A tribute to Phil Lenton, friend of Cuba and internationalist

Campaign News | Thursday, 30 November 2017

Phil Lenton pictured with Fidel Castro

Phil Lenton pictured with Fidel Castro

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign heard the sad news of the passing of Phil Lenton and together with the Cuban Workers Central (CTC) has paid tribute to his enduring support for Cuban people and their Revoltuion. Both statements are posted below.

Message from CSC:

On behalf of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in the UK we would like to offer our deepest sympathy to Phil’s family, colleagues and friends.

Phil was a wonderful friend to the people of Cuba. As a former National Officer for UNISON and founder of Salud International, he helped bring the issue of solidarity with Cuba to trade unionists in UNISON and beyond. Phil worked alongside his friends and trade union leaders such as Rodney Bickerstaffe amongst others to make it clear that international solidarity with the people of Cuba was an issue of principal that should be taken up by all those who wanted to work for a better world.

Phil founded Salud International which organised for ambulances to be sent to Cuba during the ‘special period’ and laid the foundation for the longstanding links between the London Ambulance Service and Havana Ambulance Service. He championed twinning between Cuban provinces and UNISON regions. He had close ties with hospitals in Santiago de Cuba, formed following his first visit to the country in 1995, from which he set up links between Santiago health workers and UNISON’s Northern region which are maintained to this day.

Phil was a true internationalist who also worked on humanitarian projects in Palestine, Mozambique and Syria. He saw that Cuba offered a vision of a real alternative to the cuts and austerity agenda that was being driven forward by the right wing in this country that so blighted the lives of millions of people here.

Phil will be missed by those working in solidarity with Cuba and his passing will be mourned by many friends in Cuba.

Phil worked throughout his life for the betterment of humankind. Our tribute must be to continue the struggle to support Cuba’s right to develop their own society built on human cooperation and solidarity, free from external aggression and interference, principals for which Phil worked all his life.

Message from theCTC:
Havana, November 29, 2017.

Dear Friends:

Through our dear friend Chris Remington of UNISON-Greater London, we have received the unfortunate news of the death of our dear friend Phil Lenton, former National Officer of UNISON.

Phil, being in Africa supporting our African brothers in 1994, began to take an interest in Cuba, because the anecdotes that Africans told him about Cuba’s solidarity with the African countries, which contributed to the liberation of those peoples from Apartheid, were of great admiration and pride for the Cubans and because of that he decided to visit the island in 1995.

At that very moment Cuba was immersed in a deep special period provoked by the collapse of the socialist countries and especially by the tightening of the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the government of the United States.

His visit to Ambrosia Grillo Hospital in Santiago de Cuba that year motivated him to look for initiatives to help to mitigate the lacks of the health sector, despite that, the workers made an enormous effort to continue providing health services to the people, then he begins, along with other well-remembered friends like Eric Roberts, the campaign "Reconstruction of the Cuban ambulance service", and focused on what was most needed at that time: transportation to transport patients, as a result of that campaign he added thousands of British workers, UNISON, other unions and the TUC, together they sent more than 100 ambulances, medical materials, education materials, among others.

He promoted the project "HEALTH: A trade union ship for Cuba".
He also fully identified with the struggle of the Cuban people against the US blockade, denounced and condemned in all the tribunes this cruel and inhuman US government policy against the Cuban people, and especially the campaign for the liberation of the Cuba five heroes not only led it to British workers and unions, but he also involved friends and unions around the world, in particular from the US, Canada and Europe, which contributed to their definitive release.

For all this, for his sensitivity, for his humanity, for his struggle for the oppressed peoples, for his tireless desire for justice, for his unconditional support to the Cuban Revolution, for his pride in having personally met Fidel, whom he had as a paradigm, the Cuban trade union movement and the Cuban workers will always remember him, like another Cuban, as someone who in the worst moments was at our side and told the world that yes, that Cuba and the Cubans will resist and our legacy to Phil is that we will continue resisting and triumphing, for him and for all those who have trusted and trust in the Cuban revolution.

He will continue accompanying us in each May Day with the workers and the people celebrating our conquests.

The CTC and the Cuban trade unions, in particular the National Trade Union of Health, on behalf of all Cuban workers convey their deepest condolences to his family and friends, to UNISON and to the British workers for this sensitive physical loss.

We will always have him in mind and we will remember him as one of the most supportive men with the peoples who fight for their emancipation, against injustice and for a better world.

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