At 2.10am on 30 April, the Cuban embassy in Washington was attacked by a hail of machine gun fire. 32 bullets from an AK-47 peppered the entrance to the building and a statue of Jose Marti. No one was injured, though seven people were inside the building. The terrorist was Alexander Alazo Baró, a Cuban-born man who moved to Mexico in 2003 before seeking asylum in the US in 2010. The attack was carefully planned: Alazo reconnoitred the embassy two weeks before; he draped himself in a US flag to avoid being gunned down by police; he attempted to burn a Cuban flag on which was scrawled ‘Trump 2020’. Instead of cooperating and condemning this terrorist attack on Cuba’s diplomatic mission, the US government has added Cuba to a list of countries that are not cooperating with US anti-terrorism activities.
The response of socialist Cuba to the global SARS-CoV2 pandemic has been outstanding both domestically and for its international contribution. That a small island nation, subjected to hundreds of years of colonialism and imperialism and, since the Revolution of 1959, six decades of the criminal United States blockade, can play such an exemplary role is due to Cuba’s socialist system. The central plan directs national resources according to a development strategy which prioritises human welfare and community participation, not private profit. HELEN YAFFE reports.
Update, 9 June 2020: In an article titled 'Cuba sets example with successful programme to contain coronavirus' published 7 June, Ed Augustin writing for The Guardian finally acknowledged Cuba's success in fighting Covid-19. Previously, the newspaper had followed a long-held editorial policy of hostility and slander towards socialist Cuba, which rang increasingly hollow as Cuba set an outstanding example in the pandemic. We hope that our statement published on 6 May, below, contributed to the process by which The Guardian has been forced to change its tone.
We Are Cuba: How a Revolutionary People Have Survived in a Post-Soviet World
Helen Yaffe, Yale Press, 2020, 363pp. £18.99 RRP or £15.99 inc p&p from FRFI.
Drawing on extensive inter-view documentation with Cubans from all walks of life, We Are Cuba: How a Revolutionary People Have Survived in a Post-Soviet World offers a remarkable insight into why and how Cuban socialism was able to survive after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Helen Yaffe eclipses the literature that has tried to answer these questions within a reductive framework based primarily on the political aspects of Cuban socialism with a focus on the Castro brothers. Looking at both the economic history and political economy of Cuba, We Are Cuba incorporates a deeper analysis by examining the impacts of underdevelopment, imperialism, crisis and isolation in terms of Cuba’s development strategy, medical science, international solidarity, energy and environment to find how the revolutionary Cuban people survived a period critics were sure would destroy them.
In late January 2020, the Chinese National Health Commission selected a Cuban anti-viral drug, Interferon Alfa 2b, among the treatments it would use for Covid-19 patients. This drug has been produced in Cuba by the Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (CIGB) since 1986 and in China since 2003 by the Cuban-Chinese biotech joint venture ChangHeber. It has shown its efficacy and safety in the therapy of viral diseases including dengue, Hepatitis B and C, shingles and HIV-AIDS. Because it interferes with viral multiplication within cells, it has also been used in the treatment of different types of carcinomas. Dr Luis Herrera Martinez, who led the team which first made the Cuban anti-viral drug in the 1980s, explained, ‘its use prevents aggravation and complications in patients, reaching that stage that ultimately can result in death.’ By March 2020, as China prioritised the drug, authorities around the world were requesting the Cuban product. Helen Yaffe reports.
Our Change.org petition demanding that the British government learn from Cuba's approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, and activate legislation to counter the US blockade of Cuba, can be found here. Share the petition to get as many signatures as possible!
Thank you so much to everyone who liked, shared and donated to Sunday's 'Marathon for Cuba'. 46.7 kilometres completed (29 miles)! You can see the videos uploaded as part of the run on our facebook. Any final donations can be sent via Go Cardless here:
Whilst we are still collecting in the final donations, we have already made a £350 payment to Cubanos en UK's emergency ventilator appeal, and will send on any final cash collected. Their appeal has nearly reached it's goal so please keep sharing and helping them smash their £25,000 target.
Rock Around the Blockade will use the remaining half of donations to campaign against the US blockade and build solidarity with Cuba Socialista here in Britain. We are producing a new edition of our pamphlet 'The streets are ours!' which will cover the fundamentals of Cuba's 60 year revolution and why we need to defend it from the escalating threat of economic warfare and intervention.
Watch this space for meetings, protests, campaigns and events
Why not get involved and get sponsored to run your own mile laps, posting your videos too!
Cuba is making a huge contribution worldwide to fighting the pandemic - Cuban medical teams are currently working in 60 countries. Cuba has sent 14 additional brigades of medical specialists abroad specifically to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Italy, South Africa, Nicaragua, St Kitts and Grenadines, Granada, Jamaica, Venezuela, with delegations preparing to go to Congo. Cuba's life-saving drug Interferon Alpha 2B is already being distributed and administrated to Covid-19 patients. Cuba received the stricken British cruise ship MS Braemar when the US, the Bahamas and no other country in the region would. It treated its passengers and ensured passage home for those who could travel. This is a shining example of socialist internationalism.
