VIVA CUBA! Rock around the Blockade campaign newsletter Issue 51, Autumn 2008 www.ratb.org.uk 25p/donation
Free the Cuban Five:
defenders of socialist Cuba! The Cuban Five Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez - have been falsely imprisoned in the US for 10 years. Cuba called for international protests around the 12 September to call for their release. Rock around the Blockade took up the call for action in Britain. Their ‘crime’ was to work to expose Miami’s notorious Cuban-American counterrevolutionaries who were plotting, and had already carried out attacks against Cuba (see Viva Cuba 50). On 12 September, the tenth anniversary of the Five’s arrest, Rock around the Blockade (RATB) and supporters took to the streets in cities across Britain for a day of protest in solidarity with Cuba’s call for action to demand their release. In London RATB held a demonstration on the pavement of Trafalgar Square with banners, flags and placards. There were speeches from members and supporters of
12 September protests outside the US embassy near Beirut, Lebanon. The tenth anniversary of the Cuban Five’s imprisonment was marked by protests worldwide. RATB, Revolutionary Communist Group and representatives of the Marti-Maceo Organisation of Cubans in Britain. The rally had been moved on by the police from one part of Trafalgar Square, but undeterred and determined to let people know of the case of the Cuban 5, RATB members and supporters regrouped on another spot. Defending the right to free speech in Britain is an important part of building solidarity. In Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens there were speeches about what Cuban socialism has achieved in the face of a
constant political war against it, led by the US. A local man remarked about the Cuban Five: ‘its ridiculous, they’ve been locked up just for being communists!’ Hundreds of passers by signed petitions and visited the campaign stall and the word is gradually spreading around Manchester about the Five’s treatment. Comrades in Scotland have been on the streets of Glasgow and Dundee raising the issue of the Cuban Five and imperialist hypocrisy surrounding terrorism. Comrades have also collected hundreds of signatures on the RATB petition in opposition to the US
naval base and torture camp at Guantanamo Bay; activists have raised the question of the US occupation of this part of Cuba and the violation of the political prisoners held without trial at the US occupation camp. The unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five is indicative of imperialism’s political war against the Cuban Revolution. The struggle for their freedom is completely tied in with the fight to defend Cuba and socialism. Join RATB and support their cause. Free the Cuban Five! Viva Cuba socialista!
Want to write for Viva Cuba? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with letters, reports, articles and ideas
Remembering Che Guevara
The Five write from prison to RATB September 8, 2008 Dear friends, Thanks for your birthday greetings and solidarity as expressed through your words of support. Once again we have been denied justice by the Court of Appeals. It refused to review the unjust and politically prejudiced ruling of June 4th made by a three-judge panel. Our attorneys work very hard these days to get our petition to the supreme court ready. September 10th marks the 10th anniversary of our unjust imprisonment. The movement in solidarity with the Cuban Five holds numerous events around that date. It is a good opportunity to call attention to the reality of our case and the injustice involved in it. Aware of the hard work and the effort contributed by so many good friends, especially for this particular occasion, I want to express my gratitude and my appreciation to you, as well as my certitude in the fight for truth and justice. Venceremos! (We will win)
October 18, 2008
Dear friends in Manchester of Rock around the Blockade, From August 10th the prison has been in “lock down”. On September 26th we were allowed out of our cells, but only inside of the housing unit. It is part of an “emergency plan”. It is not clear when normal operations will resume. I have received many letters from friends around the world. I have a great delay in my response. I have been very busy with the legal work and with some art projects, which I want and need to finish before I could be transferred to Miami for resentencing. We stay firm and optimistic. A big embrace from the Cuban Five. Thank you for your birthday card and for your support. Greetings to our friends. Antonio Guerrero
Write to the Five René González #58738-004 FCI Marianna PO Box 7007 Marianna, FL 32447-7007, USA Fernando González send to: Rubén Campa #58733-004 FCI Terre Haute PO Box 33 Terre Haute, IN 47808, USA Ramon Labanino send to: Luís Medina #58734-004 U.S.P. McCreary PO Box 3000 Pine Knot, KY 42635, USA Antonio Guerrero #58741-004 U.S.P. Florence PO Box 7000 Florence CO 81226, USA
Comrades meet the Five’s family members at the first international conference to free the Five, Havana, 2007
On 11 October comrades and supporters held an event in Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester city centre to celebrate the life of Che Guevara. Speakers pointed out that forty one years after his death his ideas of socialism are more relevant than ever as the crisis of capitalism lurches forward and banks are collapsing in major capitalist countries. Many people also signed petitions calling for the release of the Cuban Five.
