A volunteer is administered the Soberana-01 vaccine candidate

On 20 August the video streaming site YouTube, owned by tech giant Google, suspended the accounts of Cuban media – just as they were reporting rare good news in the Covid-19 global pandemic: the beginning of clinical trials of Cuba’s Soberana-01 vaccine, the first such trials in Latin America. Though the accounts were restored a day later, this censorship is a symptom of the US blockade which has reached fever pitch under the current US administration. Facing an uncertain re-election poll on 3 November, US President Donald Trump is depending more than ever on the support of the right-wing Cuban exile lobby to swing the vote in the key state of Florida. WILL HARNEY reports.

Rock Around The Blockade organised a protest outside the US embassy in London on 17 October. This demonstration was to oppose the illegal US blockade at a time when it is more important than ever to defend the example of socialist Cuba.

Belly of the Beast, a group of independent journalists based in Cuba, have released the first episode in a documentary series about the US blockade of Cuba on their YouTube channel.

The series promises to explore the effect of the genocidal blockade on ordinary Cubans, alongside an investigation into the history of US aggression towards socialist Cuba and the latest sanctions which coincide with the Covid-19 pandemic.

You can watch the first episode here:


Join us on Thursday 29th of October at 7pm BST for an online public meeting: Cuba Resists! Trump, the Blockade and the US Elections.

We will hear from various speakers about the various difficulties facing the Cuban people, with the global Covid-19 pandemic and the tightening of the US blockade, and how the Revolution continues to resist.

Register for the meeting here


Cuban Ambassador to Britain, Bárbara Montalvo Álvarez

Cuban Ambassador to the US, Jose Ramon Cabañas

Gloria La Riva, Presidential candidate for Party for Socialism and Liberation, US

Valia Rodriguez, Cuban medical scientist

Helen Yaffe, University of Glasgow

A speaker from the Rock Around the Blockade campaign

Banner for 1 August meeting organised by RATB

On 1 August, Rock Around the Blockade held a successful online meeting on 'How Cuba has Covid 19 under control'. Nearly 150 people tuned in to listen and watch presentations and films from the three panellists:

  • Dr Helen Yaffe, author of 'We Are Cuba - How a Revolutionary People Have Survived in a Post-Soviet World' who spoke about the features of Cuba's socialist development which have contributed to the capacity for an effective domestic and international response to Covid-19.
  • Dr Valia Rodriguez, a Cuban clinical neurophysiologist and cognitive neuroscientist, teaching and researching at Aston University in Birmingham, gave detailed information about public healthcare services, facilities and structure developed since the Cuban Revolution. Testament to this,  Cuba's domestic death toll from Covid-19 stood at just 87 by the end of July.
  • Ed Augustin, from Belly of the Beast, an independent group of journalists and filmographers based in Cuba who have been chronicling life on the island, especially in the fight against Covid 19 and who focus on people-centred stories, providing a platform for Cuban voices so often excluded by the mainstream media.  Several of their fantastic short videos were presented as part of the session.

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.

Cuban medical brigade

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.


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.

Cuba doctors brigade arrives in Italy

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!