International youth meeting in Cuba says ‘No!’ to US embargo

By Jacob Perasso
August 14, 2023
Some 80 delegates from 30 countries expressed solidarity with the Cuban people and their socialist revolution in Havana May 27. They joined a bicycle caravan along the Malecón seafront boulevard protesting Washington’s trade and financial embargo against Cuba
World Federation of Democratic YouthSome 80 delegates from 30 countries expressed solidarity with the Cuban people and their socialist revolution in Havana May 27. They joined a bicycle caravan along the Malecón seafront boulevard protesting Washington’s trade and financial embargo against Cuba

HAVANA — “Your presence here encourages us and reinforces that Cuba is not alone despite so many attempts to isolate us,” Aylín Álvarez García, first secretary of the National Committee of the Union of Young Communists of Cuba (UJC), told 80 delegates from 30 countries participating here May 24-25 in a Mission of Solidarity: Global Youth Stand with Cuba. It was organized by the UJC and the World Federation of Democratic Youth.

Delegates represented youth organizations of Communist Parties and other organizations with the declared aim of fighting imperialism. The General Council of the federation met following the solidarity mission.

Álvarez condemned the economic war on Cuba. “They seek a surrender they will never have,” she said. Mirthia Julia Brossard Oris, head of UJC International Relations, said the aim of the solidarity mission was to bring young people closer to the reality the Cuban people face and to show what they are doing to overcome the obstacles.

Delegates joined a bicycle caravan along the Malecón seafront boulevard in Havana to protest Washington’s brutal embargo on Cuba, which affects all economic and social life here. Hundreds chanted in solidarity with the Cuban people and in defense of their revolution.

The embargo has been maintained by every Democratic and Republican Party administration since Cuban workers and farmers overthrew the U.S.-backed Fulgencio Batista dictatorship 64 years ago. Washington fears that workers and farmers elsewhere will be inspired by the socialist revolution here. The U.S. rulers want to crush the example of wresting political power from the capitalist class, and taking over the running of industry, the land and the banks. The revolution gave working people confidence in their own capacities to transform and lead society.

A highlight of the solidarity mission was a visit to the Center of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Dr. Manuel Raíces Pérez-Castañeda gave a presentation on medical conquests the center has achieved, including creating several effective vaccines against COVID-19.

He pointed to a rapid decline in hepatitis B cases in Cuba, especially among children from 1992 to 2009. “This kind of massive health achievement is only possible because of the Cuban Revolution,” he said. “We have the political will to treat the entire people and have a medical system not based on profits.”

Delegates toured the Solidarity with Panama School for Children with Disabilities, which serves 225 children with physical and mental disabilities. The school has a staff of 147, including 87 specialists and four doctors.

It opened in 1989 during the rectification process in Cuba, a powerful political reorientation for the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro. Rectification reversed years of adaptation to Stalinist policies copied from the Soviet Union that had resulted in the growth of a privileged petty-bourgeois layer of administrators whose course was leading to what Castro described as “a system worse than capitalism.”

The school was named as the people of Panama faced Washington’s invasion in 1989 that imposed a government more compliant with U.S. interests.

WFDY General Council meeting

At a seminar organized in conjunction with the WFDY General Council meeting, many delegates expressed solidarity with Cuba. Some spoke about the class struggle in their own countries.

Vicky Mahesari, representing the All India Students’ Federation, described how the victorious 13-month-long fight by farmers to win the repeal of Indian government legislation removing price guarantees they rely on won broad solidarity across the country and around the world. “This fight gave hope not only to farmers but also to the workers and youth as it showed that it is possible to organize a fight that can overcome divisions of religion and caste, and win.”

“Politics isn’t left against right, it’s the working class against the capitalist class,” said Samir Hazboun, representing the Young Socialists in the U.S.

 “The Biden administration and the Democratic Party are leading an attack on constitutional political rights,” said Hazboun. “We oppose the U.S. rulers’ use of the FBI, their political police, and any assaults on freedoms, including the violation of former President Donald Trump’s constitutional rights. History shows any such attacks always get turned against the working class.”

“In the U.S. and beyond, a decadeslong retreat by the working class and unions has come to an end. More and more workers are saying, ‘Enough is enough!’ They’ve begun to use the collective power of the exploited producers in response. The working class can strengthen itself through the battles our class is waging today,” he said. “We join in building struggles.”

The World Federation of Democratic Youth was formed in the aftermath of World War II to advance Moscow’s foreign policy aims. In the 1990s, led by the UJC and Fidel Castro, the federation’s membership was opened to broader participation. Its most important activity is organizing the World Festival of Youth and Students every few years, which draw thousands of young people interested in the fight against imperialism.

WFDY President Aritz Rodríguez, from the Communist Youth Union of Spain, said he and other WFDY leaders are pursuing possible host countries for the next festival.

The General Council meeting adopted a resolution of solidarity with Cuba, calling on “the government of the United States to lift immediately, once and for all, the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba.

“Cuba is an example for the working class and its youth of the world in the struggle against capitalism in its imperialist stage.”

 Samir Hazboun contributed to this article.