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Want to see socialism in practice? Just visit Cuba
I HAVE just returned from an inspirational solidarity visit to Cuba organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.
We took part in the May Day rally and visited health centres, schools and community projects. Your readers will know that all health, social care and education services are free to Cubans from the cradle to the grave – this even includes funerals.
Cuban wages seem very low, but when you hear that 80 per cent of Cubans own their own homes and pay no rent and that the monthly charge for gas, electricity and water is about £1.50, you realise that they only have to pay for food and clothes and consumer goods.
The prices of many basic foods are subsidised and if your house is damaged by a hurricane, the government will rebuild it.
Housing may be badly maintained or overcrowded, but the constitution gives all Cubans the right to a roof over their head. Under the new constitution, self-employed workers are entitled to pensions and other benefits.
Most impressive of all was the level of democracy in Cuba. When the new draft constitution was published it was debated in meetings by nine million people (out of a population of 12 million) and alterations to the draft were made as a result of comments that came from these meetings. It was finally approved by 87 per cent of those voting.
There are neighbourhood groups in every locality, and trade unionists and the federation of women are an integral part of the country’s decision-making process.
On May Day, one million people joined the Havana march and another five million celebrated in other towns across Cuba.
I believe that it is this level of democracy and involvement of the population in decision-making that has ensured the survival of the revolution for 60 years despite all the odds staked against it, particularly the US blockade. I see no reason why it should not continue to survive.
Readers of our paper support socialism. If you visit Cuba, you will see socialism in practice.
Youth services are in terminal decline and austerity is to blame
THE news article Slashed to death: knife crime peaks as cuts hit authorities (M Star May 7) painted a rosier picture of youth services than I recognise.
Although I am sure there is a correlation between cuts to these services and knife crime, I am equally convinced that there are similar links between youth service cuts and increases in mental health problems, social isolation, online gaming addiction and even obesity among young people.
The Tories’ and Lib Dems’ austerity policies have pushed youth services over the edge and in most areas they have entered a terminal stage.
In the West Midlands, Tory austerity has meant that at least half of the 14 local authorities have ceased providing youth services at all and in the remaining half there is token and reducing provision.
Youth workers have been sacked and disappeared into alternative employment or retirement; youth centres have been closed and the buildings sold; higher education institutions, such as the universities of Worcester and Coventry, have closed their youth-work degree courses so there are no new youth workers being trained and the informal educational skills that characterised their work have been lost.
The cost and time needed to rebuild a recognisable youth service will be enormous.
The redevelopment costs alone of youth centres that provided safe and familiar spaces for young people will be massive and it is more likely that such centres will become a distant, if cherished, memory.
Tory-Lib Dem austerity has destroyed much of our prized community services and nowhere is that more blatantly obvious than in the destruction of services to young people.
As a football fan, Baker must have known full well his tweet was racist
I AGREE completely with Steve Easton’s letter (M Star May 15) regarding Danny Baker’s racist tweet. Baker’s attempt to pass it off as an attempt at humour was an awful excuse.
Anyone who has listened to Baker’s radio shows over many years knows that he is a huge fan of football.
So he cannot have failed to have heard the recent debates about racism in the sport, which have including Raheem Stirling, Danny Rose and others talking about the problem, in particular the “monkey” chants that have been aimed at black players.
Just as worrying is the statement by the police that action over Baker’s racist tweet has been ruled out as it did not constitute a criminal offence.
As socialists, we have a duty to expose and condemn racism wherever it occurs and I must say that the Morning Star stands head and shoulders above all other sections of the media in doing this.
Don’t let Mr NF have a clear run
THE Star comment (May 15) notes that the participation rate in European Parliament elections is usually “pathetically small.”
In this context, it is worth remembering that one certain consequence of a low turnout on Thursday would be to inflate the share of the vote (and thus the number of parliamentary seats) involuntarily surrendered to Mr NF and his colleagues.
It is therefore important for all our ongoing struggles to maximise the turnout of anti-NF electors.
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