Fidel Castro is Dead.
Long Live the Revolution! Long Live Cuba!
I`ve just returned from the Republic of Cuba after a two week study tour with the Cuban Solidarity Campaign. Now home in Leicester, the death of Fidel Castro has been announced.
This is my first impression of socialist Cuba. The revolution started out from the spark of 15 surviving revolutionary socialists including Che` Guevara led by Fidel and supported by the Cuban people. The story of the Revolution is found in graphic form in Spanish and English at the Museum of the Revolution in Havana and in cities and towns across the country.
The 50 year old US blockade of the Republic of Cuba is largely still in place. Just a couple of weeks ago at the UN 191 countries voted against the US Blockade of Cuba. Not one country voted in support of the US Blockade. Even the US abstained over its own Blockade with just one other country, Israel, also abstaining.
My first day in Cuba and I was walking the streets feeling at home. I wrote down my first impressions. `It is hard to describe how free I feel with residents, workers, children and students relaxed and at ease. The last time I felt anywhere like this was at the Durham Gala`.
Cuba has one of the lowest suicide rates in the world. No one in homeless. Children are treated as precious, loved and nurtured which includes openly receiving of hugs from their teachers.
The health and social care system is tremendous. Disabled people receive the greatest support possible and the care system appears to work. Life expectancy for women is 85 years and for men it is 81 years. Doctors and Nurses are waiting to see their patients immediately. The Cubans I met stated that their system is not perfect. What contributes to holding back the care of the people is the USA`s Blockade that includes medical supplies and the finance to acquire them. And Cuba has made it`s own medical advances such as with treating ulcers from diabetes, but is held back by the USA, a capitalist neighbour that wants to steal its social capital for profit. USA private companies before the revolution `owned` up to 80 % of Cuban land and is demanding its `return`/compensation. The Cuban people have suffered from USA aggression and demand compensation that far outweighs that of the USA including the deaths of thousands of Cubans as a result of USA imperialism.
The Cuban education system. Cuba has produced one of the highest if not the highest literacy rates in the world. This achievement is from a situation where the USA and Mafia supported Baptista Government kept over a million people in destitution, prostitution and ignorance. Again, this liberating achievement has been gained despite the 50 year US blockade of the island including murderous attacks by the CIA and its Contra terrorists.
The pressure on Cuba’s infrastructure. The cost of the Blockade is tremendous and the cracks are plain to see in, for example, the fabric of housing and municipal buildings. However, regeneration and infrastructure developments appear to be everywhere such as with the Havana Airport. Many such works may be put temporarily on hold as Cuba’s resources are focused on supporting areas hit by hurricanes.
Cuba`s response? Cuba has more medics helping people in other countries across the world for free than the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Environmental projects are prominent such as bio parks and reforestation.
Sustainable practices such as in farming and recycling are common. For example, of what are now world famous vintage cars to be found on the streets in their thousands, serenaded by the sounds of live Cuban music and dance, old and new.
In every town are seen the images of national and internationalist revolutionary heroes, from Marti to Che`.
Cuba puts capitalist and `rich` Britain to shame with our illegal child poverty, homelessness and high functional illiteracy rates. Yet £300m to £400m can be found by the British Government to gift the Royal Family for its mostly vacant Buckingham Palace. And the UN should also be held to account with its inaction to break the illegal USA blockade.
Viva La Revolution! Down with the Blockade! Return Guantanamo Bay!
Convener, Leicester International Workers Centre for Social & Economic Justice
Note: A report of the study tour of Cuba will be given to Leicester & District Trades Union Council for the 6th December 2016 meeting.
The new Leicester International Workers Centre for Social & Economic Justice is coming to Leicester and Leicestershire. Please help us by completing and returning the accompanying survey – the link is at the end of this article.
The Centre will fight for social & economic justice in the City and County. It will campaign in support of the unemployed and for an end to workers and their families being in poverty or under the threat of poverty, including the self-employed.
We shall promote, support and recruit workers into trade unions.
Trade Unionists, supporters and those wishing to learn about trade unions will be particularly welcome at the new centre.
Our Policies will be informed by the Leicester & District Trades Union Council and County Association and the Leicester Social Forum.
Our Campaigns will be informed through research, e.g. the Leicester trades council policy of setting a maximum income on the rich until poverty is eradicated is part inspired by F.D. Roosevelt, who when President of the USA proposed a 100% maximum income on the rich. In 1944 he achieved a 94% tax level on the rich and the policy lasted for about 30 years.
Does it surprise you that the people of Leicester are the, `poorest in the UK`?
Ref: Leicester Mercury, 28 May 2015.
The struggles ahead will be hard as we expose & fight to end poverty including Leicester’s 37% & rising child poverty with 10% child poverty in the county. Poverty in the UK is rising with Leicester people receiving some of the lowest incomes.
It is our intention to support existing trade union organisations & campaigns and not to duplicate them. This includes support for public services & social welfare rights.
The Centre will be attractive, accessible & welcoming to new visitors.
The Arts and Literature will be promoted in our challenge to capitalism. Greening of the centre and urban/rural areas to fight pollution will also help promote socialist concepts. This includes the defence of our shared NHS and safe urban and rural environments for young people to grow, play and learn.
TV screens around the centre will provide news through trade union feeds on health & safety and welfare, on other local, national and international workers struggles and social & economic issues that affect workers, friends and families.
Workers in dispute, such as Junior Doctors, will be supported with information and training and as a place to organise from.
Celebrations and Commemorations
Celebrating people and dates in Labour Movement history locally, nationally & internationally is part of our strategy for community & political education including, for example:
● 1905 Leicester Unemployed Workers March to London
● 1914 Leicester Anti-War Demonstrations
● 1993 murder of Stephen Lawrence*.
*After the MacPherson enquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, many, including Leicester City Council, declared that they were organisations that are institutionally racist.
Our campaigns will aim to be social class based, discussing in plain language the economic links associated with Race & Class, Women & Class, Disability & Class, LGBT & Class, Young People & Class and other equality based working class issues.
Information on trades unions affiliated to Leicester trades council will be made available so that, if not already a member, you can decide the appropriate trade union to join.
Support for newly recruited and returning trade unionists who wish to organise with their fellow workers will be given.
Leicester Red-Thread Co-operative, a not-for-profit organisation, will run the centre with donations from supporters, fund raisers and an initial grant from the TUC national unemployed workers centre development fund. Please complete the attached survey. This will help our centre to develop.
CONTACT DETAILS: Leicester Red-Thread Co-operative, C/o CASE, 1 The Crescent, King Street, Leicester LE1 6RX http://www.leicesterredthread.wordpress.com