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Issue #1876      July 10, 2019


Against the US blockade on Cuba

Perth activists including members of the Communist Party of Australia rallied for a second time in two months since pledging in May to rally outside the US Consulate. The pledge made in Cuba at the International Day of solidarity is to rally at US diplomatic missions on the second of each month to demand the US blockade on Cuba be lifted and an end to the Helms-Burton Act.

The actions are in step with the monthly Cuba solidarity vigil outside the UN consulate in Sydney each month.

It was last May 2 that the Trump Administration implemented Title III of the Helms-Burton Act which had remained on the shelf since 1996 when other parts of the Act were implemented. Its extraterritoriality is an obstacle to trade as it penalises investors from third countries who defy the inhumane blockade. Title III of the Helms-Burton Act allows for investors to be sued in US Courts if they trade on confiscated or nationalised properties in Cuba, for example ports, airports and factories.

One day after Title III was enacted Exon Mobil filed a lawsuit seeking $280 million from the state-owned Cuba-Petroleo and CIMEX Corp over a refinery, gas stations and other assets.

The European Union and Canada have investments in a number of industries that are affected by the implementation of the Title III of the Act. The European Union has indicated it may lodge a challenge with the World Trade Organisation and the British Government has said it will work with the EU to protect British companies. Activists rallying called on the Australian government to follow suite.

Trade and collaboration between Australia and Cuba have been growing and are important to both countries. In 2017-2018, three delegations from Cuba came to Australia to investigate potential areas for collaboration and resulted in Meat and Livestock Australia agreeing to trial a cattle tick vaccine produced by Cuban SOE, BioCubaFarma.

Around the world groups are rallying against these measures that are hurting the Cuban people, in particular those in the tourist sector, self-employed artists, accommodation, transport, food and other services. The most recent Executive order issued by Trump has effectively stopped all cruise ships travelling to Cuba. This hits very hard in the country who relies on tourism as a significant source of income.

The Cuban government has been forced to introduce some rationing again and with the people are preparing for hard times. The Cuban people remember well the special period of the 1990s in which they fought for survival in defence of their revolution. Once again, Cuban workers and their families are united for their sovereignty and against the Helms-Burton Act.

Despite the inhumane attacks from the US, Cuba manages to provide its people with what the US – one of the world’s most affluent countries – can’t. While 36.2 million go hungry in the US and 47 million don’t have access to health coverage the Cubans people have free health care, free university and subsidised utilities. There is virtually no homelessness with 85 percent of Cuban owning their own homes, paying no property tax or interest on mortgages. Unemployment in Cuba is only 1.8 percent according to CIA data compared with a reported 7.6 percent in the US.

The solidarity movement calls on the trade union movement in Australia and elsewhere to act in solidarity with the Cuban people in defence of the Cuban revolution, its sovereignty and socialism. Activists in Perth will continue to demonstrate outside the Perth consulate for as long as necessary in the same way activists rally in Sydney outside the US consulate on the 17th of each month. Down with the US blockade, End the Helms-Burton Act.

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