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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
November this year the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in Britain 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.
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.
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
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. (IPA Service)
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