Condemn US Intervention in Cuba
THE National Committee for Solidarity with Cuba and the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO) organised an all India webinar in solidarity with Cuba on July 26, 2021. July 26 is observed as ‘Moncada Day’, as it is on this day in 1953 that Fidel Castro and his compatriots stormed the Moncada garrisons, in an attempt to topple the dictatorship in Cuba. Though that attempt failed and Fidel Castro was captured and sentenced to imprisonment, the day has historic significance. The July 26 Movement played a significant role in the success of the Cuban revolution. Hence July 26 is observed as a day of expressing solidarity with Cuba, remembering the Cuban revolution and pledging to carry forward the ideals of Cuban revolution.
Due to the Covid pandemic induced restrictions, this year a webinar was organised in which 16 speakers representing a cross section of the Indian society participated. The webinar was live streamed on Facebook pages of the AIPSO and also shared by various class and mass organisations and individuals across the country. It is estimated that more than 10,000 people had viewed this webinar live and heard the speakers.
Nilotpal Basu, convener of National Committee for Solidarity with Cuba, welcomed all the speakers and thanked them for their participation in the webinar. He briefly captured the background in which this webinar was organised. Basu stated that Cuba today is facing tremendous hardships due to the economic blockade imposed by the US. The pandemic struck in this background and severely impacted the Cuban society. Exploiting these hardships, the US, through its control over the various social media platforms, intervened by propagating canards against Cuba and sought to destabilise the country. In the background of this renewed offensive against Cuba, it becomes imperative for all of us to express and reiterate our solidarity with Cuba, he stated.
Juan Carlos, Charge de Affairs of the Cuban Embassy in India, narrated the ground situation in Cuba. He stated that due to the more than six decade long blockade on Cuba, the country suffered losses to the tune of $144,413 million. The US under the Trump administration has further tightened this blockade and imposed even more restrictions on travel to Cuba, import and export of goods and even limited the remittances that are sent to Cuba from people outside the country. He told how hard it had become for Cuba to import even essential medicines and raw materials that are needed to control the pandemic.
Carlos brought to the notice of the audience US attempts to spread unrest in their country by propagating various lies about the people who were on the streets. He admitted that it was true that people came out to the streets protesting against their hardships. However, the president of Cuba and the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Miguel Diaz-Canel reacted immediately and reached out to the protesters, heard them and explained the reasons for their grievances and the steps taken by the government and the Party to ameliorate them. These interactions, clarified doubts some of the genuine people had, Carlos stated. Another measure taken by the government and the PCC is to demarcate between genuine people and their grievances, from those who were trying to fish in the troubled waters upon the prodding of the US. He stated that the Cuban government would do whatever is in its hands to improve people’s living conditions. But, the US, if it is really concerned about the situation in Cuba, should immediately lift the blockade on Cuba and see what their country is capable of, he stated. He thanked the people of India for their solidarity with Cuba and remembered fondly the shipment of wheat sent from India during the ‘Special Period’, in 1991.
Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) reiterated the Party’s solidarity with Cuba and urged everyone to join hands in condemning US attempts to intervene in the internal affairs of Cuba and destabilise it. He recalled how the people of India had responded to the call for solidarity with Cuba in the 1990s and donated selflessly. Yechury criticised the US for trying to use the pandemic to destabilise Cuba. He contrasted the US efforts to control the pandemic with that of Cuba and pointed out that it is because of the superiority of the socialist system and its advanced health care that Cuba stood miles ahead of the US. While the US failed to control the pandemic and the resultant deaths, Cuba was much better placed. In spite of the blockade and limited availability of raw materials, Cuba successfully produced two vaccine candidates that have reported more than 90 per cent efficacy, he pointed. Moreover, there are three more vaccines that Cuba is developing – a total of five vaccine candidates – against the Covid-19 pandemic. This speaks volumes of the advances of the Cuban medical research and health care system, lauded Yechury.
Yechury also stated how US always tried to destabilise Cuba right from the Monroe doctrine to the recent enforcement of the Title III of the Helms-Burton Act. In spite of all these attempts, Cuba stood firm on its internationalism and was ready to help countries in distress by sending its medical brigades. He promised that Cuba can count on Indian people who would be ready to assist in whatever possible way. The Solidarity Committee would be leading these efforts, as it had done earlier, he concluded.
D Raja, general secretary of the Communist Party of India, recalled his personal experiences and how Cuba and its people inspired him. He stated that Cuban revolutionary leaders like Fidel Castro, Che Guevara always remain icons for the youth all over the world and continue to inspire people to travel in the revolutionary path. Raja noted how he personally saw the prestige enjoyed by Cuba among the comity of world countries in the UN. It was always the US and its close ally Israel that vote against Cuba, while the entire rest of the world are united in demanding an end to the US imposed blockade on Cuba. Raja promised that irrespective of the attitude of the Indian government, Indian people would always stand with Cuba.
