A huge crowd gathered at the port of Havana to welcome the merchant ship Bahia de Cardenas on January 27. The ship carried much-needed raw materials donated by the Paris book industry trade union and the French Communist Party. The goods, valued at more than $1 million, are destined for the Cuban pharmaceutical and printing industries.
In his address to the welcoming party, French CP leader Paul Jouary, denounced the US blockade of Cuba as a shameful infringement on the right of the Cuban people to self-determination. "This is why thousands and thousands of workers, young people and intellectuals from all walks of life in France decided to join forces so that these medicines and paper could arrive in Cuba."
The French Boat for Cuba Campaign aimed to raise awareness among millions of workers concerning the need for solidarity with the Cuban people. Cuban CP Central Committee member Sergio Corrieri echoed this in his address. The boat was above all symbolic, he said. Nobody helps Cuba out of philanthropy; doing so entails taking a stand on political independence.
"Cuba is not alone, despite the huge, well-funded, systematic evil campaign being waged internationally."
Initiatives similar to the French "Boat for Cuba Campaign" are occurring through 27 organisations in 18 countries, including Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Mexico and even the United States.
In Australia, the Cuba Solidarity Committee has made one of its central projects for 1992 the sending of a merchant ship carrying goods valued at up to $500,000. The initial response from trade unions and peace and solidarity activists has been very positive, with promises of container loads of such things as building materials and unused hospital beds.
The Sydney committee has planned its launch of the Ship to Cuba Campaign for March 27 and a Concert for Cuba on March 28, the proceeds of which will go to the purchase of medical and other equipment.
The concert, to be held at the Graphic Arts Club at 7 p.m., will feature internationally acclaimed folk and blues artist Margret RoadKnight, Kev Carmody, the Solidarity Choir, Canto Libre and Peter Hicks. The producer of the World Music Program on 2SER will DJ the Latin American Dance Party to conclude the evening. Friends of Cuba and lovers of Latin, blues and folk music alike are encouraged to come along and have a great time for a worthy cause.