, self-organization and networks, and learning and innovation.  Additionally, four interactive crucial aspects for adaptive governance are suggested: (1) to build knowledge and understanding of resource and ecosystem dynamics; (2) to feed ecological knowledge into adaptive management practices; (3) to support flexible institutions and multilevel governance systems; and,(4) to deal with external disturbances, uncertainty, and surprise.  Therefore, nine values toward a resilient world are also suggested: diversity, ecological variability, modularity, acknowledging slow variables, tight feedbacks, social capital, innovation, overlap in governance, and ecosystem services.

Finally, three examples analyse practical instances in terms of resilience: (1) the approach taken by the so-called climate change adaptation discourse; (2) the Kristianstad Water Vattenrike, a wetland in southern Sweden that showed problems with loss of wet meadows, decline of water quality, and a disappearing wildlife habitat; and 3) the Goulburn-Broken Catchment from the State of Victoria (Australia).  Some lessons can be drawn from these three cases.  From the first case, governance structures have direct implications for the level of flexibility in responding to future change as well as variation in local contexts.  Sensitivity to feedbacks relates both to the timing as well as where these feedbacks occur.  Therefore, learning is more likely if feedbacks occur soon relative to action, and if those most affected by feedbacks are those responsible for the action.  Additionally, the way in which a problem is conceptually framed determines the way in which responses are identified and evaluated and therefore influences the range of response characteristics.  Second, the example from Sweden revealed that (a) the imposition of a set of rules to protect an ecosystem from the outside will not ensure the natural qualities of a region will be preserved over time.  One size never fits all, and an understanding of local history and culture needs to be integrated into the management if local values are to be looked after; (b) for an organization to meaningfully deal with complexity at many scales, it needs to include representatives from each of these levels in the social network; (c) several organizations need to be prepared to contribute to a shared vision and build consensus and leadership – crucial components in adaptability and transformability.  Third, the Goulburn-Broken story demonstrates the critical importance of understanding the underlying variables that drive a socio-ecological system, knowing where thresholds lie along these variables, and knowing how much disturbance it will take to push the system across these thresholds.

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2011 Dublin ‘Girón 50’ Victory Symposium – Final Declaration !

2011-04-23:  Never do I cease to be amazed at the number of highly vocal ‘experts’ who pontificate about the small Caribbean island state of Cuba … which has a population of approximately 11 million people, with about 2.5 million of those living in the capital city of Havana … and not once have these ‘experts’ set foot on this beautiful island.  What a pity !

A certain fascination with the 1959 Cuban Revolution and its Leaders … and a large dose of curiosity about the countryside and its people … were the principal drivers behind an extensive Family Tour in April 2007 … before Fidel Castro departed the scene.  At the time, he was seriously ill.

Straight away, therefore, let me clarify that I do not consider the Tourist Resort of Varadero to be an accurate representation of everyday life and living in Cuba.  And I mean that in the worst possible way !   Similarly, the illegally occupied U.S. Military Base at Guantánamo Bay must be excluded as a valid island experience … the annexation of the bay area remains, to this day, an international act of piracy – see the  1901 Platt Amendment  and later Treaties with Cuba procured by the threat or use of force.

Getting back to those ‘experts’ … sometimes, they might be rabid, Older Generation Cuban Exiles now living in Miami (USA) … the privileged island classes of the 1950’s … who either left hurriedly or were booted out after the success of the Castro Revolution.  At other times, the ‘experts’ might be Criminal Ex-Members of Dictator Fulgencio Batista’s Military and Police Forces who are still working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.  For some unknown reason, however, both groups continue to hold the United States Political System – at Florida State and Federal Levels – by the balls !   Sad, but true !!

In its early days, Castro’s Revolutionary Government abolished racial discrimination, reduced rents and the cost of electricity, nationalized American and British commercial firms, and permanently ‘evicted’ the American Mafia.  The new government, however, was far from being firmly rooted, confident and stable … but all of that changed, utterly, after events in April 1961 …

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On Saturday last, 16 April 2011 … I attended a day long ‘Girón 50’ Symposium and Victory Celebration, which was held in Liberty Hall, Dublin.  This special occasion commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Victory at the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos) … scene of the ill-fated 1961 U.S. Inspired, Financed and Resourced Counter-Revolutionary Invasion of Cuba.

Colour photograph showing a roadside hoarding near Playa Girón, in the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos) area of Cuba. In Spanish ... telling it like it really was, and still is ... "The First Defeat of Yankee Imperialism in Latin America". Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-13. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing a roadside hoarding near Playa Girón, in the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos) area of Cuba. In Spanish ... telling it like it really was, and still is ... "The First Defeat of Yankee Imperialism in Latin America". Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-13. Click to enlarge.

