RATB hosts international rally in London
The sun was out in London, as members of Rock around the Blockade (RATB) were joined by activists, writers, musicians and academics from around the world to demand freedom for the Cuban Five and to show solidarity with socialist Cuba. The rally was held in support of the International Committee of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five, which took place in London over the previous two days.
Supporting organisations included the US National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver, The Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), London Guantánamo Campaign, Cubainformación TV, Marcha Patriotica (Colombia), Cuba Solidarity (Barcelona, Dublin, and Copenhagen), Revolutionary Communist Group, Hands Off Venezuela, Cubanos en UK, Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), MERU Verdadero, Communist League, Movimento Micaela Bastidas (UK), Coordinadora de Cubanos Residentes en Francia, Colectivo entre Amigos (Francia).
The rally was opened with a speech from Kenia Serano from ICAP, who thanked RATB for the initiative of organising the rally and inviting those representatives who had travelled to London for the Commission. Other important speakers included Gloria La Riva (National Committee to Free the Cuban Five), Janine (Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver), Bill (Ireland Cuba Solidarity), Jairo (Marcha Patriotica), as well as speakers from the Revolutionary Communist Group, which set up RATB in 1995.
At Trafalgar Square an enormous Cuban flag made by supporters was unveiled, accompanied by banners and placards highlighting imperialism’s role in trying to undermine Cuban self-determination and efforts to build socialism throughout Latin America.
The protesters condemned the British government’s refusal to grant a visa to Rene Gonzalez, the first of the Cuban Five to have been released, and consequently preventing him from attending the Commission of Inquiry in London. Rene returned to Cuba in 2013 after serving his sentence in the US and is now a tireless campaigner for the release of his three comrades (Antonio, Ramon, and Gerardo) who face much longer sentences. Fernando Gonzalez was the second of the Cuban Five to have been released and returned to Cuba just days ago.
During the two days preceding the rally, RATB members were among 300 people who attended the International Commission on 8 and 9 March to hear from witnesses and experts about the case of the Cuban Five and about the six decades of terrorism against the Cuban people, launched from the US, which the five Cuban agents set out to prevent. Family members of the Cuban Five were present, as well as Cubans whose loved ones had been killed in such terrorist attacks.
RATB activists in Newcastle and Glasgow also held vibrant demonstrations in support of the Cuban Five. They explained the Five’s case and the need to defend socialist Cuba to the public and argued that the social benefits of the Cuban Revolution should serve as an example in the fight against cuts and privatisation in austerity Britain.
RATB demonstration in Newcastle
RATB demonstration in Glasgow
RATB will continue to contribute to the international movement demanding justice for the Cuban Five and redouble its commitment to support and defend Cuban socialism. The rally was a great forum to strengthen our links and unity with other groups from around the world to consolidate future collaboration and solidarity.
Who are The Cuban Five?
Fernando, Ramon, Antonio, Gerardo and Rene are five Cuban men arrested in Miami in 1998, convicted on trumped up charges and condemned to long prison sentences. They were in fact trying to prevent acts of terrorism against Cuba by infiltrating violent anti-Cuban groups in Miami. None of the charges against them involved violence, weapons or damage to property. Since 1959, nearly 3,500 Cubans have died and over 2,000 have been injured as a result of terrorist attacks or aggression – mainly launched from Miami. To read more about the history of the Cuban Five click here.