Heartfelt support from Europe to Cuba

Gladys Ayllon Oliva, ICAP’s director for Europe, described the positive results of work undertaken by the region’s Cuba solidarity movement to revive its main organizations with the growing and gradual incorporation of young people into solidarity groups. Photo: Arielis González/ICAP

Gladys Ayllon Oliva recalled that many solidarity movements have been petitioning their governments to support an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba, with activists in Spain leading efforts, getting more than 50 Mayors and city councils to publically express their opposition to the cruel policy

May 25 (Granma) “Looking back, the work undertaken from 2017 to date by the Cuba solidarity movement in Europe has been very positive,” stated Gladys Ayllon Oliva, director for Europe at the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).
Ayllon highlighted the active and concerted efforts of solidarity groups, noting how these friends of the Cuban Revolution continue to support the island despite economic, political and social instability in the region caused by the deepening capitalist crisis, internal conflicts, mass migration, terrorism, and the application of austerity and neoliberal policies.

She also highlighted the weakening and fragmentation of leftist forces, which have yet to develop a formula to strengthen and unite the movement, in order to counter the advance and growth of right wing and ultra-conservative parties in the region, explained the director.

According to Ayllon, the Cuban solidarity movement in Europe emerged in the 1960s and has always been composed of people who have offered their disinterested support – which has included material donations – to the Cuban Revolution.

“Last year, 546 solidarity activities were held across Europe, noteworthy among which was the 14th State Cuba Solidarity Encounter, in Bilbao, Spain, in June.”

Ayllon explained that debates during the event focused on media campaigns to disseminate information about life and socialism in Cuba, as well as in support of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.

With a degree in English Literature and Language, the director noted that the event was organized by the creators of the website Cubainformación.tv, which works to refute lies and misinformation about the island nation printed by the international and European press by providing up-to-date and accurate information on Cuba.

She noted that the mass media only focuses on the problems affecting the country and not the achievements or impact of the island’s social project which continues to be subjected to an economic commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States, as well as new measures taken by the Trump administration to reinforce the genocidal policy.

“That’s why it was decided to create a communications task force, to continue our successful battle on social networks and the internet,” stated Ayllon, who went on to note that the event was attended by some 200 friends from France, Switzerland, and Italy, among other European nations.

She recalled that many solidarity movements have been petitioning their governments to support an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba, with activists in Spain leading efforts, getting more than 50 Mayors and city councils to publically express their opposition to the cruel policy.

In this regard, Ayllon explained that 777 such actions were carried out in 37 countries, including the “Rompamos el Bloqueo” “(Break the Blockade) campaign, which started in Madrid before expanding to Greece, Turkey, Russia, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Sweden, calling for ongoing protests outside U.S. embassies and consulates in cities across Europe.

The director also noted that solidarity groups invited Cuban intellectuals and personalities to Germany, Belgium, Cyprus, Switzerland, as well as several Nordic countries, where they gave talks on the severe human and material cost of the U.S. blockade.

In this regard, Ayllon stated that special mention must go to friends from Ukraine, where despite hostile conditions, war, repression, and anti-communist sentiment, they continue to hold protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Kiev on the 17th of every month.

She praised the extraordinary efforts of Ukraine’s Cuba solidarity movement, especially members in Donbas, who sent a symbolic donation to help victims of Hurricane Irma.

“There is a group in Ukraine called Friends of Tarará, composed of victims and relations of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster who received medical treatment in our country,” stated Ayllon.

She went on to note that for the first time in many years the Polish government issued a public statement expressing its opposition to the U.S. blockade, while a Parliamentary Friendship group with Cuba was also created.

The ICAP director explained that the Cuba solidarity movement in Europe is growing, above all in countries in the eastern region, which were part of the former socialist bloc.

In this regard she noted that the José Martí Youth Friendship Group was created in Azerbaijan, as well as the Azerbaijani and Latin American Youth Friendship association, and the Museum of Miniature Books.