N Ram, chairman and publisher of The Hindu, pointed out the falsities in US arguments, which it had stated defending the imposition of sanctions on Cuba. In reality, there is a lot of difference between sanctions and blockade and what US had done is, imposed blockade on Cuba, Ram pointed. He also said that the 243 measures against Cuba enacted under the Trump regime are intended to crush the livelihood of Cubans and the lifeline of Cuban economy. He deplored the role of mainstream media in not reporting facts about Cuba and propagating the false narratives pedaled by the US. Ram promised to always stand in solidarity with Cuba and to contribute in whatever possible way for promoting Cuban solidarity and exposing the lies propagated about Cuba.
Kavita Krishnan, Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), Liberation spoke about the necessity of expressing our solidarity with Cuba in the present juncture. She stated how the US always tried to intervene in the internal affairs of various countries, but particularly in those in Latin America, which it considers arrogantly as its backyard. She pointed out that Cuba is a noble country where women’s rights are guaranteed and a lot is being done to ensure gender equality. This is in complete contrast to the capitalist world and particularly its leader, the US. It is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with Cuba, she concluded.
Shashi Kumar, founder chairman of the Asian School of Journalism condemned the US imperialist intervention in Cuba. He pointed that US considers Cuba as a threat because of its socialist system and hence always attempts to isolate it and destabilise. Irrespective of who governs the US, it may be Democrats or the Republicans, they are all one in their agenda of destabilising Cuba. Shashi Kumar pointed to the need for strengthening and expanding the solidarity movement with Cuba in our country, particularly in the background of renewed US aggression, not only on Cuba, but also in many other parts of the world.
Prof T Sundararaman, global coordinator of the People’s Health Movement mentioned about the advanced health system in Cuba where no one is denied of medical care. In spite of all its difficulties, Cuba prioritises health and education and hence allocates substantial amounts to these sectors. Cuban strategy is disease prevention, which is the correct method to tackle public health crisis. He also lauded the efforts of Cuba in helping many under-developed countries and also advanced countries like Italy during this pandemic. On the other hand, he pointed how Israel, in complete contrast, denies basic health care facilities to Palestinians and pursues vaccine apartheid. It is because of these reasons that Cuba should be supported by humanitarians everywhere in the world, Sundararaman noted.
Manoj Bhattacharya, general secretary of the RSP also extended solidarity with Cuba and recalled its role in standing for the rights of the under-developed countries and was hence always considered a threat by the US.
K N Balagopal, finance minister, government of Kerala recounted his experiences in Cuba when he participated in the youth festival held in Havana and stayed in local people’s houses. The warmth of the people and their belief in socialism created a lasting influence on all of us, he stated. He said that there is a lot for us to learn from the Cuban medical system and how in spite of various limitations imposed by the economic blockade, it prioritises spending on social sectors.
M A Baby, former convener of the Solidarity Committee noted how socialist Cuba had consciously worked for eliminating racial inequalities, while 90 kilometres away from it, lies the US, where not a single day goes without a report on racial abuses. He pointed out to the gruesome murder of George Flyod, the movement of Black Lives Matter and the socio-economic inequalities prevalent in the US. It is this iniquitous system that is trying to teach Cuba about human rights and nothing can be more ironical than this, he commented.
Benoy Viswam, member of parliament, Rajya Sabha, noted that Cuba under Fidel Castro was the first country to speak of the impending environmental catastrophe that capitalism is leading to and the need to protect planet Earth. This shows the broad perspective socialism has and how concerned it is about human beings. Such a country Cuba can never violate human rights and it is only the lies propagated by the US that carry out these allegations, he stated.
Prof Sonya Gupta, general secretary of AIPSO narrated how Cuban cinema reflects the openness in Cuban society, in contrast to what the US propagates. She stated that Cuban films criticise many deficiencies that exist in Cuba and none is censored. This proves that there exists freedom of expression in Cuba. Even the government is responsive to criticism and in fact one of the greatest features of Cuba is its consultative democracy she pointed. US, the world’s oldest democracy has to learn about democracy from Cuba, she stated.
Pallab Sengupta, general secretary of AIPSO spoke about how Cuba always stood for peace and opposed all kinds of war. He quoted Fidel Castro’s reaction after US invasion of Iraq: “Cuba sends white coats around the world to treat, while the US sends its green berets to ravage and occupy.” This in itself points to the vital difference between Cuba and the US, he pointed. He also stated that AIPSO, since its initial days, always stood in solidarity with Cuba and will continue to remain so, by mobilising the people of our country by telling them the reality.
Prof Malini Bhattacharya, Rajesh Joshi (Sahitya Academy Award winner, who had returned it protesting the current BJP government’s policies) and president of the JNUSU Aishe Ghosh, also spoke in the webinar.
Leaders of various trade unions, kisan, youth, student organisations and AIPSO participated in the webinar and made it a success. It was decided that the solidarity movement will be strengthened in the coming days by going to the people of our country, exposing the evil designs of the US and mobilising solidarity with Cuba.