Thursday, May 03, 2012

Cuba observes May Day, bemoans global econmic crisis

Cuba observes May Day, bemoans global econmic crisis
By Larry Moonze in Havana, Cuba
Wed 02 May 2012, 09:00 CAT

CUBAN Workers Union general secretary Salvador Valdes Mesa has called for solidarity with those workers worldwide who are victims of the global economic crisis. And for the first time under the socialist revolution Cubans from the nascent private sector joined civil servants in commemorating workers day.

Valdes Mesa, flanked by President Raul Castro who maintained his custom of not addressing the nation on Labour Day, said while there were guarantees for Cuban workers elsewhere workers and other protesters were brutally repressed for demanding their rights.

Valdes Mesa told the hundreds of thousands of marchers who included 1,900 representatives of 209 organizations from 117 countries who attended the parade at Havana's iconic Jose Marti Revolution Square that Cuba's onus was to perfect its socialist system so as to better the living conditions of its citizens.

He said every Cuban worker must put in their best if the country was to increase exports thereby reducing imports as part of the ongoing socio-economic reforms.

Valdes Mesa called for increased food and industrial production on the basis of savings and improving productivity.

"We call on everyone to work with discipline and order as a contribution to the Revolution whose continuity depends on the ability to eradicate our own mistakes including curbing economic crimes such as corruption," he said. "When we raise the flags of unity we show that the homeland, the Revolution and socialism are inextricably merged because unity will be the key to preserving the nation and the economic and social gains."

Valdes Mesa said mobilization was the most genuine expression of support from workers and the general citizenry for the revolutionary regime and its socialist policy.

He congratulated the tens of thousands of workers that in several places around the globe took internationalist missions.

"We send a message of solidarity with workers worldwide who are victims of the global economic crisis and are brutally repressed for demanding their rights," Valdes Mesa said.

He called on the US to immediately end the embargo against Cuba and to also release the Cuban five men (Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez) arrested 13 years ago for infiltrating ultra-rightwing Cuban exiles whom Havana accused of terror activities against the island.

Valdes Mesa said for Cuban workers the May 1 parade was a march for peace and future of humanity.

Gerardo Dominguez, 47, an employee with state telephone company (ETECSA) said Labour Day for the bourgeoisie was something similar to a slap on the face.

He said for Cuban workers May 1 was the greatest thing that ever existed.

"This day has been important all my life," Dominguez said in an interview. "I will keep on cherishing it because I will die a worker. All workers come here in support of the revolution and because here the rights of the worker are guaranteed."

Dominguez said the ongoing economic reforms which the Cuban government refer to as economic updating or adjustment were necessary.

"The adjustments are a necessity in order to preserve the many things we have achieved and overall on the side of internationalism and solidarity we will maintain the principle that we don't give what is in excess but that we share with others the little that we have," said Dominguez.

Another participant who only identified herself as Blanca said the workers parade was a demonstration to the world that Cuban workers were at the centre to finding solutions to socio-economic challenges.

"We are here trying to express our desire to find solutions to the effects of the global crisis and the reorganization of our own economy," she said.

Blanca said with the reforms Cuba could transform herself within 10 years.

"Ten years from today, I wish we get there in the manner we are proceeding, that is in peace without war and hoping also that climate change does not affect us too much and we are not invaded," said Blanca.

And in a sign the reforms have truly taken shape, several hundreds of self-employed Cubans (cuenta propistas) joined the parade.

Oscar Barrero, a chef at La Pachanga Restaurant, said he was overjoyed to join the parade for the first time as a Cuban from the private sector.

"We desire that we all get together and march as we did before as workers under state institutions because we are all Cubans working in different sectors to better our land," he said. "This is an honour."

Barrero said La Pachanga Restaurant located in Havana's Vedado area opened its doors over a year ago and today had 41 employees.

"We are in a marvelous situation," said Barrero. "Businesswise I think we are doing fine. We don't need any state assistance now. We are seeing an upward movement in clients and our biggest challenge is to better service delivery."

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