This statement was presented at the Cuba/Venezuela/Mexico/U.S. Labor Conference held in Tijuana, Mexico December 7, 8 and 9, 2007
On Oct. 30 the United Nations General Assembly for the sixteenth consecutive time called on the United States to end the criminal U.S. blockade of Cuba. This vote was virtually unanimous. Working people around the world and their unions - many affiliates of the AFL-CIO and ITUC - agree the U.S. blockade of Cuba must end.
Cuba has achieved much that is well known and independently acclaimed - a free universal health care system, free education through university (extended to students from around the world including from the U.S. who study medicine free of charge) - an infant mortality rate unmatched by any U.S. poor community and life expectancy that is equal to that of the United States.
And all workers have job rights in Cuba that are only a dream for most in the United States - first of all the right to have a job and the right to paid time off, the right to housing and utilities, the right to determine production levels, for example. Working women receive one year paid maternity leave and the right to their job when they return. And the workers through their union, the CTC, directly discuss, accept, reject or amend all laws affecting workers and the discussion is at the shop floor level. The CTC has also played a leading role exposing and organizing internationally against the phony Free Trade agreements like NAFTA - which the AFL-CIO also opposes.
And, the U.S. even harbors the terrorists who boast about bombing Cuban civilian airliners and tourist hotels and still supports paramilitaries training to attack Cuba from Florida - while falsely imprisoning five Cuban men who peacefully monitored the activities of these killers in the Miami area. The actions of the Cuban Five, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, and Fernando Gonzalez prevented loss of life in their homeland, Cuba, and other countries.
The International AFL-CIO has unfortunately been a key player advancing U.S. foreign policy against Cuba and still accepts funding through the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS) from the misnamed National Endowment for Democracy.
We call on our union sisters and brothers, AFL-CIO affiliates, and affiliates of the ITUC to demand the AFL-CIO and ITUC leadership:
Stop the U.S. backed slander campaign on the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC), don't use the name of labor to support U.S. anti-Cuba foreign policy.
Tell the U.S. to end the genocidal blockade of Cuba.
Call for the immediate end of the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba so U.S. workers can exchange experiences and ideas with our counterparts in Cuba and visas for CTC representatives to visit the U.S.
Call on union members to join the campaign to free the Cuban Five from U.S. jails.
Say no to the threats to Cuba's sovereignty embodied in the Bush plan "Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba."