RATB round-up / FRFI 190 Apr / May 2006

Free the Cuban 5!
On 11 February, Rock around the Blockade held demonstrations to demand the release of the Cuban 5, still incarcerated in US prisons despite having their convictions overturned last August. In Scotland, the main street in Edinburgh, resounded to the cry of ‘The Cuban 5 were falsely tried! US justice is a lie!’ as we assembled with banners and placards to march to the US consulate. Supporters from Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Iran, Mexico and Africa brought the message of the Cuban 5 to the people of Edinburgh. In Newcastle, comrades held a week of action for the Cuban 5 before travelling up to join the Edinburgh demonstration.

In London, Rock around the Blockade’s demonstration for the immediate release of the Cuban 5 was held with banners and placards in Trafalgar Square. It coincided with a mass demonstration protesting against anti-Islamic cartoons, which meant that we had a supportive audience of thousands for our message exposing the barbarity of US imperialism. We emphasised the hypocrisy of a US administration that gaols Cuban fighters against terrorism and lets mass murderer Posada Carriles walk free. We also used street theatre with participants in orange jumpsuits kneeling in chains to emphasise the difference between Guantanamo, US torture camp and Guantanamo, Cuba, where every child goes to school, health care is free and universal and human rights and dignity are respected.

CSC – copper’s nark
The British Cuba Solidarity Campaign has for many years focused its activities on building up links with the Labour Party and trade union movement, tailoring its demands and political stance to what is acceptable to its allies. On 7 March, Rock around the Blockade supporters were shocked to witness to what depths the CSC’s sectarianism has brought it. We attended a packed meeting organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign at the House of Commons to hear Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister, Eumelio Caballero speak, alongside Labour MPs Ian Gibson (chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba) and Colin Burgon. The meeting was organised to discuss British policy on Cuba and was a response, in part, to a reception late last year held by the British Foreign Office for Caleb McCarry, US Transition Coordinator for Cuba (read ‘transition to capitalism’ co-ordinator). Eumelio Caballero spoke about manoeuvres by the United States Interests Section in Havana to create an internal opposition within Cuba, on which it has lavished – with little success – millions of dollars to date. He also focused on the issue of human rights and the US’s inhuman use of illegally-occupied Guantanamo Bay as a torture camp.

After the meeting, Rock around the Blockade handed out leaflets about our own meeting on Guantanamo, alongside a comrade from the Hands off Venezuela campaign, who was also leafletting. Everyone seemed keen to take our material and find out more...until the Cuba Solidarity Campaign sent in its goons to stop us. CSC official Rob Miller and his female sidekick told us we had to stop distributing our material as it was their meeting and they had already given out their leaflets and our presence would jeopardise their chances of holding such meetings again. ‘People like you just want a revolution in this country,’ the woman told us, and ‘that attitude puts people off’. What does she think the Cubans wanted in 1959 – a tea party?

When we continued to leaflet, Rob Miller called on the police officer stationed outside the room to intervene. What irony! A representative of a movement that sees itself as being in solidarity with revolutionary Cuba actually felt compelled to call on a representative of British state repression to protect its cosy little relationship with the Labour Party! In doing so, he proved himself to the right even of the Labour MPs in the room, none of whom had any problems with our leaflets.

FRFI 190 April / May 2006

 

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