Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 0171 627 0599
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Call of RCPB(M-L) on the coming election
Unite Against the Danger Posed by the "Unity of the Left with the Centre"
The role of Workers' Weekly in the struggle against the danger of the "left" uniting with the "centre"
The Danger of the Forthcoming Electoral Coup
May Day belongs to the Working Class Not to the Bourgeoisie!
Actions Against the Anti-Social Offensive
No to Foreign Intervention in Albania!
Review of PCA Pamphlet by Hardial Bains - The Question Is Really One of Word and Deed
2nd International Co-ordinating Committee Held
World Festival of Youth and Students - Cuba - July 28-August 5, 1997
Interview with Representative of the Communist Party of Albania
FACED with deepening and all round crisis, unable to provide for the people, yet determined to maintain its pursuit of profit no matter what the consequences, the British capitalist class is preparing through the May 1 election to perpetrate one of its greatest ever deceptions on the people.
In 1979 it carried through a previous deception. Through the Thatcherite "coup", the rich launched a massive anti-social offensive against the people centred around dismantling the welfare state. Now it can no longer carry this offensive by means of a Conservative government. Eighteen years of Thatcherism have only resulted in deeper crisis, including a serious credibility crisis of the parliamentary system. It has to carry its offensive, to seek to maintain its system, by finding a new way to deceive the people.
The capitalist class has prepared this new deception carefully and over a long period, using all the apparatus of the state, all the power of the monopolies, including their vast propaganda machinery. The deception has consisted of preparing a Labour Party for power which will both carry through the offensive against the interests of the people initiated by Thatcher, yet attempt to fool large sections of them that here is something new which will serve their interests. To prepare for power the Labour Party has moved to the right, it has eliminated everything remotely socialist from its programme, it has taken the name New Labour, and it now presents itself as a party of the "unity of the left with the centre". It claims that it will govern from the centre and represent everyone bar a small right-wing of hereditary peers and exceedingly rich. Any illusions about this claim, that New Labour represents the interests of the vast majority, any illusions that New Labour is a "lesser evil" as some on the left are claiming, are bound to be rudely shattered when New Labour comes to power.
New Labour in power will carry through the agenda set by the big monopolies. It will step up the anti-social offensive, it will more and more make social problems into "law and order" problems, it will further destroy the national economy. In a step back even from Thatcherism, New Labour is calling on workers to unite behind their employers, to forge a partnership with employers and government to make Britain number one in a globalised economy. It is an agenda not only doomed to fail, but can lead only to further devastation, to division and even to war on a world scale. It is a call for the workers to line up behind the blackest reaction, to give up their struggles for their rights and interests, to hand over their destiny to their exploiters rather than take up an independent programme in their own interests and those of the whole of society. Such is the danger facing the working class and people from this "unity of the left with the centre".
There is a way out of the crisis, but it does not lie in the working class and people entrusting the solution of the problems of society to a party whose popularity has been built up precisely in order to prolong an outdated parliamentary system where they have no say over the direction of society. The way out of the crisis lies in a programme which puts the needs and empowerment of the people at the centre, not the needs and interests of "business" and maximum profit.
Our Party calls on all workers and progressive forces to oppose this attempt by the capitalist class to use the election in this way to carry through its attacks on the interests of the people. Specifically it is proposing that the left and progressive forces use the election period to develop political unity against the danger posed by the "unity of the left with the centre", irrespective of any ideological differences. In addition it considers that the election period should be used to raise the necessity for and elaborate an independent programme through which the working class can lead society out of the crisis and turn around the anti-social offensive, opening the way to a new socialist society for which the times cry out.
The capitalist class is clearly pleased with its plan so far. But it may yet find that it provokes a tide of opposition which will sweep it and its system away.
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The role of Workers' Weekly in the struggle against the danger
of the "left" uniting with the "centre"
Workers' Weekly is the central instrument of RCPB(ML) in its work, the scaffolding around which the Party is built in the course of waging the class struggle.
