‘A house to live in - not to live from’: housing in socialist Cuba vs the Philippines

Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, President of Cuba, overseeing house deliveries to tornado-affected families in Guanabacoa.

UN Habitat estimates that three billion people will lack adequate housing by 2030. Slum dwellers now make up nearly a quarter of the world’s urban population, heavily skewed towards poorer states. Deforestation, desertification, pandemic-inducing losses in biodiversity, land-grab displacement and tens of millions of forced evictions each year characterise a housing system dictated by the anarchy of capitalist accumulation. 


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Cuba: fight the lies, end the blockade

Despite their own hardships, Cubans have marched in solidarity with Palestine, demanding an end to Israeli genocide and imperialist complicity

On 29 February, for the first time Cuba requested emergency assistance from the UN World Food Programme, to provide state-guaranteed powdered milk for all children under seven. Food and energy shortages, a consequence of the US’s 63-year illegal blockade of Cuba, have unsurprisingly led to some Cubans expressing their frustration through public protests.


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Victory to CubaInformación!

Victory! – for Spanish journalist José Manzaneda, coordinator of CubaInformación, the ‘alternative information project about Cuba in the Spanish language’. Both Manzaneda and the Euskadi-Cuba Association were acquitted of spurious charges of hate speech and defamation of character in a Madrid court on 15 February 2024. The trial was an attempt to intimidate critical journalism and silence voices that stand in solidarity with Cuba. The victory in the court case is but one example of what can be achieved when organisations take a stand, refusing to let the international enemies of the revolution break our solidarity.


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Mickael Behn: drop the claim! Hands off Cuba!

On 15 March 2024, Rock around the Blockade (RATB) protested outside the London offices of Mickael Behn against his $440m lawsuit targeting cruise ship companies previously involved in tourism to Cuba. Behn is suing these cruise companies under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act which was activated by US president Trump in 2019. After lobbying US politicians, Democrat and Republican, Behn convinced a US district court judge in Miami to recognise his claim to his grandfather’s shares in the Havana Docks Company which was seized after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. The Delaware-based company held a lease to operate three docks in Havana before 1959; this lease expired in 2004. Yet Behn accuses the cruise companies of ‘trafficking’ in his inheritance. RATB calls on Mickael Behn to drop the claim; we say no economic war on Cuba!



Socialist healthcare leads the way

Socialist Cuba’s long-standing principles of free universal healthcare – enshrined in its Constitution – take expression in its emphasis on primary care. The pinnacle of this approach is Cuba’s Family Doctor and Nurse programme. Teams of doctors and nurses are based in every community. Families receive visits at least yearly, or every three months for those with chronic illnesses. This allows the socialist state to assess the health of the entire population, not just the sick.


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Cuban socialism a model for climate action

Climate change is already profoundly affecting Cuban society, as it is elsewhere in the underdeveloped nations. Cuba has already begun to experience rising sea levels and one million Cuban people live on or near the coast. Our brigade met with representatives from the Environment Agency at an agroecological community project known as ‘Granjita Feliz’ (‘Happy little farm’), in Guanabacoa, Havana, to learn more about the government’s ambitious 100-year plan to combat the adverse effects of climate change: Tarea Vida (‘Life Task’).
Despite being situated away from the coastal areas, Guanabacoa was chosen by the Cuban state as the sole recipient of EU funding and technical training related to climate change. This decision was instrumental in dispelling the misconception that climate change only affects coastal regions.


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Socialist Cuba advances womens’ and LGBT rights

The triumph of the Revolution instigated thousands of transformations in social, political, and economic life in Cuba, made by and for Cuban women. Vilma Espin, leader in Cuba’s revolutionary struggle, founded and was President of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) in 1960. Today 4.2 million women and girls over 14 years old (92% of the female population) are members of the FMC. They join voluntarily to carry out community and municipality-based work.


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Capitalism destroys lives

Cuba has developed groundbreaking biological technology which has prevented over 20,000 diabetic-related amputations and treated over 120,000 Cubans. Herberprot-P is a genetically engineered epidermal growth factor, a molecule that encourages cell growth and multiplication so when it is injected in a wound, or ulcer, it promotes wound healing.