Yet due to illegal unilateral sanctions,, Cuba cannot buy new ventilators or repair old ones because the companies that previously supplied ventilators were acquired by a US company (Vyaire Medical Inc). The US blockade imposed on Cuba forbids any type of trading, even of medical items in the middle of this Covid-19 pandemic.
Cuban institutions in health, research and academia have come together to repair old ventilators and to build new devices to support infected patients. Half of all the funds I raise will be given to the Cubanos en UK appeal to support Cuba in building ventilators, adding to the donations already made by Rock Around the Blockade. The rest of the funds will be used to support our urgent solidarity work here in Britain, helping us to organise action against the blockade and produce a new pamphlet to raise awareness about Cuba here in Britain.
Donate, share and watch my sweaty face getting redder with each lap!
Rock around the Blockade is supporting this fundraising campaign to buy equipment for ventilators for Cuban patients with Covid-19. They are blocked from purchasing new machines by the illegal, punitive US blockade. Please donate what you can and share widely.
When times are hard, that is when we most need generosity, kindness and compassion. We appeal to that generosity, that makes us better people, as we turn to you in asking for help. We need to buy components to build ventilators to support COVID-19 patients with medical complications in Cuba.
As you may know, Cuba cannot buy new ventilators or repair old ones because the companies that previously supplied ventilators to Cuba were acquired by a US company (Vyaire Medical Inc). The US blockade imposed on Cuba forbids any type of trading, even of medical items in the middle of this pandemic. However, people still need to be treated and saved.
Cuban institutions in health, research and academia have come together to repair old ventilators and to build new devices to support infected patients. Funds from this appeal will support Cuba in building ventilators using designs that the international community has kindly made available for free on the web. Specifically, funds from this campaign will be used to support building ventilators using the design of the MIT Emergency Ventilator (E-Vent) Project. For this project, Cuban scientists are in close contact with, and studying, the experiences of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels), UCLA, and McGill University. In this way, -through collaboration, open-source and solidarity- we can work around the US blockade of Cuba and help sick people.
We – you and me – can save patients in Cuba by contributing to this campaign.
This is an urgent request. We need to raise £25 000. Time is short, people are dying.
Until the £25K target is not reached, we cannot use the funds. Please, make your contribution today.
Dr Miriam Palacios-Callender & Dr Valia Rodriguez-Rodriguez
We are deeply concerned at a number of reprehensible and mendacious articles smearing the Government, People and Sandinista Revolution of Nicaragua. These include: “President nowhere to be seen as Nicaragua shuns coronavirus curbs”, (The Guardian, 8th April), "'Our players are afraid': Nicaraguan football ploughs on amid the crisis", (The Guardian, 1st April) and "Love in the time of COVID-19: negligence in the Nicaraguan response" (The Lancet).
The central claim of all three articles is that Nicaragua is out of step with the WHO, that there is insufficient public education about social distancing and hygiene, and that our health system is inadequate (The Lancet). Added to this are lurid accusations in The Guardian that our Government secretly controls the independent Nicaraguan Football League, that President Daniel Ortega “might even have died” and is “so detached (that) his absence hardly mattered at all”, that there is a “macabre plan” underlying these supposed misdeeds, that an “uprising” in 2018 suffered a “brutal police crackdown”, and, in the most despicable, shameful and disgusting smear of all, that our democratic Sandinista Government (described as a “regime”) “actually wanted to rid itself of part of the population”. This in regards to a country which has suffered centuries of actual genocide, oppression and occupation, first at the hands of racist and colonialist foreign occupiers, and then externally armed right-wing dictatorships and terrorists.
These accusations are mostly completely unsubstantiated - and based entirely on the journalists’ own assertion, or hearsay from unnamed sources or opposition activists -, or in a small minority of cases, some authority is quoted, but is done so out of context and with omission of several relevant and important facts. Such unfounded speculation is especially irresponsible and dangerous during the Covid-19 pandemic, by painting a false picture of an out of control crisis, at a time when misinforming the public can have fatal consequences - as the Guardian itself reported last month.
The truth is that Nicaragua's responsible measures to contain COVID-19 are internationally recognised and supported by, and in full coordination with, the World Health Organization and in regional and bilateral cooperation with multiple countries, and that Nicaragua is an open, democratic and socially progressive society which guarantees freedom of speech, conscience and human rights to all its citizens - all of which we will prove below, point by point.
