Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday 25 Feb 2008, meeting report, University of Manchester, Stopford Building

120 students packed into Lecture Room 5 (capacity 50 seats) to hear Jesus Garcia speak about the political and electoral system in Cuba. People sat on the floor and even behind Garcia at the front. Garcia described the system of Popular Power and how the National Assembly, and Council of State worked. The students asked about Cuba's relationship with China and whether Cuba would take the same road; they asked about Cuba's relationships with the Zapatistas and what Garcia thought about the new communal councils being set up in Bolivia and Venezuela. One student also asked if Raul was Fidel's son.

Garcia explained that in China there were 200 million people who did not feature at all in the national census - anything could be done to and with these people and no one would be any the wiser. Cuba was different to China. For nstance Cuba was under a blockade, and the US had been trying to dominate Cuba since the 18th century when it 'bought' Cuba from Spain. A Chinese official had been reported telling Chinese people to wait 50 years for improvements in their lives - something a Cuban would never accept. China had chosen their own road, but Cuba could not introduce the market otherwise that would result in chaos.

Cuba had 'very good relations with the Zapatistas'. Raul was not Fidels son, but was in his position due to his history of struggle in revolutionary politics since the 1940s when he was still very young. He was in Moncada, in Granma in the Sierra Maestra, and even formed a second front in the eastern part of Cuba during the revolutionary war of 1950s.

Garcia did not know alot about the communal councils in Bolivia, but knew a bit more about Venezuela. He had his own views about them but would keep his own counsel. He recommended Martha Harnecker as someone who knew a lot more. He said the councils may be trying to create an 'alternative power' to Chavez due to feelings he was not doing enough.

Both meetings ended with a round of applause for all speakers.

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