British Activists Join International Day of Action to Free the Cuban Five
April 8, 2007
On Saturday 7th April activists from Rock around the Blockade (RATB) took to the streets across Britain to demand freedom for the Cuban Five and an end to US occupation of Guantanamo Bay. Rock Around the Blockade is the campaign set up by the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution in Britain. The protests were among several activities organised by RCG/RATB during three months of international action called by the Union of Young Communists in Cuba, to demand the release of the Cuban Five.
Lively actions were held in busy city centres in Glasgow in Scotland, in Newcastle and Manchester in the north of England and in London, the capital city and were timed to coincide with demonstrations in New York and Los Angeles called by the April 7th Coalition in the United States. The Cuban flag, a symbol of anti-imperialist resistance, flew proudly across the country, while thousands of leaflets were distributed informing the British public and tourists from all over the world about the international campaign to free the Cuban Five and about the achievements of Cuban socialism. Hundreds of signatures were collected on petitions, illustrating the significant support for Cuba, even here in the belly of the imperialist beast. Using megaphones to inform the public, activists condemned the US blockade of Cuba, Britain’s complicity in US imperialist aggression and explained how Cuban socialism demonstrates that ‘another world is possible’, a world based on people not profit.
In London and Newcastle we used street theatre to expose the hypocrisy of the US’s war on terrorism and plans for transition to a ‘free’ Cuba. Activists dressed in orange suits, with black hoods and chains to symbolise the brutal conditions for prisoners incarcerated by the US military in its concentration camp in illegally occupied Cuban territory in Guantanamo Bay. In Newcastle a demonic Uncle Sam paced manacingly behind the caged street stall with a gun, to represent the brutality of U.S. imperialism. We pointed out that this was the ‘democracy’ which the Plan Bush dreamed of imposing on the Cuban people and that the decision to build Camp X-ray in Guantanamo was an insult to the socialist revolution in Cuba, a society which placed humanity and consciousness at the centre of development.
In Manchester the protest had an added attraction – the public had the chance to show their disgust with the British Labour government by throwing wet sponges at one activist dressed as Tony Blair, giving him a good soaking in the process!
During the demonstrations, we raised funds for our campaign work in support of Cuba and for the solidarity brigade which we are sending to Cuba on 21st April, to work with the Union of Young Communists in Caimito before taking part in the international conference to demand freedom for the Five in Havana on 29-30 April. RCG/RATB will be donating over $5,000 to buy materials for a pioneers’ camp in Havana province to benefit the Cuban youth. This is the tenth such brigade we have sent to Cuba in the 12 years since the solidarity group was founded. Report back meetings will take place when the brigade returns.
The imprisonment of the Cuban Five is part of the political war on socialist Cuba by the United States. Countries that resist imperialism are labelled ‘terrorist’ states. Cuba has never used violence against a single U.S. citizen by any terrorist act, but it has suffered thousands of deaths and permanent injuries at the hands of terrorists operating out of the U.S. The so-called ‘war on terror’ has nothing to do with human rights: the case of the Cuban Five highlights this blatant hypocrisy.
In reality, Cuban socialism and the growing revolutionary movement sweeping Latin American, particularly in Venezuela and Bolivia are the real forces of progress for humanity. These countries have shown the benefits of cooperation in trade and development through ALBA – a powerful and democratic alterative to years of neo-liberal policies which have plundered the continent and plunged millions into poverty.
Unfortunately Cuba is often dismissed as undemocratic and knowledge about contemporary Cuba is difficult to obtain in this country. Rock Around the Blockade will continue to campaign on the streets to challenge the misconceptions about Cuba and to defend real socialism which is being developed by real people. We will prepare to host a Cuban speaking tour next spring. What better way to learn about the Cuban experience than from committed Cuban communists who engaged in the daily struggle to build a socialist Cuba!
Free the Cuban Five!
End the Blockade!