RATB challenges SWP lies

Every year, 10 million children die from hunger, malnutrition, lack of clean water or easily curable diseases: not one of these children is Cuban. Cuba has an infant mortality rate lower than that of the United States, life expectancy of 76 years, universal free health care and education. Cubans say they are working towards a society that ‘leaves no child behind’; its literacy rate exceeds that of most European countries and the US and no one is homeless. And Cuba is exporting the gains of the revolution to others: 20,000 Cuban doctors and other health professionals are currently serving in 64 countries. No wonder then, that throughout the oppressed nations of the world, ravaged by imperialist plunder, the Cuban Revolution is held up as a shining beacon to follow. Who could fail to be inspired by its example?

Step forward Mike Gonzalez of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and author of the SWP’s latest salvo against Cuban socialism, Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution (see review on page 11). So in mid-July Rock around the Blockade activists took the opportunity to challenge the SWP’s attacks on Cuba at ‘Marxism’, the SWP’s annual jamboree in London, where Gonzalez was speaking. In fact this year Gonzalez, after years of our interventions at his meetings, steered clear of saying anything about Cuba at all, contenting himself instead with a snide and completely depoliticised biography of Che Guevara. It was left to Chris Harman to trot out the same old SWP lies about Cuba: lies about attitudes to homosexuality, trade union participation, AIDS. Not a mention of the gains of the Revolution, Cuba’s participative democracy, the US blockade, the escalating menace posed to the socialist island by US imperialism. No, the SWP had one aim and one aim only: to poison the minds of the audience against Cuba, to preach counter-revolution. Thanks to our intervention, they failed.

We were poised to expose the SWP’s lies. Previous experience of being excluded from SWP meetings and denied the right to legitimate debate meant we knew we had to resort to subterfuge to ensure the truth about Cuba was heard. So when the chair called ‘Chris Bacardi’ up to speak – a name designed to appeal to a man who would not have been out of place in a Miami bar – it was a thinly disguised activist from RATB who challenged Gonzalez on every point, winning enthusiastic support from the audience. Meanwhile other RATB activists dodged the SWP’s thuggish stewards to hand out leaflets and erect a banner on the stage next to Gonzalez which read ‘The oppressed people of the world support Cuban socialism – why doesn’t the SWP?’ before being manhandled off the stage, assaulted and bundled out of the meeting. The answer to the question lies in the SWP’s politics. By denigrating and denying the gains of the Cuban Revolution the SWP shows its true colours: against socialism, against revolution and against the interests of the oppressed people of the world. ‘Marxism 2004’? Marx would be turning in his grave.

For real revolutionaries, there are plenty of ways to become involved in supporting Cuba. In the run-up to the RATB brigade to Cuba next spring, there is much fundraising to do. RATB activists have been busy around the country raising money through Rebel Music club nights, working for the Workers’ Beer Company at festivals, petitioning on street stalls against the US blockade and for the release of the Miami 5, the five Cuban political prisoners incarcerated in the United States.

Our London Rebel Music club night in July was advertised in the Guardian Guide, Metro and dozens of other weekly listings. But when the listings appeared, every magazine contained the words ‘...raising money for a dictatorial regime in Cuba’. It emerged that this smear had been maliciously added by Alex Sarll of the Press Association, which provides listings to most local publications. When challenged, Sarll poured more vitriol on to Cuba and the Revolution, showing his ignorance and arrogance.

Clearly we face a continuing battle in Britain against the forces of social democracy determined to undermine the Cuban Revolution. We will continue to fight this battle while at the same time educating people about the lessons of Cuba, which shows us that a better world is possible and in the interest of all of humanity it must be defended.

Join our activities. Rock around the Blockade has been supporting the growing and vital links between socialist Cuba and the progressive Chavez government in Venezuela, working closely with the Hands Off Venezuela! campaign in this country. We are planning a joint week of action from 9-15 August, culminating in a march to and demonstration outside the US Embassy in London on 15 August. We will have speakers at meetings on Tuesday 10 August (on Cuba and Venezuela) and Wednesday 11 August (on revolutionary women in struggle). For further details about how to get involved contact Rock around the Blockade on 020 7837 1688.

In Scotland, Rock around the Blockade in Glasgow will be showing The Revolution will not be televised, a film about the revolutionary process in Venezuela, on Thursday 19 August, 7.30pm at Friends Meeting House, Elmbank Crescent, Glasgow G2. In Dundee, the film will be shown at 7pm on Thursday 23 September, Room G7, Dundee University, Tower Block, Perth Road. Rock around the Blockade will be holding street events and meetings in both cities in August and September – call 07779 785 529 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

We continue to have stalls at festivals, and petitioning sessions; the next Rebel Music club night will be on Friday 3 September in London at Electrowerkz at the Angel and in early October in Manchester. Join us on a bar bust – help expose Bacardi’s counter-revolutionary role in an alternative and inventive way that people will not forget.
• Join RATB and get active – £10 (waged), £4 (low waged), £2 (unwaged, student or pensioner).
• Join our e-group and be kept up to date on news from and about Cuba.

Send off for our T-shirt with an image of Che Guevara on the front and a quote by him on the back, ‘a true revolutionary is motivated by great feelings of love’ for £7 and a badge with a picture of Che Guevara and the words ‘Rage against the US blockade’ for 50p (both including p&p).

FRFI 180 August / September 2004


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