RATB North East report
On Saturday 23 July Rock Around the Blockade North East held a lively street celebration for the anniversary of the 26 July attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953, which marked the beginning of the Cuban Revolution.
Rock around the Blockade – events in Britain in solidarity with the Cuban 5 – September 2011
On Saturday 10 September, as part of the international days of action for the Cuban 5, on the 13th anniversary of their incarceration in US gaols, members and supporters of Rock around the Blockade in Britain, supported by the Revolutionary Communist Group, held street rallies in four cities: in Glasgow by Donald Dewar Statue, in Newcastle at Grey’s Monument, in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens and in Trafalgar Square in London.
On 11 September 2010 activists from Rock Around the Blockade held lively protests in London, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne to demand Freedom for the Cuban 5 as part of the international day of action planned by the National Committee To Free The Five (freethefive.org) to mark the 12th Anniversary of their imprisonment.
In Newcastle in the north of England, activists collected petitions against the illegal imprisonment of the 5 Cuban heroes and asked passers by to sign cards of solidarity which will be sent to Gerardo, Antonio, Fernando Rene and Ramon individually. In Manchester, despite heavy rain, activists handed out hundreds of leaflets explaining the Five's case and struggle for freedom, during a colourful stall with flags and revolutionary Cuban hip hop blasting out onto the streets.
Revolution and reaction in Bolivia was the title of the meeting on 3 June 2009 organised by Rock around the Blockade, the Tawantinsuyu Movement and Bolivia Solidarity Campaign.
The meeting hall filled up quickly and the room was buzzing with excitement...on the platform was Marcelo from the Tawantinsuyu Movement, in the audience was Diana also from the Tawantinsuyu Movement...24 hours before they were both being held in Yarl's Wood detention centre, illegally abducted from Communications House and threatened with imminent deportation. An immediate campaign was launched by their friends and supporters, including members of all three organisations hosting this meeting. Action included excellent and urgent legal work, a barrage of faxes and phone calls to the Home Office, including the UK Border Agency and to the airline, preparations for demonstrations (and we were inspired by the recent successful actions coordinated by Colombia Solidarity Campaign to prevent the deportation of a young man)....at the eleventh hour the Home Office cancelled their removal and bail was granted. What a victory and what a lesson. As Nicki of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! said at the meeting, no one must be snatched in silence. It is clear that collective organisation is vital to raise the issue of Britain's racist immigration laws, the conditions in the detention centres and the deportations that go on daily, returning many people to situations where their lives are in danger.
RATB commemorates the 50 anniversary of Cuba's victory at the Bay of Pigs and the declaration of socialism
On Friday 6 May Rock Around the Blockade (RATB) packed Bolivar Hall in London for an event to commemorate the Cuban victory against the US-backed invasion at Bay of Pigs (Playa Giron) in April 1961 and the declaration by Fidel Castro of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution.
The event opened with live music from Peruvian singer Betty Rhaza and Chilean guitarist Fernando Vergara playing revolutionary songs dedicated to Camilo Torres and Che Guevara. They were followed by an impressive range of speakers covering many different aspects of the anniversary.
On Tuesday 8 June 2010 Bolivar Hall, London was packed for the big-screen premier of the new Rock around the Blockade (RATB) documentary Cuba: Defending Socialism, Resisting Imperialism.
The event began with introductions from the producers, Anthony Bairstow and Ethesham Haque, activists in RATB, who explained that most of the filming was done during a solidarity brigade to Cuba in spring 2009.
With just one camera, they returned to London with over 20 hours of footage and edited it into a 50-minute documentary which provides a snapshot of contemporary Cuba and the challenges faced by the socialist Revolution. The narrative comes from the Cubans they interviewed - an organic farmer, a state farmer, a lawyer, an economist, and a speech therapist. There is also an interview with a young Trinidadian studying for free at the International School of Sports of Physical Sciences in Havana.
On Saturday 12th September 2009 members of Rock around the Blockade in Newcastle held a demonstration as part of the international call for solidarity with the Cuban 5 to demand their freedom.
The demonstration was at Grey’s Monument in Newcastle city centre where we had placards and banners of the five Cuban heroes calling for their immediate release, an information stall and speeches about the case of the Cuban 5, about rendition flights Britain has been involved in and the ‘war on terror’ which is used by imperialist countries like Britain and the US when they want to terrorise Muslim communities to justify their actions in the Middle East and to attack progressive governments like that of Cuba, all the while self-confessed terrorist Louis Pasada Carriles walks free on US soil. There was also a speech about ALBA and the coup in Honduras and how the gains and example of the Cuban revolution are acting as a beacon of inspiration to the working class internationally and sparking off socialist movements in Latin America.
Building socialism for the 21st century in Ecuador
In April 2009, Rafael Correa was elected to his second term as President of Ecuador with 51% of the vote. This gave him a mandate to continue and deepen the programme of reforms and structural changes initiated since he first became president in November 2006. In three years Correa’s government has introduced an unprecedented social and economic programme of reforms – the Citizens’ Revolution – to reverse the poverty and exploitation suffered by the majority of the population in a country which has been ravaged by neo-liberalism. Correa has announced that Ecuador is building socialism for the 21st century and joined the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).