Open Letter to Leopoldo Lopez / Angel Santiesteban

Dear Leopoldo, my brother in struggle,

I write to you from another prison, in Havana, in the claws of the brother dictators Fidel and Raúl Castro.

First of all, I want to send you my moral support. Right now, you need it more than I do, since your country is hanging on by a thread to becoming a totalitarian state like ours, from which we have been suffering for more than half a century.

I admire your upright position in defense of your ideals and dreams for a free country where democracy governs and justice and the rule of law reign supreme.

I have your wife and children in my prayers so that God protects them and maintains the courage with which they support you unconditionally, and so that He returns you soon to your home, next to them, from whom they never should have separated you.

I am filled with emotion at the solidarity of the deputy, Maria Corina Machado, meanly stripped of the office that the people assigned to her, and of the governor Henrique Capriles, who together with millions of his compatriots has not forgotten you, nor left you alone. This support — that you certainly deserve, for your ideals and the way in which you defend them — perhaps tomorrow can be intended for them, because the government of the puppet Nicolas Maduro, like that of Cuba, doesn’t pardon or forget those who raise their voices against his regime and its abuses.

Many Cubans, by the corresponding share of responsibility that touches us, feel ashamed of the Cuban government that, without hiding in the wings, orders and manipulates Venezuela’s plans, because their interest — it’s no secret — is born from their thirst for oil, their need to count on Venezuelan oil to stay in power.

As on our island, they already have devastated everything, from the economy up to human values. Now – by the death of your people – they have thrown their sharp fangs over your country. They are vampires of fuel, opportunistic parasites who act like those terrible mutant viruses that risk everything up to the end, hanging on to the body of the chosen victim.

In the same way that they harm your country –and it is part of your demands and claims — they continue oppressing us. Clearly, if you can’t contain and avoid the permanence of the Chavistas in power, your nation will be submiited to the biggest misery that you could ever imagine, and will suffocate itself more each day, submitting to an empire of injustices and constant repression.

I pray to God that you stay healthy so that your social light doesn’t go out, and you continue setting an example for those millions of compatriots who today are already struggling for their future, an example also for those of us who observe, expectantly, from the rest of the world, the struggle of the worthy Venezuelan people for their freedom.

Hopefully we can soon raise a glass for the freedom of our people. The dreams that we share today are the seeds of what we will later call reality.

Receive my hug and admiration for surrendering your freedom in the urgent demand we all have.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Settlement. May 2014.

Have Amnesty International declare the dissident Cuban Angel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.

To sign the petition follow the link.

 Translated by Anonymous and Regina Anavy.

9 May 2014

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One response to “Open Letter to Leopoldo Lopez / Angel Santiesteban

  1. Omar Fundora

    History: The Power Struggle in Ukraine and America’s Strategy for Global Supremacy…A REALITY AND THE “INVISIBLE HAND” BEHIND CONFLICT IN THE WORLD …

    By Peter Schwarz
    Global Research, May 15, 2014
    Originally published on Global Research on December 26th, 2004.

    In 1997, former US security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski published a book entitled The Grand Chessboard that attracted considerable attention and treated America’s strategy for global supremacy. By chessboard, Brzezinski meant Eurasia, the enormous land mass comprising two continents and containing the majority of the world’s population.

    According to the core thesis of the book, “America’s capacity to exercise global primacy” depends on whether America can prevent “the emergence of a dominant and antagonistic Eurasian power.” Brzezinski then concluded: “Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.”

    How the change of power in Ukraine was prepare

    While the US has sought for a long time to remove Ukraine from the sphere of Russian influence, its support for the opposition around Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko is of more recent origin. More precisely, this opposition only developed when serious tensions emerged between the US government and long-time Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma.

    Kuchma, who replaced Leonid Kravchuk in 1994 as president, was quite prepared to work closely with the US and the European Union. He cooperated fully with the International Monetary Fund, expressed himself in favour of European Union membership and even lodged a formal request in May 2002 for NATO membership. Ukraine also sent its own troops to Iraq, to support the American occupation of the country.

