On Thursday 29 October, four days before the US elections, Rock Around the Blockade hosted an important and informative online event called ‘Cuba Resists! Trump, the Blockade and the US Elections’. Over 250 participants from Britain and many countries around the world heard from a fantastic line-up of speakers who gave presentations before answering audience questions.
Watch the recording on Youtube:
Suzi Rose, the RATB speaker, opened the event by pointing to the importance of Cuba’s socialist alternative for the whole world, a fact highlighted in Cuba’s exemplary response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Next, Cuba’s Ambassador to the United States, Jose Ramon Cabañas, gave an historical overview of the punitive and illegal US blockade of Cuba, explaining how it has been tightened to an unprecedented level over the past two years. New measures include the outrageous extraterritorial application of Helms-Burton Title III, which RATB and the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) have protested against in cities across Britain. Cabañas was followed by US Presidential Candidate for the Party of Socialism and Liberation, Gloria La Riva, who stressed that since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 successive US Presidents, whether Democrat or Republican, have attempted to destroy socialist Cuba. Under Obama’s Presidency, which sought to undermine the Revolution through persuasion and bribery after a policy of aggression had failed for over fifty years, fines of $14.3 billion were given to companies trading with Cuba, more than under any previous US administration.
Cuban medical doctor (and member of Cubanos en UK), Valia Rodriguez, explained how the blockade impacts on the healthcare sector. Even during this coronavirus pandemic, the US continued to restrict access to life-saving medical equipment, stopping Cuba buying new ventilators - or even repairing old ones, because the companies previously supplying ventilators to Cuba were acquired by a US company. Rodriguez gave a powerful rebuttal of US government lies, echoed in the reactionary media, that Cuban doctors serving populations overseas are slaves. Helen Yaffe, author of We Are Cuba, then outlined Britain’s contradictory relationship with Cuba; formally Britain opposes the extra-territorial character of the US blockade but de facto the British states does not use its own legislation, making them complicit in this violation of Cuban human rights.
Finally, Barbara Montalvo, the Cuban ambassador to Britain explained how the Cuban people have mobilised in defense of their Revolution, in the face of intensified imperialist aggression. The economic impact of the blockade, resulting in average losses of $12 million every single day for Cuba, has forced the country to introduce some measure to liberalise the economy. The Ambassador explained how this has been a necessity as the Trump administration is tightening of the blockade, including blocking remittances being sent to Cuba, so the country is starved of the hard currency it needs to buy necessary materials on the international market. Montalvo pointed out that, in line with the principals of socialist Cuba, the Cuban people have been part and parcel of shaping key economic and social policy since the 1990s.
Following the presentations, there were contributions ‘from the floor’ by Ria Aibhilin of the RCG and Ike Nahem from the US-Cuba Normalisation Committee. Fraternal greetings were received from the British branch of Partito Comunista (Italy), Cuba Support Group Ireland, as well as Cubanos en UK. Before the meeting closed, we spoke about the need to take the example of socialist Cuba onto the streets of Britain to show people that it is only through communism that we can create a world fit for the whole of humanity. It is up to us all to fight for that better world, which Cuba stands to show is possible through revolutionary organisation. Viva Cuba socialista!