Short Reviews

The Trade Trap (Poverty and the Global Commodity Markets) by Belinda Coote, Oxfam Publications, U.K. 1992 paperback, obtainable through Bridgehead in Ottawa.
This is an up-to-date, comprehensive exposition of the stranglehold that the first-world trading blocs exert on the third-world producers of primary commodities, such as coffee, sugar and cotton.. These producers are urged to produce more in order to help pay off their country’s debt to first-world governments and bankers (probably incurred through the purchase of armaments -although this is not mentioned.); however the more they produce, the lower the price falls on the international market — hence the title: “The Trade Trap”.
By focusing on the plight of selected individuals in a number of the developing countries, this well-informed writer brings the rather tedious subject of global trading patterns into life as she call for Fair Trade and advocates the establishment of alternative trade and technology transfer.
A very honest and worthwhile book!
U.S. Hands Off the Mid-East! (Cuba Speaks out at the United Nations), ed. Mary-Alice Waters (Pathfinder Press) 126pp. $16 at the Pathfinder Bookstore, Bloor St. W. at Ossington, Toronto.
This small book shows how Cuba stood virtually alone at the U.N. in urging that reason prevail during the debates leading up to the Gulf conflict. The speeches of Ricardo Alarcon, the Cuban representative on the Security Council, were not reported in the USA or Canada. The Cuban statements made and make sense and deserve to be heard.
Highly recommended.
The Fire this Time, Ramsey Clark, 1992, Thunder’s Mouth Press, 54 Greene St., Suite 4S, New York, N.Y. 10013. $21.95 U.S., Hard cover.
A scathing indictment of U.S. moves to inveigle Iraq into launching an attack on Kuwait in order to provide the USA with the excuse to destroy Iraq. In February 1991 Clark journeyed across war-ravaged Iraq during the thuggery of Desert Storm, thus procuring the proof required to lay war crimes charges against George Bush and others – charges which U.S. courts refused to hear.
Highly recommended.
The Closest of Enemies, Wayne S. Smith 1987. Penguin Books, 2861 John St., Markham, Ont. L3R 1B4.
An account by the U.S. diplomat who headed the U.S. Special Interests Section in Havana from 1957 to 1982 until his disillusioned resignation from the diplomatic service, finally recognizing that his country’s policy makers were implacably intent on maintaining a vindictive vendetta against Cuba. The book provides a rare and useful insight into relations of which we know little. Makes good and interesting reading.
The Caribbean – Survival, Struggle and Sovereignty 1988, EPIC (Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean) 1470 Irving St. N.W., Washington D.C. 20010.
A valuable, comprehensive insight into the history and development of the region, including outside influence and control (mainly U.S.). Referring to Cuba as an example, on p.50 the following paragraph is illuminating: “Pre-revolutionary Havana glittered with expensive hotels and casinos, many of them, like the luxurious Havana Riviera, joint ventures between Lansky’s syndicate and the Batista government. This was the Havana North Americans knew. In the countryside, Cuba was a stagnant backwater, where there was one doctor for every 2000 people; where less than 10% of dwellings had electricity and only 15% had running water; where only 4% ate meat regularly, and only one family in 10 could give their children milk to drink.”
A valuable and balanced book.
Year 501 – The Conquest Continues, Noam Chomsky 1993, $19.95 Paperback. Black Rose Books, Montreal.
Vintage Chomsky! Provides a sweeping overview of historical practices in the western world from the time of Columbus until the present time, wherein, in the eyes of the rulers, the rascal rabble multitude in their own countries and elsewhere had to be firmly kept in their place and fed with “necessary illusions” and oversimplifications. In his customary manner, Chomsky draws parallels between the genocide of colonial times and the murder, avarice, and exploitation associated with modern-day imperialism.
A mind-expanding book.
Beyond the Gulf War, Edited by Baha AbuLaban and M. Ibrahim Alladin, MRF Publications, P.O.Box 8386, Station F, Edmonton Alberta T6H 4W6.
The book is really a selection of essays by scholars, including James A. Graf and Stephen Lewis, and is divided into two parts – Perspectives on the Gulf War and The United Nations after the Gulf War.
Recommended.