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Radio Rebelde – direct from the Sierra Maestra

Submitted by on January 28, 2014 – 8:47 amNo Comment

Bay of Pigs (4)

By Roy Williamson

In November FCUM Radio’s Swampy and Roy from FCUMTV plus partners Estelle and Gail, joined a trip organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign to visit the island and to ‘follow in the revolutionary footsteps of Fidel Castro’ and his comrades.

The tour took in many revolutionary sites including the landing place of the Granma, the Bay of Pigs, Fidel’s childhood home, the Moncada Barracks – site of the failed attempt to overthrow Batista in 1953, and Fidel’s command centre high in the Sierra Maestra mountains.

They also had the opportunity to meet many Cubans from all walks of life; including schoolchildren and their teachers, staff from the women’s centre and the literacy museum (Cuba eradicated illiteracy in a twelve month period following the revolution in 1961 – before this the literacy rate was estimated at between 60 – 76%), neighbourhood groups, a community centre, performers and many, many more people.

Clearly, the desire to remain independent from external interference remains strong amongst Cubans and the gains in education, health and equality with a focus on people above all else are principles the Cubans regard as sacred. Of course, there are challenges, not least the existence of two forms of money – national pesos and Cuban convertible currency – the latter used by tourists.

The Government recognises that this needs to change and plans are in place to create a single currency in the very near future. Initiatives in private enterprise in some areas has been welcomed by Cubans that we spoke to – as long, they say, as this does not lead to any form of discrimination.

Cuba will be alright they say, as one friend put it ‘we are Cuban, trust us’!

There are, however, two issues that cause great concern amongst Cubans and their supporters.

The 54 year Blockade
Since 1960 the USA has imposed a trade embargo on Cuba that has caused hardship and death in the country as resources such as medicines are denied to the Cuban people.

Trade with the island is outlawed and companies who do trade and have interests in the U.S. are heavily penalised. In this year’s vote at the U.N there was an overwhelming 188-2 (U.S.A. and Israel) vote AGAINST the blockade yet the U.S have continued to ignore the will of the rest of the world – so much for democracy!

Free the five
Secondly there is the case of five Cubans unjustly imprisoned in the U.S.A after being arrested by the FBI on Sept. 12, 1998 and convicted in U.S. federal court in Miami in 2001, in a political prosecution by the U.S. government.

They are Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González.

The Five were falsely accused by the U.S. government of committing espionage conspiracy against the United States, and other related charges. The Five’s actions were never directed at the U.S. government. They never engaged in nor planned any conspiracy against the government.

As the Cuban Five pointed out in their defence, they were on a mission in Miami, beginning in 1990, to monitor the actions of Miami-based terrorist groups, in order to prevent those groups from carrying out attacks on their country of Cuba.

For more than 40 years, anti-Cuba terrorist organizations based in Miami have engaged in hundreds of terrorist activities against Cuba, and against anyone who advocates a normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. A total of 3,478 Cubans have died as a result of terrorist violence, and 2,099 have been injured.

The Cuban Five never harmed anyone nor ever possessed nor used any weapons on their mission. Their objective was simply protecting people from terrorism. They have been incarcerated so far for 15 years in the U.S.A. For more information and to see the overwhelming support for the Five visit freethefive

This two-week tour was an amazing opportunity to meet Cubans from all walks of life and it gave an opportunity to see how such a small island is continuing its humanitarian progress in the face of more than 50 years of aggression and propaganda from the U.S.A.

Viva the Cuban Five; Viva Fidel; Viva Cuba

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