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Viva Cuba


The newsletter of Rock around the Blockade March/April 2003 Founded by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

Cuba condemns imperialist war on Iraq

Iraq war: flagrant violation of international law At the United Nations on Tuesday 18 February, Cuba once again denounced US and British plans to wage war on Iraq. Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban ambassador to the UN, claimed that the US, the world’s only super-power, was attempting to substitute the ‘law of the jungle’ for international law. He went on to describe Washington’s pre-emptive war doctrine as a flagrant violation of the UN Charter. The Cuban diplomat expressed Cuba’s conviction that Iraq does not represent any threat and that it is co-operating with inspections. Rodriguez warned that a war would have devastating consequences for the entire world, primarily for poor Countries that already pay a high price for oil. At the closing session of the 5th meeting on Globalisation and Development held in Havana in February, Fidel Castro spoke on the genocidal war on the Iraqi people in the context of the deepening crisis of the imperialist economic and social system. ‘These are not days of hope and glory for peace in the world. A war is on the verge of breaking out. This would not be a confrontation between comparable forces. On the one side, there would be the hegemonic superpower, with all of its overwhelming military might and technology, backed by its main ally, another country with nuclear capability and a member of the United Nations Security Council. On the other side a country whose people have suf-

US President GW Bush: If the anti-war movement is committed to stopping this war it must realise that unless we get rid of capitalism we will always have wars

fered nearly ten years of daily bombings and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, mainly children, through hunger and disease, ‘The real danger lies in the fact that such an armed attack would become a patriotic war for the Iraqi people, and no one can gauge in advance their response and resistance, how long this war could last, how many deaths and how much destruction it could cause, and what the human, political and economic consequences could be for each of the adversaries. ‘The world would no doubt be subjected to enormous economic risks, in the midst of the profound crisis it is already facing today.’ The current Iraq war is a war for oil and economic domina-

tion. History teaches us that imperialist war is a fundamental requirement of the capitalist system. If the anti-war movement is

‘These are not days of hope and glory for peace in the world.’ committed to stopping this war it must realise that unless we get rid of capitalism we will always have wars. But what is the alternative to capitalism. It is to this fundamental question that Cuba can offer us many answers. Cuba is a living example of an alternative socialist society. For over 43 years the Cuban Revolution has built a society

that does not depend upon poverty, exploitation and plunder for its survival. British imperialism is engaged in a constant struggle with the other imperialist powers for which the people of the underdeveloped world pay with their lives, day in and day out. Cuban socialism relies upon solidarity and cooperation for its survival. We have to stand together with the Cuban people in their struggle against war and imperialism, and build a revolutionary movement in this country that shares the same values and principles as the Cuban people. Correction: the January/ February 2003 issue of Viva Cuba should have been numbered No. 25. This issue is correctly numbered 26

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Viva Cuba

In the face of catastrophe –

US tortures political pr

Miami 5 in solita – campaign step

Cuba leads the fightback T I n a series of brilliant speeches over the past few weeks, Fidel Castro has re-iterated Cuba’s view that the underdeveloped nations are facing catastrophe, due to the exploitation and warmongering of the rich imperialist nations. At the same time, however, Fidel has rallied the poor and oppressed people of the world to unite with the growing numbers of those in the developed world who are beginning to realise that the crisis threatens them too. At the Conference of NonAligned Nations in Malaysia, Fidel said, ‘The world is being driven to a dead road. Poverty continues its expansion while old and new diseases threaten whole nations with annihilation. The soils are eroded and lose fertility; the climate is changing; air, drinking water and seas are increasingly contaminated. There are continuous demands on Third World countries to pay a $2.5 trillion debt that cannot be repaid while $1 trillion are spent on ever more sophisticated and deadly weapons. Why is that? What is it for? For the first time the human species is running a real risk of extinction. However, no one will fight for us, that is, for the overwhelming majority, only we will do it. Only we can save humanity ourselves with the support of millions of manual and intellectual workers from the developed nations who are conscious of the catastrophes befalling their peoples. Only we can do it by sowing ideas, building awareness and mobilising the world public opinion. No one needs to be told this. You know it very well. Our most sacred duty is to fight, and fight we will!’ Speaking at the closing session of the international Meeting on Globalisation and Development, Fidel said, ‘We have been given the privilege of living in what I dare to call the most extraordinary and decisive era in all of history. Developed capitalism, modern imperialism and neo-liberal globalisation, as sys2