At the time of writing, Nicaragua has four active cases of COVID-19, two full recoveries, one tragic death of a person with severe underlying health problems, and three people quarantined who either came into close contact with the confirmed cases or who have come from affected countries. Contrary to the conspiracy theories propagated by both the Guardian and The Lancet, for which no evidence whatsoever is provided, these are the figures reported by the Central American Integration System, which publishes daily reports, and are the only figures accepted and recognised as reliable by the World Health Organisation.
Nicaragua has worked in full cooperation with the World Health Organisation since the beginning of the pandemic. Nicaragua has chosen a measured and phased approach, with similarities to Sweden's strategy to tackle the pandemic, balancing multiple factors. Nicaragua is currently in phase 2 of its efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic, after the successful implementation of Phase 1, which is detailed below. Should local transmission emerge and the country’s resilient healthcare system require it, stronger measures can be imposed.
On January 21st, the day after Chinese authorities reported a third death from COVID-19, the Nicaraguan Health Ministry, together with the Pan American Health Association (the regional branch of the WHO in Central America), announced an epidemiological alert. Ten days later, the Ministry of Health published a detailed protocol (referenced here in English) based on WHO best practice, communicating the clearly defined national strategy across all areas of Government and Civil Society to spread out the number of any possible infections to avoid any potential overcrowding of the health system at once, and to coordinate the resources of the public health system with all health care institutions in Nicaragua, including private sector hospitals, the country's Social Security health care system and the Nicaraguan army's health facilities.
Additionally, 37,206 health workers and 250,000 volunteers have been trained and are working according to WHO guidelines for the pandemic, and over 2 million households have been visited by Nicaragua's health brigades at least once (in a country with a total population of 6.5m), many more than once, for testing, education, provision of necessary sanitary equipment, moral support in these difficult times, and more. On March 3rd a WHO approved molecular biology laboratory was extended to allow testing for COVID-19.
Furthermore, from the very outset of the health alert in February the government has launched a mass public awareness campaign (supported by the aforementioned health brigades and abundant printed and audio-visual educational material) which has stressed proper handwashing, taking care to protect others when sneezing or coughing and keeping a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres as well as carefully cleaning constantly-used surfaces. People wanting to self-isolate have been free to do so, including school and university students.
Moreover, Nicaragua's work to contain COVID-19 has been recognised by numerous multilateral institutions and bilateral partners. Ana Emilia Solís, the WHO/PAHO representative in Nicaragua, has stated that "Nicaragua is working according to World Health Organisation Guidelines", and highlighted that Nicaragua's community based health system ensures the involvement of communities, quick and appropriate actions, and that official advice and orders are respected.
Regional and international co-operation are central to Nicaragua's response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Together with the Heads of State and Government of Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama, the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, signed and is actively participating in the collective implementation of the Central American Integration System (CAIS) Contingency Plan, to date the world's most comprehensive regional co-operation plan against the virus, which is now backed by US$1.96bn from the Central American Bank of Economic Integration (CABEI), which goes towards
hospitals and equipment, staff, testing, education campaigns, economic stimulus, and other vital areas. CABEI recognises Nicaragua's alignment with the CAIS Contingency Plan and has therefore at the time of writing delivered all allocated funds and tests in a timely manner to the country.
In another sign of this spirit of regional unity, the CAIS has also released an official video of the Heads of State and Government of all member countries, including President Ortega, sending messages of hope and determination to their people.
Additionally, Taiwan has given continuous technical and financial support, including the donation of 29,000 sanitary masks up to the time of writing, knowledge sharing, and an additional US$1m aid grant on top of regular support for Nicaragua's social and economic development. Cuba has also sent brigades of doctors, nurses and experts to support Nicaragua's efforts, and is working with Nicaragua on the production of the drug interferon alfa-2b, which it is believed could help to treat the disease, and which would be produced at the only public sector pharmaceutical plant in the region which produces vaccines, located in Nicaragua, which is a joint venture with the Russian Federation. Nicaragua is also working alongside the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), thereby benefiting from the expertise of Chinese authorities and experts.
Because of the progressive policies of the Sandinista Governments since 2007, Nicaragua is in a relatively strong position. 353 new clinics and surgeries have been built across the country and 15 primary public hospitals built or renovated, giving a total of 19 currently prepared to operate, with six more under construction. This is supported by the aforementioned healthcare brigades, already a cornerstone of an inclusive healthcare strategy to reach people in remote areas or housebound. In comparison, from 1990-2006, only four hospitals were built while the population almost doubled.
Further to this, in addition to the recently inaugurated (aforementioned) WHO approved molecular biology laboratory capable of analysis and testing for various diseases, since 2018 the country hosts a pharmaceutical plant with the capacity to produce 12 million influenza vaccines per year - this is where the production of interferon alfa-2b is planned to occur. A generally healthier population of course takes the strain off the health system in the time of a pandemic.
