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Fidel’s Centre

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2106
Fidel's Centre, SA

Fidel’s Centre was officially opened on 13 August 2016 to commemorate Fidel’s birthday with comrade Hannah Middleton as the guest speaker. Prior to that, it had been operating for many years, as a meeting place for union workers to relax in. It has a bar and kitchen. Built in the 1950s, the Centre comes under the Port Adelaide United Workers Clubs. This organisation operates both the Semaphore Workers Club and Fidel’s Centre. The CPA has had its SA office at Fidel’s Centre for about two decades and the Australian Unemployed Workers Union has been recently established in the centre as well.

Around 2010 the Port Adelaide United Workers Clubs organisation successfully applied for grants to set up the library with book shelves and camera equipment. All the books held at the Semaphore Workers Club were then transferred to Fidel’s. In 2016 comrades formed a library collective to sort the books and materials and using the genrefication system set out the books under different categories.

We became the first library in SA to use this system. We first organised the poster collections into poster drawers, then set up the library sections for books and archives. The poster collection is divided into First Nations, Peace & Disarmament, Women, Cuba, Vietnam, Soviet Union, Europe-including former GDR, Greece, Bulgaria, and other eastern European countries, Trade Unions and May Day, Africa, and Latin America.

It took us over four years to sort most books and we decided to limit the specialisations to cover different former and present Socialist countries, with Cuba being featured. The books generally cover themes relating to struggle, Socialism and Socialist analysis, unionism, peace, human rights, women, First Nations, environment, Solidarity groups, Trade Unions, Australian, Asia – including India, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Pacific/Aotearoa. There is a large Aboriginal seciton as well as material about China, Africa, the Middle East, and Canada, and of course a lot of Soviet publications. There is a relatively large section of US and UK publications specialising in struggles and progressive material. The fiction section includes novels written by comrades or about struggles. There is also material about the media, the arts, and liberation theology.

The archive collection covers materials, leaflets, pamphlets, and little booklets some dating back over 80 years covering mainly trade union struggles in Australia, but papers from many countries with a socialist emphasis including Granma (Cuba) dating back to the 1960s. Others include Youth organisations and activities, CPA and SPA materials including several decades of Guardians! WIDF and Soviet Women’s magazines plus former GDR, Bulgaria, China, Latin America, Africa, Vietnam and other progressive countries. We also have videos, DVDs and CDs mostly of Cuba. Many comrades and progressive people have been donating books and materials, but we have to at this stage limit material. If books and materials are already held in mainstream libraries, we don’t accept them, so only really the progressive materials.

The other facilities in Fidel’s offer meeting and celebration activities. Having a kitchen means we can have cultural activities as well. The most memorable one for us was the 2023 Women’s Day function on 8 March where half the attendees were First Nations and we had a really interesting speaker from the Aboriginal community. Another highlight was the visit of Cuban comrades Ian and Marianez, and her joy at finding a Granma on the shelf which was published before she was born. Other activities have included every year except during Covid, celebrations for Cuba, Australian Vietnam Friendship Society nationally holding their AGM there for past few years. Other groups such as the Sri Lankan JVP, Latin America, CPA education programmes, curry nights and group zoom functions. Recently the Anti-AUKUS inauguration meeting for Port Adelaide action was held and many CPA action planning activities.

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