Help us send material aid to a paediatric hospital in Havana

Rock Around the Blockade is raising money to send a solidarity brigade to socialist Cuba. We will be bringing equipment and medicines to a paediatric hospital in Havana. This is an incredibly important time for solidarity as Cuba faces immense challenges, compounded by a severe tightening of the US blockade and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. The situation is comparable to the Special Period, with difficulty importing basic necessities such as fuel, food, and medicine. The Trump administration enacted 243 new suffocating measures to reinforce the blockade against Cuba, and Biden has left them entirely intact.

Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the US blockade on Cuba. For over 60 years the Cuban people have faced the political and economic might of the most powerful nation on the planet. The blockade represents the most comprehensive and longest running set of sanctions in modern history.

Despite all of this, the Cuban people have been able to build a society that shows to the world an alternative to war, poverty, racism and environmental destruction. Even during periods of intense economic crisis due to the crushing blockade, Cuba has been able to guarantee adequate levels of healthcare, education, housing and food security for all. And these principles are not merely extended to the Cuban people: recently Cuba sent thousands of doctors to countries across the world to help them fight the Covid-19 pandemic. This takes the total number of Cuban doctors sent across the world to deliver healthcare that is free at the point of delivery to 400,000 since 1960, primarily in poor countries.

All of these achievements are because Cuba is a socialist country. For 60 years, even in the face of huge adversity, the Cuban people have built a society that is governed by the people and truly in the interests of the people. Socialist Cuba remains a shining beacon for humanity, and the unwavering solidarity it shows to the poor and oppressed across the world continues to this day.

Now we must show solidarity with Cuba. In 2023 we will be sending our 15th solidarity brigade to Cuba. Young activists from Britain will spend two weeks meeting Cubans from all walks of life, visiting schools, hospitals, factories, community centres, farms; learning about Cuban socialism and holding exchanges with Cuban youth about the reality of living under capitalism in Britain, as millions face the severe consequences of the ‘cost of living crisis’ whilst Britain continues to fuel and engage in wars abroad.

We will also bring material aid to help a paediatric hospital in Havana. This will help Cuba alleviate the crisis it is facing under the crushing blockade, an act ever more precedent as the tightening of the blockade has left only a handful of banks willing to process transactions to Cuba, allow financial aid to be sent to the island or even process international transactions that have the word ‘Cuba’ in the reference. Please support our fundraising efforts in any way you can and make a donation.

The more we raise, the more material aid we can take with us! Over the years our brigades have coordinated with the Union of Young Communists in Cuba to assess the best forms of material aid to bring; this has included sports equipment, musical instruments, a sound system, ballet shoes, boxing gloves and more.

On our return we will host meetings, with brigadistas reporting back from their experiences, showing photos and film clips, and taking the lessons we can learn from Cuban socialism to the streets of Britain. 

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Or by sending cheques or postal orders payable to:
Rock Around The Blockade at
RATB BCM Box 5909, London, WC1N 3XX.

Thank you for your support

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Rock around the Blockade, a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group, held its 15th solidarity brigade to Cuba from December 2023 to January 2024. While learning about the inspiring achievements of Cuban socialism, the brigadistas also witnessed the devastating impacts of the US blockade on Cuba. The US blockade is an act of war, contrived ‘to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government’ as conceived by then-US Assistant Secretary of State Lester Mallory in 1960. It is an act of genocide under the UN Genocide Convention. The blockade restricts access to resources in every sector: medical equipment for children’s intensive care units, insulin for diabetic patients, materials for schools, food and energy. The tightening of the blockade under the US Trump administration, and then under Biden, has imposed a severe economic crisis on Cuba with severe material shortages. But the Cuban people we met and spoke to, from the farmers and economists to the doctors and cleaners, and particularly the young people, remain committed to resisting the blockade and defending the gains of their socialist revolution. Ria Aibhilin and Soma Kisan report.

