Thursday 30th June was the start of the annual 5-day Marxism event, organised by the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), which I attended for the first time.
Having signed up for membership of the SWP in early March of this year, I was convinced by many friendly and enthusiastic fellow members that ‘this year would be the biggest and best ever and not to be missed!’. It certainly was the largest attended in over a decade (approximately 4,500 people according to the SWP) but I for one was left underwhelmed.
An engaging new music video against the US blockade on Cuba has been released by the UK rapper Lowkey. The song Too Much recognises Cuba’s achievements as a defiant force against anti-imperialism despite US aggression and the blockade.
The track, and its' video filmed in Cuba, focuses on capitalism and its perverse obsession with material things, most obviously money, over human values and the physical and emotional well being of people in society. The video shows life in Cuba, where although people are still affected by the crisis of capitalism, a new socialist society is being built which puts humanity at its centre.
The Latest Example of the Media Blockade of the Cuban 5
Source: International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, 23 June 2011.
We were more than a little surprised when a CNN journalist based in Los Angeles contacted SPARC Gallery interested in covering Gerardo Hernandez’s exhibit “Humor from my Pen” before its opening on June 4. We remained skeptical but after several phone calls back and forth an interview was set up.
On June 3 the CNN journalist arrived early to set up her camera and to go over what she would be covering about the background of Gerardo’s work and the case of the Cuban 5 in general.
She seemed genuinely interested and did a long interview with the organizers from the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 in both Spanish and English. She also interviewed the Executive Director of SPARC, Debra Padilla.
We did not know going into the interview just how much the journalist knew about the case of the Cuban 5 but after more than 3 hours she learned not only about the artistic talents displayed in Gerardo’s cartoons but also about the deep injustice that he and his four brothers have been enduring for 13 years for defending their country, Cuba, against terrorism.
We asked the journalist how long it would take before we would know if the interview was going to be aired and she told us she did not know but mentioned that her editor wanted to find someone with a different “point of view” to “balance” the story.
This other “point of view” is really the only view that the people of the US are fed on a daily basis when it comes to any topic related to Cuba. That view is a steady stream of vilification, distortion and dishonest reporting of the realities of Cuba living under a 50 year blockade. Despite this we were reminded of what one of the Cuban 5 has said to us on many occasions, “It is better to have bad coverage than no coverage at all”
Our surprise about the interview was even greater when we were told that the “balanced” segment was complete and going to be aired on a program of CNN called “Encuentro” on Wednesday June 15 at 2pm PST.
We immediately passed this new information along to many of our friends so they could see with their own eyes that after 13 years of silence we were going to get a little break on coverage of the Cuban 5.
Unfortunately it did not happen.
The best answer we were able to get from the journalist who did the interview was that it was an “executive decision” not to air the segment.
So many times we hear about freedom in the United States with a free media that covers all points of views; but in the end it is those at the top of the media chain of command who will determine what is news and what isn’t.
Perhaps CNN was having trouble glossing over the courage of the Cuban 5 in the war against terrorism, or to show them in a human light. Perhaps they could not find a way to deny that these sons of Cuba were extraordinary men sent to Miami to defend the sovereignty of their country. Or maybe they were nervous about the absolute double standard in the US where an admitted terrorist like Luis Posada Carriles can show his paintings in Miami while the Cuban 5, who were here to prevent terrorism, produce art behind bars.
Here is my unprinted response to the whole-page article about recent developments in Cuba which appeared in the Financial Times, 25 April 2011:
With typical journalistic hyperbole you claim that changes to the employment structure in Cuba amount to ‘a structural adjustment so harsh it would make even advocates of the “shock therapy” meted out in the former Soviet bloc wince’ (John Rathbone and Marc Frank, ‘Cuba Libre?’ 25 April 2011). You are mistaken.