The stand of RCPB(ML) on the election requires Workers' Weekly, its central organ, to be distributed on a wide scale. One of the aims of the Party is to alert the broad section of the working class and the broad masses of the people to the danger of the election organised by the bourgeoisie as a coup against the people. The activists of the Party will go all out to distributeWorkers' Weekly on this front. An equally important necessity is to highlight and give a profile to the independent programme of the working class, to differentiate the "left" from the "centre", and show that the future lies in the working class going for socialism. Workers' Weekly will take up this responsibility to delineate the independent programme of the working class and to work for the unity of the "left" to oppose the danger posed by the "unity of the left with the centre".
As well as striving to put Workers' Weekly in the service of organising the working class as a powerful force to hammer open the door to a new society, to a socialist system and to unite the people to fight for their rights and interests, Workers' Weekly calls on anyone who stands opposed to the election coup organised by the bourgeoisie to join in the selling of the paper, to contribute their views and experiences, and to work militantly for the paper to be discussed among the workers, women and the youth. The activists of the Party will be going all out in this respect.
This election puts an important duty before the Party and Workers' Weekly, and its central programme to Improve the Content, Extend the Readership will flourish in so far as this duty is carried out. In this way the opposition to the anti-social offensive and the struggle for a socialist system will take definite steps forward.
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THE MAY 1 election is taking place at a time of deepening and all-round crisis of the capitalist social and economic system. Every "solution" coming from the government has only added to the mounting problems faced by the working class and people, while facilitating the pursuit of maximum profit by the monopolies and the banks. The election is taking place when the agenda of the capitalists of privatisation and dismantling of the welfare state is in crisis.
In these circumstances, the May 1 election is being organised by the capitalist class as a massive blow against the people, a coup to keep the capitalists in power and to prolong the capitalist onslaught. What does this mean and how is it being organised?
It can be seen that the people want a fundamental change. They want an end to the crisis that is besetting every aspect of their lives and of society. Crucially they want to be able to make the decisions as to how society is run, and are at the end of their tether about how unrepresentative of their interests the parliamentary system has become.
In the face of these developments, the election has been prepared well in advance as a trap for the people, as a coup organised by the bourgeoisie against the working class and people. The electorate is being called upon to go to the polling stations and place their vote as the highest expression of democratic participation. However, where the working class and people vote for change with the ballot box in this election, what they will actually get in return is more of the same in the shape of a Labour Party which actually claims to be a coalition of those forces of the "left" with those of the "centre". No problem will be solved in the interests of the working class and the vast majority of the people. Rather the Labour Party hopes to consolidate this coalition of "left" with "centre" as a form of government which will pursue with even greater vigour the class interests of the rich, while claiming to govern from the centre and represent everyone, and will disorientate various sections of the people as to where their interests lie. This is the great danger for the workers and the broad mass of the people.
It is the case that the Labour Party long ago hauled down the red flag. At the same time, it is still being supported by certain "socialists", particularly on the grounds that, though it now stands opposed to socialism, at least it presents a "lesser evil" to the Tory Party. New Labour is also claiming the support of workers and concerned sections of the people on the basis that it speaks for "labour" and for those who find themselves at the sharp end of the anti-social offensive. Thus a rosy but confused picture is being created about this centre ground and about the "decent and just society" that this unity of the "left" with the "centre" is supposed to bring into being. All these illusions about New Labour are bound to be shattered sooner or later when it comes to power.
The working class and people are being asked to hand over their interests, their struggle and their future to New Labour. They are further being urged to support a "partnership with employers and government" in order to make Britain "great" and take it into the 21st century. This is the most dangerous thing they can do.
It is so because the trap of bringing New Labour to power is being sprung to block and divert the working class and people from developing a broad and powerful movement against the anti-social offensive and to finding the way out of the crisis. It is being sprung to prevent the people from developing their political initiatives and bringing about a renewal of democracy where the people are the sovereign power. It is being sprung so that the capitalist class can step up its onslaught against the people and attempt to snuff out the independent programme of the working class and prevent it from taking centre stage, leading the way out of the crisis and ushering in socialism, a new society fit for human beings.