    Kuchma was always forced, however, to maintain a difficult balancing act. On the one hand, he worked against the break-up of Ukraine into an eastern region oriented to Russia and a western half of the country that looked to the West–a threat that hung in the air continuously after Ukraine established its independence. On the other hand, he had to take into account the country’s strong economic dependence on Russia. In particular, the Ukrainian power supply depends nearly completely on Russian oil and gas.

    Kuchma made absolutely clear, however, that he was determined to maintain the independence of Ukraine, which is the guarantor of the wealth of the national elite. The dissolution of the Soviet Union, which had been sealed by Kuchma’s predecessor Kravchuk together with the Russian president Boris Yeltsin and Belarus’s Stanislav Shushkevic at the end of 1991, created the conditions for the concentration of social wealth in the hands of a few clans of oligarchs. This policy of “unrestrained privatisation” swept through Ukraine and Russia during the 1990s and was unreservedly supported by the Great Powers.

    Kuchma is closely connected with the oligarch clan of his hometown Dnipropetrovsk, which is led by his son-in-law Viktor Pinchuk. Pinchuk is regarded as the boss of the oligarch clans of Donetsk and is the second-richest man in of the country after Rinat Achmetov.

    The leader of the opposition, Viktor Yushchenko, stood loyally at the side of Kuchma during the period of privatisation. In 1993, he took over as president of the Ukrainian central bank and acted as the country’s contact man for international finance. In 1999, he was appointed prime minister by Kuchma. The second leading figure in the opposition, Yulia Tymoshenko, followed in the wake of Kuchma’s Dnipropetrovsk clan into high government office. She was a member of the Yushchenko government and made millions through dealing in natural gas.

    Kuchma dismissed Yushchenko in April 2001. His policy of opening the country up to international capital through reform of the energy sector encountered resistance from the clans of oligarchs in the east of the country. After a temporary solution, Kuchma finally appointed the scion of the Donetsk clan, Viktor Yanukovich, as prime minister.

    Nevertheless, the US still refused to exclude any and all cooperation with Kuchma and Yanukovich. In the autumn of 2003, both men visited the US. Kuchma met with President George W. Bush, while Yanukovich was received by Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials. A year before, a meeting of ministers in Prague had agreed upon a timetable for Ukraine’s admission into NATO.

    However, tensions developed that finally pushed Kuchma more closely in the direction of Moscow and were crucial in the decision by the US to give substantial support to the opposition candidate.

    First, there was the so-called Kolchuga affair. Two years ago, Washington accused Kuchma of personally certifying sales of the early warning system Kolchuga to Iraq.

    In contrast to conventional radar systems, the Ukrainian early warning system works passively and cannot be located by the airplanes it has detected. With a range of 800 kilometres, it is considered to be the most effective of its kind. Iraqi defence batteries would have been able to detect oncoming US planes without giving away their own location.

    Supported by the US accusations, a Kiev judge launched an investigation into Kuchma’s activity on suspicion of corruption, misuse of power and arms trafficking with Iraq. He was supported by the Ukrainian opposition. The supreme court, however, intervened to stop the procedure.

    Kuchma always rejected the accusations made by the US government, and no proof was ever found that the Kolchuga system was supplied to Iraq. Nevertheless, relations between Ukraine and the US deteriorated in 2002 as a result of the affair. Kuchma tried once again to improve relations in the following year by dispatching Ukrainian troops to Iraq–a decision that met with broad popular opposition.

    Oil and gas

    A second point at issue is the control and use of Ukraine’s oil and gas pipelines. For Russia, Ukraine is the most important transit country for its oil and gas exports. The large pipelines, built since the 1970s, linking Soviet oil and gas fields and western Europe, make their way across Ukrainian territory. For their part, the US and the European Union have sought for some time to establish a transportation route for oil from the Caspian region that bypasses Russia, using Ukraine for this purpose.