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Cuba: democracy in action

Brigadistas saw firsthand what workers’ democracy can achieve when visiting the La Genética neighbourhood in the Playa municipality of Havana. Political representatives in Cuba cannot nominate themselves for positions of state power and must instead be proposed by local residents. As a result, La Genética’s representatives – mostly black women – truly reflect the community they serve (56% of Cuba’s National Assembly are women and 45% are black or mixed race). The Cuban people make their voices heard not only through representatives in government, but through participation in the mass organisations that are active in every aspect of life, including the Workers’ Central Union, Federation of Cuban Women, University Student Federation, and José Martí Pioneer Organisation that empowers young people.

La Genética has benefited from the Neighbourhoods in Transformation initiative aimed at improving the infrastructure, services, and quality of life of the country’s most vulnerable communities. RATB visited a well-equipped nursery, open from 6am-7pm to provide for working parents, many of whom are employed in the nearby biotech plant that gives the neighbourhood its name. The nursery, whose 24 staff care for the developmental needs of 100 children, costs parents just 40 pesos per month for as many children as they have. Among the facilities in the centre are a theatre, cinema and dance studio, with free workshops provided for residents. The planning of the improvement works was conducted by local people based on the community’s needs, and the construction of amenities throughout La Genética provided more than 100 jobs.

The needs of different social groups are not treated as antagonistic under socialism, as they are under capitalism. This was reflected in the approval by the Cuban people in 2022 of a revised Family Code (see FRFI 291). The drafting of the Code was open to the entire population, with six million people participating in tens of thousands of meetings. The final version was passed with 67% of the vote. But, as RATB learned when it visited the Cuban Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX), the 33% who voted against the Code are not glibly expected to ‘like or lump’ the result. Socialist Cuba commits resources to regions where reactionary views prevail in order to enable all Cubans to develop together their understanding of the needs of all people.

Felix Lancashire


Brigade to Cuba 2023/24
- Cuba resists - End the US blockade
- Cuba democracy in action
- Capitalism destroys lives
- Socialist Cuba advances womens’ and LGBT rights
- Cuban socialism a model for climate action
- Socialist healthcare leads the way


Brigade to Cuba 2023/24: Cuba resists - End the US blockade

Rock around the Blockade, a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group, held its 15th solidarity brigade to Cuba from December 2023 to January 2024. While learning about the inspiring achievements of Cuban socialism, the brigadistas also witnessed the devastating impacts of the US blockade on Cuba. The US blockade is an act of war, contrived ‘to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government’ as conceived by then-US Assistant Secretary of State Lester Mallory in 1960. It is an act of genocide under the UN Genocide Convention. The blockade restricts access to resources in every sector: medical equipment for children’s intensive care units, insulin for diabetic patients, materials for schools, food and energy. The tightening of the blockade under the US Trump administration, and then under Biden, has imposed a severe economic crisis on Cuba with severe material shortages. But the Cuban people we met and spoke to, from the farmers and economists to the doctors and cleaners, and particularly the young people, remain committed to resisting the blockade and defending the gains of their socialist revolution. Ria Aibhilin and Soma Kisan report.


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Mariela Castro: 'For anti-imperialist unity of the peoples'

Mariela Castro

We republish below a speech given by Mariela Castro at the II International Meeting of Europe for Cuba.

First of all, I would like to thank comrade José Antonio Toledo and the team in charge of organizing the II International Meeting of the Europe for Cuba Channel, which is being held these days in the city of Bilbao, in the Basque Country.

I would like to highlight the symbolic impact of holding this meeting within the framework of several important historical celebrations, the 171st anniversary of the birth of the apostle of Cuban independence, José Martí, because of the validity of his thought and for what it means in the historical continuity of the emancipation project, initiated in 1868; and that after sixty years of the neocolonial US occupation, the full sovereignty of Cuba was achieved with the revolutionary victory of 1959, led by Fidel.


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The world stands with Cuba against the illegal US blockade

On 16-17 November, a special international tribunal hosted by the European Parliament discussed evidence of the economic and human costs of the US blockade. The tribunal heard extensive evidence from Cuban, European and US witnesses of the extraterritorial application of US sanctions which constitutes a clear violation of international law.


