ANDHRA PRADESH: Cuba Solidarity Meeting Held at Visakhapatnam

GS Rajeswara Rao

 “Come what may we will protect the fruits of Cuban Socialist Revolution and we will move forward” asserted Marta Rodriguez, a veteran Cuban journalist who covered the 1953 Moncada Barracks attack and a staunch Cuban revolutionary, in a meeting held at Visakhapatnam on April 12.

CITU Greater Visakha City Committee has organised ‘Cuba Solidarity Meeting’ in Kalabharati Auditorium, Visakhapatnam      .

This meeting was organised in connection with the book release of “Kashta Jeevula Vegu Chukka Cuba” written in Telugu by Ch Narasinga Rao president, CITU AP state committee who represented CITU in the 2016 May Day Celebrations held in Havana. The meeting was preceded by screening of a documentary film called Castro Era on Cuban Revolution and achievements of Socialist Cuba which was well received by the audience including the dignitaries from Cuba. In the run-up to the meeting, a photo exhibition on Cuban revolution and its achievements was arranged for four days at different places in the city.

Addressing the jam packed auditorium, Marta Rodriguez vividly narrated the events that unfolded the Cuban Socialist Revolution, how the US imperialism is continuing its machinations of undermining the Socialist Cuba, its inhuman economic sanctions and the selfless help extended by the USSR in critical times.

At the outset, Marta thanked the organisers for the warm welcome extended and also appreciated the efforts in screening the well documented short film, and a photo exhibition on Cuba.

While speaking on Cuban Revolution, she paid rich tributes to Fidel Castro, the legendary leader who led the Cuban revolution from the front along with Che Guevera and Raul Castro. Fidel Castro is not only a revolutionary but was also an intellectual, a tactician, humane in nature and a voracious reader. Castro formed a small group called “The Movement”.       In July 1953 they launched an armed attack on Moncada Barracks during which 70 percent of the militants were killed and Castro was arrested. Placed on trial, Castro defended his actions and gave his famous “History will absolve me” speech before being sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. But people of Cuba came on to the streets against the illegal arrests and demanded immediate release of Castro and other revolutionaries. After having failed to contain the people’s uprising, Batista regime was forced to release them within two years. Immediately after release, Castro along with his brother Raul Castro and others, went to Mexico to regroup and founded another organisation. There he met Argentine revolutionary Che Guevera and together they put together a small revolutionary force intent on overthrowing Batista.

In November 1956, Castro along with 81 revolutionaries set sail from Mexico to Cuban coast aboard a small yacht called “Granma”. Braving severe cyclone, hunger and dehydration, the revolutionaries reached Cuban coast after seven days but only to be attacked by the waiting Batista forces killing more than 50 people. Castro along with 18 survivors fled to Sierra Maestra mountain range where they setup an encampment from which they waged a guerilla war against the enemy. Boosted by new recruits they coordinated their attacks with the actions of other revolutionaries of Cuba. Overwhelmed by Castro’s guerilla tactics, Batista fled the country on January 1, 1959, with revolutionary forces controlling most of Cuba. On January 8, Castro’s army entered Havana and declared that a revolutionary provisional government has been put in place.

After coming to power, Castro government brought sweeping changes in the land relations in favour of landless poor, nationalised the multinational companies, provided democratic rights and employment to all. Castro gave special importance to health and education as they are major vehicles of progress for the country. Marta reeled out statistics of achievements in the fields of education and health. She explained how Cuban government extended military and medical assistance to fighting Angola and several African countries.

Narrating the American imperialism’s  all-round attack on Cuba including inhuman economic sanctions, Marta explained how the Cuban people with a firm resolve withstood the onslaught. She also mentioned about the selfless help extended by the USSR in Cuba’s critical situation. But soon after the demise of Soviet Republic, Cuba plunged into darkness because of power crisis. Despite severe power crisis people did not deter and Cuba gradually overcame the power crisis.

While thanking the Indian people for their kind gesture of sending wheat and medicines at a time when Cuba was in dire need of them, she wished that the bonding ties between the peoples of two countries will further strengthen in future.

Yexenia Calzado Rosa, official of the Asian Pacific Cuba Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, who accompanied Marta also spoke on the occasion.

CITU all India secretary Swadesh Dev Roy while addressing the gathering said that though  every year a delegation from CITU has been attending May Day celebrations in Cuba, but it is only this year, after the visit of Narasinga Rao a  book is brought out and a Cuba Solidarity  meeting is held. Conducting a ‘Cuba Solidarity Meeting’ at Visakhapatnam is most befitting as Visakhapatnam is the place from which 10,000 tonnes of wheat and medicines were shipped to Cuba around 25 years back.

Ch. Narasinga Rao gave an account of the first hand experience of his visit to Cuba last year. He was overawed by the Cuban government’s monumental efforts in extending health, care free of cost, to every citizen. Cuban health care system is the best in the world. He gave comparative statistics between India and Cuba in respect of literacy, child morality, life expectancy etc. Narasinga Rao further said that though it is a small country with a population of just 1.2 crore, with meagre resources, yet it stands out as beacon of hope for millions across  the globe who are being crushed under the yoke of capitalism.

The book titled “Kashta Jeevula Vegu Chukka Cuba” is very compact and written in a very simple and lucid way. More than 2000 copies were sold instantaneously which reflects the enthusiasm that the meeting generated among the audience.

Revolutionary songs on “Fidel Castro and Cuba” rendered by cultural group of Prajanatya Mandali interspersed the meeting. 

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