The aforementioned Ana Emilia Solís of the PAHO said in October 2019 that “PAHO has a special commitment to Nicaragua because it has achieved great progress in health indicators like national vaccine coverage, maternal mortality, child nutrition, and others. And Nicaraguan authorities maintain a clear perspective of what aspects need to be improved and the ways in which PAHO can support this work through technical cooperation.”
For his part, Dante Mossei, President of the aforementioned Central American Bank of Economic Integration, said in the same month: “Nicaragua has a perfect execution rate of its project portfolio and serves as an example for other Central American countries on how to plan investment projects and implement them efficiently”.
Further to the points made in those articles, it is also worth noting that in a developing country, acquiring unpayable levels of debt invariably leads very quickly to stringent austerity and wholesale privatisation imposed by rich countries on behalf of the lending banks, which quite literally kill, as Latin America knows too well.
In conclusion, the Government of Nicaragua has been responsible in its actions and transparent with the population about its strategy since the beginning of the outbreak, implementing a viable, balanced and sustainable response to COVID-19, motivated by the same good sense, responsibility and commitment to social justice, equality, human rights and international solidarity and cooperation, which the Sandinista Government has displayed since 2007.
Rock Around The Blockade, campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group, condemns the escalation of US aggression against Venezuela and Cuba in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Trump administration's deployment of navy destroyers to patrol the Caribbean near Venezuela on 1 April is a declaration of war and the latest move in protracted efforts to overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution. The US military deployment is part of a wider manoeuvre planned for the whole region involving aircraft and ground units, adding to deployments to Guyana and a major new military pact with Brazil, Venezuela's hostile neighbours. These actions will amount to the largest US military deployment in the region in the last 30 years.
We reject the heinous accusations that Venezuela is a narco-state and the vile bounty Trump has placed on President Nicolas Maduro's head. Evidence from the United States' own Department of Defence concludes that Venezuela is not a prime transit country for drugs, with the majority of US supply originating from Colombia, channelled via the pacific to other US allies in central America before being smuggled north across the US border. Furthermore, Trump's reference to 'malign actors' seeking to exploit the coronavirus situation as a further justification is ludicrous. It is the US that is now the epicentre of the pandemic thanks to a lax response in which the Trump administration prioritised private interests over social health. It is the US that is the 'malign actor' exploiting the pandemic for its own gain by ramping up sanctions and hostilities on countries across the globe.
A map produced by the US Southern Command shows the main drug-smuggling routes in Latin America connecting Colombia and Ecuador with Guatemala and Mexico via the Pacific Ocean.
Crushing US sanctions are estimated to have cost Venezuela $120 billion since 2014. Human rights expert Alfred de Zayas, who as UN rapporteur visited Venezuela in 2017, estimates these measures have killed over 100,000 as imports of key medicines and healthcare equipment have been blocked. Defying the UN call to suspend all sanctions in the battle against the virus, the US has blocked an emergency IMF loan being granted to Venezuela and has vowed to ramp up sanctions until President Nicolas Maduro resigns and Venezuela terminates all agreements with Russia and Cuba. This would require the total surrender of the Bolivarian Revolution and the social and political gains that have been won by the working and impoverished classes in the fight for socialism for over the last 20 years. Trump is weaponising sanctions in the covid-19 pandemic in the hope of crushing movements for socialism.
The PSUV government headed by Maduro has made clear that they will meet aggression full on. In a letter to the US people, Maduro wrote 'I wholeheartedly ask you not to allow your country to be dragged once again into another unending conflict, another Vietnam, another Iraq, but this time, closer to home.'
The Trump administration has also been busy smearing outstanding contribution of socialist Cuba in fighting the pandemic, peddling lies about 'slave doctors' and pressuring other countries to reject practical assistance from Cuban medical teams working in 60 countries. Cuba has sent 14 brigades of medical specialists abroad specifically to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. While the US offers vast amounts of money for exclusive access in the scramble to produce a vaccine, Cuba's life-saving drug Interferon Alpha 2B is already being distributed and administrated to Covid-19 patients. Cuba received the stricken British cruise ship MS Braemar and treated its passengers. Meanwhile, US sanctions have blocked the delivery of Chinese donations of testing kits, masks and ventilators to the island. In the face of the US blockade which costs Cuba some $12 million a day, socialist internationalism is prevailing against US imperialist bullying. We must join the international demand to end the illegal US blockade of Cuba. Rock Around The Blockade and the Revolutionary Communist Group demand:
Immediate lifting of all US sanctions and blockades
International cooperation and assistance against the pandemic – full support for Cuban medical teams
Withdrawal of all US military forces from Latin America
Cessation of all US funding and intervention in internal affairs
Hands off Cuba! Hands off Venezuela! An attack on the fight for socialism in Latin America is an attack on the fight for socialism everywhere!
Take action! Demand an end to the extra-territorial application of the US blockade of Cuba in Britain. Demand an end to British support for US sanctions on Venezuela. Release Venezuela's gold with-held in the Bank of England. Complain to:
Dominic Raab – Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Dominic Raab MP House of Commons London SW1A 0AA.
