Unite motion in support of Cuba and CSC

Campaign News | Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Unanimous support for Cuba and the Five at Unite's first policy conference

On Wednesday 2 June 2010 Unite the Union passed a motion on Latin America committing the union to ongoing support for Cuba, the case of the Miami 5 and continuing support for the Cuba Solidarity Campaign. The motion was moved by Jimmy Kelly, Chair of London Region Unite. The full text of the motion which was passed unanimously is below:

Composite 36: Latin America

Conference welcomes the progressive change that is sweeping much of Latin America. From the Straits of Florida to Tierra del Fuego another world is being constructed as an alternative to the so-called Washington Consensus accepted by most western governments and their financial institutions and it is right that the Unite should support unions and workers fighting to defend and maintain these advances.

Cuba has just celebrated its 50th anniversary as a socialist republic. Its achievements in education, health care and the arts are beacons for much of the developing world. Life expectancy and child mortality are often better than in parts of the USA, yet the US has maintained an illegal trade embargo against Cuba for much of these 50 years.

Unite, like the rest of the world, was shocked by the tragic earthquake that occurred on 12 January 2010 in Haiti.

Cuban doctors were at the forefront of the humanitarian medical effort. However, this Cuban commitment to Haiti is not a one off or only a response to a humanitarian tragedy; 344 Cuban health specialists were present on the island prior to the earthquake - and today 938 Cuban medical staff are volunteering on the island, including 400 Cuban trained Haitian doctors all of whom received free medical scholarships to Havana’s Latin American Medical School.

Unite notes with horror the massive death toll of 230,000, and the devastating damage to property, infrastructure, and essential services that the earthquake caused. We extend our heartfelt sympathy and friendship to the Haitian people at this desperate time, as they seek to rebuild their lives and their country and recognise the genuine support that was offered by both the government and the people of the United Kingdom as well as Unite branches and members.

Conference recognises the work of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign to publicise and support the work of Cuban medical brigades in Haiti who received little acknowledgment in UK or international media.

Cuba has shown it's commitment to international solidarity once again, and now Unite must play its part in promoting cooperation and engagement with Cuba rather than isolation and aggression, epitomised by the continuation of the American blockade; now in its 48th year.

The recent General Election in the UK is an opportunity to move on from the US-led failed policy of blockade towards one of engagement with Cuba.

We call on the Executive Council to encourage regions and branches to support the Cuban Medical Brigades in Haiti through direct donation via Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

In the US, five Cubans languish in maximum security prisons because they entered the US to fight terrorism. Even though there had been liaison between the FBI and the Cuban Government, the Miami 5 find themselves victims of injustice when at the same time the US authorities show the greatest leniency to those implicated in the bombing of aircraft and tourist hotels.

In Venezuela, the changes ushered in by Hugo Chávez have shifted the balance of forces in favour of working people. Health care has been taken to millions who have previously never seen a doctor. Unions are consulted about key economic decisions. And yet, there is a growing encirclement of Venezuela by the US with the opening of new military bases in Colombia and the reactivation of the 4th Fleet in the Caribbean.

Venezuela has been able to use its oil wealth to create a new economic bloc, ALBA (the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas), in the region, bringing in Cuba and other progressive states, eg, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, plus some Caribbean islands, based on social need not neo-liberal orthodoxy.

However, Conference notes that there are parts of the continent seemingly immune to these trends. Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist, Conference calls upon the EC to continue the campaign to stop the murder of trade unionists there. In Guatemala, trade unionists in agriculture often risk their lives, as highlighted by Bananalink, and dock workers’ leaders have been assassinated with impunity, we note particular the ITF campaign on this issue.

In Honduras in 2009, the left leaning President Zelaya, who took the country into ALBA, was ousted and the coup government have installed a new president, supported by the US. Unite London & Eastern Region was a key player in the Emergency Committee Against the Coup in Honduras, we support the campaign to restore a democratically elected government in Honduras.

Finally, Conference notes that all of these events, and more, have been chronicled, examined and debated at the “Latin America” series of conferences with which our union has been closely associated

Conference therefore resolves:

? to commit the union to support and affiliate to Cuba Solidarity Campaign, Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign, Bolivia Information Forum and Justice for Colombia and encourage branches to affiliate to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign

? to work with the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and the TUC, to help educate our members and the public about the reality of life in Cuba, and the day to day difficulties the Cuban people face

? to promote branch, chapel and regional solidarity visits to Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia as a means of encouraging cooperation and engagement and also visits to Colombia;

? to write to the Foreign Secretary asking them to lead a delegation to Cuba to explore areas of mutual and common interest.

? to call on the UK Government to normalise, without any preconditions, all relations between Cuba and the UK and end its support for the discriminatory European Common position on Cuba.

? to congratulate Unite for its commitment to the campaign to free the Miami 5 and resolves to continue to work to free the 5 and end the illegal blockade of Cuba;

? to commit the union to support VSC’s Venezuela Under Threat campaign; and,

? to continue its association with the “Latin America” series of conferences.


REPRESENTING: L&E Regional Committee



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