Friday, 18 May 2012

“Cuba continues to struggle against the U.S. blockade and they need our support”

NAPO delegation on visit to ICAP House for meeting with Ministry of Justice

Article by Jackie Dixon, NAPO, May Day Brigade 2012

I went with few expectations of the Cuban people, however I did go to learn, listen and help where I could. 

Our accommodation at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp was basic and functional.  After an initial look around we soon got drawn into the positive atmosphere created by sharing space with 230 other Brigadiers from around the world united in a common cause.  Our first evening was spent talking, relaxing and hanging flags of the many different unions and countries around the main meeting area, we laughed at our own attempts and quickly got involved with others doing the same, sharing string, pegs and sticky tape to complete the display and "make our mark".

We embarked on a program of agricultural work, lectures, professional, cultural and social visits, dinners and street parties.  I found the professional visit to the Judges and Attorneys in Havana extremely interesting.  Through a question and answer session of both parties we were able to make the direct comparisons between the Cuban and the British Justice system. Of particular note was how they involve the wider community in matters relating to the rehabilitation of offenders, re-integration into the community and their own families where they can.  This work is helped by the Federation of Cuban Women who assist where there is family breakdown, fight for the equal rights of women and children, address social problems and support the whole of Cuban society - without government funding!   Just imagine if we had that in Britain!

NAPO delegates at International Solidarity Conference
Speaking on a personal level there were many highlights to my trip, The May Day March and celebration, an invitation into the home of a doctor's wife, the visit to a day care centre for children aged 1-5yrs, meeting the parents and wife of the Cuban 5, the International Conference, the list goes on.  The experience on a whole has left me questioning what I really know about British politics and its influences on my own life.

In Cuba they continue the political struggle against the US blockade. They need our support, and the influences that other countries and Governments from around the world can bring to bear to change their lives and the lives of future generations.  They continue to campaign for the right to trade as any other country, to be freed from the oppression imposed by the US and the release of those unjustly imprisoned.

Despite their hardships, the Cuban people are friendly, warm, generous and genuine.  They had a smile and a "Hola" greeting ("Hello" in Spanish) wherever we went.   They opened their hearts to us and I would encourage anyone to go and visit the country and its people for themselves, feel as they do and experience their passion, they will leave their mark in your heart!

To support the ongoing struggle against the U.S. blockade of Cuba, please join the Cuba Solidarity Campaign today and get your trade union branch affiliated. You can join online now.

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