tems of world exploitation, have been imposed on the world. Neo-liberal globalisation constitutes the most blatant recolonisation of the Third World. I must state resolutely and with no hesitation whatsoever, as a revolutionary and a fighter, that in my opinion, the privatisation of the wealth and natural resources of a country constitutes a major crime. It is tantamount to handing over cheaply, practically for free, all of the means of survival of the peoples of the Third World. And it will lead to a new form of recolonisation. I fully agree with Karl Marx, who said that when the capitalist system of production and distribution no longer exists, and the exploitation of man by man disappears along with it, this would mark the end of the prehistory of the human race. Marx believed above all in the development of productive forces and the infinite possibilities of science and human talent. He was able to see so far into the future that he was able to come up with the idea of a globalised world, such as I have always understood it, a world joined together in peace and in access to the full enjoyment of the wealth it can create. "Workers of the world unite!" he proclaimed, and in the real world today, this could only be interpreted as a call for unity among all of the manual and intellectual workers, the peasants and the poor in every country, in pursuit of what has come to be called "a better world". Today we are facing a great general crisis, both economic and political. Great solutions can only come out of great crises. The prevailing economic order is unsustainable and unbearable. There is no possible solution without major and radical changes. That there is no alternative for humanity but to change its course is something no one can deny. How will it change? In this case, the subjective factor will play a more important role than ever, and for that reason it must be informed and encouraged to think. Spreading information, fostering debate

and building awareness will be the responsibility of the most advanced. In Cuba, we call this the Battle of Ideas. Perhaps the most useful contribution to the struggle for a better world that we can make through our modest efforts will be to demonstrate how much can be done with so little, if all the human and material resources of a society are put at the service of the people. Make no mistake about it: we are a socialist country and we will continue to be socialists. And in spite of the obstacles, we are building a new and more humane society, with more experience, enthusiasm, energy and dreams than ever. Nature cannot be destroyed, and the rotten and wasteful consumer societies cannot prevail. There is a field where the production of wealth can be infinite: the field of culture and art in all its manifestations, including a painstaking ethical, aesthetic and solidarity-based education, a full spiritual life, socially sound, mentally and physically healthy, without which it would be impossible to talk about quality of life. Can anything stop us from reaching such goals? We want to prove what we all proclaim: that a better world is possible! The time has come for humanity to start writing its own history!’

