Regretfully we are cancelling the Rock around the Blockade (RATB) meeting, ‘Free the Cuban 5: The Struggle Continues’, which was due to take place at Bolivar Hall in London on Saturday 15 September.
Instead we will be holding a demonstration for the Cuban 5 on the same day, to mark 14 years of their unjust imprisonment (see below for details).
The reason for the cancellation is that our guest speaker, Cuban activist Lázaro Oramas, was unable to get a visa from the British consulate before the date of the meeting. Other invited speakers were also unable to attend for various reasons.
Instead of the meeting we will be marking 14 years of unjust imprisonment for the Cuban 5 with a street rally in Angel, North London on the same day. We hope that you can join us to raise the profile of the case and demand justice for the Five.
Street Rally for the Cuban Five
Saturday 15 September
1 – 3pm
Outside Angel tube station, North London
First published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 228 August/September 2012
‘Socialism and discrimination are incompatible’. (Mariela Castro, director of Cenesex)
The exuberant parade down the main street of Cienfuegos in Cuba on 17 May to celebrate the country’s fifth annual International Day against Homophobia should lay to rest the old lie peddled by Cuba’s detractors on the right and so-called ‘left’ alike, that socialist Cuba abuses gay rights.
The event, the culmination of three days of arts and music events, film showings, educational events and lectures by different lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groupings in the country, was organised by CENESEX, Cuba’s National Centre for Sexual Education, which over the last ten years has been pioneering the transformation of Cuban society in relation to LGBT rights under the slogan ‘Diversity is Natural’. CENESEX aims to contribute to ‘the education of society in general...about respect for people’s free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity, as an exercise in equity and social justice.’
First published in www.themilitant.com
By Louis Martin and Doug Nelson
Recently released court documents concerning requests by Cuban revolutionary René González to return to his country now that he has served his prison term in the U.S. illustrate once again the determination of Washington to impose the highest possible price on the men and women of Cuba who have made and continue to defend a socialist revolution 90 miles from U.S. shores.
An international campaign is fighting to free González and his four comrades—Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González—known internationally as the Cuban Five.
The five were living and working in southern Florida where, at the request of Cuban security services, they monitored activities by armed Cuban-American counterrevolutionary groups with a long record of violent attacks on Cuba and supporters of the Cuban Revolution, and kept Havana informed.
The decision by Ecuador’s President Correa on 16 August to offer diplomatic asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange exposes sharply the moral and political chasm on human rights between, on the one hand, the progressive socialist government of Ecuador and its allies in the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA), and on the other, the corrupt and vicious British state.
The high-handed threat by British Foreign Secretary William Hague that the UK has a legal basis, under the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, to enter the Ecuadorean Embassy and arrest Assange, has provoked fury throughout Latin America. ‘We are not a colony!’ stated Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino and described the British threats as ‘unacceptable and a menace to all the countries of the world’.
First published in Granma Internacional on 16 August.
CUBA won the most medals among Latin American and Caribbean countries in the 30th Olympic Summer Games, though Jamaica, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Venezuela and Mexico put on brilliant performances in London as well, leading to high hopes for the next time around, the first Olympics to be held in South America, Río de Janeiro 2016.
Cuba (placing 16th in the London medal count) regained the lead in Latin American medals after being replaced by Brazil in Beijing 2008, with five gold medals, two from boxers Robeisy Ramírez and Roniel Iglesias. Cuban boxing, which did not win a single title four years ago, recovered the prestige it has always enjoyed, as one of the best schools on the planet.
First published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism 228 August/September 2012
After winning his second Olympic gold medal at Montreal Olympics in 1976, Cuban boxer Teofilo Stevenson refused all bribes by international promoters to encourage him to defect from Cuba with the words: ‘What is one million dollars compared to the love of eight million Cubans?’
