People's Democracy

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


No. 45

November 11, 2012




Sixth Asia Pacific Regional Conference

For Solidarity with Cuba



THE sixth Asia Pacific Regional Conference for Solidarity with Cuba was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on October 20-21, 2012. 220 delegates from seventeen countries participated in this conference. The conference's objective was to strengthen solidarity with Cuba, which is facing hostilities from the United States that has imposed an unlawful blockade against Cuba for the last fifty years. It should be remembered that the UN General Assembly has for the last twenty years called for the lifting of this blockade.


The delegates exchanged experiences and discussed how to oppose Washington’s decades-long economic war against the Cuban Revolution and to advance the worldwide fight to win the release of five Cuban revolutionaries framed up and imprisoned by the US government. The conference, hosted by the Sri Lanka-Cuba Solidarity National Committee, was organised at the initiative of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP).


Speaker of the parliament, Chamal Rajapaksa inaugurating the conference said, other countries can learn valuable lessons from Cuba which has made vast strides in achieving millennium development goals. “Cuba has made giant progress towards millennium development goals and it has a planned economy. Cuba has continued to prioritise education and health and the Cuban government always pays its utmost attention to social welfare. They strongly believe that they will be able to achieve development goals by investing in human development”, he said.


Leader of the Cuban delegation, Carida Deogu thanking the Sri Lankan preparatory committee for organising the conference in the most difficult of circumstances said that for Cuba, Sri Lanka has special meaning. “Just a month after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in January 1959, Sri Lanka became the first Asian country to recognise the new Cuban revolutionary government. Cooperation bonds in the field of health, education, sports and culture have been established for years. Cuba also keeps a close relationship and solidarity links with all Asian people and nations. International solidarity movement with Cuba was born since the beginning of the triumph of the revolution, when we faced a challenge that seemed to be insurmountable”, she said.


Deogu said: “We all share a complex and convulsed world. There were also several wars provoked to control means of production and natural resources at any risk. Whenever we see all this, we cannot stop thinking of great challenges we have from now on, for all peace loving people”. In these circumstances she shared with the conference how Cuba is fighting the economic embargo imposed by the US. “Today it is more necessary than ever before to globalise solidarity and brotherhood among peoples”, she said.


The inaugural meeting was attended by almost all the political parties of Sri Lanka showcasing the support Cuba enjoys among the people of Sri Lanka. Following the inaugural meeting, the delegate session commenced in which the leaders of the delegation from all the seventeen countries spoke.


Nilotpal Basu, convenor of the National Committee for Solidarity with Cuba, India spoke on behalf of the 45-member Indian delegation. In fact, apart from the hosts, India sent the most number of delegates to the conference, reflecting the political plurality of the country and the widespread support Cuba enjoys among the people.


Nilotpal reiterated solidarity with Cuba and stated that solidarity with Cuba is one of the noblest and worthy cases of solidarity. He said that solidarity with Cuba is needed more for our own sake than Cuba needs it from us. In today's challenging world, he said, if anybody deserves solidarity, it is Cuba. Paraphrasing from the immortal speech of Fidel Castro delivered in the court hall after he was captured for his failed attempt to take over the Moncada garrison, Nilotpal said that history had indeed absolved Fidel Castro and his compatriots. Nilotpal spoke about the imperialist military intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq and recently in Libya. He said imperialism is going to use all the means at its disposal to ensure its hegemony over the world. Criticising the US for human rights abuses it had committed in all these lands and also in other countries across the world, he stated that it has got no right to preach about human rights.


After the interventions from all the countries, the delegates split into two commissions: (i) principal issues (Free the Five, End US Blockade of Cuba) and challenges in strengthening solidarity with Cuba and (ii) Role of media in strengthening solidarity with Cuba. Commission discussions gave an opportunity for many delegates to intervene, share their opinions and suggest ways and means to further strengthen the solidarity movement. The reports from the two commissions were placed on the next day for the adoption by the entire conference. The conference adopted the reports and the final declaration of the conference unanimously.


Explaining the recent changes in Cuban economy, Alberto Betancourt Roa informed the gathering about the extensive democratic processes undertaken in Cuba, which involved large sections of the population. He said that change is necessary, but it will be always attached to the people's decision to work and live within the rules of a democratic system that they had chosen. He is the vice president of the Association of Economists and Accountants of Cuba. Betancourt made a detailed account on the economic and social guidelines adopted by the sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba and discussed by the people as an action guide for the coming years.


The final declaration reiterated the demand for lifting the inhuman economic blockade on Cuba; release of the Cuban Five; return of the Guantanamo naval base that rightfully belongs to Cuba; condemned the distorted image of Cuba as presented in the corporate media and expressed its solidarity with Cuban revolution and its people.


The conference concluded with the adoption of Vietnam as the venue for the next regional solidarity conference scheduled in 2014. The delegates thanked the NPC of Sri Lanka for making excellent arrangements for the holding of the conference.


Following the conference, a public meeting was held at Yakkalakele Estate, Horana at the site of the Mahogany tree planted by Che Guevara in August 1959 when he visited Sri Lanka.