- The Guardian
- Issue #2064
Cuban Ambassador, Tanieris Dieguez La O, expressed her gratitude to the Consultation for the continuing Australian solidarity with the Cuban people. At the Australia Cuba Friendship Society National Consultation in Melbourne on Saturday, 29th July 2023 she explained that solidarity from around the world coupled with the unity of the Cuban people with their government enabled the small island nation to confront one of the most vicious blockades on the planet which is being tightened even further.
Gratitude was also expressed for the 40 years of ACFS solidarity in the Asia-Pacific region. Continued UN support was also praised. The blockade seriously affects the Cuban economy and relations with other countries. Ironically, even citizens of the United States suffer adversely.
Accompanying the Ambassador were two young representatives from ICAP, the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples. Marianniz Diaz Hernandez, a scientist involved in molecular immunology, who has a leadership role in the 600,000 member strong Communist Youth League in Cuba, spoke in detail about the successes of the Cuban pharmaceutical industry with its 35 years of experience in integrated biotechnology development. Ivan Barreto Lopez, an international relations expert, reinforced Cuban gratitude for Australian solidarity work which included the donation of 20,000 syringes that were devoted to children’s medical needs, the Brisbane Branch initiative, “To Cuba with Love” fundraiser and, in addition, demonstrations across Australia against the illegal US brigade.
Significant 2023 milestones were noted including 70 years since the 26 July 1953 Moncada attack and 40 years of Australian solidarity, which includes the operation of the Southern Cross Brigade from Australia and Aoteorora / New Zealand. Brigades come to Cuba from all over the world, even the US, in defiance of legal restrictions.
In defiance of tighter and totally despicable financial controls, “brigadistas” and tourists are encouraged to bring medical supplies and, where possible, cash to Cuba as the nation endeavours to maintain its vital tourist industry under the most challenging of circumstances. Social achievements, a revolutionary history, magnificent scenery and warm friendly people certainly justify the longest possible visit.
An initiative of world-wide significance, highlighted in the Consultation, was the recently developed Cuban treatment for cancer with the possibilities of collaboration with Queensland University. Despite the horrific blockade, Cuba contributes magnificently to humanity.
Medical achievements have continued despite the pandemic. Cuban vaccines are effective and safe to use on children as young as two years of age. As a consequence, there were very few “anti-vaxxers” in Cuba as everyone was confident in the safety of Cuban vaccines. Approaches were made to Cuba by the large pharmaceutical companies but on a competitive basis, that is for profit, not in collaboration.
As the pandemic eased, schooling in Cuba was able to adjust to the necessary lockdowns and their lifting because the socialist system allowed this to happen quite readily along with free health care, as both are government operated, that is, in the hands of the people.
A resolution from the 2022 National Consultation held in the ACT sees ACFS working side-by-side with ICAP in the development of environmental, economic and sustainable projects in Cuba. Cooperation between Cuba and Australia always has been so very productive, especially in the literacy program “Yes I Can.” Such a model could well be applied to the provision of Cuban doctors in Australia, especially in regional and particularly remote communities.
STATE BRANCH INITIATIVES
Each mainland Australian state has its own ACFS branch, and reports on individual branch activities at the national consultation where inspiration comes in turn from the Ambassador and special visitors or guests from Cuba.
Each branch makes its own special contribution. The ACT Canberra Branch has access to the Federal Parliamentary Cuban Interest Group. Brisbane continues with the “To Cuba with Love” initiative, while Perth, Sydney and Adelaide (noted for Fidel’s Bar), continue with public protests against the illegal blockade of Cuba.
It was announced that the 2024 and 2025 consultations would be held in Sydney and Adelaide respectively.