Teofilo Stevenson, the Cuban boxer regarded as one of the greatest in the world, died of a heart attack in June at the age of 60. Born to poor immigrant parents, Teofilo benefited from the new social programmes introduced by the revolutionary government after 1959. He went on to become three-time amateur world champion and three times Olympic gold medallist. Many argued that he was in the same league as, if not better than, Muhammad Ali, regarded by many as the greatest boxer ever to have lived. At his death, Muhammad Ali paid tribute to Teofilo, stating: ‘He would have been a formidable opponent to any reigning heavyweight champion or challenger. He was one of the greats of the world. May he rest in peace.’
By Eva Gollinger first published on 19 July in Postcards from the Revolution
On 22 July, Oswaldo Paya died in a car accident on the Las Tunas-Bayamo highway in the proximity of Las Gabinas, Granma Province. Paya was a leading member of the counter-revolutionary organisation Christian Liberation Movement, a group that has been involved in trying to destabilise the socialist government of Cuba since 1987. In 2002 Paya received the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for his counter-revolutionary attempts to undermine Cuban Socialism. Whilst not having been officially in the pay of right-wing counter-revolutionaries in Miami, Oswaldo Paya had been receiving funding from right-wing organisations in Spain and Sweden, including the governing Popular Party in Spain. The car crash has sparked a barrage of accusations and internet rumours from Cuba’s enemies, alleging that his death was political.
Activists from Rock around the Blockade, a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group took to the streets on Saturday 28 July to celebrate six decades of socialist Cuba, commemorating the 59th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks which marked the beginning of the Cuban Revolution. Following the military coup of US-backed dictator Batista in March 1952, Fidel Castro and others organised an armed movement against the tyranny and repression meted out by Batista. On 26 July 1953 in Santiago de Cuba the revolutionaries carried out an audacious attack on the Moncada Barracks. It failed militarily but succeeded politically, sparking the mass movement and guerrilla struggle which led to the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on 1 January 1959.
In Newcastle at Grey’s Monument, in London in Angel, Islington, and in Manchester at Piccadilly Gardens, comrades held colourful street rally celebrations with speeches and music, flying Cuban, Palestinian and Venezuelan flags symbolising resistance to imperialism. In Manchester the events were followed by a showing of the film Salud! which documents the impressive example of Cuba’s international health brigades that have treated millions worldwide. The political message was clear....No to War! No to Austerity! Socialism is the alternative! Viva Cuba!
Representatives from the Revolutionary Communist Group and its campaign in solidarity with the socialist revolution in Cuba, Rock Around the Blockade had the privilege of meeting with members of Cuba’s Olympics team in London during an event mark Moncada Day on 26 July.
Moncada day commemorates 26 July 1953 when, in response to the military coup of US-backed dictator Batista the previous year, Fidel Castro and others carried out an audacious attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. It failed militarily but succeeded politically and sparked the mass movement and guerrilla struggle which led the Movement for the 26 July to power in January 1959.
Among the athletes present were previous Olympic and World Championships medallists in athletics, judo, archery, wrestling and more. It was a special privilege to meet Alberto Juantorena who in 1976 became the only athlete ever to win both the 400 and 800 metre Olympic titles. He is now President of Cuba’s Olympic Committee and Vice President of the National Institute of Sport, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER). In February this year, during a solidarity brigade in Cuba, Rock Around the Blockade donated £650 worth of sports equipment to INDER to contribute to its 'Project for Life', which promotes open air physical activity in all communities throughout the country.
In socialist Cuba access to sport is a right, not a privilege and this has been reflected in Cuba’s sporting success in the international arena. In the Olympics, Cuban medals per capita have consistently seen them among the top performing countries in the world. There are 110 athletes, including 45 women, competing in 14 of the 26 Olympic disciplines in London 2012. While the Olympics as an institution has a history of corruption and racism, RCG and RATB activists will be wishing the Cuban team all the best.
Around the country, RATB will be celebrating Moncada Day. In London, there will be a street rally outside the Angel tube station (northern line) on Saturday 28 July from 12-3pm, with music and speeches. Everyone is welcome.