The danger of the excitement around the election of New Labour is that it covers over that the problems facing the people because of the capitalist crisis are not being dealt with, so that cut-backs in education, health care and other social programmes, increasing poverty and unemployment, homelessness, the breakdown of the social fabric of society, attacks on women and young people all of these problems will continue and be exacerbated. The way out of the crisis lies in the people uniting around and fighting for a programme which is the precise opposite of what the Conservatives have been pursuing. This is a programme which puts the interests of the people and providing for their needs at the centre and not the needs and interests of "business", "maximum profit" or "competing in the global market". The banner of "unity of the left with the centre" aims to sabotage precisely this programme.
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MOST PROVOCATIVELY, the British bourgeoisie is organising its election on May Day. Having brought in the most draconian laws to try and stop the workers organising and having tried to eliminate May Day as the day that belongs to the working class and its struggle for emancipation, the bourgeoisie has the gall to use this day as a culmination of their coup to prolong their onslaught against the people and continue with their programme of the anti-social offensive and putting the interests of the financial oligarchy in the first place. They think they are so clever that by using May Day they can get workers to acclaim this coup as their own.
May Day is the International Day of the Working Class, when workers affirm their interests, when they declare their own agenda, that the future lies with socialism and their solidarity with workers of all lands in this same struggle. This has always been the theme of the most advanced sections of the British working class and has run throughout their May Day celebrations, of marches, meetings, strikes and struggles, year after year.
This May Day, we call on workers to take a stand against the pathetic calls for the "unity of the left with the centre" as a manoeuvre of the bourgeoisie to prolong its system for a few more years. On May Day, workers proclaim their own independent programme providing their own solutions to the problems of society, for the creation of a new society.
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In recent weeks health workers and community organisations in East London have been among the people throughout the country who are taking action against the anti-social offensive. Those forces in East London for example have been holding marches, rallies and meetings in campaigns in opposition to the attacks on local health services, the withdrawal of resources, the planned further cuts, and against privatisation of services. These actions are set to continue and to grow in scope and depth.
The East London Branch of RCPB(ML) has participated in these events, raising the economic and political context in which these attacks are being made, that the wealth of this country is going to the rich and being taken away from social programmes, and raising the question of how the movement should be built to be effective in securing the future for a health service that has the funding that will meet people's needs.
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The Question Is Really One of Word and Deed
THE Progressive Cultural Association (PCA) released the pamphlet The Question Is Really One of Word and Deed by Hardial Bains at the end of January. The publication comprises the final text of the speech delivered by Hardial Bains, the National Leader of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), at the meeting organised by PCA in December last year, "In Commemoration of Cornelius Cardew, 1936-1981".
The pamphlet is a very fitting tribute to Cornelius Cardew, an accomplished composer and musician with an international reputation, who was secretary of PCA as well as being a member of the Central Committee of RCPB(ML). Hardial Bains himself has been and still very much continues to be closely associated with the joint work of PCA and the Canadian Cultural Workers' Committee. Cornelius Cardew had been active in this collective work from 1978 until his untimely death at the hands of a hit-and-run driver in the winter of 1981. The published paper deals with the work and the personality of Cornelius Cardew in the framework of this collective work and in the framework of the proletarian movement for emancipation, to which Cornelius dedicated his life and all of his energies.
The speech by Hardial Bains is very important in setting Cornelius Cardew's contribution in its proper perspective. While never straying from its subject it takes in all relevant issues with an amazing breadth. It demonstrates that such a person as Cornelius cannot be detached from the movement of the working class for its emancipation, and that to attempt to do so distorts his personality. The pamphlet is particularly vivid in bringing out how cultural workers must plunge into this struggle, as Cornelius did, fighting for the better part of his adult life for the opening of the path for the progress of society. In this regard, the pamphlet makes the very important point that, being a political and a cultural worker, professional in both fields, Cornelius was acutely aware that the most important manifestation of culture, besides other forms, is ideological and social, and that paying attention to culture in these forms has been one of the key features of the collective work of PCA/CCWC.
The pamphlet deals with the issue of culture in social and ideological form in detail and with great profundity. What emerges from its pages is that the relationship of a person to the class struggle going on in the society is a key one. Any person living in the advanced capitalist societies at this time is faced with either remaining on the margins of life or working for a socialised society. A person working in the cultural sphere can no less afford to be aloof from the revolutionisation of life in such a way than any other person engaged in production and reproduction of real life.