he Miami 5, Rene Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino and Gerardo Hernandez, were in the US monitoring the activities of counterrevolutionary organisations (Brothers to the Rescue, Cuban American National Foundation, Alpha 66, Omega 7) that have terrorised the Cuban people for years. The five men were trying to intercept terrorist attacks on Cuba, save lives and prevent harm to innocent people. They were arrested in September 1998, convicted in June 2001 and sentenced in December 2001. The five men were held in solitary confinement from September 1998 to February 2000. The five men’s defence team saw only 20% of the evidence. The US authorities have no evidence to back up any of the charges, there was no damage to US security and no evidence of illegal activity, yet they were all charged with conspiracy. Suddenly, since 3 March, with no warning or justification the five men have been put in to solitary confinement, each in small, bare cells. This illegal move is a decision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington. The Five have not been given a reason or told how long this vicious punishment will last. Visitors to Lompoc prison to see Gerardo Hernandez and to Beaumont federal prison to see Ramon Labanino (including Father Geoffrey Bottoms from Blackpool) were turned away last week and told that they were not being permitted visitors. Two of the men’s wives are still prohibited from entering the USA. This all bears the hallmark of increased repression of political prisoners at a time when the US waging war. Lawyer Leonard Weinglass, civil rights lawyer, has recently joined the Miami 5’s defence team. He has pointed out the many powerful positions occupied by Cuban Americans in Miami (State Attorney, County police chief, fire chief, Mayor of Miami, publisher of Miami Herald, presiding partner of the largest law firm…) and how these people have only achieved their positions due to their right-wing position on Cuba in line with US policy. However at the time of their trial, this situation was not considered significant enough by Judge Joan Lenard and the trial was held in Miami on the basis that it is a multicultural metropolitan area with a large population. The current appeal lodged by the defence team is based on the five not being able to have a fair trial heard by an impartial jury in Miami, that the conspiracy charges were not supported by any evidence of spying and that in the case of Gerardo Hernandez, there is no precedent for a conviction of conspiracy to commit murder in a situation of a sovereign decision taken by a sovereign state (with regard to the shooting down of a Brothers to the Rescue aircraft that had violated Cuban airspace). The appeal carries weight in view of the case of Mr

Viva Cuba


Latin American ary confinement progressive pped up movements unite with Cuba he last few years have seen a new wave of popular struggles across Latin America. In the different countries the developments have taken different forms, some revolutionary and others not, but all reflecting the increased combativeness of the people. In Venezuela there has been the election of Hugo Chavez, in Ecuador the election of Lucio Gutierrez in the wake of an indigenous and popular uprising, in Brazil the election of Da Silva of the Workers Party, in Argentina rebellion after economic collapse and in Colombia the continuation of revolutionary guerrilla warfare that began in the 1960s. The economies of most of the Latin American countries have stagnated, causing increased levels of poverty for millions of people. At the same time the United States government has attempted to further carve out its sphere of influence in the region and exclude competitors from its raw materials, labour and markets through extending the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). As the US possesses the largest and most productive capitals its companies will be able to absorb the far weaker national economies of the region under the FTAA. Both these issues, increased poverty and the menace of the FTAA, have contributed to the rise of progressive and revolutionary struggle. For socialist Cuba these developments are very important. Since the triumph of the revolution in 1959 US imperialism has attempted to isolate Cuba commercially, politically and diplomatically. First of all it attempted to isolate Cuba from the rest of Latin America and the world in an attempt to strangle the revolution and provoke its collapse. Secondly, and just as important, it attempted to isolate the other countries from the Cuban experience as the imperialists rightly feared that the peo-


Ramirez, a US citizen who sued his employers, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, for nationality-related job discrimination. The Attorney General applied to move the trial away from Miami due to the effects of the Elian Gonzalez case and the political climate at the time. On 10 February however, the Miami federal district court passed a negative decision on the appeal when federal judge Joan Lenard denied a motion for a new trial. Judge Lenard refused to grant even a hearing on Lawyer Weinglass’ motion. The next Appeals Court date is 7 April in Atlanta and will be the date of the next legal battle. There will be a mobilisation of support for the Miami 5 all around the world the weekend of the 5th and 6th April and demonstrations outside US embassies in many cities on Monday 7 April. In light of their solitary confinement, the fight to free the Miami 5 and raise the profile of their case has become even more urgent. Join Rock around the Blockade on a picket of the US embassy in Grosvenor Square in London from 6-7.30pm on Monday 7 April. Show your opposition to the mistreatment of prisoners and the incarceration of the innocent.