Meanwhile the Socialist Homeland Association was founded in Italy, and the Socialist Cuba Initiative Friendship Association (ICS) changed its name to the Cubanismo Friendship Association, while a National Commission against the blockade and Latin American Solidarity association were also established.

“We say that Cuba solidarity is inversely proportional to the conditions in each country. That is to say, the more hostility affects the daily lives of members, and the greater the social conflicts, the more they look to Cuba as an example,” she added.

Another country that has done excellent solidarity work over the past year is Germany, where a strong network of activists work to denounce the blockade, send material aid to Cuba, and promote voluntary work brigades to the island.

Ayllon also mentioned the impact of the 100,000-person protest in Brussels during U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the country – in which the Socialist Cuba Association Initiative participated.
She likewise praised activists from the Czech Republic who climbed to the summit of Mount Milešovka, where they released red, white, and blue balloons (colors of the Cuban flag) and issued a declaration in support of the Cuban Revolution and against the U.S. blockade, which was reproduced on various social networks and alternative media networks.

The interviewee also took the opportunity to talk about the Medicuba Europe project, which sends pharmaceuticals, raw materials to manufacture medicines, and disposable hygiene products to the island.

“This 2018 we will be holding the 27th Continental Cuba Solidarity Encounter in Slovenia, from November 23-25. The last event took place in Stockholm with the participation of 33 countries. We hope to see more nations participating this year,” stated the director.

According to Ayllon in 2017 a total of 605 solidarity activists visited the ICAP headquarters individually or on delegations, where they were provided information on contemporary Cuban society, priority areas of work, and the need to strengthen current solidarity efforts.

The director went on to explain that the José Martí voluntary work brigade from Europe, which travels to the island every July, is all set for this year’s trip during which members will commemorate the 65th anniversary of the attacks on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Garrisons, and pay tribute to the invincible Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, with activities in Santiago de Cuba and the Segundo Frente municipality.

Meanwhile the Nordic, or winter brigade, is scheduled to arrive in December to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, alongside the Cuban people.

“Noteworthy among these Cuba solidarity activities are ongoing actions supporting just causes, in particular Venezuela, as well as events honoring the thought and legacy of our eternal leader and Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, José Martí, and heroic guerilla Ernesto Ché Guevara. I should also point out the efforts (of European solidarity activists) to continue strengthening spaces for political debate in the region, which will surely allow us to continue designing more useful strategies,” stated Ayllon.

CUBA SOLIDARITY STRATEGIC LINES OF WORK

  • Expand the work and presence of solidarity groups on social media and the internet
  • Continue to hold simultaneous activities on the 17th of every month to denounce the blockade, including social media campaigns.
  • On that day, disseminate information about the impact of the U.S. blockade of Cuba or upload visual content related to the issue
  • Encourage people to participate on international voluntary work brigades to Cuba , as a way of encouraging new members to join the movement
  • Continue the work and promote the creation of anti-blockade commissions in other big cities, where such initiatives don’t already exist
  • Continue to express unanimous support for the removal of the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo

European region:
53 countries
Total number of Cuba Solidarity organizations
Spain 199
Portugal 10
Germany 48
Austria 10
Croatia 1
Slovenia 3
France 72
Italy 123
Liechtenstein
Malta 1
San Marino 1
Switzerland 14
Belarus 3
Belgium 25
Denmark 9
Estonia 1
Finland 11
Holland 17
Ireland 8
Iceland 1
Latvia 1
Lithuania 1
Luxemburg 3
Moldova 3
Monaco 4
Norway 6
United Kingdom 35
Sweden 31
Ukraine 53
Albania 1
Armenia 2
Azerbaijan 4
Bosnia-Herzego. 1
Bulgaria 26
Cyprus 6
Slovakia 19
Georgia
Greece 9
Hungary 6
Kazakhstan 18
Kirgizstan 1
Macedonia 1
Montenegro 1
Poland 5
Czech Rep. 33
Romania 16
Russia 92
Serbia 8
Tajikistan 1
Turkmenistan
Turkey 6
Uzbekistan
Total 950
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