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Colour photograph showing the entrance to the small Museum near Playa Girón, in the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos) area of Cuba. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-13. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing the entrance to the small Museum near Playa Girón, in the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos) area of Cuba. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-13. Click to enlarge.

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The route taken by the 1961 U.S. Invasion Force was elaborate and circuitous …

Colour photograph showing the elaborate and circuitous route taken by the 1961 U.S. Invasion Force from Florida to the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), in Cuba. From a display at Girón Museum. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-13. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing the elaborate and circuitous route taken by the 1961 U.S. Invasion Force from Florida to the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), in Cuba. From a display at Girón Museum. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-13. Click to enlarge.

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Playa Girón was one of the landing points in the 1961 U.S. Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos) Invasion

Colour photograph showing the deployment and movement of forces during the attempted U.S. Invasion of the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), in April 1961. Playa Girón is the lower of the two coastal landing points in view ... Playa Larga, the other. From a display at Girón Museum. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-13. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing the deployment and movement of forces during the attempted U.S. Invasion of the Bay of Pigs (Bahia de Cochinos), in April 1961. Playa Girón is the lower of the two coastal landing points in view ... Playa Larga, the other. From a display at Girón Museum. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-13. Click to enlarge.

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2011 Dublin ‘Girón 50’ Victory Symposium – Liberty Hall

FINAL DECLARATION

We, the participants in the ‘Girón 50’ Conference commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Victory at the Bay of Pigs:

1.  Express our firm solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and Its People in their struggle for the defence of their independence, sovereignty and right to build a social and political system of their own choice, with no outside interference.

2.  Salute the process of comprehensive and popular debate in Cuban Society which led to the set of guidelines to be discussed and approved during the next few days by the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, which is aimed at renewing and updating its economic policy in accordance with the current domestic, regional and international situation.

3.  Condemn the illegal and criminal U.S. Economic, Financial and Trade Blockade, which Cuba has suffered for over five decades and which continues to be a flagrant violation of the right of an entire nation to self-determination and the main obstacle to Cuba’s development.

4.  Call on the European Union (E.U.) to unconditionally rescind the 1996 E.U. Common Position 96/697/CFSP on Cuba, and to seriously engage in a process of normalization of relations with the island, based on mutual respect and non-interference in their internal affairs.

5.  Condemn the ongoing U.S. Sponsored Subversion and Terrorist Actions aimed at overthrowing the Cuban Revolution, and U.S. Double Standards in its War on Terror … once again illustrated by the recent acquittal of Luis Posada Carilles, self-confessed instigator of the Bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight CU-455, which killed all 73 people on board, as it travelled from Venezuela to Cuba, via Barbados, on 6 October 1976.

6.  Extend our support for the International Campaign of Freedom & Exoneration for the Miami Five – Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, René González and Fernando González – the Five Cubans illegally and unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for fighting terrorism … and join the growing international call on President Obama, including that of Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, to release them immediately.

7.  Call on the Irish Government to continue the development of Bilateral Relations with Cuba, and Ireland’s support for the lifting of the U.S. Blockade and the rescinding of the E.U. Common Position on Cuba.

8.  Commit ourselves to undertake the relevant Solidarity Actions in support of Cuba.

Liberty Hall, Dublin.

16 April 2011.

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AS WE approach Easter Sunday, 2011 … let us remember the Miami Five who have been unjustly incarcerated for much too long …

Colour photograph showing a Miami Five Freedom Campaign Hoarding on the top of a building in Cienfuegos, Cuba. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-14. Click to enlarge.

Colour photograph showing a Miami Five Freedom Campaign Hoarding on the top of a building in Cienfuegos, Cuba. Photograph by CJ Walsh. 2007-04-14. Click to enlarge.

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AND … after the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, many countries in Central & South America, Iraq and Afghanistan … let us ponder, at length, on the question of when, if ever, the United States of America will learn to join the International Community of Nations … as an equal !

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Cuba’s ‘Miami 5’ – What on Earth is Going On Now ?

2009-06-16:  Can this really be happening ?   Or … is it just one more annoying and depressing example of American Exceptionalism ?

Below is a Declaration by the Presidency of Cuba’s National Assembly, dated 15th June 2009 …

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today, without explanation, its decision not to review the case of our Five comrades who are unjustly imprisoned in that country for struggling against anti-Cuban terrorism that is sponsored by the U.S. rulers.  The judges did what the Obama Administration requested of it.