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Cuba stands with Palestine

Since its establishment in 1959, the Cuban revolutionary government has consistently supported the Palestinian national liberation struggle. In the context of the current Israeli onslaught, President Miguel Díaz-Canel stated in a speech broadcast on 29 October that ‘Cuba condemns, in the harshest terms, the bombings against the people in Gaza and the destruction of their homes, hospitals, and civil infrastructure… Nothing can justify what Israel’s army is doing against Gaza. Nothing can justify the serious violations of international humanitarian law that Israel is committing.’ Despite there being no moral justification, Díaz-Canel was clear about the imperialist incentive for the Zionist state’s actions. Quoting Fidel Castro, he said, ‘From the beginning of humanity, wars have arisen fundamentally for one reason: the desire of some to deprive others of their riches… If colonialism disappears and exploitation of countries by monopolies disappears… humanity will have reached a true stage of progress.’ Cuba was among the first countries to condemn the barbarity of Israel’s response to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood the day after it was launched. On 8 October, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX) blamed Israel for the violence, which it identified as ‘a consequence of 75 years of permanent violation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and of Israel’s aggressive and expansionist policy’. The socialist state, and the Cuban people, could not be clearer in their denunciation of Zionist occupation. November saw thousands of people take to the streets in cities across Cuba, demanding an end to the genocide. Referencing the murderous targeting of journalists, one protester stated that Israel’s actions were ‘not only a crime against humanity, but against freedom and against truth.’


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Rock Around the Blockade

Help us send medical supplies to Cuba

We are raising money to send a solidarity brigade and vital medical supplies to Cuba. Last year marked the 60th anniversary of the US blockade on Cuba. Despite this, the Cuban people have built a society which demonstrates an alternative to the poverty, war, racism and environmental destruction caused by imperialism. Through socialist planning Cuba guarantees adequate levels of healthcare, education, housing and food security for all. This revolution extends beyond national borders: Cuba has sent thousands of doctors to countries across the world to help fight disease and illness. Cuba continues to face monumental challenges as it recovers from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, while the US blockade forces the Cuban people to overcome the political and economic might of the most powerful nation on the planet. There are difficulties importing fuel, food, and medicine. We will take material aid to help Cuba in the crisis it is facing, including medical supplies for a children’s hospital. We will also spend two weeks visiting schools, hospitals, factories, community centres, farms; learning about socialism and holding exchanges with Cuban youth about the reality of living under capitalism in Britain.Show your solidarity with the Cuban people by donating to the brigade: www.ratb.org.uk/donate

brigade flyer web


Challenging ‘the rules of the game’ Cuba hosts the G77+China summit

On 15-17 September delegations from 135 nations met in Havana for the G77+China summit on ‘Science, technology and innovation’. Cuba has acted as chair of the group after being elected for the first time at the UN in 2022. Founded in 1964 by 77 nations as part of the ‘Non-aligned movement’, today the expanded G77+China represents 80% of global population and two-thirds of UN member states. Most are poorer nations facing the brunt of global debt and poverty. China engages with the organisation’s structures but remains a non-member. The group counterbalances international organisations dominated by Western imperialist powers. It contains contradictory interests, from the anti-imperialist voices of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the oil rich gulf monarchies and rising capitalist powers like India.


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‘Cuba 11J’: a handbook for counter-revolution

Cuba 11J: counter-hegemonic perspectives of social protests, Alexander Hall Lujardo (coordinator), published by Marx21, 2023, 392pp digital edition free under Creative Commons Licence.

On 11 July 2021, street protests broke out in various locations across Cuba, some turning violent. They were the first widespread social disturbances in Cuba for 27 years. They occurred in the context of Covid-19 lockdown measures, and conditions of extreme hardship imposed by the tightening of the 62-year US blockade of Cuba, and were stoked by a US-backed social media campaign. 11 July was celebrated by the imperialist media and Florida’s right-wing Cuban exiles, some of whom called for US military intervention (see FRFI 283 for a detailed analysis).