Socialist Cuba’s long-standing principles of free universal healthcare – enshrined in its Constitution – take expression in its emphasis on primary care. The pinnacle of this approach is Cuba’s Family Doctor and Nurse programme. Teams of doctors and nurses are based in every community. Families receive visits at least yearly, or every three months for those with chronic illnesses. This allows the socialist state to assess the health of the entire population, not just the sick.

Climate change is already profoundly affecting Cuban society, as it is elsewhere in the underdeveloped nations. Cuba has already begun to experience rising sea levels and one million Cuban people live on or near the coast. Our brigade met with representatives from the Environment Agency at an agroecological community project known as ‘Granjita Feliz’ (‘Happy little farm’), in Guanabacoa, Havana, to learn more about the government’s ambitious 100-year plan to combat the adverse effects of climate change: Tarea Vida (‘Life Task’).
Despite being situated away from the coastal areas, Guanabacoa was chosen by the Cuban state as the sole recipient of EU funding and technical training related to climate change. This decision was instrumental in dispelling the misconception that climate change only affects coastal regions.

The triumph of the Revolution instigated thousands of transformations in social, political, and economic life in Cuba, made by and for Cuban women. Vilma Espin, leader in Cuba’s revolutionary struggle, founded and was President of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) in 1960. Today 4.2 million women and girls over 14 years old (92% of the female population) are members of the FMC. They join voluntarily to carry out community and municipality-based work.

Cuba has developed groundbreaking biological technology which has prevented over 20,000 diabetic-related amputations and treated over 120,000 Cubans. Herberprot-P is a genetically engineered epidermal growth factor, a molecule that encourages cell growth and multiplication so when it is injected in a wound, or ulcer, it promotes wound healing.

Brigadistas saw firsthand what workers’ democracy can achieve when visiting the La Genética neighbourhood in the Playa municipality of Havana. Political representatives in Cuba cannot nominate themselves for positions of state power and must instead be proposed by local residents. As a result, La Genética’s representatives – mostly black women – truly reflect the community they serve (56% of Cuba’s National Assembly are women and 45% are black or mixed race). The Cuban people make their voices heard not only through representatives in government, but through participation in the mass organisations that are active in every aspect of life, including the Workers’ Central Union, Federation of Cuban Women, University Student Federation, and José Martí Pioneer Organisation that empowers young people.

La Genética has benefited from the Neighbourhoods in Transformation initiative aimed at improving the infrastructure, services, and quality of life of the country’s most vulnerable communities. RATB visited a well-equipped nursery, open from 6am-7pm to provide for working parents, many of whom are employed in the nearby biotech plant that gives the neighbourhood its name. The nursery, whose 24 staff care for the developmental needs of 100 children, costs parents just 40 pesos per month for as many children as they have. Among the facilities in the centre are a theatre, cinema and dance studio, with free workshops provided for residents. The planning of the improvement works was conducted by local people based on the community’s needs, and the construction of amenities throughout La Genética provided more than 100 jobs.

The needs of different social groups are not treated as antagonistic under socialism, as they are under capitalism. This was reflected in the approval by the Cuban people in 2022 of a revised Family Code (see FRFI 291). The drafting of the Code was open to the entire population, with six million people participating in tens of thousands of meetings. The final version was passed with 67% of the vote. But, as RATB learned when it visited the Cuban Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX), the 33% who voted against the Code are not glibly expected to ‘like or lump’ the result. Socialist Cuba commits resources to regions where reactionary views prevail in order to enable all Cubans to develop together their understanding of the needs of all people.

Felix Lancashire

First published in FIGHT RACISM! FIGHT IMPERIALISM! 298 February/March 2024

Brigade to Cuba 2023/24
- Cuba resists - End the US blockade
- Cuba democracy in action
- Capitalism destroys lives
- Socialist Cuba advances womens’ and LGBT rights
- Cuban socialism a model for climate action
- Socialist healthcare leads the way