RATB Round up / FRFI 173 Jun / Jul 2003

FRFI 173 June / July 2003

Rock around the Blockade  - ‘Battle of Ideas’ brigade in Cuba

In April members and supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Group and Rock around the Blockade spent two weeks on a solidarity brigade in Cuba. After two days in Havana the brigade travelled across Cuba to the easternmost province of Guantanamo before returning to the capital.

We visited primary schools, the international schools of medicine and sports, the school for social workers, a Pioneers’ Palace, clinics, an orphanage, a nursery, an old peoples’ home, a chocolate factory that was first opened by Che Guevara and organisations for arts and music. On the streets and in local organisations we talked to students, young people, children, journalists, religious believers and workers; we held discussions with members of local Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs), the women’s federation (FMC), the Cuban Communist Party and Union of Young Communists (UJC), who hosted the brigade.

In Guantanamo it was rewarding to see the mobile sound system donated by a previous RATB brigade still being used by the UJC up to two or three times a day to take music and politics out to every corner of the province. We had spent many months fund-raising in Britain to be ensure the Guantanamo UJC could pay for repairs and spare parts and keep the van on the road. We also visited the area overlooking the notorious US naval base where prisoners are still being held without trial in Camps X-Ray and Delta.

Back in Havana the brigade took part in the May Day celebrations in Revolution Square and joined over a million Cubans and other revolutionaries from around the world in singing the Internationale. We were delighted to be able to spend our final evening with Reinaldo Mancebo and his family, long-time friends of the RCG and Rock around the Blockade. Comrade Mancebo had recently returned from Baghdad, where he and other members of the Cuban diplomatic mission had remained during the bombing.

The brigade has come back full of enthusiasm about Cuba’s remarkable social programmes and with a deeper understanding of the imminent threat Cuba faces from the US and the recent steps it has taken to defend itself. Our task now is to ensure that we channel that enthusiasm into our own Battle for Ideas by using the example of Cuba to win people in Britain to the ideas of socialism - in contrast to the grim barbarity imposed on the planet by imperialism. Join us – take the battle for socialism out onto the streets of Britain!

Brigadistas’ comments

At a nursery we saw all the children enjoying a birthday party for everyone who had had a birthday that month – a collective birthday party – a first step for children to learn solidarity.

In Cuba we saw a society that is not based on the capitalist concept of value, but one where people are valued for their abilities and the contributions they make to a better society for everyone.

‘My arms are big enough to embrace all the children in this home but my heart embraces all the children of the world.’ Martolo, father of the Guantanamo orphanage – ex-freedom fighter in Africa; ex-metal worker – a giant of a man in every respect.

It was overwhelming to visit a society that values people and cherishes children. The confidence and wellbeing of children and the consciousness of the people were astonishing.

Seeing socialism in practice was an inspiration, something precious for the future of humanity; it must be defended more than ever in these times
of threat.

Spending even a short time in a socialist country that has its interests firmly rooted in the people has had a profound impression on my dedication to building a revolutionary movement in Britain.

The achievement of capitalism is to get the oppressed looking at each other through the eyes of the oppressor. But Cuba is a mirror of solidarity, internationalism and democracy – very hopeful to the many and too dangerous for the few.


Wednesday 11 June 7-10pm
Cuba today: report back from the Battle of Ideas brigade
Room G211, London School of Economics (LSE), Kingsway, London WC2 Nearest tube Holborn

Wednesday 9 July 7-10pm
Chavez and the Venezuelan Revolution
Eye-witness video on the attempted coup and discussion on Venezuela
Room S75, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2
Nearest tube: Holborn

For details of other Cuba events around London
phone 020 7837 1688 or 07815 617746 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For details of this and other Cuba events in the Midlands phone 07949 256 477 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Sunday 22 June 2-5pm
Anti-imperialist Forum on Cuba including reportback from
the Battle of Ideas brigade
Cross Street Chapel (Percival Suite), Cross Street, Manchester City Centre
For details phone 07816 547 066

Saturday 21 June 1.30-3.30
Cuba brigade report back at the Northeast Social Forum
University of Durham
Also in June: Cuba brigade reportback in Newcastle
For details of both events phone 07813 073 846


Cuba brigade reportback meetings in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee
For details phone 07779 785 529 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Monday 9 June, 7.30pm, Caledonian University, Hamish Wood Building
Glasgow (near Buchanan Street Bus Station)


Sunday 8 June, 7.30pm, Communications Workers Union Club,
15 Brunswick Street, Edinburgh

Tuesday 10 June, 7.30pm, Dundee University, Tower Building, Dundee

For more information visit our website at www.ratb.org.uk


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