Planning for tomorrow - Annual General Meeting agrees future work plan
Campaign News | Monday, 15 June 2015
Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers delivered a keynote speech at the 2015 Annual General Meeting of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign which took place at the union’s national headquarters on 13 June 2015.
She gave statistic after statistic illustrating the achievements made in Cuba in providing first class education to all and explaining that Cuba had met its obligations to reach the UN Milleneum Goals. At the same time she reiterated her union’s solidarity with the island against the ongoing Blockade. That solidarity was made clear recently when the NUT welcomed Cuban teachers representative Gertrudis Pineda Simon to the NUT National Conference in June.
The annual meeting of CSC members, local groups, affiliates and supporters heard from CSC Director Rob Miller, who reported on the extensive work of the campaign over the previous 12 months which had included the final vigil for the Miami Five in December. The period had been dominated by the release of the Five and the historic announcements of December 17th, when Cuba and the US opened the way to the first negotiations between the two countries towards improved relations.
National Secretary, Bernard Regan, set out the plan of action taking into account the changing international scenario. He made clear that the campaign against the Blockade, in support of Cuban sovereignty, and for an end to the illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay would be priorities.
A number of motions were discussed supporting these points and also endorsing our support for the campaign against any US aggression against Venezuela.
The AGM elected a new Executive Committee of 35 members to carry out the plan of action agreed by the AGM.
Cuban Ambassador, Teresita Vicente, was at her first AGM and she received a very warm welcome from delegates. The Ambassador had a very clear message as well as thanking campaigners for their excellent work particularly in respect to the campaign for the Miami Five: "The Blockade is still in place and we need you and international solidarity to defeat it."
Celebrating the release of the Miami Five
The afternoon of the AGM brought together a wonderful discussion looking back at the work of CSC and campaigners across the country who had worked so hard for 15 years on the campaign for justice and freedom for the Miami Five. Father Geoff Bottoms recalled all those who had been involved and had made a real contribution, some of whom were no longer with us such as former CSC Chairperson Ken Gill, Merseyside CSC organiser Brenda Lee and RMT General Secretary Bob Crow.
Adrian Weir, Assistant Chief of Staff at Unite, spoke about the tremendous contribution of Trade Unions and their members across the country. He recalled the difficulties in building the campaign in the early days and the great achievements CSC had made in building such a huge broad based campaign in the UK for these five Cuban heroes. He spoke of some key highlights including arranging for the wives to meet the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the subsequent correspondence with the White House on the case, and the ability of the TUs here to bring trade unions in the United States into the campaign.
Wendy Emmett from Sheffield spoke of the tireless efforts of CSC Local Groups and local campaigners who had used every method possible to raise the case in the localities. It was clear that thousands of people had made great sacrifices and hundreds of meetings had been organised up and down the country in support of the campaign for justice.
CSC member Alan Fitter recalled his one hour for the Miami Five in Trafalgar Square in 2009, when he participated in the Antony Gormley art exhibition ‘One & Other. He was one of 2,400 selected members of the public who became part of the historic exhibition on the ‘Fourth Plinth’. Alan used the exhibition to bring awareness of the case of the Five to the attention of the world’s media in a dramatic and exciting way.
The session looked at the role CSC played with Amnesty International and also the excellent contributions made over the years by CSC and Parliamentarians to get the case raised at the highest possible level.
The session also saw the premiere of the CSC film of the moving interview with Gerardo Hernandez in Havana. Gerardo gives his thanks to CSC and to all the campaigners in Britain who did so much for the liberation of Gerardo and his four comrades.