[Marxism] LONDON, UK: Ken plans Trafalgar Square street party

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 29 10:16:34 MST 2006

(This is a politically hostile report of what looks like it could be
a terrific event if it survives the inevitable campaign against it in
the rightist media, both locally and internationally. Fortunately,
the normal relations which exist between the United Kingdom 
and Cuba will facilitate such public discussions and debates as 
are likely to take place in the run-up to this activity. Indeed,
the attacks have already begun in earnest against this in London.)

Daily Mail
Ken plans Trafalgar Square street party 
to celebrate 50 years of Castro 
Last updated at 13:05pm on 28th December 2006 

Ken Livingstone is planning a "massive festival" across London to
celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution.

The event, to be staged in 2009, will involve street parties, sports
venues and some of London's leading museums as well as the closure of
Trafalgar Square.

Although the Mayor's office refused to provide budget estimates, it
could cost up to £2 million.

The festival was agreed on the Mayor's controversial trip to Cuba
last month. But Mr Livingstone's lavishing of public money to honour
one of the last dictatorships in Latin America was condemned today.

"Forking out to celebrate a totalitarian regime is a choice that most
Londoners will find bizarre," said Angie Bray, leader of the
Conservative group on the London Assembly.

"The Mayor associates himself with some of the most odious people
around and it's Londoners who are being asked to pay out. Sooner or
later, there will be a reckoning."

Speaking at a recent public meeting at Central Hall, Westminster, Mr
Livingstone said: "We've got the backing of the Cuban government for
a massive festival to celebrate 50 years of justice in Cuba."

According to human rights organisations, Cuba is one of two countries
in the Americas (the other being Haiti) where political freedom is
completely curtailed. The British Government singles out Cuba as one
of only two Latin American states which is of "major human rights

There are 33 countries in the Americas. The bi-partisan US
foundation, Freedom House, classifies 22 of them as "free", nine as
"partly free", and two, Cuba and Haiti, as "not free.

Political parties, other than the Communist Party, are prohibited in
Cuba, as are free trade unions. Freedom of expression is banned and,
according toAmnesty International, there are 70 prisoners of

There is no press freedom and Cuban citizens are not allowed to
travel freely - they are also affected by a US economic blockade.

Severe racism against Cuba's black minority is reported by human
rights monitors.

Mr Livingstone said: "The Cuban revolution of 1959 was an
extraordinary event not just for Cuba but for the region as a whole
and I have never concealed my support for this fact.

"There is no reason why Cuba should be singled out for controversy
except for people coming at international issues from a very
Right-wing perspective."

The Mayor pointed to Cuba's "excellent healthcare", high literacy
rate and "Cuban sporting prowess" as reasons to celebrate.

Mr Castro assumed power on 1 January 1959, after a three-year
military conflict between his guerrillas and the army of the then
Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista.

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