In April 2015 Rock Around The Blockade will be sending a delegation of activists to Cuba to support the country that has been blockaded for more than half a century.
Since the revolution in 1959, the Cuban government has committed itself to levelling the social structure of the country. In addition to delivering free, world class education and healthcare to every single Cuban, the government has also invested heavily in the arts to ensure that culture is available to all, and is not a bourgeois pastime. Recently this involved investing $200,000 to a financially struggling ballet school to transform it into the world renowned Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
However, as a result of the US blockade, these state-funded art and leisure institutions have been faced with shortages of much-needed materials including dance and sports equipment.
And despite the promises of the Obama government in recent months the blockade remains in place, to the detriment of the lives of 11 million Cubans.
That’s why, on the 20th April, a group of 16 activists will be travelling to Cuba to deliver material aid in the form of ballet shoes and boxing gloves.
The brigade will also critique and learn from a country that in the depth of a world crisis continues to be committed to delivering free education, healthcare, culture and sport as a constitutional right for every citizen.
The research we undertake will be presented back in Britain at a series of events as we use the lessons learned in a socialist system are relevant to the working class in Britain, which is currently being brutalised at the hands of an ideologically-driven government that is dismantling and privatising the public sector and welfare state at every opportunity. Cuba has shown time and time again since 1959 that there is an alternative.
So please give any money you can by clicking on this link and donating: www.gofundme.com/cubavive. Every penny you give will be put towards helping improve the lives of as many Cubans as possible, as described in this short video https://youtu.be/4QyiDvKTSqs
Scottish members of Rock Around the Blockade (RATB) and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) have been bringing the inspiring message of the Cuban Revolution to Glasgow and Dundee with a series of fundraising events. In a year which has seen the release of the Cuban 5, Cuban doctors leading the global fight against Ebola and new victories in the fight against the US blockade, the message is clear...socialism is fighting fit and here to stay!
Raising funds for this year’s RATB solidarity brigade to Cuba, which will be bringing boxing gloves and ballet shoes to the island, over 60 people gathered in Glasgow on 28 January to celebrate the cultural achievements of the revolution. The Rebel Cinema event presented a screening of the first two parts of the legendary 1964 Soviet-Cuban film Soy Cuba (I am Cuba), a snapshot of a country on the edge of rebellion, where parasitic wealth existed side by side with grinding poverty, dominated by US interests.
Following the news of the release of the Cuban 5 and renewed diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba, Owen Jones published a 'Comment is Free' piece in the Guardian on 18 December 2014. Entitled 'The US embargo is disappearing, so too, must Cuba's dictatorship' Jones launches a virulent attack on Cuba. Rock Around the Blockade replies:
What free press should socialist Cuba aspire to Mr Jones? The 'free press' that dictated the outcome of the Scottish referendum here. 38 national newspapers agin us...and yet we still voted in our million and a half plus for independence.
A well read lad like yersel'- and a proclaimed socialist- should know there is no such thing in any capitalist society- the media are run by rich white men, to paraphrase Michael Moore. But then of course your employer is amongst them. So stop yer liberal sooking and as Fidel has explained to friends of Cuba, try and imagine the difficulties the socialist revolution has faced in its short history...then judge. Cuba in the absence of the corrupt influence of the millionaire media is more free, not less!
Dundee Rock Around the Blockade
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.
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.
René González, one of the Cuban five who was released in 2011 and returned to Cuba, is now on the web with his own blog 'I'm a spy, they say,'
and we republish below his initial blog post and a series of questions and answers about his new blog from a range of his followers:
'This post constitutes my presentation to the world of the blogosphere. To write it I’ve counted on the politeness of people who have preceded me on this field. Not all of them share the same views, but they all wish for a better Cuba and share an intellectual honesty which I respect. They are also together on the support for the Five. In this regard they represent millions of people both in Cuba and around the world.
I’ve wanted this questionnaire to answer to some of the questions from those millions of people. It is my aspiration that with the development of the blog some other answers are found, even for so many that don’t know about the case or that knowing it, for diverse reasons, are not today with the cause of the Five.
I sincerely believe in truth as a value. I believe that accessing it benefits everybody, even those who refuse to hear it. I trust that truth will find its way through this blog.