Photo taken during the last brigade to Cuba ‘Justice for the Cuban 5’ solidarity brigade – February 2012.
Click the link to see more photos and report.
Lift the blockade of Cuba!
The 13th solidarity brigade of the British campaign Rock around the Blockade will travel to Cuba between late April and early May 2015. The group is collecting funds now to buy material aid for Cuban youth – this time they will take ballet shoes and boxing gloves to training schools. While breaking the US blockade, the donation will contribute towards Cuba’s remarkable achievements in promoting and democratising sport and culture.
Hosted by the Union of Young Communists, the brigadistas will visit a variety of centres, institutions and organisations, meeting political and student leaders and doing agricultural work. They will visit maternity and old peoples’ homes, youth, neighbourhood and cultural groups and research institutes. They will learn about the daily impact of the US blockade, which prevents the Cuban government from buying medicine, food, technology, equipment and resources in every sector, and which has been condemned for 23 consecutive years by the UN General Assembly.
For 55 years, Cuba has maintained and increased its free social provision despite the impact of the US blockade. This presents a contrast with the austerity measures implemented by the British government which are attacking public services, jobs and benefits and causing a return to the poverty, inequality and destitution of the pre-welfare state era. Such differences are also seen in Cuba’s response to the Ebola epidemic. While most of the world tightens border controls and the United States sends 4,000 troops, Cuba is sending nearly 500 medics to West Africa to treat the sick and help stop the disease spreading. Cuba’s medical contribution is greater than the rest of the world’s put together – just as it was in response to the 2010 earthquake which devastated Haiti, when Cuba’s medical contingent treated 40% of the victims. The Cuban Ebola-trained specialists will join some 50,000 Cuban-trained health workers in nearly 70 countries today.
How can a small, blockaded island have such a global impact? Why are Cubans so prepared to assist others around the world? Is this a product of a socialist society? What is socialism like in practice? What about the changes underway in Cuba today?
Through this fraternal exchange, activists on the Cuba Vive brigade will study the achievements and challenges of the Cuban Revolution and socialist construction. What they learn will be discussed with people back in Britain through report back meetings to be organised around the country. They will also return with a strategy for strengthening the international campaign to demand freedom for the remaining 3 of the Cuban 5 who were unjustly imprisoned in the US for their role in combatting Miami-based terrorism.
Please contribute towards the Cuba Vive 2015 brigade.
Please donate generously via PayPal or by sending cheques or postal orders payable to:
Rock Around The Blockade at RATB BCM Box 5909, London, WC1N 3XX.
On the 16th anniversary of their incarceration in the imperialist gaols of the USA, members and supporters of Rock around the Blockade celebrate the Cuban Revolution and demand the freedom of all the Cuban 5, heroes of the revolution.
For a brief and brilliant introduction to the case of the Cuban 5, watch and share this video produced by Discover the five
The Cuban 5 are five Cuban men unjustly imprisoned in US gaols since 1998. Falsely accused of espionage and in one case murder, they are in fact guilty of nothing more than peacefully trying to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba being planned from within the US.
During the early 1990s Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, René González, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González came to Miami from Cuba to monitor right-wing Cuban exile groups. They compiled evidence of attacks against Cuba being planned by these groups. The Cuban authorities gave this information to the FBI, urging them to take action. But instead of arresting those planning the attacks, the five Cuban agents were themselves arrested on 12 September 1998. They were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage and Gerardo Hernandez was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder. In July 2001, after a biased six-month trial in Miami, the Cuban 5 were convicted and sentenced to a combined four life sentences plus 77 years.
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 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.
Whilst the eventual release of Fernando Gonzalez was celebrated worldwide, the Guardian published the derogatory article 'Cuban Five' spy ring member released from US prison, straight from the associated press in Miami, hotbed of reactionary Cuban exile politics.
Not content with such biased journalism, the Guardian then censored a post by Rock Around the Blockade (RATB) in support of the Cuban 5.
Fernando and the other brave Cuban heroes have suffered 15 years of injustice.
Fighting terrorism and defending socialism is not a crime!
The Cuban 5 were falsely tried - Free the Cuban 5!
Add your voice to the call - Join the weekend of action for the Cuban 5
15 years of incarceration and injustice!
Coordinadora de Cubanos Residentes en Francia
Colectivo entre Amigos (Francia)
Yellow ribbons for the Cuban 5!
September 2013 sees the fifteenth year of the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five. Incarcerated after infiltrating right-wing groups in Miami in order to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba, the Five and the injustice forced upon them by the US exemplifies imperialist hypocrisy at its finest. More than 3,400 Cubans have been murdered since 1959 as a result of US attacks, but whilst Obama is free to continue the blockade and conceal these acts of terror planned, funded and launched by his government, the Five, under convictions of espionage, remain in US gaols for defending their people. Anti-terrorists, their freedom is being denied by a state that actively promotes terrorism.
The Cuban 5 are innocent! Free them now!
In London on 14 September, comrades and supporters of Rock around the Blockade a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group held a street rally demanding justice for political prisoners, 'the Cuban 5'. The event marked the 15th anniversary of their unjust incarceration in US prisons and joined hundreds of solidarity actions as part of the international campaign to release the Cuban 5.
With a Cuban revival of the 1970s hit song 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon round an Old Oak Tree' about a prisoner returning to his loved ones, Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5 recently freed from gaol in the US and back in Cuba, called for people to wear yellow ribbons to ‘make it impossible for visitors and the foreign media to ignore the fact that the Cuban people are still waiting for four of their sons who are imprisoned in the United States.’
Cubans are well known to enjoy a good party and this July sees special festivities across the island. On 26 July Cubans will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ill-fated military uprising, led by the young lawyer Fidel Castro which, despite ending in disaster, marked the beginning of the end of the Batista dictatorship. A group of Cuban musicians, artists and photographers living in Britain are bringing the party to London on Saturday 20 July.
In March 1952, Fulgencio Batista carried out a coup, one month before elections were due to be held, to seize control of Cuba for the second time. Fidel Castro, who was among the frustrated electoral candidates, saw the democratic path to change closed and set up a clandestine network of activists to carry out a military uprising. On 26 July 1953, 135 rebels attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba while another 40 hit at the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Barracks in Bayamo. Their plan was to take control of the military installations and distribute armaments to the Cuban people to spark a revolution.
Oakland, CA April 8th(IC)
Yesterday another incident of injustice against one of the Cuban 5 took place at the Victorville Penitentiary in the high Mojave desert of California.
In a planned visit well known actor and social activist Danny Glover was prohibited from visiting Gerardo Hernandez. Glover, who has visited Gerardo on 9 different occasions since 2010, was told that he would not be admitted because they did not know he was coming. This is an arbitrary decision; any person who is on a prisoner's list has a right to visitation. Glover had flown yesterday morning from Northern California and then rented a car to reach the remote location of the prison 10 miles outside of Victorville only to have to turn around and go back without having seeing his friend. Undaunted Danny Glover has made it clear that he will return to Victorville soon.