Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hands off Cuba! Free the Miami Five!

TERESITA Trujillo, representing the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba stressed that the country’s two priority campaigning issues are to end the illegal United States trade blockade around Cuba and for the release of the Miami Five.
She was addressing a packed meeting at the University of London Union, chaired by John Silberman and sponsored by Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, Rock Around the Blockade and many other progressive organisations and individuals, including the New Communist Party.
Teresita Trujillo began with an account of the way in which socialist Cuba has faced up to problems and setbacks over the last four decades by periodically sparking mass national debates and consultations.
In the mid 80s the Cuban government, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, realised that it had been adopting the Soviet model of socialism when that model was not completely compatible with Cuban circumstances.
The whole population was actively engaged in the debate; constructive criticism was encouraged and this led to a programme of rectification of mistakes.
These changes made Cuban socialism strong enough to weather the fall of socialism in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe.
It also made possible the necessary economic adaptations to the loss of trade and support from the Soviet Union.
Cuba faced a long and bleak period of hardship when the government “did not know when the next oil ship would come or how to feed the people”.
Once again the government called for a huge public debate and won a broad consensus of support for the painful process ahead.
But the country stood firm and united against US attempts to undermine it and to impose even harsher trade sanctions.
Now, 18 years on, circumstances have changed again and Cuba has allies in oil-rich Venezuela and other progressive Latin American governments – as well as new trade partners in China.
Another mass debate is underway to examine problems. “The government and party recognised the need for common debate on the efforts we need to make now to make the country more productive and prove that socialism works,” said Teresita.
She also pointed out that Fidel Castro, who has been in serious ill-health for the last two years, declined re-election as president. He did not resign, that would send quite a different message; he fought to the end.
His brother Raoul, the new president, referred to this process in his acceptance speech and the changes had to be carried by the parliament.
Comrade Trujillo went on to explain that the US blockade is still causing hardship and is seeking support and pressure on the European Union in a coming vote on trade with Cuba, calling for more flexibility. Only three European nations oppose this and the British government is the biggest and most influential of them.

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