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September 1, 2019

In the August 20, 2019 issue of the Cuban daily newspaper Granma, there appears an editorial by the Cuban journalist Raúl Antonio Capote on the deadly legacy of nuclear arms tests. Capote begins by observing that there is much attention to the tragic consequences of nuclear accidents that have occurred in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, but little consciousness of the effects of nuclear arms testing on the atmosphere and oceans; and on the earth, both beneath and on the surface, including populated areas.

Capote reports that from 1945 to 1992, the government of the United States conducted 1,054 nuclear tests in several U.S. states and in the Marshall Islands and other Pacific islands. In the Bikini and Eniwetok atolls, there are today radioactive concentrations superior to those resulting from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1986, the greatest nuclear power plant accident to date. In the Great Plains of the USA, due to testing in the desert of Nevada, five million persons breathe doses of radiation greater than that suffered by the Ukrainian capital city of Kiev as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.

Capote notes that nuclear arms tests in Utah may have caused the deaths of Hollywood film stars John Wayne, Susan Hayward, and Dick Powell, all of whom died of cancer; Powell in 1963, Haywood in 1975, and Wayne in 1979. Wayne and Hayward co-starred in the 1956 film, “The conqueror,” directed by Powell, which was filmed near a nuclear testing field in the Utah desert. Of the 220 persons participating in the making of the movie, 91 suffered from some form of cancer by 1981.

Capote observes that the United States has not been alone in conducting nuclear arms tests. The former Soviet Union conducted 715 nuclear arms tests from 1949 to 1990. The United Kingdom, China, France, the Popular Democratic Republic of Korea, India, and Pakistan also have conducted tests, although far less than the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Capote concludes his Granma article with a call for the elimination of nuclear arms. “Now that nuclear arms are much more powerful, . . . the world ought to have greater awareness of the danger, especially when the great nuclear powers are heading toward a new and much more lethal arms race, tearing up the agreements attained in the last century that limited the fabrication, the testing, and the use of nuclear arms. . . . In a nuclear war there are no winners, and even when a war does not break out, simply their manufacture and storage constitute a series danger for humanity.”

Raúl Antonio Capote is a regular contributor to the pages of Granma. His is not a marginal voice, expressed in an alternative media with a small audience. He pertains to the Cuban mainstream media.

Granma is the principal daily newspaper in Cuba, and it is the “Official Organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba,” as described in its subtitle. Granma has a perspective fundamentally different from that of The New York Times, which is the organ of the U.S. power elite, although it does not present itself as such. Granma writes from a perspective rooted in the historic popular revolutions of the world, whereas the New York Times expresses a point of view that is rooted in defense of the interests of the powerful.

Because of the different interests they represent, Granma and The New York Times have different capacities to understand fundamental truths, because the defense of particular privileged interests blocks relevant questions from consciousness and limits understanding. As a result, Granma is much more able to contribute to the education of the people. Capote’s anti-nuclear arms article, for example, does not stand by itself in isolation. Readers of Granma are continually presented with comprehensive analyses, educating with respect to historical facts and political concepts. Concerning the issue of arms in international relations, Cuban journalists have informed that European and American imperialisms have been the aggressors in the modern era, using economic, military, and ideological means without moral constraint; that the colonized peoples of the planet have the right and the need to defend themselves against imperialist military aggression, including the organization of armed forces and popular militias; and that the colonized peoples nevertheless understand the urgent need to develop peaceful solutions to international conflicts on a basis of respect for the sovereignty of all nations, as a precondition to global stability. It is with respect to this latter point that Capote’s article enters the discussion.

Cuban journalists also have named the hypocrisy of the United States in insisting on the non-proliferation of nuclear arms. They note that the USA has accelerated its production of nuclear arms, even though the 1968 non-proliferation treaty included a commitment by the nuclear powers to reduce their nuclear arms and to work toward the elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

Granma, along with other entities of the Cuban press; in cooperation with the Cuban educational system, political leaders, party leaders, and leaders of mass organizations; contributes to the formulation of a historically and scientifically informed national narrative. Granma, accordingly, plays an integral role in the education of the people, and in forging the unity of the people in defense of the true and the right. In contrast, the editorials of The New York Times contribute to and reflect the confusions and divisions that reign in public discussion in Cuba’s powerful neighbor to the North.

This is Charles McKelvey, reflecting on the global popular socialist revolution, continually evolving among the peoples of the Third World, demonstrating that humanity has a tremendous thirst for social justice. 

Edited by Ed Newman
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