In the course of his presentation, Hardial Bains deals with the various negative trends in the cultural sphere in this present period of profound crisis, but also with what characteristics are required of music, literature and art which will assist in opening the door to progress in these conditions. He elucidates what is the place of a progressive activist today in the field of culture in relation to the collective. In this respect, the author points to the gaping chasm between word and deed which is the characteristic of a capitalist, of a reactionary, while the life of a proletarian, a revolutionary, is an integral whole, with word and deed profoundly one in all aspects.
The Question Is Really One of Word and Deed is extremely impressive in its sweep and inspiration. It is essential reading for all engaged in cultural work or who are interested in understanding the work of Cornelius Cardew and his contribution, as well as anyone who is seeking themselves to make a contribution to the movement for the emancipation of the working class and all humanity. The pamphlet is illustrated with photos of Cornelius Cardew and of the commemoration meeting on December 21, 1996. See the advert below for details of how to obtain a copy.
The Question Is really One of Word and Deed
Price £1.50 (Plus 50p P&P) (Cheques and postal orders to Workers' Publication Centre)
ISBN 0 9530083 0 4
Published by the Progressive Cultural Association as a 24-page pamphlet.
It can be obtained by writing to the:
Progressive Cultural Association, c/o 170, Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LA,
Or by calling in at John Buckle Books at the same address.
Or by using the submit form from these pages
The UN Security Council late on Friday, March 28, by a 14 to 0 vote with China abstaining, authorised the sending of an Italian-led military force to Albania to guard food supplies and to "help create a secure environment for the missions of international organisations in Albania". The mandate of the force approved by the UN but not under its auspices runs for three months at which time the Security Council can decide to extend it. Among those willing to send troops are France, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Romania and Austria, in addition to Italy. Diplomats compared the status of the force to the US-led operation to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Military intervention had been requested both by President Sali Berisha and the newly installed "National Unity Government", in which the opposition parties have joined Berisha's Democratic Party. The decision to send troops follows the decision by the OSCE to establish a civilian mission to support "democracy" and elections planned for June.
Workers' Weekly condemns the sending of foreign troops to Albania. It believes that all peace and justice loving people should demand that all foreign interference in Albania, both political and military, should cease and the Albanian people be left to settle their own affairs.
The fact is that the anarchy and chaos which has developed in Albania in the 1990s has been a direct result of foreign big power interference, and further interference will only exacerbate this situation. It was the United States, Canada, Britain and the other European Union powers who insisted that Albania sign the Paris Charter and commit itself to the "free market" economy, pluralism, and human rights based on private property. They promised that this would bring the Albanian people freedom and prosperity. As everyone knows, it brought no such thing. It brought them an oppressive government which ruled by decree, keeping power last year by rigged elections. All manner of foreign "advisors" sat at the highest levels, including many British. It brought them poverty and destitution, drugs, gangsterism, all the evils of capitalism. The final straw was the people being fleeced of their life savings, as had happened widely in Eastern Europe, this time by fraudulent "pyramid" schemes which the government both sanctioned and benefited from. Throughout, the opposition Socialist, Social Democratic and other parties had confined their protests to calling for more rigid adherence to the principles of capitalist democracy, when everything cried out that it was capitalist democracy itself which was bringing such disasters.
Quite justly the people came out onto the streets in protest. They rose up against the Berisha regime. Students went on hunger strike demanding that the people get their money back and Berisha resign. The response of the government was tanks and guns. But hardly a whimper of protest came from the foreign powers. Whereas when in neighbouring Serbia President Milosevic had sent police with batons against demonstrators protesting against rigged elections there were howls of protest, here there were none against "their man" Berisha.
When President Sali Berisha first sent armed troops and tanks against the people, there was some finger wagging from politicians in Britain and elsewhere, but it was repeatedly said that Albania was reverting to its communist past. This was straight falsification. There was no occasion, and no serious commentator ever claimed there was an occasion, when the administrations of Enver Hoxha's time ever sent troops and tanks against the Albanian people. Quite the contrary. For 45 years under socialism Albania was run in the interests of the workers, the peasants, the intelligentsia. The rule of law guaranteed these interests. There was all-round development of the economy, education and culture. There were no rich and poor. Exploitation had been eliminated. The country was independent, free from foreign control. Visitors of all political persuasions commented on the extraordinary calm and civilised atmosphere. The police were unarmed. The actions of Berisha were in truth reminiscent of the so-called "Western" countries or countries under their direct influence.
