Concert for Haiti

Campaign News | Saturday, 6 February 2010

Billy Bragg and Benjamin Zephaniah raise the roof for the people of Haiti

‘Fantastically well organised with such short notice and you really did get the message across about the unwavering Cuban medical support for Haiti’ was just one of the responses that the Cuba Solidarity Campaign has received about the Concert for Haiti.

Held at Congress House, the headquarters of the TUC, on Wednesday 3rd February, the concert was a roaring sell-out success. Over 700 people crammed into the venue to see a star-studded line up for the TUC Aid Haiti Earthquake Appeal.

‘I’m proud that the international trade union movement has rallied round to support our brothers and sisters in Haiti. A tremendous example of solidarity in action’ was Brendan Barber’s opening words to the concert. Brendan, the General Secretary of the TUC, thanked everyone for coming along and offering their support for the Haiti Earthquake Appeal and told the concert goers that he was proud ‘that so many British workers, among them firefighters and NHS staff - and many of them trade unionists - travelled to Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake to provide emergency help’.

‘This is a fantastic turnout, your support will make a real difference to the efforts of those on the ground in Haiti’ Rob Miller, the Director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign told the packed hall. Rob also read out the long list of Trade Union donors who had together helped raise an amazing £100,000 plus for the TUC Aid appeal.

Amongst the many acts and speakers on the night were the former Labour Cabinet Minister, Tony Benn and BAFTA nominated film director, Ken Loach. The night also heard from Haitian community representatives in the UK and heard a beautiful performance by Renes Lophanor a Haitian singer songwriter.

In an inspired performance, Benjamin Zephaniah, dub poet and author amongst many other talents, wowed the audience with several poems. Receiving a rapturous reception he paid tribute to the work done to help the relief efforts in Haiti.

In a moving section of the evening screen stars Alan Rickman, Tom Wilkinson and Frances de la Tour, paid tribute to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti and their late colleague and CSC Patron, Harold Pinter, by reading out one of his poems as well as others including poems from Haitian author Lenelle Moise. Our words are ‘In memory and honour of the victims of Haiti, past and present’ declared actor and screenwriter Andy de la Tour.

The concert was sponsored by the TUC and many affiliated trade unions without whom it would not have been possible to stage the hugely successful evening.

‘A country already ravaged by terrible economic circumstances’ Billy Bragg said as he told the hall that Haiti had been failed by ‘trickle-down economics’. Billy put into context the poverty that Haiti endured before delivering a powerful set of his songs including ‘There is Power in a Union’ and ‘Between the Wars’.

Rounding off the evening, Omar Puente, Cuban musician with accompanying band, Son Mas, paid tribute to the work of the Cuban medical teams in Haiti. These teams were on the ground in Haiti before the earthquake struck, training local Haitian doctors, and have helped thousands since the earthquake struck. Their work is vital in helping local Haitian medical teams. To help with their work you can make a donation to the Cuban doctors appeal by contacting the CSC office on 0208 800 0155.

Photo © Alejandro Gortazar

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