“We are resilient, we will prevail!”
Campaign News | Friday, 27 September 2019
Labour Party Conference 2019 Report, Brighton
“The blockade is a cruel policy intended to provoke unrest... the US think that they are the masters of the world – they are not – the people are!” declared Cuban Ambassador HE Teresita Vicente in a rallying speech to the CSC Labour Party fringe meeting on 23 September.
Speaking to more than 200 people in Brighton, the Cuban ambassador told delegates that despite the huge challenges Cuba is currently facing, “We are resilient, we will prevail!”
The meeting took place at a crucial time for solidarity with the island, as Donald Trump’s tightening of the blockade is causing shortages and hardship to the Cuban people.
Also addressing the meeting was Danielle Rowley MP, Shadow Minister for Climate Justice and Green Jobs, who praised Cuba for “punching above its weight for dealing with the climate emergency.” She added that “according to a World Wildlife Fund report, Cuba has the most sustainable model of development on the planet.
“The country has been hit hard by extreme weather events, including hurricanes and droughts, but it is much harder for Cuba to recover from these events because of the blockade.”
The Shadow Minister said it was an injustice that “the countries that have contributed the least to climate damage suffer the most”, and noted how “Cuba has enshrined the need to tackle climate change in its constitution – one of only ten countries in the world to do so,” giving concrete examples of how Cuba is planning to deal with the climate emergency.
Christine Blower, National Education Union International Secretary, said: “Cuba has no illiteracy and spends the highest percentage of GDP on education in the world – it is remarkable.”
She outlined the NEU’s practical and political solidarity with Cuba, including sending 4,000 instruments to the island as part of CSC’s ‘Play for Cuba’ appeal, and shipping Braille machines to be used in schools for the blind and visually impaired on the island.
Marcus Barnett, Young Labour International Officer, asked, why does the US blockade Cuba? “It’s because it is the threat of a good example, just 90 miles from US shores. It’s the threat that Cuba, a poor blockaded country, can outperform its northerly neighbour on so many social indicators on health, on education, on infant mortality, on life expectancy.
“If the US could match Cuba on its infant mortality rates, up to 8,000 babies’ lives would be saved in the US each year,” he said.
Steve Turner, Unite Assistant General Secretary, heaped praise on Cuba which despite not being able to obtain many materials because of the blockade, still “shared the resources that they do have – teachers and doctors – around the word. From Haiti to West Africa, the Cubans are first to arrive, last to leave, in countries all around the world in their times of need.
“The Cuban people have made many great achievements under the most difficult circumstances.
“We need to build international solidarity with Cuba,” he urged. “We need to take the message of international solidarity into our communities, into the pub, into the cafe, and get your trade union branches to affiliate to CSC.”
CSC ran a successful stand at the Labour Party Conference which was visited by many members of the Shadow Cabinet, and dozens of new members signed up to the campaign.