In short, it has been foreign interference which brought anarchy and chaos to Albania and it is further foreign interference, particularly military interference, which will only make matters worse. Albania, though small, occupies a strategic position. It has important raw materials, particularly chrome and oil. It is thus a target of big power rivalry, with Germany and, to a lesser extent, Britain on one side; the US, Italy and other powers on the other. It is the Albanian people who suffer the consequences of this rivalry.
All foreign interference in Albania must cease if peace and stability are to return to Albania. No foreign troops should be sent. President Berisha should resign and the peoples' money be returned. Above all, the Albanian people must be left to sort out their own affairs.
In particular we condemn the British government. It has been an implacable enemy of the sovereignty and freedom of the Albanian people over 50 years and more. When the Albanian people won liberation in the struggle against the Italian fascists and the German Nazis during the World War Two, they also had to contend with the sabotage of the Anglo-Americans. At this time, the British government is playing its cards close to its chest and letting others stick their necks out. Nonetheless it has been a prime mover in the foreign interference which has brought about the present situation in Albania, and is now waiting in the wings to seize its advantage.
Workers' Weekly is sure that the Albanian people, left to themselves, will resolve their problems. They have done so in the past and they will do so now. Already "Citizens Committees of Salvation" have been set up in cities in the south. The communists are once more in the forefront of the struggle. These developments have struck fear into the hearts of the foreign imperialists, a British diplomat referring to the Committees as "Soviets" which must be eliminated if what he claimed to be "democracy" is to be restored. Albania has an educated working class and a patriotic peasantry. Led by the working class the Albanian people can carry through another peoples revolution, in which defence of their own interests would be put in the first place, and restore Albania to an independent and socialist course. Workers and all peace and justice loving people must support this.
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We are reprinting below an interview with a representative of the Communist Party of Albania (CPA) conducted at the beginning of March. The interview was printed in La Nostra Lotta, newspaper of the Central Committee of the Organisation of the Communist Party of the Proletariat of Italy, March 1997.
The communists were in the forefront of the national liberation war in Albania, in the building of socialism and the defence of an independent course. When the People's Socialist Republic of Albania fell and the Party of Labour of Albania (PLA) was taken over by social democrats, thousands of communists continued the struggle against all the odds. They organised themselves into the CPA and took up the task to establish an independent state for the well-being of the Albanian people. Now the struggle of the Albanian people for their independence and national reconciliation has entered a new phase, the CPA is in the forefront of the struggle. Workers' Weekly wishes the communists in the CPA and the Albanian people success in their historic struggle.
Q: What are the causes that have provoked this great movement of struggle?
CPA: The collapse of the financial schemes is due to the enemy of the people, Sali Berisha, but this has only been the spark of the crisis. This past year the social climate has become explosive due to the collapse of almost all economic activity, the crisis of education, the failure to pay pensions, the mass unemployment, the lack of goods of prime necessity, the fall in living standards in general.
Q: What is the political content of this popular movement?
CPA: We are undoubtedly dealing with a popular struggle against all the pro-U.S. policies of Sali Berisha. Certainly in this movement all the anti-Berisha forces are represented, however this is a struggle which on the economic and social level pursues popular objectives, it is a defense of the fundamental interests of the masses.
On the political level, freedom, national sovereignty, real democracy for the people.
Q: What is, in general, the situation of your party?
CPA: Last summer, the party held a Congress (as did its youth organisation) in the conditions of absolute illegality imposed by Berisha who has used all possible means of violence. Two comrades of the Central Committee were arrested for the simple possession of political materials and sentenced to three and a half years of imprisonment. The Communist Party of Albania follows the line of Comrade Enver Hoxha, for socialism, liberty and independence. Lately the party has been greatly strengthened and is present throughout the country, especially in the south and in the big cities in general, and it is increasing its membership among the youth.