Interview with Beverley Keene Jubilee South (Argentina) by Revolutionary Communist group delegation to the Anti-Imperialist conference of solidarity, for democracy against neoliberalism, Havana, Cuba November 2019
Please could you tell us more about Jubilee South and its demands?
Jubilee South is a movement with networks across Latin America and the Caribbean. We first came together 20 years ago, in 1999, in the midst of the global Jubilee 2000 movement that was looking for debt cancellation for the poorest countries. In Latin America and the Caribbean we became very interested and become part of the movement. However, we said at the time that the problem is not that we can't pay the debt, the basic problem that we face is that we don't owe the debt. As Fidel said, in the 1985 Havana Conference, debt is a problem that impacts all of us- the more we pay the more we owe, there's no end to it.
Despite the genocidal US blockade that costs Cuba $12m per day, they have built solidarity and mutual assistance, training over 29,750 doctors from 105 countries free of charge at the Latin American School of Medicine. During the events of the anti-imperialist conference of solidarity for democracy against neo-liberalism, students from around the globe performed songs, dances, played instruments and recited poetry. Our delegation made contact with Alwandze Dlamini, a medical student from Swaziland training to be a doctor at ELAM, who kindly allowed us to publish his poem.
Reporting from the anti Imperialist conference of solidarity for democracy against neo-liberalism, Havana, Cuba November 2019
In November 2019 delegates from the Revolutionary Communist Group, newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!and our campaign in solidarity with Socialist Cuba, Rock Around the Blockade, joined over a thousand people representing anti-imperialist struggles around the globe. In Havana, delegates celebrated 60 years of the Cuban revolution by pledging to stand against imperialist sanctions and interference in Latin America, to resist the imperialist plunder of whole continents strangled by the scramble for profit and power, to fight back against the racism and exploitation unleashed within imperialist nations themselves.
Interview with Marcel Guarnizo from the Colombian Youth Communist Party.
To give you some perspectives from the Colombian Communist Youth, we understand that the political situation in Colombia in terms of in the peace accords signed between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP remain systematically unimplemented and incomplete on the part of the Colombian state, generating a situation of vulnerability for ex-combatents of the FARC, who were counting on re-incorporation into legal, political and social life after laying down arms. This is crucial in the quest for peace in our country.
RATB Interview with FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation front) member Julio Antonio Gomez.
The tranques (violent street protests and barricades) started in Managua on 18 April. In Masaya where I live, they started on 19 April with demonstrations of 5000 people, but from all of the departments they weren't all from Masaya.Afterwards there were thugs with bombs, contact bombs and rifles and attacks on the police.After 15 days they began the tranques,these violent barricades, where all the criminals of Nicaragua, narco traffickers, marijuana traffickers, bandits, and all types of those who are not engaged in society. The tranques were in place for two and a half months across the department. no-one could leave to sell, no one could go to their shops or the market, because they shut the routes with the tranques and to pass a tranque was very dangerous, because they assassinated you, for this we called them the tranques of death. Commandante Daniel(Ortega – President) pushed for dialogue and negotiations with the coup plotters.The coup plotters said that if the policestayed off the streets they would dismantle the tranques. Commandante Daniel removed the police but they did not dismantle the tranques, they increased them. The cities were in the hands of the terrorists, because the police were in their cuartels. They threw out civilians from their houses , anyone who was a militant of the FSLN they tortured them then afterwards assassinated them. Women, youth and adults. Before this they burned down the radio and TV stations to prevent them from broadcasting the truth.They could not bury the truth, because it was shared on the internet.They demanded intervention from the OAS and the UN, but there was no interest in documenting the real massacres, the real attacks on human rights. Instead these bodies operated as a clear expressions of North American imperialism.Why do they talk of human rights? to use as banner to occupy other countries. Why do they talk of freedom of the press if they lie internationally,why speak of the rights of people if they attack the people?
Short interview by Revolutionary Communist group delegation to the Anti-Imperialist conference of solidarity, for democracy against neo-liberalism, Havana, Cuba November 2019
My name is Jose Picasso, I am a teacher in a rural zone in an indigenous community, in the state of Oaxaca, south-west Mexico.
In 2018 a new government took over, [headed by centre-left President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador- AMLO of theNational regeneration movement – MORENO party]. Formed as an anti-neoliberal government, it has sparked the hopes of many, giving us more energy to enter and create new spaces of participation. In the context where I am working, the youth are now being prioritised. Why? Because the poor youth with few resources have only faced two options in these difficult economic conditions, to leave and migrate to the United States or to join criminal organisations. They have low expectations, their life expectancy is short which generates more problems, without solution.The current government is trying to find solutions to this problem, not just with aesthetic changes, but looking at their backgrounds; the government wants to solve the problem from its roots. One way they are doing this is prioritising youth to receive support, in education, with grants and scholarships. For those who have already left education, the government is subsidising projects like Youth constructing the future, where youth can train and work with carpenters, people in services,mechanics or other professions, subsidising and training these young people.
