A street rally at the Angel Islington celebrated 53 years of the Cuban revolution with speeches and collection of signatures demanding justice for the Cuban Five before a lecture and social. London, UK. 7th January 2012
A street rally at the Angel Islington celebrated 53 years of the Cuban revolution with speeches and collection of signatures demanding justice for the Cuban Five before a lecture and social. London, UK. 07/01/2012.
The event was organised for Rock around the Blockade by Fight Racism Fight Imperialism, and celebrated the achievement of Cuba in building a socialist country despite the blockade by its powerful neighbour USA.
Around twenty people were spread out on both sides of the busy shopping street handing out leaflets and collecting signatures for a petition calling for the release of the remaining members of the Cuban 5, arrested in 1998 in Miami for gathering information on groups of Cuban refugees who were planning illegal acts against Cuba. Their treatment in US courts has been criticised as unfair by the UN Commisison on Human Rights and by Amnesty International, who also condemned their treatment in jail as "unnecessarily punitive." Eight Nobel prize winners from around the world including Nadine Gordimer, Desmond Tutu, Wole Soyinka and Gunter Grass joined together in calling for their freedom, as well as many other people and groups around the world.
Speeches at the event also called for the US to leave the naval base it illegally occupies at Guantanamo Bay, and to release the prisoners still held there.
Fifty-three years ago Cuba was a poor and corrupt country, its natural resources exploited by foreign companies, its people largely living in poverty with low educational standards and life expectancy. The country now has probably the best health service in the world, low infant mortality and a life expectancy better than many parts of the UK. Free education is provided for all, and soon most will follow it to graduate level.
Cuba provides free medical training for students from many African and South American countries, and also sends many doctors and nurses to work in them. It has made a major contribution to controlling AIDS in Africa.
Cuba is a country which has shown that there is a real alternative to capitalism, and that has provided a healthy and dignified life for its people, improving their condition over more than 50 years.
Between the speeches, Cuban music was played on the sound system. After the street rally, there was to be a lecture and discussion on 'The revolutionary thought of Che Guevara: education and socialism' at a nearby pub, followed by a social. Other Rock around the Blockade events planned to celebrate Cuba's achievements include a fund-raising meal and a classical concert by Cuban musicians on 20 Jan to raise money for sports equipment for Cuban youth, a cause chosen to mark the London 2012 Olympic year.