Year 2001 No. 69, April 20, 2001
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Cuba Wins a Moral Victory over US
Testígos de una Gran Victoria [Witnesses to a Great Victory]
Wishing the LU Workers Success
World Federation Of Trade Unions:
May Day Message
The World in Brief
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Cuba has won a moral victory in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Commission, despite the narrow approval of an anti-Cuba resolution regarding alleged human rights violations on the island.
The vote 22 in favour of the US-sponsored resolution with 20 nations voting against and 10 members abstaining comes after what observers called intense arm-twisting by the US delegation and its allies. Introduced by the Czech Republic, the resolution was designed to condemn the Cuban Revolution among the international community.
Early on the morning of April 18, the Cuban Foreign Ministry issued a statement strongly condemning Washington's delegation at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva for carrying out a campaign of pressure and intimidation.
According to the statement, the United States shamelessly pressured the African member nations of the Commission, in a last-ditch effort to change their votes in favour of their resolution.
Minutes before the vote on the anti-Cuba resolution, the head of Cuba's delegation to the session, Ambassador Carlos Amat, took the stage to highlight the climate of political manipulation and unprecedented pressures that had marked the drafting and final presentation of the document. Amat said that once again, the Human Rights Commission was forced to carry out a shameful action, which damages its credibility and prestige before the international community and leads the world to question the commission's mechanisms and objectives.
Ambassador Amat said it was clear that this practice responded only to the USs own interest, so that Washington could have an excuse to justify the economic and trade blockade imposed on the Cuban people for over forty years. It also served as a pretext, he said, to justify Washington's hegemonic, interventionist and aggressive policy towards Cuba, which has been repeatedly rejected by the international community.
Speaking earlier during a visit to Venezuela by Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spelled out: "We are going to vote against the resolution which seeks to condemn Cuba and also China. We don't think any country in the world should be able to condemn another."
The Venezuelan President said his government supported the idea of defending human rights. But he added the theme had become "extremely politicised" and had lost validity as a result.
After the vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque declared: "Cuba rejects with all its force this spurious attempt to condemn it. Cuba does not feel condemned. Cuba is prouder than ever of its work in favour of human rights." He added: "We feel proud of our true democracy."
The Cuban Foreign Minister said: "We feel proud to fight in a revolution that has never used torture or political assassination, that can never be accused of repressing the people in the streets." Cuba was celebrating its moral victory in the face of Washingtons persecution and psychological torture of developing countries that belong to the commission.
At an event in Conway Hall in Red Lion Square on April 19, described by organisers Cuba Solidarity Campaign as one of the best attended of its kind, over 250 people viewed the premier screening of an impressive Cuban TV produced documentary chronicling the 1961 Battle of Playa Giron. A significant triumph for the Cuban people, the first military defeat of United States backed forces and an event that underscored the declaration of the socialist nature of the Cuban revolution, the film stands as a vital record of this historic episode.
Testígos de una Gran Victoria [Witnesses to a Great Victory], made by Osvaldo Valdéz, a journalist veteran of the battle, features the testimonies of several journalist participants in those dramatic days. Often moving, and described with pride, emotion and loyalty to their homeland and the fervour of the revolutionary situation of the time, the testimonies merged with scenes of Cuban landscape and militia and army mobilisations and action. Throughout, Fidels presence at the heart and head of the military manoeuvres stands out. More than just a record of a battle, the documentary records the emergence of a people, many very young, becoming harmonised with Cubas revolutionary process and ready to defend their countrys sovereignty and independence. Shown without subtitles and screened with the assistance of the Socialist Film Co-operative, the screening was narrated by drama student volunteers Rachel Jeary and Peter Barton whose recital connected them, the audience and the film creating an interactive, powerful and dramatic experience.
Addressing the audience at the films end, Cuban Ambassador José Fernández de Cossio expressed his honour to be amongst people commemorating an episode of four decades ago which retains significance for Cuba and for the countries still dominated by imperialism. The battle was an early example, he recounted, of the countrys determination to defend and maintain its independence and sovereignty. The revolution which had upheld it in 1959 had transformed the Cubans into a people who persevere, who are surviving and creating a just society in which no one is left out or discriminated against, he affirmed.
