“We will not stop working to achieve our goal of a more just and equitable society" - Labour Party Conference report

Campaign News | Thursday, 12 October 2023

Kevin Courtney,  Bárbara Montalvo Álvarez, Frances Leach, Coll McCail and Navendu Mishra MP

Kevin Courtney, Bárbara Montalvo Álvarez, Frances Leach, Coll McCail and Navendu Mishra MP

Guests at a busy CSC fringe event on the final night Labour Party Conference heard about the current difficulties Cuba is facing, how Cubans are continuing to resist in the face of overwhelming pressure and what people across the labour movement can do to help bring about an end to the blockade. Frances Leach, the Young Members representative on Unite’s Executive Committee, chaired the meeting, which saw Labour Party members and trade unionists from affiliated unions show their solidarity with Cuba.

Navendu Mishra, MP for Stockport and Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Cuba, opened the meeting by detailing the impact that Cuba’s inclusion on the US Government’s State Sponsors of Terrorism (SSOT) list has had on the island. Navendu, who visited Cuba on CSC’s Young Trade Unionists’ May Day Brigade back in 2017, praised the island’s internationalist health brigades who continue to respond to natural disasters and health emergencies around the world.

Another of our former brigadistas, Coll McCail, spoke next, recalling his time in Cuba earlier this year. “What we saw in Cuba was a different way of organising society”, Coll said. “One that prioritises upholding people’s dignity.” Coll told attendees how the trip strengthened his belief in, and commitment to, international solidarity, after seeing the impact it could have. “Nestled on a quiet street corner in the Playa district of Havana sits the Miramar Theatre…re-opened in 2012, a £350,000 renovation was funded entirely by solidarity donations from the UK through the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and the Music Fund for Cuba. Miramar has no other spaces like it… and it serves as a testament to the strength of British-Cuban solidarity.”

In what was her last speech to Labour Party Conference, Her Excellency Bárbara Montalvo Álvarez described how the blockade was being compounded by the world economic crisis. “The challenges we face in the economy are great and complex”, she said. The ambassador took the moment to thank those who have called for an end to the blockade, expressing her “deep and heartfelt gratitude” for “the solidarity we have received from British trade unions, the APPG on Cuba and MPs in Parliament.” However, despite the challenges, she once again affirmed Cuba’s independence and right to self-determination. “We are free and sovereign. We will not stop working to achieve our goal of wellbeing in a more just and equitable society and we will preserve our internationalist spirit”, she told attendees.

Newly elected CSC Chair Kevin Courtney closed the meeting, rallying attendees to support the work of the campaign. “The US is trying to bully the Cuban people into changing their system. The US is frightened of what the Cubans might be able to achieve if the blockade were lifted,” he said. “However, at CSC we believe in the self-determination of the Cuban people. You should support CSC because true sovereignty should be a right for every country.”

You can join CSC as a member here.

You can affiliate your trade union branch or CLP here.

You can sign up to our Young Trade Unionists’ May Day Brigade here.

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