People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIV

No. 13

March 28, 2010

Fifth Asia Pacific Conference Demands Cuban Heroes’ Release

 

Anjan Bera

 

THE Fifth Asia-Pacific Regional Conference of Solidarity with Cuba (APRCSC) has demanded an end to the criminal blockade against Cuba and immediate release of the five Cuban heroes languishing in US prisons since September 1998 on fake and fraudulent charges, but actually for the only ‘crime’ of combating terrorism. The demand was included in the Declaration of the conference that took place in the historic city of Vientiane, capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) on March 19-20. The conference also called for protection of Cuba’s independence, sovereignty and right to self-determination as well as more efforts to expand the movement of solidarity with Cuba in each country by “fighting for truth and keeping unity” as the “most important” weapon of actions.

Around two hundred delegates from friendship associations, solidarity groups and multifaceted movements in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam and the World Peace Council attended the meet. It was jointly organised by the Lao-Cuba Friendship Association (LCFA) and the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) at the Conference Hall of the International Cooperation and Training Centre. World Peace Council executive secretary Iraklis Tsavdaridis too was present in the two-day conference and reiterated full support of the WPC for socialist Cuba.

The successful completion of the conference reflects substantial consolidation of the APRCSC. It is now recognised as an effective forum to widen the anti-imperialist mass action in the region that represents more than 51 per cent of the planet’s total population. Following the first Cuba solidarity conference at Havana in 1994, there were four Asia-Pacific conferences to pledge support to socialist Cuba. The first one in the series was at Calcutta in 1995, the second at Hanoi in 1997, the third at Chennai in 2006 and the fourth at Colombo in 2008. It was the Colombo meet that took the decision about holding the fifth conference in Laos. Now the Vientiane session has decided to hold the sixth Asia-Pacific Regional Conference for Solidarity with Cuba in Cambodia in 2012.

 

ICAP GOLDEN

JUBILEE

The conference coincided with the golden jubilee celebration of the ICAP and 35th anniversary of the proclamation of Lao independence. It praised the ICAP’s role in the promotion of friendship and solidarity worldwide and extended its best wishes to the Lao PDR government and the Lao people engaged in national defence and reconstruction.

CPI(M) Central Secretariat member A Vijaya Raghavan, MP, who is also convener of National Committee for Solidarity with Cuba (NCSC), led the Indian contingent. Among the other Indian delegates, Professor S N Bera (Anjan) and RYF joint secretary Anjan Mukherjee represented the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO). Dr M Narasingh, Sreerama Krishnan (DYFI), K Murugan (AIYF), P Birju (SFI) represented the NCSC. Ganeshan Devarajan joined on behalf of the AIFB. All delegates took part in the deliberations and shared experiences with others, including a brief but encouraging discussion with Dr Charlene Yiapaoheu, president of the Lao-Cuba Friendship Association and Lao minister of justice.

India has always a special feeling of friendship and solidarity with the Cuban people despite the vast geographical distance between the two countries. India was among the first countries to extend recognition to Cuba after the 1959 Revolution.

In early 1992, when Cuba entered a Special Period, a broad-based National Committee for Solidarity with Cuba was formed in India as a multi-tendency platform. The NCSC spearheaded a strong movement of solidarity by involving a wider popular section, besides organising the APRCSC twice.

 

OPENING

SESSION

Delivering his welcome speech at the opening ceremony, Lao National Assembly president and a Polit Bureau member of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, Thongsing Thammavong expressed support for the Cuban people’s resolute fight against the US aggression, interference and blockade for more than five decades.

Congratulating the delegates for their participation in the conference, he reiterated the traditional spirit of solidarity and friendship with the Cuban people in their just struggle to safeguard the achievements of the Socialist Revolution. “In this spirit, I hold the view that enforcement of law and any imposition of unilateral sanction measures against a sovereign country, by either direct or indirect means, are unjustifiable and are considered as a violation of the general principles of international law and the moral principles of modern times,” Thongsing said.

Addressing the event, ICAP president Kenia Serrano Puig urged all the organisations, people and peace lovers to support the Cuban people’s demands for the release of five Cuban heroes who are currently detained in US prisons and an end to the US embargo on the country. At present, there are 2,118 friendship organisations in 158 countries, she said.

It may be noted that there were 206 friendship groups and associations in 21 countries in the Asia Pacific region at the time of the Colombo conference. Now, by the Laos meet, the number had increased to 217.

