RATB

Remembering 'The heroine of Moncada' The revolutionary life of Melba Hernandez

Melba HernandezSocialist Cuba has paid tribute to ‘the heroine of Moncada’, Melba Hernandez, who recently died at the age of 92. She was one of two women who took part in the historic Moncada Barracks assault which led to the 26th July Movement and the beginning of the Cuban Revolution.

Melba died of complications related to diabetes on 2 March in Havana. She was born on 28 July, 1921, in the town of Cruces, in the former Las Villas province, today’s Villa Clara. She graduated as a Lawyer from Havana University in 1943. A Cuban Communist Party statement released the day after her death read ‘She is one of the most glorious and beloved combatants of the revolutionary quest, [and an] imperishable example of the Cuban woman.’

Melba was responsible for obtaining 100 army uniforms prior to the Moncada assault. Herself and fellow combatant Haydee Santamaria sewed army rank insignia onto the uniforms, in a farm house in the hours before the assault. Both women were arrested and, while incarcerated, witnessed the torture and deaths of many of their comrades. Melba was instrumental in smuggling correspondence whilst imprisoned. She smuggled a letter from Fidel Castro, denying the lie that he was too ill to represent himself legally. Once free, she maintained correspondence with Fidel, who sent her the text of his famous court speech ‘History Will Absolve Me’, which became a programme for the 26th July Movement.

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Elizardo Sánchez and Cuba's dissidence 'business'

Elizardo Sanchez

This video shows Elizardo Sánchez and his wife, Baby, selling the equipment they receive from the United States to perform their work as 'dissidents'. The video was filmed by fellow dissidents, in protest that they are not receiving resources sent via this dissident 'vanguard' to be shared out between them all. It shows how US taxpayers' money ends up being used in the 'dissident' business.

Elizardo Sánchez is one of the main characters behind accusations of supposed human rights abuses in Cuba. Not only does he earn a living by reporting fictional mass arrests on the island, he also sells computers, printers, portable DVDs, mobile phones, and so on, on the black market.
 
This video shows the internal contradictions within the counter-revolutionary movement and the mercenary character of those individuals who are prepared to sell their country to the US government.
 
The United States government invests at least $20 million annually attempting to create a loyal and viable opposition in Cuba to assist in the objective of regime change. The policy has failed throughout the 55 years of Revolution.

Bob Crow 13 June 1961 - 11 March 2014

Bob Crow

The Revolutionary Communist Group and its campaign in solidarity with socialist Cuba, Rock Around the Blockade (RATB), send their condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Bob Crow, who died this morning. Bob Crow was the militant and vociferous General Secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, one of only two major British trade unions to have disaffiliated from the Labour Party.

Bob Crow took a principled stand in solidarity with socialist Cuba and RATB was pleased to host him at the launch event of our 2008 speaking tour with Che Guevara’s deputy Orlando Borrego and two other Cuban representatives. The RMT sponsored the speaking tour and Bob Crow publicly condemned the sectarianism of those who opposed the RMT’s support, as the video of his speech shows. He defended Cuba’s right to self-determination and supported its struggle for socialism.

Free the Cuban Five! International activists rally in Trafalgar Square, London, 9 March 2014

RATB hosts international rally in London

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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 demonstration in Newcastle


RATB demonstration in Glasgow

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.

Campaigners denounce British government’s visa denial to Cuban anti-terrorism agent.

Rally in Trafalgar Square, London WC2, Sunday 9 March. From 2pm

On Sunday 9 March representatives from the US, Canada, Latin America, Cuba and Europe will join British campaigners to denounce the British government’s decision to withhold an entry visa from Rene Gonzalez, one of the five Cuban anti-terrorism agents, imprisoned in the US and known as the ‘Cuban Five’.
 
Gonzalez is one of five Cuban government intelligence agents who infiltrated exile-groups in Miami in the 1990s to uncover violent terrorist plots against Cuba. Evidence gathered, including plans to bomb tourist planes travelling to and from Cuba, was handed to the FBI and other US agencies. The US government’s response was to arrest the Cuban agents. They were convicted in 2001 on conspiracy charges and for using false identities and sentenced to between 15 years and double life in US prisons. In 2005, a US court ruled that the Cuban Five did not receive a fair trial, but no retrial was granted.
 
In 2011 Gonzalez was the first of the Cuban Five freed and returned to Cuba. He was to appear in London on 7 and 8 March as the star witness at a two-day International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five, at the Law Society (voicesforthefive.com). Evidence on the case will be presented by legal experts and politicians, including former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Tessa Murphy from Amnesty International. The Commission is supported by John Le Carré, Emma Thompson, Danny Glover, Lord Rowan Williams, Martin Sheen, Noam Chomsky, Günter Grass, Peter Capaldi and Dame Vivienne Westwood.
 
The British government can deny visas to anyone who has been sentenced to more than four years in prison. However, campaigners point out that dispensation can be granted. ‘None of the charges against Rene and his Cuban colleagues involved violence, weapons or damage to property’, said Dr Helen Yaffe, a specialist in Cuban history at the University of Leicester. ‘Since 1959, nearly 3,500 Cubans have been killed by terrorist attacks or aggression – mainly launched from Miami. The Cuban Five worked to halt those attacks. That Rene Gonzalez is not welcomed as a hero by the British government exposes the hypocrisy of their so-called war on terrorism’.  
 
Hosted by British campaign Rock Around the Blockade (ratb.org.uk) the rally takes place in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 9 March from 2pm with speeches, music and a giant Cuban flag. The protestors will demand the immediate release of the three Cuban agents who remain in US prisons: Antonio Guerrero (22 years) and Ramón Labañino (30 years) and Gerardo Hernandez (two consecutive life sentences). Fernando González (18 years) the second agent to be released, returned to Cuba just last Friday, 28 February.
 
More details on the protest see: www.ratb.org.uk/news/campaign-news/380-ra100214

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