ples of other Latin American countries would no longer stand being kept powerless, in exploitation and poverty and without education or health once Cuba had shown that these were not inevitable. The most important developments for Cuba in the region have taken place in Venezuela where President Hugo Chavez of the Bolivarian Revolution Movement was elected to power with a programme of limiting the role of multinational companies in the oil industry, preventing so much of the money from oil being remitted to the imperialist heartlands and into the pockets of wealthy Venezuelans, land reform, reducing poverty, improving education and many other measures that favour the poor. Venezuela has become Cuba’s best ally, politically and commercially with both countries benefiting greatly. Venezuela has benefited from Cuban medical and technical experts while Cuba has received much needed oil from Venezuela at below the very high world market price. Naturally these policies have outraged the Venezuelan upper and middle classes as well as Washington, but the masses have rallied to Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution Movement. Having attempted and failed to overthrow Chavez in a classic fascist coup by sections of the military in alliance with business and the privileged leaders of the labour aristocratic trade unions in April last year, this same opposition launched a so-called general strike in December, that was better known as an economic coup. Businesses and managers at the PDVSA state oil company locked out workers in an attempt to shut down the country and force Chavez out of office. Expecting a quick collapse the opposition was disappointed by the determination of the government and its support from the people. The government dis-

missed thousands of striking managers in the PVDSA and sent the National Guard to requisition food supplies that were being hoarded by different companies and so threatening the people with hunger. By February the economic coup had crumbled. Cuba has been a favourite target of the coup plotters throughout. During the April coup the Cuban Embassy was attacked by coup-supporting mobs. During the lock-out oil shipments to Cuba were targeted for sabotage while in Florida the Miami mafia mobilised in support of the fascist opposition. Speaking on 19 January, President Fidel Castro criticised the so called ‘Friends of Venezuela Group’ that has been formed to promote a dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition, for being dominated by the enemies of President Chavez and for legitimising the attempt to remove him from office by force in mid-term. In this group are Spain, which Fidel described as an unconditional supporter of the US, and Mexico, which has taken a similar line. ‘They place themselves over the sovereignty of nations, they go there pretending to fix problems but instead provide belligerency, recognition and encouragement to the coup-mongers and fascists.’ Fidel praised Hugo Chavez, noting that in the April coup and during the economic sabotage attempts he had proved himself and had become stronger in battle. ‘He’s a tough bone to gnaw.’ However he also said ‘If I have something to regret, it's his excessive generosity and kindness. In what country could there be a coup and then have all the perpetrators meet in a plaza to spend 50 days agitating through television networks, proposing another coup?’, asked Castro. ‘Not in any country in the world. I believe that there is not a more democratic, more law abiding, more tolerant, more generous man than Hugo Chavez.’ Some of the coup plotters have since been arrested but Chavez, who is described as dictatorial by his enemies, has allowed many of those who attempted to overthrow or kill him off quite lightly. We should be encouraged that Cuba’s example is continuing to break through the blockade and that its patient work is meeting with success. 3

Viva Cuba

Events Monday 7 April: 6-7.30pm The Miami 5 are innocent! On the day of their next appeal hearing, join RATB on a picket of the US embassy in Grosvenor Square W1 Bring whistles, drums and loud voices. Engage in street theatre. Play football – Miami 5 versus the USA.... Sunday 18 May 12-5pm London report back of the recent brigade to Cuba with discussion of current political situation in Cuba and internationally and how Cuba is responding to the imperialist onslaught in Iraq. Venue to be announced, please ring or email for details. Join RATB on Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Stop the War stalls every Saturday from 122pm. Phone for details. Phone 020 7837 1688 e-mail

RATB brigade in Cuba for May Day The Rock Around the Blockade brigadistas going out to Cuba in April are getting more active and more excited as the date nears. We will be spending a week in Guantanamo province where a previous RATB brigade took out a sound system as material aid to the Union of Young Communists (UJC). The brigade will be visiting the community which is still served by the sound system in the form of a mobile disco that travels around the rural parts of the province. Rock around the Blockade is currently raising money to take out to the UJC so that the sound system can be maintained in top condition. The second week will be in Havana. In both Guantanamo and Havana, we will be visiting grassroots organisations, institutions in the health and education sectors, provision for old people, young people and children, trade