The Cuban 5 came to the U.S. during the 90's to monitor the activities of anti Cuba terrorist groups operating in Miami. Their intention was to stop the attacks that since 1959 have been responsible for the deaths of almost 3,500 innocent people in Cuba. The Five are heroes to the people of Cuba who see them as unarmed defenders of their soverignty and security. They have been in prison in the United States for almost 14 years.
Reported by Joseph Manzaneda, Coordinator of Cubainformación.
Translated by Rock around the Blockade
On 23 May, the Cuban ‘dissident’ ex prisoner Diosiris Santana described a scene of police brutality towards several of his compatriots: ‘They were dragged on the floor, hit in the face and arm, one has been left with a broken nose and foot’ (1).
First published on 26 June2012 by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism
On 21 June 2012, Paraguay’s reactionary Chamber of Deputies voted 76-1 to impeach President Fernando Lugo. The Senate confirmed this with a 39-4 vote the following day.
This ‘constitutional coup’, reminiscent of the removal of President Zelaya in Honduras in 2009, has been condemned across South America. Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba refuse to recognise the change and Venezuela will cease providing oil.Brazil and Argentina have called their ambassadors home and Uruguay has expressed concern. On 25 June, the Mercosur trade bloc suspended Paraguay from taking part in a summit in Argentina.
First published June 2012 in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227
In the context of deepening economic crisis, the US and Europe are losing their grip on Latin America as Cuba and Venezuela strengthen regional ties.
Bullies, blunders and prostitutes
The Organisation of American States (OAS) was founded in 1948 on lofty-sounding ideals including non-interference in the internal affairs of other member states. In reality, it acts as a cover for US imperialist interests in Latin America. The OAS summit held in Cartagena, Colombia, in April reflected this, as the United States once again vetoed Cuba’s attendance. Leader after leader condemned the US veto and Rafael Correa of Ecuador boycotted the meeting in protest. Even staunch US allies Mexico and Colombia demanded Cuba’s inclusion. Countries belonging to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) made it clear that without a radical change in the nature of the summits, they would not attend the OAS again. Before President Obama even arrived, his bully boy Secret Service agents were setting the imperialist tone as they were caught taking prostitutes back to their hotel, flaunting their ID cards in an arrogant attempt to get past the reception desk.
The summit ended without a final declaration. Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales abandoned the summit early after the United States refused to recognise or even discuss Argentina’s claim over the Malvinas – which Obama in any case confused with the Maldives. Hopefully this catalogue of errors sounds the death knell for the infamous OAS and signifies the decline of US influence in the region.
First published June 2012 in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227
On 16 April and 1 May respectively Argentina and Bolivia reclaimed ownership of energy companies privatised by Spanish corporations during the neoliberal assault of the 1990s. Sharp reactions from the Spanish state and the European Union underline the conflict of interest between those exploited for their resources and labour, and imperialism, which lives off this plunder.
Bolivia and Argentina have distinct histories, but both have long been trapped in the web of financial dealings woven by the imperialist powers. In their national struggles to throw off these parasitic ties, the clash of nationalisation versus privatisation of the main industries has been key. Nationalisation immediately places the surpluses of these industries at the disposal of the state, but provokes intense hostility from domestic and transnational capital which battle to repossess the property or demand huge compensation.
First published 24 June in Green Left Weekly
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange went to the Ecuadorian embassy in London on June 19 to apply for asylum, after losing his final appeal in British courts against extradition to Sweden.
The extradition to Sweden is nominally over allegations of sexual assault, for which Swedish authorities wish to question Assange ― who has not been charged. But WikiLeaks supporters point to evidence released by the whistleblowing site this year that the United States government has prepared a secret sealed indictment against him.
Supporters fear that when Assange arrives in Sweden, he will be handed over to US authorities. Assange has said it is his fear that this is the likely outcome that has driven him to appeal for asylum.