In spite of the solid arguments made by the defence attorneys from the obvious and multiple legal violations committed during the whole trial, by ignoring the universal backing to the petition – expressed by an unprecedented number of ‘Friend of the Court’ Briefs, among them 10 Nobel Prize recipients, hundreds of parliamentarians, and numerous U.S. and international jurist organizations, of outstanding political and academic personalities – the Supreme Court rejected the case, thus ignoring the demand of Humanity and its obligation to do justice.

We see manifested once more the arbitrariness of a corrupt and hypocritical system and its brutal treatment of our Five Brothers.

Our struggle to win their freedom will not diminish for one instant.  Now is the time to step up our actions, and not leave even one space uncovered or door unopened.

We are certain that Gerardo, Antonio, Fernando, Ramón, and René will continue leading this battle, as they have during these almost 11 years.

Responding to the infamous decision, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo declared: “Based on the experience that we have had, I am not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision.  I have no confidence at all in the justice system of the United States.  There are no longer any doubts that our case has been, from the beginning, a political case, because not only did we have the necessary legal arguments for the Court to review it, we also have the growing international support as reflected in the Amicus Briefs presented to the Court in our favour.  I repeat what I said one year ago, 4 June 2008, that as long as one person remains struggling outside, we will continue resisting until there is justice.”

The struggle must be multiplied until the U.S. Government is forced to put an end to this monstrous injustice and restore freedom to Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.

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END

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An Open Letter to President Barack Obama – Questions !?!

2009-02-14 …

 

Dear Barack,

 

Please allow me to extend a warm welcome to you onto the International Stage … and an even warmer welcome for the United States of America back into the International Fold of Nations.

 

The last 8 Years have been a nightmare for concerned observers outside your country.  I should immediately add that a large branch of my extended family has been living in New York City and State since the mid-1950s.  And that you are now affectionately known in Ireland, because some of your roots are based here, as President O’Bama !

 

Being a pragmatic person, however, you will want me to come quickly to the point … and be direct.

 

You will shortly be signing into law a 787.2 Billion Dollar Economic Stimulus Package of spending increases and tax relief, which is intended to encourage an economic recovery in your country and to create jobs.  It is surprising that you have permitted significant funds earmarked for school construction, and for colleges and universities, to be removed from the Package during the ‘Compromise’ Negotiations.  Funding to provide health insurance for the unemployed has been sharply reduced, while funds for the ‘Greening’ (?) of Federal Buildings have also been scaled back.

 

The political imperative of successfully steering this Stimulus Package through Congress, at this time, is understood … but the final shape of the Package does not augur well for the future of your Presidency.

 

 

Taken together with the outcome from another recent event in my country, Ireland … and my surprise is turning to worry …

 

In Dublin, towards the end of January 2009, I attended a Round Table Discussion with a key individual who works in the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) – Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP).

 

Having posed 2 Questions after his presentation with regard to US Federal Policy on the ‘Green’ (i.e. environmental & energy) Performance of Federal Buildings, I discovered the following …

 

         The individual concerned was completely unaware that there is a considerable difference between the ‘Green’ Agenda, i.e. a limitation of considerations to environmental aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development alone (an outdated concept belonging more properly to the 1990s) … and the ‘Sustainability’ Agenda, which is far broader in scope and absolutely essential if we are to meet the great challenges being posed since the beginning of this 21st Century … for example, the World Trade Center Incident (9-11) in New York ;

 

         There would appear to be no independent technical controls monitoring the ‘real’ environmental and energy performance in US Federal Buildings, no penalties for failure to meet performance targets, no horizontal integration between Federal Institutions dealing with procurement and building/system/product operation, and a systemic lack of proper accountability.

 

 

If it is your wish that the USA takes up a position of global leadership on some or all of the above issues, we – at Sustainable Design International – would like some information and assurances concerning the following matters …

 

         When will you, and your Administration, begin to properly appreciate the considerable difference between a ‘Green’ Agenda and a ‘Sustainability’ Agenda … and the significant Institutional Re-Engineering required to implement US Federal, State and City Policies geared towards Sustainable Human & Social Development ?   How would you then intend to dramatically raise awareness … and mobilize all of the people in your country for action … at Federal, State and City Levels ?

 

         If your Administration enters into negotiations on an International Kyoto II (post 2012) Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) … will US National Performance be open and transparent … and be seen to be ‘reliable’ by other countries, particularly Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa ?

