Northern European solidarity groups meet in London
Campaign News | Friday, 31 March 2006
Pledge to continue fights to end blockade, free the Five and build solidarity
London March 31: The annual North European Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba was hosted in March by Cuba Solidarity Campaign in London.
The meeting was attended by solidarity organisations with Cuba from Finland, Sweden, Scotland, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Britain, and Denmark.
There was also a sizeable delegation from Cuba including Basilio Gutiérrez, Gladys Ayllon and Luis Marron from ICAP and a delegation from the Cuban Embassy to the UK headed by the Cuban Ambassador HE Rene Mujica Cantelar.
The meeting focused on the development of European solidarity work, the campaign to free the Miami Five and the work brigades to Cuba.
A major focus was the upcoming review of the European Common position on Cuba in June 2006 and the campaign to ensure that European governments resisted attempts to see a hardening of the approach to Cuba as lobbied for by the United States.
While all the organisations had very different experiences as determined by the situation in their own countries it was clear that there was unanimity in the political assessment of the current situation. Each delegation pledged to do all they could to alert the people in their countries to the ongoing threats and do all they could to pressure their governments on the issue of the review of the Common Position.
A Final Statement was agreed that called on the European Governments to:
"Respect the sovereignty of Cuba by completely disassociating themselves from any attempt to blockade the right of Cuba to enter into trade with whomsoever it wishes" and "to pursue a positive policy of normal relations with Cuba in all the appropriate international bodies including the European Union."
During the weekend delegates attended a reception hosted by the Cuban ambassador at which the solidarity campaigns were thanked for their continuing efforts to campaign for solidarity with Cuba in Europe.
Final Statement of the North European Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba held in London on 25 and 26 March 2006
We, the undersigned, who represent friendship and solidarity organisations with Cuba in Finland, Sweden, Scotland, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Britain, and Denmark, affirm our organisation's commitment to building enduring solidarity with the people of Cuba.
We declare our support for:
?respect for Cuba's sovereignty and independence
?an end to the US trade blockade of Cuba
?an end to interference in Cuba's affairs by foreign governments
We express our commitment to campaign against the continuing blockade of Cuba by the United States Government using the Cuban Adjustment Act, the Torricelli Act and the Helms-Burton Act. We note the historic vote against this blockade at the United Nations in 2005 of 182 countries against 4 calling for an end to this blockade.
We note that in May 2004 the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba (CAFC) issued a 452 page report detailing the Bush Administrations strategy to bring about a “transition to a pluralist democracy on the island” and its plans for a post-Castro Cuba. The report is a blueprint for “regime change” in the country. It includes amongst other objectives, the transformation of the island into a market economy. It also allocates funds to promote dissidence on the island and fund NGOs around the world to campaign against the Cuban government and promote anti Cuban propaganda.
In December 2005, US secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, announced that the CAFC was being reconvened and that it would report in May 2006 with new recommendations of policy change towards Cuba. It is widely expected that the Bush Administration, in order to assuage the Florida anti-Cuba lobby, will act on the recommendations, which is likely to further hurt the Cuban people and worsen the climate of relations between Washington and Havana.
The Cuba Transition Coordinator, Caleb McCarry, has publicly announced that he has met with several foreign ambassadors in an effort to bring other “friendly” countries in line with Washington’s tough anti-Castro policy. While the EU's existing policy of “constructive engagement” with Cuba actually discriminates against the island as it sets unfair pre-conditions on better relations, it can only be made worse by such meetings. As such the European governments should publicly recommit themselves to this policy and cease any future contact with the CAFC
When the EU’s Common Position towards Cuba is reviewed in June 2006, our Governments should argue for maintaining the existing policy of constructive engagement and not be influenced by pressure from the US or the CAFC to worsen relations. European governments should work to promote closer links and strengthen Europe's cultural, sporting and trading relationships with Cuba.
We recognise the right of Cuba to take the necessary steps to defend its sovereignty by identifying and monitoring anti-Cuban terrorist organisations including those operating within the United States. We therefore call for the immediate and unconditional release of the Five Cuban patriots currently imprisoned in the United States, René Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero.
We salute the viewpoint of the Government of Cuba that it is "opposed to terrorism and opposed to war". We agree that world poverty, unemployment, disease and the wide variety of economic and social problems that affect the world must be addressed through concerted programmes of action. We share their view that "none of the present world problems can be solved by the use of force".
We call on the European Governments to respect the sovereignty of Cuba by completely disassociating themselves from any attempt to blockade the right of Cuba to enter into trade with whomsoever it wishes.
We call on European Governments to pursue a positive policy of normal relations with Cuba in all the appropriate international bodies including the European Union.
We pledge ourselves to working to strengthen solidarity between Europe and Cuba through:
?building bilateral links between organisations in both countries
?promoting material which conveys the viewpoint of Cuba
?supporting material aid initiatives as appropriate
?encouraging visits and exchanges between Cuban and European delegations
?campaigning in our countries for all of the above
?reaching out to people with information about Cuba encouraging solidarity
Norway-Cuba Friendship Association
Friendship Association Denmark-Cuba
Iceland-Cuba Friendship Association
Cuba Support Group Ireland
Cuba Solidarity Campaign of Great Britain
Scottish Cuba Solidarity Campaign