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Issue #1695      July 29, 2015

Victories out of resilience

Final Statement of the National Consultation of Australia-Cuba Friendship Societies

This 2015 national consultation of the Australia Cuba Friendship Societies, held in Sydney on June 6-7, 2015 with delegates from Perth, Adelaide, Tasmania, Melbourne, Albury, Newcastle, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as international participants from Auckland, New Zealand and Dili, East Timor, made the following declaration:

We join with the Cuban people and government in celebrating the great victory of the recent release of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, members of the Cuban Five who were unjustly imprisoned in the United States for 16 years. This coincided with the victory in opening negotiations on the normalising of relations between Washington and Havana on December 17, 2014.

These victories come out of the resilience of the Cuban people in resisting economic, military and political aggression against their country for over half a century, as well as the great moral standing of Cuba in the world due to its international solidarity, which has won worldwide support for the Cuban revolution.

We were privileged to have a special guest, Kenia Serrano Puig, President of ICAP and member of the National Assembly of Cuba attend our consultation. Also attending his first ACFS national consultation was José Manuel Galego Montano, the new Cuban Ambassador to Australia.

It is encouraging to see the recent steps made to improve diplomatic dialogue between the Australian government and Cuban government over the “Yes, I Can” literacy campaign in rural NSW.

Further, we welcome the formation of Parliamentary Groups on Cuba, nationally and within states, as well as recent steps to advance Australian governmental and trade relations with Cuba.

We call for the establishment of an Australian Embassy in Havana to further advance these relations.

We strongly condemn the ongoing US blockade of Cuba, which is having damaging effects on the Cuban people and economy. We highlight the continued opposition to the blockade by the overwhelming majority of nations including Australia by resolution at the United Nations. We call on the Australian government to continue to oppose the blockade and to add its voice to those calling for the lifting of the economic blockade.

We also call on the US government to return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, which rightfully belongs to the Cuban people and represents a legacy of the unjust Platt amendment of 1903. Washington must stop all its subversive programs aimed at regime change in Cuba.

ACFS reiterates its unconditional support for the Cuban training program for medical students from third world countries, as well as internationalist volunteer doctors from Cuba fanning out around the globe, whether leading the fight against Ebola in West Africa or treating victims of the Nepal earthquake long after the media spotlight has turned elsewhere. This unequalled internationalist record is worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Further, we urge all Australian unions, political parties and community organisations, as well as the Australian government, to fully support these programs.

We have resolved to establish formalised connections with Australian unions under the banner “Unions for Cuba” and will investigate how to best set up those connections in the coming year.

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