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Rally in Harlem for Cuban Labor Delegation denied Visas, 7/16

Date: Fri, 13 Jul 2001 21:23:29 -0700 (PDT)
From: nellie hester <
Subject: Rally in Harlem for Cuban Labor Delegation denied Visas

Hello Friends,

The Harlem Tenants Council and Black Radical Congress NYC Metro Chapter need your help to spread the word. Please join us for a rally in Harlem on Monday, July 16th. We need your support. Nellie Bailey


On Monday, July 16th from 6 to 8:30 PM at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church located at 201 Malcolm X Blvd. (120th Street) there will be a rally of support for a high ranking Cuban Labor delegation denied US travel visas for a tour of 21 cities in the US to dialogue with organized labor and community groups about the need to normalize relations between the US and Cuba. The Cuban delegation of the Central Workers Union of Cuba (CTC) was to have been headed by Pedro Ross Leal, Secretary General of the CTC. Other members of the delegation to have accompanied Mr. Ross Leal were Diana Maria Garcia, General Secretary of the National Public Workers Union; Leonel Gonzalez, Director of Foreign Relations of the CTC; Manuel Montero Bestileiro, Director of the Department of the Americas of the CTC; and Edison Brown, Official Translator of the CTC.

Although the Bush administation had initially given their nod for the visas approval the delegation was informed today the travel visas were being denied. A coalition of trade unionists, labor attorneys and progressive organizations that includes the Harlem Tenants Council had scheduled a community forum in Harlem where Mr. Ross Leal was to have been the keynote speaker. Had the visas been approved it would have marked the first time the US government has granted permission for any member of the CTC to travel to the US.

The CTC represents 19 unions in Cuba with a combine rank and file membership of 3 million Cuban workers. Mr. Ross Leal, whose position is comparable to that of US labor leader John Sweeney (President of the AFL-CIO), hosted in April of this year the 18th Congress of the CTC in Havana that attracted labor leaders and delegations from 68 countries.

The rally is sponsored by LCLAA (New York Chapter), 1199 SEIU of New York, Local 215 AFSCME, U.S. Cuba Labor Exchange, U.S. Health Care Trade Union Delegation, Harlem Tenants Council, Black Radical Congress (NYC Metro Chapter), Haiti Support Network, International Action Center and Lawyers Guild (NYC Chapter).

In May of this year HTC held a community forum on "Harlem and the Anti-Globalization Struggle" that emphasized the need to connect local class struggles to the anti-globalization movement. Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council said, "The structural adjustment realities in Harlem has left a trail of homelessness and joblessness for a population of over 300,000 that are medically under-served. Infant mortality is up by 35% in less than a decade with 16.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in one of the richest cities in the world while the infant mortality rate in Cuba is only 5 deaths per 1,000 live births. The disparity is mind boggling given the 40 years old embargo against Cuba." The May forum also featured reports on Cuba's Medical School Scholarship Program for American students (50% of scholarships earmarked for African American students) and the Free Trade Agreement in the Americas.

Activists,community leaders and local residents are in support of Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel's call for an end to the inhuman US embargo against the people of Cuba. It is believed to be in the best interest of both countries. They cited Cuba's confiscation of 10 tons of drugs en route to the US last year and the imprisonment of more than 100 foreign nationals drug dealers for attempting to smuggle drugs into the US. Yet the US has been unwilling to launch a joint initiative of cooperation with Cuba to combat this deadly scourge that makes it way into cities throughout the US, including Harlem.

Solidarity supporters in favor of lifting US economic sanctions against the Cuban people also expressed their opposition to the establishment of a Free Trade Agreement in the Americas (FTAA) as proposed by the US. Although Cuba has been excluded from the FTAA, it is feared such an agreement will have a devastating impact on US workers. They argue US companies will close down factories and flee to Latin American countries where workers will be paid pittance for salaries. In addition, it is maintained the US cannot possibly ignore the difference in the size of the economies of the US and Latin America where 46 out of every 100 dollars that come in are used to pay interest on the foreign debt. The US economy is five times larger than that of all the combine countries in Latin America that has over 250 million people, half of its population, living in dire poverty.


For additional information contact Luis Matos of the US Health Care Trade Union Committee at 212-261-2233 or Nellie Bailey of the Harlem Tenants Council at 212-316-2240 or by E-mail: July 13, 2001



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