More than 8,000 people have died as a consequence of the earthquake that struck Nepal on 25 April 2015. Over 16,000 people have been injured and hundreds-of-thousands left homeless. Those figures will rise further in the coming days as substantial damage and destruction – inflicted on an already insufficient healthcare system – has meant hospitals are turning patients away due to lack of supplies or capacity. In the capital, Kathmandu, with a population of over one million, the city’s maternity hospital has just 150 beds available due to partial destruction. The response of the so-called ‘international community’ has been typical. Whilst aid agencies such as the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières have deployed much-needed emergency workers, few governments have gone further than pledges of money, food or supplies by committing to provision of the necessary medical aid.
It is in this context that in the early morning of Friday 8 May a team of forty-nine Cubans, part of the prestigious Henry Reeve International Brigade (a ten-thousand-strong band of Cuban health professionals specialising in disaster response) departed for Nepal. On arrival the team will establish a field hospital equipped with surgery and intensive care units, diagnostics, consultation areas and recovery services – all provided by Cuba’s socialist government. From the moment the disaster struck, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nepal investigated the unfolding situation and began to make the necessary preparations for an effective, long-term medical intervention.
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
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.
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.