Report from the RCG delegation to the Anti-Imperialist conference of solidarity, for democracy against neoliberalism. Havana, Cuba 1-3 November 2019.
It was a gathering of resistance. Over 1330 representatives of 789 social movements and organisations from 86 countries focusing on a clear message – to fight in solidarity against all those resisting imperialism and neo-liberalism around the globe. More than that, it was a resounding declaration of solidarity with socialist Cuba, to defy the tightening of the US blockade and the US offensive on all socialist movements across Latin America. To defend Cuba is to defend humanity, it is to defend access to healthcare, education, the environment and basic dignity.
Our delegation from imperialist Britain –which invades, occupies and plunders oppressed countries around the globe, whilst imposing austerity on the working class at home-went to Havana to raise the banner of Cuban socialism and its achievements, to salute the steadfast resistance against destabilisation in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. We went to celebrate the resistance of the popular uprisings against neoliberal governments in Haiti, Honduras, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Brazil which illustrate that the right-wing cannot impose its brutal austerity and violence unchecked. We went to denounce the coup underway in Bolivia. Moreover, we went to strengthen our links with all those worldwide committed to defending Socialist Cuba, ALBA and the revolutionary movements in Latin America that are a beacon of hope; inspiring those fighting against capitalism and imperialism, for liberty and international equality.
'For English translation please turn on subtitles'
‘May the fist rise! May the hand rise! May the people of Latin America rise!’
The conference, organised by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Cuba's Workers Central (CTC), the Cuban Chapter of Social Movements and the Continental Journey for Democracy and Against Neoliberalism, opened with Fernando Gonzalez Lort, head of ICAP, and one of the five Cuban heroes unjustly imprisoned in the US for foiling a terrorist plot against Cuba.
Highlighting the hypocrisy of successive governments in failing to overthrow the Cuban revolution for over 60 years he demanded global condemnation of the US blockade, especially the activation of Helms-Burton Title 3 and declared ‘There’s no better platform than this space, to ratify that Cuba will never give in, nor betray its principles, nor it’s solidarity with the rest of the world’
Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, minister of foreign affairs took the floor, highlighting Cuba’s impressive contribution to international solidarity and highlighting the key popular struggles that define the global anti-imperialist movement today
Margarita Ramirez Jaen, Cuban Communist Party member from Amistur, ICAP’s travel agency explained that it was important to gather delegates from all over the world to Cuba in this moment, to build solidarity with the Cuban socialist system and defend Cuba against the blockade
There followed three days of intense discussion, anti-imperialist tribunes, fiery speeches and proposals for action. Participants were clear, as Gail Walker, director of the US solidarity group ‘Pastors for Peace’ emphasised ‘an attack on Cuba is an attack on all of us standing for justice’ whilst Karin Nansen, president of the Friends of the Earth – Latin America and the Caribbean argued ‘we are living through an intense period of attacks on humanity and on ecological diversity…the internationalist solidarity, held up by the Cuban people is essential…capitalists are turning nature into merchandise and attempts are being made to paint capitalism green and turn nature into a commodity…we must wage a battle of ideas to not allow this happen’ and a Ghanaian medical student stressed ‘some of us learned in Cuba, grew up in Cuba, were raised in Cuba. Cuba is not alone, the world is with Cuba and will stand with Cuba’
Our delegate Ria Aibhilín was invited to speak from the panel in the thematic commission on youth struggles. She explained ‘We are currently very involved in the movement against climate change, dominated by young people, who understand the urgency of the crisis and the need to act now… In every city where we are active, our comrades have been involved in these struggles, bringing anti-imperialist demands, calling for socialism and holding up the example of the most sustainably developed society on the planet – socialist Cuba! We organise under the slogan ‘climate change is a war! of the rich against the poor!’ bringing anti-imperialist politics to the forefront of the struggle.
Rich imperialist countries, like Britain, are driving environmental destruction and global warming as they exploit poorer countries around the world. They plunder the natural resources of the poorer nations, their oil, their mineral and their land. They bribe a tiny layer within those poorer countries to hand over resources at rock bottom price. This is a new form of colonialism. There can be no solution to the climate crisis or its impact without a complete change in the relationship between rich and poor countries, otherwise countries will continue to be looted for the minerals and raw materials to mass produce electric cars and solar panels for ‘eco-friendly’ consumerism, the anarchy and wastefulness of capitalist production will continue and this will just be green imperialism. This requires a challenge to the existing system of imperialist exploitation. None of the existing parliamentary parties in Britain will commit to this and we see no parliamentary route to socialism in our country. The words of Fidel at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio have informed our demands: Abolish the so-called third world debt which facilitates the continued looting of poorer countries. Force the monopolies to hand back their ill-gotten gains from land and raw materials stolen from poor countries.’