Gerardo Hernandez #58739-004 U.S.P. Victorville PO Box 5500 Adelanto, CA 92301, USA
On 1 November, RATB supported a dayschool organised by the London School of Economics Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! Society, entitled, ‘Che Guevara, Cuba and Socialism in Latin America’. Speakers including RATB’s Helen Yaffe and FRFI’s Robert Clough gave in-depth analyses of the progressive developments in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) is forging a united front of radical South American governments which has brought concrete gains to the poor. It is a battle with global consequences - directly challenging the regional and global hegemony of US imperialism and its allies – and offering an alternative model for social development in the context of capitalist crisis. RATB is proud to stand in support of the anti-imperialist and socialist movements in Latin America, and will continue publicising their achievements.
An RATB-organised Cuba solidarity protest in Manchester on the anniversary of Che Guevara’s death Cuba at the UN On 22 September, Cuban vice president Jose Ramon Machado Ventura spoke to a meeting of more than 500 people at a church in Harlem, New York. Machado was a guerrilla fighter of the Rebel Army and part of the struggle which led to the triumph of the Revolution in 1959. He was a founding member of the Communist Party of Cuba. He was in the US for the opening of the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations and spoke on 24 September about the real threats facing humanity on a global scale and the inability of capitalism to address these issues. He pointed out some ve r y chilling facts: ‘While one trillion dollars is spent on weapons in the world, more than 850 million human beings are starving; 1.1 billion people do not have access to drinking water, 2.6 billion lack sewage services and more than 800 million are illiterate. More than 640 million children lack adequate housing, 115 million do not attend primary school and 10 million die before the age of five, in most cases as the result of diseases that can be cured.’ He challenged the imperialist countries to put an end to wars of occupation and to
end the plunder of resources, to cancel the foreign debt of oppressed countries, to direct money squandered on commercial advertising to fight hunger and malnutrition, to comply with the Kyoto Protocol commitments and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions more ambitiously. He added that more urgent than ever is the establishment of ‘a democratic and equitable international order, and a fair and transparent trading system in which all states will participate, in sovereignty, in the decisions that affect them.’ Machado reiterated the principled positions of the Cubans stating their support for the Palestinian people and their inalienable right to self-determination and support for peoples whose sovereignty and territorial integrity is being threatened, like Venezuela and Bolivia. Hurricane recovery for public health Public health measures are indispensable to avoid the spread of diseases after disasters such as the recent hurricanes that Cuba has suffered. Cuba has implemented strict control of drinking water and food and public health workers are emphasising the importance of hygiene to
avoid disease transmission. Rodent control is vital and the Ministry of Public Health put into action 25,000 workers to inspect homes with respect to the dengue virus carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito. Both at home and abroad in their international disaster relief efforts, Cuba shows the political will, the organisation and the experience to address the human needs in times of crisis and that they are prepared to devote the necessary human resources to ensure that they achieve their goals. Cuba finds oil A Cubapetroleo news briefing explained in October that more than 20 billion barrels of recoverable oil has been found in offshore fields. This is more than twice the maximum estimate of the geological survey carried out by the US. Drilling for the first production wells may start as soon as 2009. There may also be offshore gas reserves but these are difficult to quantify. Currently Cuba produces about 60,000 barrels of oil and 20,000 barrels equivalent of natural gas daily from onshore
wells scattered mostly along the northern coast of Cuba. This covers almost 50% of Cuba’s daily energy needs and Cuba imports 90,000 barrels of oil a day from Venezuela. Part of that exchange involves the thousands of Cuban doctors who are working in poor communities in Venezuela. End the US blockade now! The US blockade is extending its tentacles further and taking people by surprise and travellers to Cuba are finding their cards are not accepted because many credit cards are from British divisions of US banks, such as MBNA and Capital One. Egg was last year taken over by the US banking giant Citigroup, and the Virgin Money card is issued by MBNA Europe, owned by Bank of America Corporation. MBNA issues cards for lots of British companies including Alliance & Leicester. Egg says: ‘We are sorry for any inconvenience suffered by our customers. However, Egg is a UK registered company with a US parent ... and is therefore subject to certain US laws.’