Referring to the recent United Nations Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva, at which Cuba achieved a moral victory against the machinations of the United States government, he denounced the ideologically and politically based prejudice used to misuse the concept of human rights in order to isolate Cuba as a pretext to attack it. Describing the Cuban governments view on human rights he criticised the deception with which the vulgarisation of the issues sidelined problems of genocide, wars of intervention and aggression, discrimination, police brutality, unemployment, economic hardship, hunger and poverty, all of which require genuine human rights consideration.
Concluding his speech Mr Fernández de Cossio highlighted role of world-wide solidarity, exemplified by the Cuban Solidarity Campaign, which strengthen the Cuban peoples commitment to persevere on their chose path, resolve to never yield, to socialism, and to preserve their independence.
Journalist and writer Victoria Brittain and Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn also made brief speeches.
London Underground workers represented by the Rail Maritime Transport union are set to continue their campaign opposing the Private Public Partnership tube network sell-off. Last months strike will be supplemented by a further 24-hour stoppage to begin May 2.
Although London Mayor Ken Livingstone and Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley plan to challenge the privatisation plans in court on June 12 it is correct that the Tube workers take a stand on this issue. After all they are best placed to understand the tube network, the resources and facilities needed to run it safely and efficiently and to address the publics safety concerns over recent rail crashes.
As the New Labour government persists with its "Third Way" programme of reducing each facet of the national economy to a source of rich picking and plunder for the monopolies so the opposition grows. London Regional Forum wishes the Tube workers success in its campaign against tube privatisation. To achieve success such opposition must now move to the centre stage of political life and plant a genuine alternative as summed up in the workers independent programme to stop paying the rich and increase investments in social programmes.
London Regional Forum on the Mass Party Press
World Federation Of Trade Unions:
On the occasion of the first May Day in the 21st century, the World Federation of Trade Unions conveys its fraternal greetings of international solidarity to working women and men and trade unions the world over. The WFTU wishes them success in their united actions and struggles to secure their basic rights and demands and for a better life, peace and justice for all humankind.
Trade unions all over the world are bravely defending the working people from the onslaughts of neo-liberal globalisation. As the new century dawns, the working people are confronting an aggravation of these onslaughts as well as the worsening global economic and social situation. Financial markets are undermined by the unprecedented speculation. Stock markets have plunged. In their efforts to maintain their global profits, the Big Business monopolies are resorting to more factory closures and dismissals from jobs. They seek a reversal of all the gains of the trade union movement achieved in the last century. Gross violation of trade union rights, including violent repression, kidnapping and assassination of trade unionists, is reported from many countries.
The global Big Business monopolies seek to find a way out of the anarchy and crisis that are endemic in their economic system by further intensifying the exploitation of the working people and by diverting huge resources from the State budget. Thus, while social budgets are being curtailed, arms budgets are increased to boost the profits of the military-industrial complexes. The so-called "missile defence" system of the Bush Administration in the US is estimated to cost over 110 billion dollars. This will further escalate the nuclear arms race, driving up global arms expenditures above one trillion dollars and undermine existing arms control agreements. At the same time, the US Administration wants to torpedo the Kyoto agreements for pollution control and endanger global ecological security.
The resort to double standards continues as before by the US-led NATO countries, thus undermining the role of the United Nations and violating the UN Charter. The gross violation of human rights and the genocidal attacks on the Arab population has become all the more glaring and widespread, in the territories occupied by Israel. Israel continues to refuse to implement UN resolutions calling for its withdrawal while the Israeli government is practising state terrorism against Palestine civilians. The escalation of violence and terror unleashed by Israel shock the working people, the world public opinion and the international community. People s struggles all over the world show that they can no longer tolerate the arrogant and hegemonistic policies of imperialist powers and their accomplices.
Despite the adoption of a Declaration re-affirming basic labour rights, a number of countries including the richest country, USA, did not ratify the ILO conventions on the right of association and collective bargaining. In the industrialised and other countries, an overwhelming majority of workers, especially in the private sector, are denied the right to organise and be represented by a trade union. The global monopolies and the home States of the TNCs thus undermine international labour standards set by the ILO.
