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by Bonifacio Inkana
Friday, Aug. 15, 2008 at 2:19 PM
L.A. activists refuse to buckle under cowardly intimidation Despite an organized attempt by anti-communist reactionaries to shut down a July 26 Cuba Celebration in Los Angeles.
photo__ian_thompson.jpg, image/jpeg, 200x150
Nearly 300 people came out to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Moncada attack and to honor Cuba’s ongoing socialist revolution. The 1953 attack against the Moncada military barracks, led by Fidel Castro, was the opening salvo of the Cuban revolution.
July 26 fundraiser, Los Angeles, July 26, 2008
Community members and activists celebrate the Cuban
revolution, Los Angeles, July 26.
The event was billed as a "Noche Cubana" party, political forum and fundraiser for the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five.
The right-wing Cuban exile community in Los Angeles, which had been unseen at political events for around 10 years, launched a full-scale mobilization against the event in the weeks before it happened. They pressured the venue operators by threatening to call local building inspectors, intimidating the owners and calling the police to warn them about the "dangerous" political event. The right-wingers claimed the Noche Cubana was a public nuisance. They also placed a large advertisement in a local free Cuban paper to come "denounce" the event.
The entire stir caused the venue owners initially to cancel the event, which is what the right-wingers wanted. But after long negotiations, lasting until 30 minutes before the doors opened on July 26, the operators allowed the pro-Cuba event to happen.
At that time, ANSWER and Free the Five organizers discovered that the right-wing Cubans had threatened to bomb the event and bring weapons in to disrupt it. The terrorist group Alpha 66 has an outpost in the Los Angeles area. In addition, a woman called the ANSWER office and said friend in Miami had told her not to attend the Noche Cubana because "there was going to be trouble at that event."
Although the veracity of these threats and statements could not be determined, the organizers took immediate action, putting extra precautions into place and creating an organized security apparatus to defend against any right-wing attacks.
The terrorist threats did not materialize into violence, but the right-wingers did mobilize about 40 protesters across the street from the Noche Cubana. They passed out an outrageous flyer equating revolutionary leaders Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez with Osama bin Laden. It was a relatively well-organized campaign for a small and otherwise pathetic group of right-wing anti-communists.
After about one hour, the right-wing Cubans disbanded. They were clearly demoralized by the throngs of people—young and old, from all different backgrounds—attendin g the July 26th event.
Inside the pro-Cuba celebration, progressives and revolutionaries discussed Venezuela, the war in Iraq, immigrant rights and community organizing. A non-stop run of Cuban-made films attracted an enthusiastic crowd.
The highlight of the evening was a political presentation about revolutionary Cuba by ANSWER organizer Carlos Alvarez. Muna Coobtee of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five read a July 26 statement from the five heroes and urged support for the struggle to free them.
There was also Cuban music, excellent food and drinks, and dancing. The contagious atmosphere brought in young people from the neighborhood who had not heard about the event beforehand. The success of the evening in the face of adversity was a clear victory for the pro-Cuba organizers and attendees.
The intimidation tactics highlight the terrorist nature of the right-wing Cuban movement. A simple political celebration inspired threats of extreme violence. This is their way—from Miami to Los Angeles to the many attacks on the Cuban people and their revolution. Only organized resistance can fend off this offensive and build a movement in solidarity with socialist Cuba.
The huge turnout to celebrate Cuba’s revolution showed that the struggle for a better world is very much alive in the hearts and minds of people in Los Angeles and far beyond. We will continue undeterred to celebrate Cuba and to defend its revolutionary gains.
¡Hasta la victoria siempre!
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