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Cuba’s internationalism, from the liberation of Angola to the end of apartheid

Cuba, Africa, and Apartheid’s End: Africa’s Children Return! by Isaac Saney, Lexington Books, 2023. £35

The book analyses the background, impact, and aftermath of Cuba’s key role in the protection of Angola, the liberation of Namibia, and the overthrow of apartheid rule in South Africa. The story revolves around the 1988 Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, where Angolan and Cuban forces, with the support of the USSR, managed to withstand the pressure of the South Africa Defence Force (SADF) and lay the groundwork for a future offensive to bring down the Pretoria regime. In his book, author Isaac Saney examines this contribution in its wider historical, political, and cultural context, drawing upon an extensive range of new evidence, including newspapers, interviews, memoirs and intelligence reports. Saney puts forward two main theses, both of which can be summarised through the words of Nelson Mandela, the historic leader of the African National Congress and the first black president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. First, Mandela emphasised the significance of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which not only shifted the tide of the war between Angola and South Africa, but also represented ‘a milestone in the history of the struggle for southern African liberation…a turning point in the struggle to free the continent and our country from the scourge of apartheid’ (p5). Secondly, Mandela acknowledged the fundamental role played by the Cubans in this pivotal moment of the southern African national liberation struggle, affirming that ‘The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom, and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character’ (p2).


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Cuba: among hostile brothers

On 8 June, the Wall Street Journal alleged that Cuba had agreed to host a Chinese spy base for surveillance operations against the US, citing an anonymous US government official. The story was dismissed by the Cuban and Chinese governments, as well as by spokespeople for the White House National Security Council and the US defence department. Nonetheless on 4 July, the USS Pasadena, a US nuclear-powered submarine, docked at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, an area of Cuba illegally occupied by the United States military. This was officially condemned by the Cuban government as a violation of Cuba’s sovereignty. Then on 11 July, the Russian navy vessel Perekop, a Soviet-era training vessel, arrived in Havana for a four-day visit bearing humanitarian aid. The manoeuvring of great powers around Cuba has drawn comparisons to the Cold War, but the situation is different. WILL JONES reports.


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RATB at the 2023 People’s Summit in Brussels

RATB supporters with Fernando González, President of ICAP

On 17-18 July supporters of Rock around the Blockade attended the People’s Summit in Brussels which united over 100 organisations to promote solidarity between Europe and Cuba and oppose the US blockade. The People’s Summit took place alongside the official summit between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU). The official summit marked the first meeting in eight years between the two bodies. The Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez attended, enraging right-wing Members of European Parliament (MEPs). These MEPs had managed to pass a non-binding resolution ahead of the official summit condemning Cuba’s human rights record and calling for new sanctions against Cuba; they also accused the EU of being soft on Latin American states over their stance on the war in Ukraine.


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Cuba elections 2023 a vote for socialism

On 26 March, Cuba completed the final stage of its General Election. Even in the midst of intense hardships caused by US sanctions including hours-long queues for basic goods, 6,164,876 Cubans turned out to vote for or against deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power at 23,468 voting stations, a turnout of 75.92%.


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People first: Cuba's plan to confront climate change

In 2017, the Cuban government approved the State Plan to Confront Climate Change, known in Cuba as Tarea Vida (Life Task). With a projection up to the year 2100, Tarea Vida is the world’s only truly long-term state plan to address climate change. Despite being responsible for 0.08% of global CO2 emissions, like other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Cuba is already disproportionately hard-hit by the effects of climate change. Tarea Vida builds on decades of environmental protection regulation, the promotion of sustainable development and scientific investigations into climate change since the 1990s.


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Cuban and Venezuelan brigades support earthquake victims

A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck various regions of Kurdistan, Syria and Turkey on 6 February. As of 20 March the death toll from this disaster had surpassed 57,000, with over 50,000 people killed in Turkey, according to the country’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority, and over 7,200 people killed in Syria.


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The state of Cuba-US relations: An interview with Dr José Ramón Cabañas

In January 2023, Dr José Ramón Cabañas, Director at Research Centre for International Policy, Cuba, travelled to Britain to talk about his book, US-Cuba Relations: The Inside Story of the 2014 Breakthrough. Dr Cabañas was head of Cuba’s US Interests Section on 17 December 2014, when Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama announced rapprochement and the restoration of diplomatic relations. His new book explains the background and significance of this historic moment in international relations. Helen Yaffe caught up with Cabañas in London to interview him for Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!


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What’s driving ‘irregular’ Cuban emigration to the United States?

