Following the opening session at the Latin America 2008 conference held on Saturday the 6th of December in the TUC Congress House, Rob Miller, Director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, expelled two ticket holders for handing out leaflets for a Rock around the Blockade event in six weeks time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. In an act of hostility and further evidence that Miller regards the RATB as 'competition', he personally summonsed five security guards and threatened to call the police on our activists for the palpable crime of campaigning in solidarity for the Cuban Revolution. With CSC staff member Natasha Hickman at his side, Miller pulled £20 out of his own wallet as a refund for the tickets bought.
This was the second year that RATB activists have been expelled from the conference. Last year a young activist was kicked out for distributing leaflets about our national speaking tour with Cuban representatives from three generations - including Che Guevara's deputy Orlando Borrego (www.cubansarecoming.org). On both occasions, Rob Miller had replied in person to refuse our request for an official stall in the run-up to the event. Following the expulsion this year, comrades on a stall for solidarity with Peru, which had material on it from the Colombia Solidarity Group, were also told to leave.
People often ask RATB activists why we don't work with the CSC. Our answer is that we want to. In fact we have worked closely to several local branches of the CSC around the country. We are certain that the hostility towards our campaign is generated by a few individuals within the National Executive who claim the right to a monopoly on solidarity work with Cuba in Britain. RATB was set up in 1995, and while we applaud the important contributions the CSC makes, we are also extremely proud of our own achievements, our political and educational work, our frequent and exciting events and our ability to engage hundreds of young people. We want to encourage more campaigns, more unity, more activities, more awareness and solidarity - not less. This means not just providing a forum to one political tendency - but opening up to all activists - including socialists and communists. We urge any individual members or local branches of the CSC to work with us in a principled way, based on respect without pressuring us to liquidate RATB in the name of unity. If we have differences these should be resolved through engagement, not censorship and threats.
The event which Miller would censor will take place on Saturday 17 January and speakers and sponsors are from the Cuban embassy, the Venezuelan embassy, the Bolivian embassy, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, Ecuadorians Resident in the UK, the RMT union and Justice for Colombia campaign. We welcome all progressive organisations to distribute their literature at our events, as well as inviting contributions from the floor and encouraging those present to get involved in supporting Cuba and revolutionary movements in Latin America.
Viva 50 years of Socialist Revolution in Cuba!
Down with sectarianism!