    A pipeline has been built extending from Odessa to Brody, connecting the Black Sea to the Polish border. Caspian oil can now be pumped through Georgia to the Black Sea, and after a short transit by sea directly to Polish refineries, and from there to Europe. Both Russia and the bottleneck represented by the Bosporus strait are bypassed en route.

    The pipeline, 674 kilometres in length, was completed in May 2002, with the support of the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown, and has since then stood empty. The pipeline is waiting for oil from the Caspian region as well as the connecting pipeline in Poland, which still has to be built.

    Eventually, the Ukrainian government negotiated with Russian oil companies over use of the pipeline in the reverse direction. Russian oil could thereby be shipped from Odessa over the Black Sea and exported to the world market. For a period of five months, a section of the pipeline was actually used for this purpose. Then alarm bells began to ring in Washington. Cheney personally pressed Yanukovich during his visit to Washington to refuse to agree to the use of the pipeline in the opposite direction. In February of this year, the cabinet in Kiev finally passed an appropriate resolution. Since then, the pipeline has been inoperative.

    The influence of Russian energy companies in Ukraine is also regarded with concern by Washington. Two years ago, ambassador Carlos Pascual sharply criticised the Gazprom company (which has links to the Russian state) at a meeting of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. One has the impression, he said, that Russian companies received investment possibilities “without paying the full value of the assets that they are investing in, which is not good for Ukraine.”

    Herbst went on: “[T]here are a couple of examples recently that, I think, are to Ukraine’s strategic disadvantage, particularly in the gas and oil sector. In the recent agreement that was signed between Gazprom and Naftogaz [Ukraine's national gas and oil company] on the development of an international consortium, that agreement…specifically states that those two companies together must decide on any management proposals for an international consortium to control Ukraine’s international gas transit system. In other words, Gazprom has a veto over what Ukraine wants to do in the management of its gas transit system. Gazprom cannot be happier: This has been one of the things that they have been seeking to get since 1992.”

    There can be no doubt that Washington’s interests will be better protected by Yushchenko than by Yanukovich, who is supported by Moscow. In addition, Yushchenko has emphasised his attachment to the values of “the rule of law” and the free-market economy–shorthand for security and guarantees for foreign investment funds.

    Conflicts between the Great Powers

    US ambitions for global supremacy are encompassing ever-larger parts of the globe. In the course of the struggle for the Ukrainian presidency, American and Russian interests have clashed in a manner and sharpness that vividly recall the period of the Cold War. Following the bloody conflict in the Balkans and the forcible subjection of Iraq, Ukraine and Russia itself threaten to become the scene of violent struggles.

    European–and above all, German–interests are also directly affected by the change of power in Ukraine, and, in the longer term, the two rising Asiatic great powers, China and India, are also involved. In addition to purely geostrategic criteria, another issue just as important for the world economy of the twenty-first century lies at the heart of this conflict–control of the worldwide power supply of oil and gas. In this respect, the significance of the issues fought out in Ukraine recall the conflicts that erupted in Europe at the start of the twentieth century over control of mineral resources.

    If one considers the fact that the European Union receives nearly 20 percent of its oil and 44 percent of its gas imports from Russia, with 80 percent of these products passing through Ukrainian pipelines, then the significance of the balance of power in Ukraine for the economic future of Europe becomes clear.

    As is well known, conflicts over the mineral ore reserves of Lorraine and the coal of the Ruhr district contributed largely to the outbreak of the First World War. The situation with regard to international energy and transport routes is just as explosive today. For the time being, the disputes are still being conducted on a political level, characterised by manoeuvres and tactical shifts. But all the conditions for a further escalation are present. America’s strategy for supremacy threatens to plunge mankind into a maelstrom that will make the current Iraq war appear relatively benign.

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