National economies are being undermined by the neo-liberal policies of privatisation and liquidation of the state sector and the policies dictated by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank which drain out the financial resources of the developing countries. The colossal debt service on foreign debt continues to drain development resources from countries. Peoples of the world demand an immediate end to the dictatorship of the IMF and World Bank.
The imperialist policies of sanctions and blockades and rampant discrimination as applied against Cuba, Libya, Iraq and many other countries destroy the livelihood of millions of people and deprive them of their basic human rights. World public opinion has strongly denounced the self-proclaimed right of imperialist countries to interfere in the internal affairs of countries and to organise spy flights and other acts of espionage as the United States did recently against the People s Republic of China.
Trade unions the world over demand a sane economic and social policy to advance human development and social progress. There are already agreements reached at the level of the United Nations in this regard: the commitments and programme of action adopted by the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995) in favour of employment for all, and other UN Summits on rights of women, housing, food security, environment and human rights in the 1990s.
As the 14th World Trade Union Congress (New Delhi, March 2000) pointed out, the trade unions and the world public opinion have long demanded and there are international agreements to promote disarmament and create resources for development by reducing arms expenditures. Similarly, there is an increasing demand for a tax on international capital movements that can provide abundant resources for economic and social development and in particular to combat unemployment, poverty, ill health and economic disasters.
Working people the world over and their trade unions must mobilise their forces and act effectively to overcome existing shortcomings in organisation, the decline in membership caused by factory closures, economic restructuring and anti-trade union repression, and to respond to other challenges confronted by the trade unions in the new century.
May Day this year should mark the beginnings of dynamic trade union actions to win workers demands, organising the unorganised and promoting greater co-operation among trade unions and working people and activating the trade union organisations at all levels. In this spirit, the Presidential Council of the WFTU has called for the observance of an International Week of Action from 1 to 7 May 2001 to further strengthen the world campaign against Neo-liberal Globalisation and for jobs for all, against privatisation, in defence of employment security and the economic security of nations and peoples, and for national and international regulation of the activities of transnational business and finance cartels.
The WFTU invites all international, regional, industrial and national trade union centres to find ways to strengthen trade union struggles by building unity at all levels and by establishing an international trade union front to defend the basic rights and interests of the world s working people.
The traditions of May Day are the traditions of militant struggles for workers interests upholding the basic principles of trade union unity and international solidarity. Trade unions of the world must now act decisively to reinforce and re-build this unity and solidarity in order to win demands and contribute to social progress. This is the only way to overcome the divisions and splits caused by the cold war in the last century.
The WFTU appeals to trade unions all over the world to act together in united struggles, in the spirit of globalisation of solidarity, in action for the rights and interests of working people the world over for decent jobs and working conditions, social security for all, an end to militarism and war and peace and security for all humankind.
19-21 April VIETNAM: Communist Party of Vietnam is holding its ninth national congress to outline political, economic course for next ten years and approve leadership changes.
20-22 April CANADA: Third Summit of the Americas takes place in Quebec; 34 heads of state and government from North, Central and South America attend. Large-scale demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
21 April CZECH REPUBLIC: Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan visits for talks with Prime Minister Milos Zeman, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and Senate Chairman Petr Pithart.
22-23 April GERMANY: Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov visits for talks with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on economic and financial affairs.
23 April GERMANY: French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and his German counterpart Joschka Fischer meet in Frankfurt as part of the preparations for French-German summits.
24-25 April IRAN: World-wide non-governmental organisations hold international conference in Tehran in support of the Palestinian intifadah.
25 April VIETNAM: Anniversary of victory of Vietnamese people against US imperialism in 1975.
26 April ARMENIA: CIS collective security meeting.
26-27 April NIGERIA: African summit on AIDS, tuberculosis and other infectious disease held in Abuja. The summit is organised by the UN and Nigeria and will be attended by Kofi Anna, African heads of state, and heads of UN agencies and private sector executives.
28 Apr 5 May KOREA: German parliamentary delegation visits North and South Korea.
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