Cuban Vice President Ramon Machado and comrades visit hurricane-damaged regions of Cuba
around the VIVA CUBA! Rock Blockade newsletter
A c t i o n ! January 2008 is the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution. We are organising events in Britain to commemorate the achievements of socialism. Get in touch now to help out. London Cuba and internationalism: RATB educational meeting Tuesday 9 December, 7.30pm, Ye Old Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, London EC4 (Temple and Holborn tube stations) Cuban socialism at 50 Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution and the gains in the five decades since. Daytime debate and discussion and evening with music and dancing. Contact us for details and final programme of speakers. phone 020 7837 1688 or email email@example.com. uk North West Film: Cuba in Africa
Sunday 7 December, 2pm Cross Street chapel, Manchester contact 07535 616 325 / firstname.lastname@example.org RATB street meeting Saturday 3 January, 1-3pm Church Street, Liverpool Dayschool and social Saturday 24 January, 12pm till late El Rincon, Roscoe Street, Liverpool contact 07956 458 331 / email@example.com North East Film: John Pilger’s the War on Democracy Wednesday 10 September, 7pm In the Training Room, first floor of Northumbria University Student’s Union (through doors opposite Venue) contact 07813 073 846 / firstname.lastname@example.org Scotland Contact us to help organise solidarity protests and events on the anniversary of the Cuban revolution contact 07779 785 529 / email@example.com
Rock around the Blockade is the campaign in Britain fighting for solidarity with socialist Cuba. We believe that the best way to provide support for Cuba is to build an anti-imperialist movement and struggle for socialism. We stand: • against the US blockade • for the release of the Cuban Five falsely imprisoned in the US • against the US occupation and prison at Guantanamo Bay • for a boycott of Bacardi, supporter of the Miami mafia • in solidarity with revolutionary struggles in Latin America. Through our work in solidarity with Cuba we aim to show that there is an alternative to poverty, racism and war. We aim to support working class struggles in Britain and to show that socialism is the only system that can provide for humanity.
Our campaign was founded in 1995 by members and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group. We have sent 10 brigades to Cuba. We hold protests, street events, meetings, dayschools, film showings, gigs, fundraisers and other events. In February/March 2008 we organised our most ambitious project to date, a speaking tour across Britain with three Cuban revolutionaries, including Orlando Borrego, comrade of Che Guevara. Nearly 3,000 people came to meetings to hear about Cuba and socialism. This amount of interest proves that there is a basis for our work. Want to be a part of it? Then join us now! Get in touch and build solidarity with Cuba today!
Join Rock around the Blockade! I want to join RATB (£15 waged/£8 low waged/£4 unwaged*) I want to make a donation to support RATB’s work Send me the new ‘The Streets are Ours: Revolutionary Cuba’ pamphlet (£3.95 including postage) Name _____________________________________________________________ Address ______________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ Tel ________________
*Cheques/Postal Orders payable to Rock around the Blockade. Please return to Rock around the Blockade, BM RATB, London WC1N 3XX.