Transcending political diversities in the region, the joint movement of various organisations in solidarity with Cuba is perhaps the people’s most powerful socio-political intervention in any region.

Lao-Cuba Friendship Association president Dr Charlene Yiapaoheu also spoke on the occasion.  “I am firmly convinced that this friendly exchange of point of views, information and useful experiences will be a very significant ground to make the joint guidance to improve and enhance the campaign of solidarity with the Cuban revolution to become more powerful and more effective,” said Dr Yiapaoheu. He further said Cuban people had been able not only to maintain their own political, economic and social system over the last 50 years, but also to address the basic issues of society and to score great achievements in many aspects like education, health care, sport, culture and international relations.

At the two-hour long first plenary session, following the opening session, one representative from each participating country reported the solidarity activities since the last conference. Vijaya Raghavan placed his report on behalf of the Indian delegation.

 

TWO

COMMISSIONS

A noteworthy feature of the conference was the presence of well-known functionaries from participating countries --- political and trade union leaders, academicians, peace activists, government officials, parliamentarians and cabinet members.

After the opening session the conference agenda was reorganised to include two commissions. One was on 'Resistance and Victory of Cuba under the Ideals of Jose Marti, Che Guevara and Fidel’ and the second on ‘Enhance Solidarity Movement with Cuba through Regional and National Media Networks.’

Representatives from all countries, numbering more than a hundred, took active part in the deliberations. From the Indian delegation, Vijaya Raghavan, Anjan Mukherjee, Dr Narasingh  and Devarajan spoke in the first commission while Murugan (also a presidium member), Professor Bera, Sreerama Krishnan and Birju joined the second commission. The deliberations continued till the second day morning session. The commissions’ reports were placed in the second plenary session, which ICAP president moderated. Vijaya Raghavan was on of the presidium here.

 

THE FINAL

DECLARATION  

The second plenary session adopted the final declaration of the conference.  

Saluting the Cuban people and their government for their achievements through the 51 years of their revolution, the final declaration demanded that the “unjust, illegal and criminal blockade” imposed by the USA be ended, especially in the context of the current global financial crisis.

The declaration rejected the US administration’s “double standards” in its so-called ‘war against terrorism’ and inclusion of Cuba in the list of countries sponsoring terrorism. “They don’t have any moral right to create such a list, much less to include Cuba in it, while well-known terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, authors of brutal crimes against Cuban people, walk freely in the USA.”

The conference demanded the release of the five Cuban heroes --- Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez --- unjustly imprisoned for more than 11 years in US jails for defending the Cuban people’s right to live in peace and fight terrorism.

The declaration said the Cuban Five are a model of “dignity, revolutionary steadfastness and models of new man Che Guevara had dreamt of.” It asserted: “We will intensify our struggle until they are allowed to return home free.”  

The declaration also demanded the return of Guantanamo naval base, now occupied illegally by the USA, to Cuba and opposed the establishment of US military bases in some Latin American countries, as these bases constitute a real threat to people’s sovereignty.

Condemning the manipulation of Cuba’s reality by imperialism and its servile mass media, the declaration pledged to promote awareness about Cuban reality and the Cuban people’s work by all possible means. It also deplored the EU’s anti-Cuba campaign on the so-called human rights violation.

 

CUBA IS

NOT ALONE

The successful conclusion of the conference reflected further strengthening of anti-imperialist solidarity in the Asia Pacific region. It is also creating a broadbased platform of resistance to the imperialist globalisation project.

The world today is witnessing growing resistance to the desperate unilateralist moves of the USA and strengthening of the trend towards multipolarity in the international arena.

The situation has undoubtedly created a climate for success of the Cuba solidarity movement and to help broaden its appeal and scope.

The holding of the conference in Vientiane city itself reminded us of the special relations of brotherhood between the courageous and multiethnic people from Laos and the Cuba since the days of the Southeast Asian country’s struggle for achieving its national liberation.

Unforgettable is also the Lao people’s heroic struggle and key role in defeating the US in its barbaric imperialist war in Indochina. From 1964 to 1973, three million tonnes of cluster bombs were dropped over Laos (one tonne per inhabitant at that time) and around 30 per cent of them are still unexploded 35 years after the end of the war. This is a genuine prolonged crime against the Lao people.

There is a perceptible link between our national interest and the movement of solidarity with Cuba. The Cuba solidarity movement is a strong component of mass action against imperialist globalisation. Thereby it is sure to serve the interest of people in various countries.

Cuba is not alone. The peoples of the world stand by Cuba.