Convention Discussion: Cuba Solidarity Work

 
BY: Emile Schepers| March 18, 2014

Submitted by Emile Schepers, International Secretary, CPUSA.

How to improve our Cuba solidarity work?

Many people in our party are, in fact, already involved in Cuba solidarity efforts:  To end the blockade and travel restrictions, and free the Five. We also relate to all major national level organizations involved in these efforts and in Cuba solidarity work generally.   We have managed to have fairly regular coverage of Cuba related issues in the Peoples World, Political Affairs and our Facebook pages.  We participate in meetings and rallies, support the work to free the Cuban Five, and many other things.

This is the most developed focus of our Party’s international solidarity work.

Yet this does not mean we could not do more, and be more effective.  In my opinion, we should try to improve in the following respects:

*We have to find ways to persuade and help members and friends of the CPUSA and YCL who travel to Cuba to share their experiences more widely.  It is amazing how much extra credibility one has when writing and speaking on this issue if one actually has been there and interacted with ordinary Cuban people.  Just to give one personal case, I was once in a neighborhood meeting in a Latino neighborhood in Chicago where a reactionary Cuban exile got up and claimed that music and dancing were forbidden by “Fidel”.  “En Cuba” she intoned with an impressively authoritative air “ya nadie baila”. (“In Cuba, nobody dances any more”) Faces of the others present showed that some were inclined to believe this, though I challenged the woman’s assertion.  Then when I finally got to Cuba, one evening I found myself dancing to the point of exhaustion with a huge throng of people in a Havana public square.  I still remember the refrain of the song:  “¡Usted paró! ¿Por que?” (“You stopped! Why?”). Now I can say “but I danced in Cuba, and only stopped when I was ready to fall down from exhaustion, so your information is wrong”, and be believed.   In our Party press, more such articles (and videos and so forth) would greatly enliven the current discussion on Cuba, which sometimes seems a bit dry and repetitive.  How about a video of some of us dancing in Cuba?  And not just the young ones?

*We need to realize the value of challenging anti-Cuba propaganda in the bourgeois press and blogosphere.  Too many on the left think that somehow they contaminate themselves by trying to get something published in the Washington Post or Chicago Tribune op-ed pages, but this is a way of reaching millions of people who don’t  read the left press and would otherwise not have any access to the truth. Maybe we should work with friends to create a sort of “national truth squad” on the Cuba issue, prepped and motivated to send in letters to the editor, op-eds, commentary on internet sites and blogs and other interventions whenever lies about Cuba are put out into the public fora.  We also promised 2 ½ years ago that we would create new social media mechanisms for getting the word out on Cuba; this has only partly been realized.  This idea should be pushed with the addition that it would be used to counter specific corporate lies about Cuba.  

*After the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialism collapsed, Cuba was in dire straits (called the “Special Period”) and nobody could be sure that the Cuban Revolution could survive.  In numerous areas of the country, our Party worked with others to create local Cuba solidarity groups and coalitions.  We did this in Chicago, along with the Venceremos Brigade and others. What eventually became known as the Chicago Cuba Coalition did good work, supporting the Pastors for Peace’s Friendshipments, doing loads of educational activities for the general public as well as legislative lobbying that brought a number of elected officials in our area around to cosponsoring legislation to end the Blockade.  It was not always easy because of the variety of different ideological positions within the Coalition.  In spite of this, more was achieved via that structure than we could have by ourselves.   It appears to me, however, that local coalitions on Cuba are less active these days, and our people are less active in them also.  There may be objective reasons for this beyond our or anybody’s control, but wherever the revitalization of an existing local structure, or the creation of a new one, seems to give promise of practical results (e.g. in outreach to new audiences, or in legislative lobbying on Cuba related bills in a specific state or congressional district), we should go for it and not be bothered by the fact that we might have to sit next to someone we don’t like (politically or personally) in a meeting.   Yes, there are a lot of sectarians involved in this work, but the antidote to their sectarianism is not sectarianism on our part, but hard, focused, practical work.

The goal is to end the blockade, end the travel bans, free the Five and stop future U.S. aggression against, and interference with, the Republic of Cuba.  Anything that helps achieves this, we should do, no matter what difficulties obtrude.  And that should dictate with whom we are willing to work.


The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

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CONVENTION DISCUSSION 
30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014

Author

    Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Emile Schepers was born in South Africa and has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He has worked as a researcher and activist in urban, working-class communities in Chicago since 1966. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He now writes from Northern Virginia.

     

Comments (1)

ismael | April 23, 2014 at 4:06 AM

In the work mentioned I would like to know how many in the party have actually participated in this work in the last year? Since the last convention? Generally I think we need to know, as life permits, how many are doing the work..The solidarity work done above may have been done by 10 people,,not a great number in a party of 2500/3000 members…

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