Women show rousing support for Cuba at TUC

Campaign News | Friday, 16 March 2007

More than 70 delegates attend meeting on Latin America

THE role of women in social movements sweeping across Latin America was debated at a joint fringe meeting co-run by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

More than 70 delegates heard talks by three speakers at the Women's TUC conference in Scarborough, which took place on Thursday, March 15.

The event - entitled Women in Latin America, Making Another World Possible - focused on how profound changes taking place across the continent were affecting women.

Zelmys Dominguez Cortina, political counsellor at the Cuban embassy, spoke about the critical role women played in the Cuban revolution, and how the battles they had won are now nourishing social change in Venezuela.

She said: "Women fought in the Cuban revolution and suffered great hardships to make sure the Batista dictatorship was overthrown.

"In Cuba the equality movement has had many great successes, in areas such as: equality of rights, voting, salaries, and education, and also in the right to have abortions.

"This is despite of the illegal US blockade of Cuba, which has impacted very heavily upon children and women in particular.

"But now Cuban doctors and teachers, a great many of whom are women, are using their skills to improve life, dignity and freedom across Latin America and beyond."

The fringe meeting, which included a rum reception, was jointly run by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Venezuela Information Centre and Justice for Colombia. It was sponsored by Thompsons solicitors, Amicus and TandG.

Graham Goddard, Amicus' deputy general secretary, said: "It's about time we started putting socialism back on the agenda, I wish Tony Blair and Gordon Brown could be here to hear these speeches.

"Having someone like Chavez in Venezuela highlights what can be done."

Ruth Winters, vice chair of Justice for Colombia and former president of the FBU, told delegates that every two days a women is murdered in Colombia for political reasons.

She said: "I think most of us here today would be imprisoned for our beliefs if we were Colombian.

"A staggering 65 per cent face violence in their lifetime, many are forcibly disappeared.

"But in the face of these incredible hardships the trade union movement's progress is astonishing."

Monica Taylor, from the TGWU national executive, chaired the meeting and said that after many years of defeats for the Left in Latin America, it was inspiring to see so much progressive change.

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