Our delegate Sheila Rubio, was taken to speak from the floor in the final session focusing on concrete plans for future work. Holding up photos of protests we have initiated at Esso petrol stations she detailed our efforts to engage climate protestors in taking action against Exxon Mobil, the massive oil conglomerate which owns of Esso. Exxon Mobil, responsible for countless violations of the environment are the first multinational corporation to file a case under Helms Burton Title III, thus attacking the Cuban revolution, world leader in sustainable development. Prompting a round of applause, Sheila declared ‘we must link the struggle to defend Cuba with the youth fighting against climate change. To Esso and Exxon Mobil we say “if you blockade Cuba, we will blockade you!”
In stark contrast to the genocidal US blockade, which costs the island a staggering $12 million each and every day, Cuba is committed to the principles of internationalism, and cooperation. From sending troops to support Angola in the fight against South African Apartheid, to restoring sight to over 50,000 cataract patients without charge, at the conference, Cuba’s achievements in international solidarity were emphasised by the students of ELAM, the Latin American School of Medicine. In an old naval base just outside Havana ELAM has graduated over 29,750 doctors from 105 counties, trained completely for free on the proviso that they return to impoverished communities and offer medical attention. Despite the brutal US blockade, ELAM has even trained over 200 US students. We spoke to Steve Singh Gill from California who explained why studying in Cuba was so important to him. ‘Fidel recognised that people in the US were dying because they didn’t have access to medicine…we want to take some of what we are learning back to our countries, the idea of universal healthcare which would be a blessing in our communities’
At the commission at ELAM met with students from Palestine, Syria, Swaziland, Sri Lanka, Mongolia and beyond. ‘The most precious thing that they have given us is humanity…thank you Cuba’
Not only does Cuba train medical students from around the world, it has sent Cuban doctors to over 80 countries to practice medical internationalism, either dispatching brigades to areas struck by natural disasters, completely for free, or engaging in longer term medical cooperation with countries lacking in public healthcare systems. Gail Walker recalled that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (2005) Cuba offered to send 15,000 doctors to the poor communities, predominantly black and Latino, that were ravaged and left without support. ‘How we wept out of frustration when the US government refused the offer, yet only a few months later a deadly earthquake struck Pakistan and Kashmir so the delegation went there instead.' There are already more than 400,000 health professionals in Cuba who have provided services in 164 countries. At this moment, more than 29,000 are serving vulnerable populations in 65 nations.
How fitting to hold a key commission of the conference in ELAM, the living embodiment of Cuba’s anti-imperialist solidarity.
The final declaration of the conference recognises
‘We are experiencing a new moment in history…The peoples are demonstrating that it is indeed possible to overthrow the imperial offensive which aims to resort to criminalization of social protest, the confinement and displacement of populations, the murder of social and political leaders, feminicide, the persecution of the leaders of progressive governments and the judicialization of politics. Times of hope have opened up. Unity is vital and constitutes our duty; mobilization is the order of the day; organization of the people is the imminent task; and integration is the strategy that will lead us on to victory.’
The central demand calls for
‘Mobilising in permanent actions, intensive, systematic with a high media impact against the escalated aggression of the Yankee Empire as part of the ‘hands off Cuba’ international campaign…demanding the lifting of the blockade on Cuba’ To this end an international day of action has been called for 16 November in which we will be participating.
This came days before the annual UN vote on the US blockade against Cuba which saw 187 countries vote against the US blockade and only US, Israel and Bolsonaro’s Brazil vote in favour. A resounding show of support for Cuba for the 28th year in a row.
Further demands denounced the threats and aggressions against all sovereign governments resisting US and European imperialism. The conference expressed steadfast solidarity with the Chavista movement in Venezuela, and opposed the reactivation of TIAR – The Intern American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance which is reviving the Monroe doctrine and being used to target Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and their democratically elected president Nicolas Maduro.
The conference demanded Freedom for Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, former president of Brazil who had been imprisoned on trumped up charges of corruption since 2018. Days after the conference in response to massive mobilisations, Lula was released from prison on 8 November. An immediate victory for anti-imperialist activists and all progressive imprisoned Latin American leaders against the neo-liberal government of imperialist lackey, Jair Bolsonaro.
The resolution denounced the destabilisation and coup attempts underway in Bolivia by US backed, racist forces of the Santa Cruz elite. Ariana Campero Nava, Bolivian ambassador to Cuba spoke to us explaining the current attack on democracy in Bolivia, calling for international support.
Days later, right wing forces marched on La Paz, attacking indigenous activists, burning buildings, threatening to kill Movement for Socialism (MAS) politicians and forcing indigenous President Evo Morales to resign. Internationalist solidarity has never been so urgent. The coup violence in Bolivia mirrors the protracted coup attempts in Nicaragua (2018) and Venezuela (2019).
