People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 31

August 02, 200

CUBA SOLIDARITY DAY IN BENGALURU

 

Cuba: Symbol of Resistance to Imperialism

Sharathchandra

 

NORMALLY senate hall of Bangalore University is sober and deserted on an idle Sunday morning, even when a meeting is held there. But this Sunday was special. It was July 26. The senate hall was not only overflowing, but with people from all walks of life even from outside Bangalore – auto drivers to celebrity theatre/TV directors, Kolar peasants to university professors, trade union leaders to students, factory workers to IT professionals -  normally not seen together in a place. The program was also very different. A music band occupied the dias for most of the time  singing Spanish songs !

It was a unique celebration of Cuba Solidarity day – July 26 - in the Golden Jubilee year of the Cuban Revolution of 1959, organised by Cuba Solidarity Committee. People were savouring the Cuban spirit, singing along ‘Guantanamera’ and many other Spanish songs. The program was multi-faceted. There were songs, poetry reading, releasing of books/cards, inauguration of a website, film show - all interspersed by inspiring talks. The focus was on ‘Three Cs’ – Che, Castro and Cuba. They were all over - t-shirts, books, cards, banners, wall posters; as themes in songs, poems, talks, film, poster exhibition and above all in the hearts of everyone.  The three hours of uninterrupted celebration of the Cuban spirit conveyed to the eleven million Cubans, ‘we are with you’, and ‘we also would be like you’.

Cuban minister of Council and Deputy Chief of Mission, Eduardo Iglesias Quintana and CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat were joined by editor of monthly Hosathu and writer Dr G Ramakrishna, well known Kannada TV/Film director B Suresh, Kannada poet Mamatha Sagar and mediaperson and writer-poet G N Mohan. But they did not have to sit all the time on the dias. They too sat, enjoyed and savoured the spirit of Cuban revolution with rest of the audience.

The program began with Eduardo Quintana releasing three books on Cuba published by Chinthana Pusthaka and Kriya Prakashana. First copy of the books were handed over to authors. Prakash Karat released four cards on Cuba brought out by Mayflower Media House. Quintana also launched the website on Cuba (www.cubaa.wordpress.com) also managed by Mayflower Media House.

Prakash Karat in his address said Cuba has gone through adversity, most difficult times and what many people say "impossible odds" but had overcome every time. We must learn from Cuba and not surrender.  He said after the Lok Sabha elections, many of the Left parties' friends and critics told them to give up fight against imperialism because it has become irrelevant in the 21st century and also give up the fight against neo-liberal policies, and accommodate itself.  He said if we did that, we cease to be what we are; we cease to be a force for progressive change and the lesson of never to surrender and continue the fight against imperialism must be imbibed, Karat said.

Karat praised the indomitable courage and heroic endeavours of the Cuban people. Cuba is not only a symbol of resistance to imperialism but also a source of inspiration for all countries who were under colonialism and imperialistic exploitation, he said. Cuba, a country of just 1.1 crore population, had a remarkable recovery, he said, noting that the country wiped out illiteracy in just one year. In terms of development in health and education, Cuba is far superior to many of the developed countries. In Cuba, the number of physicians to 100,000 people is more than that in the US. It has got an education system which we in India cannot even dream of, he said.  Cuba spends 6.5 per cent of its GDP on health, whereas India spends just one per cent in this sector.

Quintana – quite unlike a dignitary - went round meeting people, looking around the book stalls and poster exhibition even before the meeting began. He was very impressed by Bangalore, the ‘Masala Dosa’ he had for breakfast and above all with the solidarity shown by the people for Cuba. He explained the significance of the Cuban Revolution and explained the hard days faced by Cubans for nearly fifty years due to inhuman economic embargo imposed by the US. He was not impressed by gestures of president Obama in easing some restriction of travel etc. He said the real issue is that of lifting the inhuman economic embargo immediately. He was so impressed by the solidarity and the festive spirit that he spoke again at the end.

G N Mohan, author of a celebrated Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award winning book in Kannada, ‘Cuba – a song within me’ (also translated to Telugu and Tamil) spoke eloquently of his memories of visit to Cuba for a Youth Festival years ago. He spoke of the solidarity movements even in the US defying the severe restrictions, with the example of ‘Send a Piana to Havana’ movement. He also spoke of the movement to ‘Visit Cuba’ defying travel restrictions. Dr  G Ramakrishna, B Suresh and Mamatha also spoke. K S Vimala and Ratnakara Shenoy on behalf of the committee also spoke. A documentary film on Che Guevara was the last part of the festival.