BY VERÓNICA POSES AND JOSHUA CARROLL
CHICAGO - "Cuba Sí!, Bloqueo No!" was the main chant at a march and rally to end the embargo against Cuba held here October 8. Nearly 200 people, overwhelmingly college and high school students, participated in the event.
Two marches took off from points on the north and the south sides of Chicago, and met up for a rally at the federal building downtown.
The action was organized by the October 8 Coalition, made up predominately of young people after returning from the 14th World Festival of Youth and Students. Members of several political organizations, including the October 22 coalition against police brutality, the National Committee to Free Puerto Rican Political Prisoners, DALE (De Paul Alliance for Latino Enrichment), the Young Socialists, and a Zapatista support group were there. Organizers of the United Farm Workers union were also present building support for the fight to unionize the fields of California.
Chants against police brutality, for immigrant rights, and for independence for Puerto Rico were also prevalent at the march and rally. "There is a connection between Cuba, immigration, and police brutality," explained Sarah Wood, a student at De Paul University and one of the organizers of the event.
Jessie Mumm, an activist with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, was the first speaker. He read a letter from the October 8 Coalition to the people of Cuba. "We are united in the knowledge that the United States Government is still waging a war to destroy the Cuban Revolution, and that it is our duty to end the international crime perpetuated against Cuba for the past 36 years: the United States blockade," the letter stated.
A number of speakers pointed to the importance of the Cuban revolution today. Rudy Lozano Jr., a participant in the World Festival, recounted: "In Cuba, I learned about how the Cuban peasants and working class came together to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Cuba took back its land and resources from the Cuban oligarchs and U.S. businessmen. It is for this reason that the U.S. government tried to keep us from attending the festival, for fear that we might learn what I have learned and we might want to do the same." He was referring to the U.S. government's refusal to grant licenses to travel to Cuba to members of the U.S. delegation.
Another participant in the Youth Festival who addressed the rally was Marcelo Venegas, a medical student at UIC. Venegas spoke about the example of the health system in Cuba. He explained, "In order to cure a person you must first change the sick society of capitalism, where the majority work to fill the pockets of the rich."
Gisela López, from the Chicago Cuba Coalition was the last speaker at the rally. "Che is really not dead" she warned, "He lives today in all the young people that are here." Representatives from the Nation of Islam, Pastors for Peace, and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center also spoke at the rally.
BY HEATHER WOOD AND PAUL PEDERSON
ST. PAUL, Minnesota - In response to a call coming out of two international conferences held in Cuba this past summer for activities to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall in combat of Ernesto "Che" Guevara, a Cuba solidarity coalition formed in the Twin Cities. Sixteen organizations participated, including The American Indian Student Cultural Center, Pastors for Peace-Minnesota, La Raza Student Cultural Center, Progressive Student Organization, University Young Women, Women Against Military Madness, and the Young Socialists. The coalition organized activities for the week of October 8 - 13.
The activities began with an October march and rally built around three demands: End the U.S. embargo against Cuba! End the travel ban! and Repeal Helms-Burton! About 60 people participated.
Rafael Noriega, Third Secretary of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., arrived in the Twin Cities October 9 to begin three days of speaking events that were organized by the coalition. That day he addressed a crowd of 40 students at Macalester College in St. Paul, and another meeting at St. Olaf College in Northfield of over 50 students.
The La Raza Student Cultural Center held a panel discussion on the political legacy of Che Guevara on October 10. The panel consisted of an activist in the Chicano movement, a member of the Progressive Student Organization, and a member of the Young Socialists. Noriega also participated in the discussion, which focused on the impact and relevance of Che's example to different struggles taking place in the world today.
The highlight of the week's events was a teach-in October 11, attended by more than 125 people. Noriega gave the keynote address on Che Guevara and Cuba today. He said that Guevara's contribution to the revolution was similar to that of Máximo Gómez, a Dominican who became a leader of Cuba's struggle against Spanish colonialism. In comparing the two, Noriega said, "even though Che was from Argentina, he immediately identified himself completely with the cause of the Cuban revolutionaries."
Noriega's presentation was followed by a panel of other speakers, who addressed such topics as: the U.S. embargo against Cuba; gains made for oppressed nationalities and women through the revolution; and how people in the United States can fight against the embargo.
Michael Rothman, a panelist who is a professor of Caribbean Studies, spoke favorably about the progress in health care and education in Cuba and the gains for Blacks, women, and other oppressed layers. But he put forward the view that these gains and the revolution itself are counterposed and should not be confused with the "Castro regime." His view was that this "regime" was going to fall.
Another panelist, Betsey Stone, a member of the International Association of Machinists and editor of Women and the Cuban Revolution, published by Pathfinder Press, responded to this. "You cannot separated the revolution from those who have lead this process from the beginning and still lead it today," she said. Stone, who attended a conference of the Central Organization of Workers (CTC) in April of 1996, explained how workers at the congress and in union and factory meetings discussed and made decisions on the most important questions facing Cuba today. She contrasted this to the situation in the rest of the countries in the Americas where workers have no voice in the basic decisions that mark their lives. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, several smaller papers and radio stations covered the events.
BY JUAN FIGUEROA AND CAMILO BOSSI
STOCKHOLM, Sweden - On September 26 the YS chapter in Stockholm launched its first fund drive. The chapter adopted a goal of 12,000 kronor ($1,500). The money will be raised from pledges by YS members and supporters, through dinners, selling snacks at Militant Labor Forums, and more. This will allow us to reach out to workers and youth at political activities in and outside of Stockholm, and send members to events like the upcoming YS convention in Canada. The YS will also be part of a Pathfinder team at a book fair in Gothenburg October 28 - November 2.
In mid-August, two YS members returned from the 14th World Festival of Youth and Students. Since then, they and other youth who went to the festival have spoken at several report- back meetings in Stockholm and other cities. Interest in the festival and the Cuban revolution has been high.
One YS member traveled to Roskilde, Denmark, to participate in a mobilization of 1,000 people to protest fascists commemorating the death of Nazi leader Rudolf Hess. In early September YS members took part in protests against the rightist Sweden Democrats in the capital's main square. The rightists had been given permission to hold rallies every Saturday until December. They haven't shown up since September 6, however, when 100 people held a counter- mobilization.
In October several activities are taking place across the country around the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara. On October 3, some 20 people attended a Militant Labor Forum titled "Who was Che?" On October 8, around 700 people marched to the U.S. embassy in Stockholm in solidarity with the Cuban revolution. The YS participated with a banner and set up two tables with communist literature.
After the rally and march, the Communist League and Young Socialists co-sponsored an open house. Four youth interested in the YS came and stayed for a long time talking politics.
Two people have since joined the YS. Following up on the October 8 events, the Young Socialists held a class on two pamphlets, Socialism and Man in Cuba, by Ernesto Che Guevara and Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and the Fight for Socialism Today: Cuba Confronts the World Crisis of the '90s, by Mary- Alice Waters. Ten youth attended, including a couple who are interested in the YS.
The YS is also part of the international effort to attract
new subscribers to the Militant and Perspectiva Mundial and
the Marxist magazine New International, and has adopted goals
for the subscription drive.
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