Other key demands included solidarity with Nicaragua, reiterating the right of its people to live in peace. Supporting the historic demand of Argentina to recover the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) from Britain. Reparations to the Caribbean nations for the repercussions of slavery, indigenous extermination and climate change. Demanding independence for Puerto Rico, a Latin American, Caribbean nation dominated by US colonialism for over a century.
Defending the popular movement in Chile and Ecuador to revolt in the streets against neoliberalism.
Expressing deepest solidarity with Haiti in their struggle for social justice and historic reparations. Supporting the protests and struggle in Honduras. Supporting the right of the Colombian people to live in peace
Standing against imperialist intervention in Africa and the Middle East, against imperialist intervention in Syria. Supporting the historic struggles of the Saharawi and Palestinian people for self determination.
Rejecting all forms of discrimination and violence based on gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, religious belief, defending the struggles of indigenous and aboriginal people.
Standing against the anti-immigrant laws of the US and Europe, against the anti-socialist, anti-communist campaigns. Standing with the global struggle to defend natural resources, biodiversity, food sovereignty and ‘Mother Earth’
The conference resolved to move forward in building anti-imperialist unity amongst the left-wing political forces of the world.
In the closing session, Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela, and Miguel Diaz-Canel – President of the Council of State, Cuba addressed the crowd:
Standing firm against the media war, Diaz-Canel then emphasised ‘Cuba has been held under siege by lies and for years separated from its natural environment. With lies they have invaded nations, torn apart peoples, set back entire regions on their path to development.
On behalf of Cuba, we would like to reaffirm that the new generation of Cuban leaders, trained and educated by the historical generation of Fidel and Raúl, are revolutionaries, socialists, faithful to Fidel and Martí. and that we will not yield a millimetre in our positions in favour of independence, sovereignty, and social justice.' Find the full transcript of Diaz-Canel's address to the conference here: Díaz-Canel: A better world is possible, and urgently necessary! Let us struggle for it!
For his part Nicolas Maduro saluted a renewed ‘anti-neoliberal wave….there is an insurgency of the people against the model of exclusion, privatisation, impoverishment, the individualism of savage neoliberal capitalism of the International Monetary Fund,’
It is clear that the future of Latin America hangs in the balance. On one side are the progressive forces rebelling against neo-liberalism, the continued resistance of Venezuela and Cuba, the movement to Free Lula, the anti-neoliberalist uprisings igniting the continent. On the other side is the ugly racist violence of the right-wing, armed and funded by US and European imperialism, defending the rights of multi-nationals to plunder natural resources by shooting students in the streets and launching racist coup attempts against Bolivia’s indigenous led revolutionary movement. The future of Latin America is decisive for the future of humanity – whether the progressive forces can win out will depend, in part on the strength of the anti-imperialist forces from within Europe and the US themselves. Our task is before us!
So what next? Take action against the blockade!
In addition to supporting solidarity protests against the neo-liberal offensive in Latin America, the Revolutionary Communist Group is committed to continuing our monthly pickets of Esso, against Helms Burton Title III. We will launch solidarity protests in all cities where we are active on 16 November, responding to the call from the conference
See the call to action from Gloria La Riva – from the Party of socialism and liberation in the US:
Tighe Barry from Code Pink, one of the activists arrested for defending the Venezuelan embassy in Washington DC against a take-over by opposition politicians supporting Guaido’s attempted coup, illustrates the kind of solidarity action that can be taken from the belly of the imperialism.
Whilst on 5 November, RCG comrades in London protested against a visit by Luis Almagro, General Secretary of the US backed Organisation of American States and continental architect of aggression against Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia.
This is an urgent rallying call to action
As the comrades from Palestine expressed so clearly
‘when we fight for the struggle of Cuba we are fighting our struggle too- our common enemy is against imperialism; the exploitation of resources to ensure the continuation of their system…Cuba is an inspiring example for liberation movements around the world.’
End the US blockade of Cuba! Hands off Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and all the progressive movements across Latin America and the world!
The people continue to fight! Los Pueblos seguimos en lucha!
Gloria La Riva, president of the US Party for Socialism and Liberation and now presidential candidate for 2020, has made a call for action in support of Cuba on November 16th. It will be an urgent day of solidarity agreed internationally at the conference: 'Go to the streets, go to the US embassy, go to the companies that blockade Cuba. If they blockade Cuba, we'll blockade them! ¡CUBA SÍ, BLOQUEO NO!'
Gloria La Riva calls for action on the internationally agreed urgent day of solidarity with Cuba - 16 November 2019. Go to the streets, go to the US embassy, go to the companies that blockade Cuba. If they blockade Cuba, we'll blockade them! ¡CUBA SÍ, BLOQUEO NO! Havana Anti Imperialist Conference 2019