the 26th July with live music and street theatre at Grey's Monument in
the centre of Newcastle.
RATB activists at the stall
O.P.E.N. - one of the local bands
People at the street celebration enjoy the sunshine and the music
the Cuban Revolution because it was on this date in 1953 that 160
young militants, most of them workers, attacked the Moncada Barracks
in Santiago and the Bayamo Barracks in Oriente. In the words of Raul
Castro, who participated in the attacks:
'It marked the start of an action to transform Cuba's entire
political, economic and social system and put an end to the foreign
oppression, poverty, unemployment, ill health and ignorance that
weighed upon our country and our people' .
Unfortunately the attacks were militarily unsuccessful and half of the
rebels were shot or tortured to death. However, the 26th July marked
the start of a renewed revolutionary struggle against the Batista
dictatorship and ultimately for socialism.
Activists from Rock Around the Blockade organised the event to show
solidarity the with Cuban Revolution and to demand freedom for the
Cuban Five, five men unjustly imprisoned in the United States while
trying to prevent terrorist attacks by right-wing mafia groups based
Playing in support of Cuba were local music groups O.P.E.N and
sau-sage cru as well as many individual MCs. Huge crowds gathered in
the sunshine to appreciate the music. Hundreds of people signed the
petition demanding freedom for the Cuban Five, closure of Guantanamo
Bay and an end to economic sanctions against Cuba.
Next up was Newcastle's first 'hip-hopera', the story of the Cuban
Revolution narrated as a rap. RATB activists and other local actors
used street theatre to tell the story of the Cuban Revolution and the
terrorist attacks against Cuba. They highlighted the hypocrisy of the
'War on Terror', where a known terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, walks
freely in the United States while the Cuban Five remain imprisoned on
bogus spying charges. Luis Posada Carriles is a career narcoterrorist
who spent time in a Venezuelan jail for the 1976 bombing a Cubana
airliner, killing all 73 on board. Whereas the Cuban Five were
infiltrating right-wing terrorist groups in Miami to try and prevent
more deaths due to terrorism. The 'hip-hopera' ended with a
demonstration to free the Cuban Five, with actors holding up images of
the five men.
The Cuban Five were falsely tried
FREE the Cuban Five!
As with many political street events in Newcastle, activists faced
harassment by City Council officers and police. Once again it was a
case of profits before people, as the complaints of one or two local
businesses were put before the views of hundreds of people enjoying
the grassroots culture. Environmental Health Officer Tracy McCann
ordered that the band stop using their drum kit because the sound
level was 'unacceptable'. Apparently she didn't see it as unacceptable
that the cop working with her refused to give his badge number (764)
and physically pushed the police liaison in an attempt to separate him
from the event. Her response to complaints of this unlawful behaviour
was, 'I don't know anything about their law, I only know about my
law'. This sort of erosion of democratic rights is part of a broader
trend which includes increase use of stop and search, 'anti-terror'
laws, harassment of young people in the streets and arbitrary
detention of migrants. It highlights all the more clearly the
difference between socialist Cuba, where people are at the heart of
everything and capitalist Britain where street culture is
criminalised if it doesn't make a profit.