Q: What is the ideological situation of the Albanian masses?
CPA: It has undergone a major change. We had an optimal situation, despite some negative phenomena, in 1985 at the time of the death of Comrade Enver Hoxha. With the transformation of the PLA into the Socialist Party, reformism has been spread, which opened the way to the "democratic" reaction of Berisha.
There were great illusions about what capitalism would bring, but after the fraudulent election of Berisha in 1992 the masses very quickly changed their minds.
Q: What role is the Socialist Party of Albania playing?
CPA: This party has betrayed the ideals of Socialism and Communism and the interests of our homeland. It is linked to big European capital and has good relations with U.S. imperialism. It also has unofficial relations with the party of Berisha (who these days is using Serbian mercenaries) and is engaged with the counter-revolution. This is becoming ever more evident to the people.
Nonetheless the Albanians love liberty and our homeland, and the immortal examples of Skanderbeg and Enver Hoxha are in our hearts and memory.
Q: What is the perspective of this struggle, which serves as an example to all the peoples of Europe and the world?
CPA: The important thing is that this movement should extend to all countries.
Our people should get rid of the influence of the traitors of the Socialist Party, that conspires with every intrigue, the world reaction is preparing a foreign military intervention.
Our Communist Party should become the leading force of the Albanians, [...] in the name freedom and social justice.
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World Festival of Youth and Students - Cuba - July 28-August 5, 1997
The second meeting of the International Coordinating Committee for the 14th World Festival of Youth and Students was held in Havana, Cuba from Feb. 19-22. The meeting, hosted by the Cuban National Preparatory Committee (NPC) for the Festival, was attended by 133 participants from 55 countries and representatives of different regional and international organisations. It followed the first meeting, held in New Delhi in October, in working out the plan for the Festival, which will open on July 28 in Havana and close on August 5.
Over the four days, participants discussed the state of preparations at the national, regional and international level for the Festival. A total of 46 countries have stated their interest to be part of the preparatory process for the Festival or have begun preparations. Due to the growing interest amongst youth and students from around the world to participate in the Festival, the meeting, with the approval of the Cuban NPC, took the decision to accept the maximum number of delegates that can be accommodated, setting aside the previous limit established of 5,000 people.
The meeting approved a general programme for the festival, the draft of which was worked out at the New Delhi preparatory meeting. This programme includes holding 13 political discussion centres on topics such as: democracy and participation; employment; childhood; young women; international youth and students movement; discrimination, racism and neo-fascism; human rights; education, science & technology. As well, separate sectoral group meetings will be held for indigenous youth and students, workers and trade unionists, journalists and artists, religious youth, parliamentarians, entrepreneurs and professionals, and rural youth. The programme of the Festival will also include visits to over 50 different educational, cultural and scientific institutions throughout Cuba, along with visits to 13 provinces.
Participants also discussed transportation arrangements; Cubana Airlines had originally guaranteed the transport of 2,600 participants from around the world to Cuba. Given the growing amount of interest, and following discussions with representatives from the different regions of the world, Cubana increased this number to over 5,500, including provisions for special charter flights from Canada, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. Cubana will be charging cost-only rates for the flights, and the government of Cuba has announced it will waive the $16 US airport tax for all delegates to the Festival. Transportation arrangements will be finalised on a country by country basis during March.
The fourth item discussed on the agenda was fund-raising. An International Financial Committee, comprised of five different NPCs has been established to oversee this work. Already, the Cuban NPC has launched a nation-wide fund-raising campaign and to date the Cuban people have contributed 5 million pesos and US$55,000. Other countries are gearing up for fund-raising activities, including campaigns to bring material goods to Cuba for the Festival. An International Solidarity Fund, which is to assist delegates from poorer countries to come to the Festival has been established, and raising US$1,000,000 has been established as the minimum goal.
Victoria Velasquez, leader of the Union of Young Communists of Cuba (UJC), said in her speech at the closing ceremony that through the Festival, Cuba was "opening its doors to the youth and students of the world". She extended an invitation to all youth and students to participate, saying, "In the summer of 1997, we want the youth and students of the world to come to Cuba and feel as if they are coming home."
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