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On January 1 2019, the Cuban people will celebrate the 60th anniversary of their revolution. Following years of struggle Cubans finally defeated the forces of the brutal dictator Fulgencia Batista and his backers in the United States. Yet as Fidel Castro famously predicted the United States would never cease in its efforts to destroy the revolution.
“This revolution needs to depend on power, because the enemies will not give up easily. Imperialism, using all its resources, will not leave us in peace.”
The history of the revolution reads as a David versus Goliath struggle against an onslaught of violent aggression, invasion and intervention from its northerly neighbour.
The United States has tried every means possible to destroy the revolution, ranging from the CIA-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs, the hundreds of assassination attempts on Cuba’s leadership, to the billions of dollars spent on regime change activities. Above all it has imposed the most vicious and longest blockade of any country in history outside of actual war.
Yet sixty years later this small, fiercely independent country, just 90 miles from the coast of the United States, continues to defy all the odds.
Twelve US presidents have come and gone with each one declaring their intention to defeat the Cuban Revolution in one way or another. Yet Cuba doesn’t just survive, it thrives in so many ways.
Cuba has developed a society based on the needs of humanity, where education, health, social care and internationalism are its core priorities.
For people across the globe and particularly those in the Global South, these achievements stand as a beacon showing that a better world can indeed be built for the benefit of the many not the few.
Today Donald Trump’s administration has further tightened the blockade. Now John Bolton, the most pro-war hawk in Washington, is the White House National Security Adviser.
Bolton has described Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela as the “Troika of Tyranny” and is using threatening language that “their day of reckoning awaits.”
When Jair Bolsonaro was elected in Brazil, Bolton celebrated alongside the hard-line Cuban Americans in Florida. He spared no time meeting Bolsonaro with discussions reportedly covering strategies to defeat progressive governments in Cuba and across the region.
Immediately Bolsonaro forced the removal of 8,000 Cuban doctors who had been working in Brazil since 2013 as part of the “Mais Medicos” (More Doctors) programme, delivering healthcare to the poorest and most remote peoples of the country.
Cuba has around 60,000 medical staff working in more than 50 countries supporting people in the poorest areas. Their doctors serve in areas struck by natural disasters such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Kashmir. They were asked by the World Health Organisation to assist with the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Cuba’s internationalism is legendary.
Changes in Cuba
Cuba is a vibrant developing society. Its recent general election saw seven million people (82.9 per cent of eligible voters) elect 605 MPs. Over 53 per cent of them are women, giving Cuba the second highest female representation levels in the world.
Today the Cuban people are discussing the updating of Cuba’s constitution with huge discussion across all sectors, mass organisations and trade unions. There has been extensive debate on the island and a consultation process where over 135,000 meetings have taken place, and a referendum on the updated constitution will take place in February 2019.
The recent death of Fidel Castro and the changes in the constitution have led to media reports in the West speculating once again on how Cuba is “on the verge of change.” This narrative has been repeated over many years: in the ’90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, again when Fidel Castro retired as president and when Barack Obama visited Cuba.
This media excitement about change in Cuba is actually a fantasy of Cuba renouncing its socialism, rather than any reality. Cuban colleagues have made it clear that they will never renounce their ideals and independence.
Miguel Diaz-Canel’s visit to Britain
In November this year the Cuba Solidarity Campaign was honoured to host the visit of new Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. The high level delegation met with the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, as well as with Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prince Charles.
The visit came just days after Britain had voted in support of Cuba’s resolution to end the blockade at the United Nations general assembly. This was a positive vote as the United States had tried everything possible to sabotage Cuba’s annual success with the vote.
In Parliament Diaz-Canel said that he was struck by the warmth of his welcome: “That in a place that is so far away from Cuba, we can find so much warmth, affection and love, that it seems like we have known each other for a very long time. And for that I want to thank you very much.”
The visit was historic and warm words from both sides were welcome. But the British government could, and should, do so much more. It is embarrassing that British–Cuba trade remains at paltry levels.
It should have been the British government, not the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, who challenged the Open University’s blatant disregard for British laws when the OU banned Cuban students from enrolling in 2017, for example.
Throughout 2019 the Cuba Solidarity Campaign will mark the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and the achievements of the Cuban people with a series of events under the banner Cuba60.
At the same time we must redouble our efforts for solidarity with the Cuban people against the US blockade and in defence of their right to independence and sovereignty and to build a better world for all.
Cuba60 Events in 2019
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign is organising an exciting programme of events in 2019.
Cuba60 highlights include:
Young Cuban trade unionists tour – March 2019
This will build on the links with the more than 300 young members in the UK who have taken part in May Day solidarity brigades to Cuba during the last 10 years.
Cuba 60 touring exhibition – throughout 2019
A Cuba60 touring exhibition will be available throughout 2019 to highlight Cuba’s social achievements in health, education and humanitarian internationalism, the impact of the blockade and the solidarity between Cuban and British workers.
Medical Brigade doctor tour – June 2019
To celebrate Cuba’s inspirational international medical brigades a brigade volunteer will speak at meetings across the country.
Unions for Cuba Conference – Saturday November 2 2019
The Unions for Cuba Conference on November 2 2019 will see more than 15 Cuban trade unionists invited by their British counterparts to take part in the one-day conference, and regional meetings and workplace visits.
Cuba60 message board – from November 2018 and throughout 2019
Say congratulations to the Cuban people - Sign your name and leave a message on our online Cuba60 anniversary card at www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/Cuba60
Please get in touch on email@example.com to support the events, to get involved or for more information.
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