In 2022, an unprecedented number of Cubans arrived in the United States through irregular, or ‘illegal’ channels. Historically the US has encouraged and weaponised Cuban emigration. Cuban migrants fuel US propaganda about the failure of socialism and about political persecution and the lack of freedom and human rights on the island. But the current surge is creating political problems for the US government, as its opponents exploit the issue for electoral gain. As a result, in January 2023 the Biden administration introduced legislation that it hopes will halt the wave of ‘illegal’ Cuban entrants and that threatens to undermine the blanket privileges granted to Cubans in the US. However, until the US alleviates the punishing blockade that is suffocating the Cuban people, economic hardship will continue to drive Cuban emigration. The United States’ policy towards Cuban migrants is characterised by paradox and contradictions. HELEN YAFFE reports.


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A vulture fund sues Cuba in British court

A case heard at Britain’s High Court, expected to last eight days, began on 23 January in which CRF I Ltd, registered in the Cayman Islands, is suing the Cuban state and central bank for €72m (£63.5m). It claims it is owed principal and overdue interest on loans dating back to the 1980s.


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An open secret: Britain's financial blockade of Cuba

RCG and RATB protest against Metro Bank's blockade of Cuba (photo: FRFI)

Since it was launched in July 2022, the 1 Cent 4 Cuba (1c4Cuba) campaign, co-founded by Rock around the Blockade (RATB), has organised people to send hundreds of international micro-transactions to challenge the extraterritorial application of the United States blockade of Cuba. We have evidence that British and European banks are systematically, and illegally, enforcing US sanctions on Cuba on their own customers with impunity. WILL JONES reports.


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UN vote: for the 30th time, end the blockade!

‘Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba’
In favour: 185 nations Against: 2 Abstentions: 2

For the 30th consecutive annual vote at the UN General Assembly, on 3 November the overwhelming majority of UN member states voted in favour of the Cuban resolution calling for an end to the United States’ blockade of Cuba. Only the US and Israel voted against. Brazil’s outgoing far-right Bolsonaro government abstained. So did Ukraine, whose client relationship with the United States apparently prevailed over the bonds of solidarity: over 21 years, Cuba provided medical treatment for more than 26,000 victims of Ukraine’s worst disaster since World War II, the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

On 29 October, Rock around the Blockade held a rally at the Cuban embassy in London to show solidarity with the Cuban people against the US blockade. RATB also addressed a 24-hour virtual picket on 3 November organised by the US-Cuba Normalisation Conference Coalition. The extraterritorial damage inflicted by the blockade, including the blocking of financial transactions and trade between Cuba and third countries, demonstrates the brutality of US imperialism. We join with Cuba and the majority of humanity in opposing it.

FIGHT RACISM! FIGHT IMPERIALISM! 291 December 2022/January 2023


Defend and extend solidarity with Cuba

Cuba is fighting to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Ian, which struck the west of the island on 23 September. But growing international solidarity with Cuba faces frustration and repression from the US ruling class and its collaborators.


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Cuba leads world with progressive Family Code

On 25 September the people of Cuba voted in the country’s new Family Code. This is a revolutionary law that recognises and legalises all expressions of families within Cuba. It also updates other aspects of Cuban society that campaigners from across the island thought were lacking in the original Family Code – introduced in 1975 – such as LGBT rights, adoption laws and redefined rights for seniors and children. Out of 6,251,786 eligible voters, 74% turned out to vote. Of these, a majority of 67% approved the Family Code. The new Family Code is among the most progressive in the world and reflects the consciousness of the Cuban people. It proves the ever-forward direction of Cuba’s Revolution in reflecting and defending true people’s democracy, even in the midst of the devastating US blockade.


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Cuba: a trial by fire

Socialist Cuba is facing immense challenges as it struggles to overcome shortages of fuel and other necessities created by the Covid-19 pandemic as well as US economic warfare. In the midst of these challenges, an oil tank at the Matanzas Super Tanker Terminal was struck by lightning on 5 August, igniting a destructive fire which blazed until 13 August when it was finally extinguished. The fire caused the deaths of 16 people, most of them firefighters, and 146 people were hospitalised; billowing smoke reached the capital city Havana more than 100km away. The fire also drastically harmed Cuba’s oil infrastructure. While friends and allies of Cuba have stepped in to assist the recovery, the US government has offered little meaningful support so far – but will issue millions of dollars in new funding for regime change programmes against the socialist state. The situation demands that the international struggle against the US blockade is renewed. WILL JONES reports.


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