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Saturday, 27 July 2013 00:00

In tribute to Cuba

It took six years for Cuba's revolutionaries to gain state power following the starting shot in their war against the corrupt US-backed Batista regime 60 years ago.

The bold attack on the Moncada Barracks on July 26 1953 will forever stand in history as a key moment for all those seeking a just world.

Batista had come to power a year earlier in a coup.

At the time the island was a corrupt mafia playground in which much of the population were condemned to poverty, and the economy was plundered by US capitalists.

It was in the early hours of that day in '53, at 6am, that around 130 people determined to win a better society for all Cubans had planned to begin their assault.

But a series of mishaps saw the rebels arrive vastly outnumbered and outgunned, and they were beaten back.

Within hours some had been snatched from hospital and executed on a firing range.

Others were hunted down and murdered on the spot.

Nevertheless a psychological blow had been dealt that was to turn into an all-out resistance movement which, in 1959, was successful.

The years since have at times been unspeakably tough, not least because of the relentless hostility of the United States, which has sought to strangle Cuba through a decades-long economic blockade.

Still the revolution's successes speak for themselves.

Life expectancy under Batista was 58. Today it is in the high 70s.

Before '59 around a third of Cubans had running water. Today it is near 100 per cent.

Disease and child mortality have been drastically reduced. In 1958 infant mortality stood at 60 per 1,000 live births. Today it is nearer 4.75, better than Canada.

The health care system is renowned globally, and the best of all Third World countries.

Cuba is today well known too for its track record assisting developing countries worldwide.

What's more, these advances have been retained despite the collapse of key trading partner the Soviet Union which prompted the lean years of the "special period."

And all of it began at 6am on July 26 1953.

To the revolutionaries whose bravery was paid in blood - to all those still striving hard so that socialist Cuba punches above its weight in global terms - we salute you.

Snowden

United States demands that Russia hand over intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden are apparently the subject of continuing talks.

It was even said yesterday that Washington had felt the need to "assure" Moscow that he would not be tortured or executed.

Given the US track record of bloody brutality, including but not limited to its secret global torture networks, targeted drone assassinations, and its Guantanamo concentration camp, one could be forgiven for taking such assurances with a pinch of salt.

One need look no further than the case of US soldier Bradley Manning - whose alleged crime was to leak information of US atrocities in Iraq - to see the biblical-style vengeance that drives the policies of the world's number one bully.

Snowden, whose betrayal of the US intelligence services will no doubt be treated similarly to Manning's, will no doubt receive everything short of systematic physical torture if he is handed over.

Given its track record who would trust the US not to cross the line into outright torture, either?

Washington is desperate to make these two people, who acted with their hearts for all the right reasons, an example to anyone else who may be driven by their conscience - cross us and so-called US "freedoms" will soon be exposed for the myth that they are.

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