By Helen Yaffe. First published June 2012 in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227
When Cuba’s tiny opposition protests against the socialist government it is reported in the international media. In April 2012, however, when members of this same opposition, in ‘exile’ in Spain, protested against the Spanish government’s decision to stop subsidising them, they barely received mention. The move has given them a taste of the capitalist free market, where accommodation, health care and education are bought and not provided, and where labour is sold as a commodity.
By Sam McGill. First published in June 2012 in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 227
Tensions are building in the run-up to the Venezuelan presidential elections in October. Hugo Chavez of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is standing for his third term. Opposing him is Henrique Capriles Radonski, from the Roundtable of Democratic Unity (Mesa de unidad democratica or MUD).
First published by Granma International on 14 June 2012
U.S. functionary Ricardo Zúñiga, grandson of the right-wing Honduran politician of the same name - known for his support to the military dictatorship of Colonel Oswaldo López – has been appointed director of Western Hemisphere Affairs by Barack Obama, having previously run destabilization operations for the U. S. Interests Section in Havana, before going on to supervise these activities from Washington.
Zúñiga is a traveling salesman, distributing the most backward, anti-Cuban ideas wherever he lands. Assuming this new position, Zúñiga is taking the place of Dan Restrepo, of Colombian origin, who was booted after his poor showing at the recent Summit of the Americas, where Obama lost face as a result of both his inability to address Latin American aspirations and the scandalous behavior of his security guards.
By Dominic Mulgrew for RATB
In February 2012 Rock Around The Blockade activists travelled to Cuba as part of a solidarity brigade calling for ‘Justice For The Cuban Five!’ who remain prisoners of US imperialism. Cuba opened our eyes and ears to the true meaning of popular democracy and community organising. Over the two weeks we came to learn that the social, economic and political alienation engendered in imperialist Britain is only natural under the exploitative capitalist system; and not in life itself. Cuban Socialism has destroyed the violence and inequality that was once aimed at the poor in Cuba, replacing it with a social solidarity which promotes inclusion and empowerment.
In comparison to Britain, where you essentially cross a box once every four years then hand over your power to MP’s and political parties who do whatever they want, Cuba’s system is based on popular participation. Cuban democracy is found not only in a ballot box but in the schools, communities, workplaces and parliamentary institutions. Genuine changes are consistently being debated and implemented in order to defend and improve the democratic structures currently in place.
By J Eskovitchl for Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
A chorus of reaction, singing from imperialism’s hymn sheet
On 1 May 2012, a week-long joint training seminar took place in Miami for members of the Cuban and Syrian ‘armed opposition’. A statement was signed which read,
‘the Cuban Resistance and Syrian Revolution jointly agree: to coordinate all of our political, diplomatic, logistic and humanitarian efforts in pursuit of the liberation of Cuba and Syria; hence constituting a United Front of Freedom and Democracy; therefore, the Cuban Resistance and the Syrian Revolution jointly declare: the people want the overthrow of the dictatorial regimes of Assad and Castro.’
On 1 June, Cuba joined Russia and China in voting against a UN Resolution condemning Syria and aimed at ratcheting up the pressure for western military intervention and forced regime change.
Violence in Syria continues to spiral in the wake of the Houla massacre and the killing of over 80 government troops by rebels over the weekend of 2-3 June. Imperialism, through NATO and the reactionary Gulf Cooperation Council, which is led by the Saudi and Qatari dictatorships, continues to flood arms and hundreds of millions of dollars to the ‘Free Syrian Army’. British and other foreign intelligence services train fighters in camps in Turkey while sanctions imposed by the US and EU cripple the Syrian people as the government can no longer subsidise bread and unemployment rises. In this context, the conference of the ‘oppositions’ of Cuba and Syria offers a salutary example of the United States’ strategy of destabilisation, perfected over decades of subversion, terror, black operations and military invasion against regimes which fail to fully comply with imperialism’s demands.