Barclays Bank protest

Campaign News | Friday, 27 April 2007

CSC lobbies shareholders at bank AGM

PRENSA LATINA. MPs, senior trade unionists and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign staged a colourful demonstration to protest against Barclays’ decision to boycott Cuban firms.

Shareholders arriving at the bank's extraordinary AGM on Thursday 26 April were greeted by a giant George Bush puppet waiving a Barclays banner.

The bank has succumbed to pressure from the US by agreeing to force London-based Cuban organisations - Havana International Bank and Cubanacan, a state-owned travel organisation - to take their accounts elsewhere.

Banning Cuban businesses disregards British sovereignty and anti-discrimination laws which state that no person will be discriminated against on grounds of race or nationality.

Ian Gibson MP was among the protestors demonstrating against the bank’s decision to close Cuban accounts.

He said he wanted to encourage the shareholders - who were meeting to discuss the merger of Barclays with Dutch firm ABN Amro - to question the company about its discriminatory measure.

Mr Gibson added: “Barclays’ decision not only amounts to a nasty harassment of a Caribbean country, but is also an invasion of our own rules and laws - and that is why I believe it is right to protest.

“We are fighting for a free liberated world, and supporting Cuba’s right to independence and its right to be free from American aggression is an important part of that.

“It’s shameful that nothing stops Uncle Sam.”

The shareholders meeting was held at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster.

Mr Gibson, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba, said: “It would be good if the nation could once again mount a boycott of Barclays, like the successful campaign students fought against the company for its support of apartheid in South Africa.”

The demonstration was organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, and included MP Diane Abbott, MP Colin Burgon and representatives from trade unions Amicus, Aslef, GMB, and TGWU.

Mr Burgon said: “Those who prattle on about national sovereignty and losing rights to Brussels are strangely quiet on the fact that the United States is passing legislation which dictates policy in the UK.

“George Bush wants to turn the screw on Cuba and it’s vital that we fight against him.”

Rob Miller, Director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, added: “Following the Hilton Hotel Group’s decision to ban Cuban nationals, Barclays Bank is now following suit.

“Is this the slippery slope where every UK company must now obey US law? This is a question of national sovereignty and the UK Government should stand up and defend our rights to trade internationally.”

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