RATB challenges SWP lies on Cuba

FRFI 174 August / September 2003

Roll up! Roll up! all you phoney socialists and apologists for imperialism...Time for Marxism 2003, the Socialist Workers’ Party’s (SWP) annual week-long conference advertised as holding the answers to true socialism. This year Rock around the Blockade challenged two of the orchestrated attacks on Cuba from SWP platforms, a meeting about Cuba and another supposedly about Che Guevara.

RATB knows the SWP’s line about the Cuban Revolution; it barely changes no matter how fast reality moves or history disproves it. This year, once again, the SWP demonstrated how close their anti-Cuban views are to the right-wing fascists in Miami linked to the Bush administration, the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF). Professor Mike Gonzalez, the SWP’s Cuba ‘expert’, gives out CANF’s website details. The CIA has been fomenting counter-revolutionary organisations in Cuba in order to create the pretext for a US invasion. Gonzalez’s spin on the punishment in Cuba of counter-revolutionary CANF and CIA agents served imperialism well.

Without a single mention of the incredible achievements in education, healthcare and all other social welfare indicators, the SWP focuses on recent food-shortages, the existence of dollar shops and prostitution, and repeats the tired old lies about the Revolution being won by a bunch of middle-class idealists, the Cuban working class being exploited by a privileged elite surrounding the dictator Fidel Castro, and about homosexuals and those with HIV/AIDs being oppressed and incarcerated.

The SWP exploits the public interest in Cuba and Che Guevara to attract hundreds of people to its meetings where they are drip fed these lies. RATB activists were forced, once again, to confront these apologists for imperialism, particularly at this dangerous time when Cuba has been named on the Bush ‘axis of evil’ hit list. Every time Gonzalez uttered a lie in the Cuba meeting, he was corrected from the floor. An RATB activist spoke about the gains of the Cuban Revolution in the context of Latin America and a world dominated by neo-liberalism, where 30,000 children die everyday from poverty. Another RATB speaker pointed out that Cuba is standing against imperialism and that the Cuban people are armed and will fight to defend the Revolution which they feel is truly their own. Throughout the meeting, an RATB member held up a poster at the front of the hall with a quote from US black political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, to remind the audience that support for Cuba is not a theoretical or abstract question, but a matter of whose side you take in the real world – the capitalist ruling class or the poor and oppressed.

Two days later at the Che Guevara meeting much the same anti-Cuban propaganda was restated by Esme Choonara. An RATB activist pointed out that the SWP regularly holds meetings around the country on Che Guevara in order to attack the Cuban Revolution. She noted that as usual the SWP speaker had failed to mention Che Guevara’s important contribution to Marxist economics and the problems of transition to socialism, dismissing him as a middle-class idealist individualist. The comrade stated that the SWP’s opposition to the Cuban Revolution stems from their class hostility to the seizure of power in an armed struggle, by and for the poorest and most oppressed people. The example of the Cuban Revolution is a challenge to the SWP’s politics of reformism, gradualism and parliamentarism, which focuses on the trade union movement as the agent of social change. In pre-revolutionary Cuba, the trade union movement was controlled by the state, corrupted and run by gangsters. The Revolution had to be organised outside the official trade unions. Today in Britain, the trade unions are almost as tied to the state as those of Cuba in the 1950s. The SWP refuses to recognise this and break its links with the official labour movement, including the Labour Party, to which most unions pay massive subscriptions. In the anti-war movement the SWP gives platforms to representatives of the imperialist Labour Party and pro-imperialists, like Charles Kennedy, blocking out the real anti-war and anti-imperialist activists.

We refuse to allow the SWP a free ride with its anti-Cuban lies and we will return to Marxism every year until the SWP abandons its pro-imperialist position on Cuba. If it is serious about discussing Cuba we challenge the SWP to invite a Cuban representative, or someone who supports the Cuban Revolution to debate on a platform with it.

Rock Around the Blockade held a meeting in London about the situation in Venezuela, showing a wonderful documentary made by Irish film makers who happened to be in the presidential palace in Venezuela at the time of the CIA-organised coup against democratically elected President Hugo Chavez. The footage shows how hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans, particularly the poor, took to the streets in anger to demand the return of their kidnapped president and how the mainstream media had manipulated its reporting to distort the world’s understanding of events taking place. An interesting discussion followed addressing questions of the necessity of the armed struggle in social change, how socialism can be built and how the enemy is to be defeated.

Ten RATB festival goers pulled pints at this year’s Glastonbury Festival in the Worker’s Beer Tent. All wages and tips go to the campaign, so cheers! Fundraising continues on Friday 22 August in London with the next Rebel Music rebellion, conscious club nights with London’s best hip-hop, break-beats and reggae DJs and MCs. The musical rebellion takes place at the Electrowerkz, from 9pm-3am. Entry is £3 before 10pm and £5 afterwards. E-mail rebelmusiccuba
@hotmail.com for details or see the RATB website: www.ratb.org.uk. Regular stalls are held around the country to defend Cuban socialism and oppose the illegal US blockade.

Bacardi barred!

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has replaced anti-Cuban Bacardi white rum at all its bars in protest at the strong-arm tactics employed by Bacardi to maintain a monopoly position. JD Wetherspoon say they want to ensure a variety of choice for their customers – and that includes having the far superior and Cuban Havana Club rum readily available.

Next RATB meeting in London:

Wednesday 6 August.
The 26 July Movement and the Cuban Revolution – an introduction
7pm, Room S75, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, WC2. Nearest tube: Holborn.

For meetings and events in your area, contact the campaign on
020 7837 1688 or e-mail us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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