"An extraordinary atmosphere of solidarity" at Cuba Solidarity Campaign TUC Congress Fringe

Campaign News | Friday, 13 September 2019

A standing ovation followed Ulises Guilarte, CTC General Secretary's speech

A standing ovation followed Ulises Guilarte, CTC General Secretary's speech

Over 150 delegates attended a packed, standing-room-only TUC Congress Cuba Solidarity Campaign fringe meeting.

It was an energetic, rallying reception which celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and the 80th anniversary to the CTC, Cuba’s TUC equivalent.

“There is an extraordinary atmosphere of solidarity in this room tonight”, CTC General Secretary Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento said.

He called the blockade a “failed policy” of almost 60 years: “They have not been able to defeat us” he exclaimed.

“Despite being a small island in the Caribbean, we’ve been able to construct a social project based on the sovereignty, independence and dignity of our people. We haven’t got down on our knees in front of the Empire.

“With the support of international solidarity we’ve been able to achieve things that for other countries of the world are a chimera.

“Solidarity in Cuba is about sharing what we have, not what we have left over” the leading Cuban trade unionist explained.

“I want to thank all the work carried out by the TUC, its affiliated unions and the Cuba Solidarity Campaign,” he said. The general secretary concluded his rallying speech to a standing ovation: “Cuba will always be a tribune of sovereignty, independence and unity”.

Steve Gillan, POA general secretary, urged delegates to support Motion 74, “the first Cuba motion at the TUC Congress in ten years”.

“Over the last 60 years Cuba has suffered over $933 billion dollars of damage to its economy due to the blockade” he explained.

“So the reality is that Motion 74 is vitally important and it’s vitally important that we support Cuba, the Cuban people and the Cuban trade union movement.”

Mariela Kohon, TUC International Officer said: “Ulises’ speech yesterday really highlighted why Cuba is so important and why the blockade needs to end.”

“We should look to Cuba for a model for its internationalism… Cuba played a huge role in the Colombian peace process. They facilitated the talks for 5 years, and after the peace deal they provided free medical scholarships to 1,000 Colombians.”

Teresita Vicente, Cuban Ambassador said: “We are very proud that the TUC has invited the CTC general secretary here. Solidarity is very important for the Cuban people”.

The National Education Union Joint General Secretary Kevin Courtney said: “There are 60 Cubans working in Bahamas right now following Hurricane Dorian - that is international solidarity in action.”

“Why is does the US blockade Cuba?” he asked. “Why is the US so scared of Cuba?

“It’s because Cuba is an example that a government can chose to invest in health, in education, and choose to not have troops all over the world, but to have doctors around the world”

The Joint General Secretary of the NEU highlighted some of the impacts that the blockade has on education, including limited access to stationary, medicines, computers, and access to journals he said.

Rob Miller, CSC Director, chaired the fringe. He spoke of CSC’s delight to welcome Ulises, the first CTC General Secretary to be invited to the TUC Congress in ten years, to the fringe meeting.

“His invitation and participation at Congress is a symbol of the excellent solidarity displayed by the British trade union movement" the CSC Director said.

Read More:

Unanimous support for solidarity with Cuba at TUC Congress

Photos from the TUC Congress 2019 are online here

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