 

         When, precisely, will the US Senate ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with its Optional Protocol ?   When will you arrange to fund the implementation of this Convention, with its Optional Protocol … and then arrange that a coherent and comprehensive programme of implementation, which must have a short timescale, be initiated ?   How long will that implementation timescale be ?

 

 

Effective International Law and Lasting Peace are 2 Prerequisite Essential Requirements for Sustainable Human & Social Development.  In order to free up current ‘process’ log-jams and bring lasting peace to the regions of the Caribbean and the Middle East … it is you who must make the first substantive moves

 

         When will you arrange for the immediate cessation of all aggressive and hostile activities against one of your close neighbours – the small island of Cuba – and a complete end to the economic, social & political choke-hold on its small population ?   When will your Administration finally arrange for the termination of the illegal occupation of Guantánamo Bay – an international act of piracy facilitated by the 1901 Platt Amendment ?   When will you finally ‘curtail’ the rabid behaviour of some of the more fanatical Cuban Exile Elements in Florida … and release the Miami 5 ?

 

         When will you, and your Administration, bring your considerable authority and power to bear on the Criminal State of Israel … and force it to comply with International Law and Universal Human & Social Rights ?

 

 

We patiently await your considered response.

 

Many thanks for your attention.

 

 

Signed:  C. J. Walsh, Managing Director, Sustainable Design International Ltd. – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.

 

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Postscript 2012-01-16:

Dear Barack … Apologies are Meaningless … and who these Individual Soldiers are is not important.  This recent image from Afghanistan betrays an in-grained national mindset !

The Guantánamo Bay Detention Centre, in illegally occupied Cuba, is still operating … the Criminal Blockade of this small Caribbean Island continues with full bullying force … and The Miami 5 are still rotting in U.S. Jails, with access for family members made particularly difficult, if not impossible.

Your Administration is still aggressively frustrating the widespread International Consensus on Climate Change … Your Offspring, the Apartheid State of Israel has now replaced South Africa as the No.1 Maverick Rogue in the International Community … etc., etc., etc.

The United States of America continues to urinate on International Law !!

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END

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Israel a Criminal State ? Guantánamo Bay an Illegal Occupation ?

2009-01-01:  Sustainable Human & Social Development is much more than an academic theory.  It is a necessary concept for our troubled times … in our global community.  Intricate, open, dynamic and still evolving … it is very much intended for practical implementation.

 

A robust understanding of this social catalyst is critically underpinned by human and social rights.  Specifically, initial reference is made to the following International Legal Instruments:

         1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN OHCHR) ;

         2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (UNESCO) ;

         2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN).

 

Sustainable Design is the ethical response, in built and wrought form, to Sustainable Human & Social Development.  As our understanding of ‘sustainability’ develops, so too must ‘design’ (spatial planning, architectural/engineering/industrial design, and e-design).

 

At a macro-level … issues causing untold social, environmental, economic, institutional, political and legal damage, destruction and harm:

 

We see on our television screens and hear from our radios that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are again committing criminal acts in Gaza.  These acts are authorized by the Government of Israel.  The country’s population continues to vote these Governments into power.

 

The USA’s treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay was, and still is, degrading, inhumane and criminal.  Beyond that, however … the annexation of the bay area remains, to this day, an international act of piracy (refer to the 1901 Platt Amendment and later ‘treaties’ with Cuba procured by the threat or use of force).

 

The USA and British fundamentalist western crusade against the regime and peoples of Iraq was a cynical act of barbarism and a crime against humanity.  We look forward to the day when George W Bush and Tony Blair will be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

 

At a micro-level … every designer can act, and make his/her positive contribution:

 

Accessibility of buildings for people with disabilities, to take just one example, is now a legitimate social right which must be protected and nurtured, i.e. properly resourced, by all States Parties to the 2006 UN Disability Rights Convention.  People must be able to independently approach, enter, use, egress (under normal conditions) and evacuate (in a fire emergency) any building in our built environment.

 

Two Immediate Requirements for Sustainability Implementation:

  1. A radical overhaul of the Education and Training of any person connected, directly or indirectly, with the design, construction, operation, management, servicing or maintenance of our Human Environment.
  2. The widespread introduction of Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) at all levels of our Public and Private Institutions.  SIA is a continual evaluation and optimization process – informing initial decision-making, or design, and shaping activity/product/service realization, useful life and termination, or final disposal – of the interrelated positive and negative social, environmental, economic, institutional, political and legal impacts on balanced and equitable implementation of Sustainable Human & Social Development.

 

 

Happy New Year !

 

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END

 

 

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