On Saturday 25th July Rock around the Blockade in Newcastle held a street celebration at Grey’s Monument, to mark the anniversary of the 26th July Movement.
Possibly the biggest Che flag I have ever seen adorned the Monument, along with 26 Julio, Cuba and Palestine flags. We also had an information stall with a canes attached flying the flag of the Tamil people. This, along with the weather being on our side, brought in a crowd of around 100 people who had a lot of interest in what we had to say.
We started by saying that we were there to celebrate the 26th July Movement and 50 years of the Cuban revolution and that we celebrate it because Cuba is a socialist country which is able to meet the needs of its people without the need for exploitation, oppression, imperialist war, racism or poverty. It is not just by chance that they are able to do this; Cuba can do this because the mass of the Cuban people are in power and are leading and pushing forward their revolution which puts people before profit.
For half a century US imperialism has gone to staggering lengths to destroy the Cuban Revolution and damage the example it sets for the oppressed people of the world. This aim is embedded in the US Constitution itself. The US blockade (1961), invasion (1961), the threat of nuclear war (1962) and attempts to isolate Cuba on the international stage, have failed to destroy the Revolution. The Obama administration is stepping up efforts to create an internal opposition among the Cuban people, ‘investing’ $55 million in 2009 alone in this endeavour. These attempts are failing miserably. Imperialist powers and their allies continue to underestimate the revolutionary strength of the Cuban people, demonstrated in December 2009 when just one neighbourhood in Havana took to the streets in response to a group of imperialist-paid mercenaries known as the Women in White.
Six North-East comrades went on the 2009 RATB solidarity brigade to Cuba last month and, since then, have been sharing our experiences with anyone who will listen. At stalls, film showings, protests and at three Report-Back Meetings held in Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland, we brigadistas have offered up the knowledge that we gained while in Cuba. Our speeches at the meetings covered topics including education and healthcare, the democratic system, internationalism and ALBA, the effects of tourism, agriculture and food production, culture and youth, the current economic crisis, mass organisations and CDRs, recent political developments and the relevance of Cuba to Britain today! The meetings lasted a long time as brigadistas answered many questions from the audience, but the discussions remained interesting and inspiring throughout. People arrived ready to learn about Cuban Socialism and left ready to fight for revolution in Britain. With the help of video footage from our time in Cuba, we brigadistas showed the North-East that another world is possible and will continue to do so in the months to come.
Viva Revolutionary Solidarity! Viva Cuba!
"On Saturday 14th August 2010, RATB (Manchester Branch), held a stall to celebrate
Fidel's 84th Birthday. With this in mind we put a framed photo of Fidel in his prime on our stall along with a large poster-size birthday card on display and invited members of the public to add their signatures to it. It was amazing how many people came up to the stall wanting to sign his card and send greetings to this great warrior including many young people. Red, blue and white balloons in the colours of the Cuban flag along with special revolutionary music and recorded speeches by Fidel added to the occasion. Educational and enlightening speeches on the megaphone from another comrade were excellent and many people just sat nearby in the sun listening to what he had to say.
Manchester RATB celebrated the weekend of 26 de Julio (26th July Movement 1953) by holding a couple of events on both the Saturday and the Sunday. This important event marks the key date when Fidel Castro and his comrades attacked Moncado Barracks in Santiago and the Bayamo Barracks in Oriente, Cuba. Although the attack failed at the time, it was instrumental in the birth of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
On the afternoon of Saturday 25th July, there was a film showing about Fidel Castro, entitled ‘Moments with Fidel’. Fidel Castro played a pivotal role in the 26 de Julio Movement which was to launch the Cuban Revolution six years later. Before the film was shown, one of RATB comrades, Keith, gave a very informative introduction to the film tracing the political history of Cuba and demonstrating that Cuba has always been involved in struggles against various forms of imperialism and colonisation. From 1492, when Christopher Columbus first arrived on the island, up until the Batista regime and the changes in Cuban society pre-and post 1959 Revolution. The film itself displayed the enormous support for the Cuban Revolution by the Cuban people which was accompanied with dynamic speeches from Fidel through the years. It highlighted the key issues as to why Cuba is still hated today by the US and other imperialist interests. The fact that Cuba has become an ideological threat rather than a military threat. Approximately 13 people attended the afternoon event.
On Saturday 11 October 2008 supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and Rock Around the Blockade in Manchester held an event in Piccadilly Gardens in the city centre of Manchester to celebrate the life of Che Guevara. Speakers pointed out that forty one years after his death his ideas of socialism are more relevant than ever as the crisis of capitalism lurches forward and banks are collapsing in most of the major imperialist countries. We also collected signatures on petitions calling for the release of the Cuban 5 who have now spent more than 10 years incarcerated in the US prison system purly for attempting to stop terrorist attacks sponsored by the US on Cuba.
On Saturday the 9 May Rock Around the Blockade in Manchester held a dayschool to celebrate 50 years of the Cuban revolution.
The event was attended by around 40 people who stayed the whole day.
The dayschool started with 3 comrades just back from RATB's brigade to Cuba, talking about their impressions and experiences of two weeks intensive activity in Revolutionary Cuba. A common theme was how people are involved at all levels of society.
The next speaker was Helen Yaffe who talked about how she researched the material for her newly published book, Che Guevara - The Economics of Revolution.
On Sunday 1 April, Rock Around the Blockade activists from Scotland held a fundraising comedy night to raise material aid for a ‘Workshop of Transformation’ street art project in Havana, Cuba.
‘Stand up for Cuba!’ saw several top local comedians perform to the 50 or so people who had forgone Scotland’s World Cup qualifier to come to Maggie May’s and help support the Cuban Revolution.
Compere Sian Bevan got the gig underway, followed by Niall Browne, Hamilton funny-man John Gavin and Elaine Malcolmson. Against a backdrop of a giant Che banner, Cuba and Venezuela flags, headliner Billy Kirkwood tore up the stage with a great set to end the evening.
The London meeting of the Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Speaking Tour event organised by the Revolutionary Communist Group took place on Saturday 18 October 2009 at Bolivar Hall, London. The day school consisted of two discussions: one on Socialist Cuba and ALBA; the other on the capitalist crisis and imperialism.
The speaker on Cuba provided an in-depth analysis of how Cuba survived periods of economic crisis, without betraying its socialist principles and welfare-based development model. Measures taken during Cuba's Special Period and in the current crisis demonstrate how in practice the socialist alternative to the destruction and brutality unleashed during crises under capitalism. The discussion also assessed the building of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) as a barrier to imperialist domination and capital penetration from the US and Europe and highlighted the importance of the Bank of ALBA, and the new virtual currency, the SUCRE, which will be launched early next year for ALBA trade.