Cuba leads on AIDS prevention A meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February was told that Cuba leads the way in the prevention and treatment of AIDS. The HIV infection rate in Cuba is just 0.03% of the population, 14 times lower than in the USA. Scientists attributed this to Cuba’s quick response when the virus was first identified in the 1980s. Cuba isolated carriers, launched a massive programme of testing, provided condoms to prevent sexual transmission and, despite the huge cost involved, destroyed any blood products that had any chance of being

The streets are ours Revolutionary Cuba This pamphlet published by RATB celebrates the achievements of the Cuban Revolution and shows the lessons to be drawn for the struggle against imperialism. £2.95 each plus 80p p&p. Cheques/POs payable to RATB. Please send me ___ copies. Name ___________________ Address _________________ _______________________ _______________________ Return to Rock around the Blockade, c/o FRFI, BCM Box 5909, London WC1N 3XX.

infected. Other factors involved in Cuba’s success are the very low level of intravenous drug abuse in Cuba, the complete absence of transmission from blood transfusions and the high quality of health care and education. The treatment of AIDS patients has also been boosted by the production of generic copies of the main anti-HIV medicines by Cuba’s pharmaceutical industry. Cuba has offered several times to provide the healthcare specialists and organisation needed to tackle the AIDS epidemic in Africa if rich western countries would provide the medicines.

union representatives, journalists… A highlight of the brigade will be the privilege of being in Havana on May Day. The brigadistas are all working now on collating facts and figures about life in imperialist Britain, so that we can take to the Cubans the truth about capitalism. The young people of Cuba know that the gains of their revolution have been won and maintained by the ongoing process of the struggle for socialism. We shall confirm for them that the wealth of capitalism exists only for the few. While a minority live opulent lives in the capitalist countries, the majority are getting poorer, their job pay and conditions are deteriorating, the racist legislation is increasing, more and more asylum seekers are being denied rights in Britain and education beyond school is becoming the

preserve of the rich. The brigadistas will use their time in Cuba to learn about the Battle of Ideas and the ideological work being done there. At a time when the global crisis of capitalism is deepening and the world is being plunged into bloody imperialist wars it is more important than ever that revolutionaries everywhere unite and support each other in the struggle to build a better world. The Rock Around the Brigade brigadistas will return to Britain redoubled in their commitment to build an anti-imperialist socialist movement here. We need to raise an extra £1000 to maintain the sound system in Guantanamo. Please send contributions to RATB, BCM Box 5909, London WC1N 3XX

Labour backs counter-revolutionary fiasco Bill Rammell, a Labour Foreign Office minister, pledged the Labour government’s continued support for Oswaldo Paya the Cuban counter-revolutionary responsible for the Varela Project fiasco. Paya organised an 11,000 name petition asking the Cuban National Assembly to organise a referendum on, what he called, democratic reforms. It took Paya several years to gather the signatures. Within a few days over eight million Cubans (99% of those eligible to vote) had

signed an alternative petition demanding that the National Assembly secures the socialist nature of their society by embedding it in the constitution. Paya has, of course, been feted by all the enemies of socialism, not only the imperialist British government. He received the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament and has been nominated for the Nobel Prize by the reactionary ex-president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel.

Yes! I would like to join Rock around the Blockade ❑ Yes, I would like a Boycott Bacardi Action Pack and enclose £2. ❑ Please send me more information on Boycott Bacardi direct actions. ❑ I would like to join RATB* Name ____________________________________________________________________________________ Address __________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________________ Tel __________________________________________ E-mail address _______________________________ Donation _____________________________________ *I enclose a cheque/PO payable to Rock Around the Blockade for £10 waged/£4 low waged/£2 unwaged (please delete). Please return to Rock Around the Blockade, c/o FRFI, BCM Box 5909, London WC1N 3XX.

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‘These are not days of hope and glory for peace in the world.’ Correction: the January/ February 2003 issue of Viva Cuba should have been nu...