Photo: Reuters Pictures
Employees at a tobacco factory vote during a debate on new guidelines for the Cuban economy
The Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (CCP) took place in Havana between the 16 and 19 April 2011, marking the 50th anniversary of two historic events: the declaration of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution on 16 April 1961 and the defeat of the Bay of Pigs invasion by CIA-trained Cuban exiles, within 72 hours, on the 19 April 1961.
The principal function of the Congress was to discuss, amend and approve the Draft Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution and then to oversee their implementation. Distributed nationally in early November 2010, these guidelines contained 291 proposals for consolidating or amending social and economic policy in twelve broad categories:
Three members of the Cuban five have recently won a battle to have their sentences reduced: Ramon Labanino from life plus eighteen years to thirty years, Fernando Gonzalez from nineteen years to seventeen years plus nine months, and Antonio Guerrero from life plus ten years to twenty one years plus ten months. This is a victory for the international movement to free the five Cuban anti-terrorists from their political imprisonment at the hands of United States imperialism. After their resentencing the three men said they “feel profoundly moved and grateful for the permanent solidarity…so crucial in this long battle for justice.”
The five Cubans are political prisoners held in US gaols for trying to stop terrorist attacks against their country. They were working to foil the persistent attempts by right-wing counter-revolutionary groups based in Miami to commit acts of sabotage and terrorism against Cuba. Among those they attempted to expose was Luis Posada Carrilles, who has openly admitted to terrorist acts including the bombing of a Cuban aeroplane in 1976 which killed over 70 people. However when they submitted information to the US government which would have helped prevent further terrorist action they themselves were arrested on trumped-up charges, sentenced in a Miami courtroom and have been held in US gaols since, including spells in solitary confinement, while terrorists like Posada Carilles walk free on US soil.
In Cuba the five are national heroes and around the world they are symbols of anti-imperialist resistance. There are regular international protests demanding their release, in Cuba, Latin America, Britain and even the US itself. The five have continued their fight for over 11 years and resisted frequent offers from the US to sell-out and spread lies about Cuban socialism in return for their freedom. In a joint statement made by Ramon, Fernando and Antonio after having their sentences reduced they said “we did not give an inch in our principles, decorum and honour, always defending our innocence and the dignity of our Homeland” and they reiterated that “although three of our sentences were partially reduced, the injustice remains for all of us.” They also noted that “the prosecutor publicly recognised the existence of a strong international movement in support of our immediate freedom that affects the image of the US judicial system…the absolute political character of this process is confirmed.”
Both inside and outside of the corrupt US judicial system, the struggle continues. The campaign to free the five is an important part of Cuba’s ongoing revolution. In a new year’s message to his supporters Antonio Guerrero, one of the five, stated that we must “say with one voice, ENOUGH!”, that we must “think of socialism as a solution to the problems of the peoples” and as something “we have to defend and perfect daily.”
The Cuban five were falsely tried, free the Cuban five!
By Luke Lucas
Read more here: www.freethefive.org/whoarethefive.htm
Contact us to get involved in our work in solidarity with the Cuban revolution and against the imprisonment of the Cuban five.
Photos: Carlos Serpa Maceira (top) and Moises Rodriguez (bottom) are congratulated in their respective areas by neighbours who have just watched the television programme Pawns of Imperialism on Saturday 26 February.
The spontaneous demonstration which broke out on Saturday night in Nueva Gerona, capital of Cuba’s Island of Youth, was not the anti-regime uprising for which the US government, bourgeois media, and the internal opposition hopelessly craves. Instead it was a celebration of the revolutionary commitment shown by local resident Carlos Serpa Maceira, as neighbours welcomed him back into the arms of his people.
This new pamphlet, produced by Rock around the Blockade, collects together a series of articles from
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! that marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution in 2009.
The articles analyse different aspects of the development of socialism in Cuba: from health and education, to economic management and Cuba’s trade and cooperation agreements with progressive Latin American and Caribbean governments.
The pamphlet is free to download here and we encourage you to share it widely.