Monday, 24 August 2015

Cuban Futures Conference 2015

Want to know what’s happening in Cuba and the reality behind the headlines on US-Cuba relations? Then you need to come to the Cuban Futures Conference for a Cuban perspective on what’s really happening in the country.

Cuban Futures 2015, Saturday 3 October, 9.30am-5pm
Council Chamber, TUC Congress House, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS 

A great line up of speakers from Cuba, the UK and North America look set to make Cuban Futures the most important conference on Cuba in Britain this year. 

The historic opening of Cuban and US embassies in Washington and Havana on 20 July 2015 marks the first step on a long road to normalisation of relations. But what does this mean for Cuba and Cubans living both on and outside the island? How can the two countries have normal relations while the US maintains its illegal blockade and continues to occupy Guantánamo Bay?

These are some of the thought-provoking questions that this one day conference will be asking and we have a great line up of speakers and experts to answer them.

As well as leading speakers form Cuba, the conference brings together other experts on the Cuban Revolution, economy, democracy, trade union rights, US-Cuba relations, and internationalism. Academics, politicians, diplomats, trade union leaders, journalists and authors, as well as Cubans living both in the country and those in the UK will discuss recent developments and the opportunities and threats they pose to the Cuban Revolution. 

Keynote speakers include:

Rafael Hernández (Cuba)

Rafael Hernández is the editor of Temas, the leading Cuban magazine in the social sciences and the humanities, which is renowned for its contribution to intellectual controversy on the island. He is a senior research fellow at the Centro de Investigación de la Cultura Cubana Juan Marinello in Havana and is the author or editor of several books, including Cuba and the Caribbean and United States-Cuban Relations in the Nineties.

Arleen Rodriguez Derivet (Cuba)
Arleen Rodriguez is a prominent Cuban journalist and the Director of Mesa Rotunda (Round Table) the most important discussion programme for analysis of national and international debates on Cuban TV, together with a weekly show on Telesur. A fromer member of the Cuban National Assembly, she has interviewed presidents and some of the most recognised personalities in the political and intellectual realm, inside and outside her country.

Dr Carlos Alzugaray Treto Cuba)
A former Cuban diplomat, internationally recognised political analyst and university lecturer. His last two diplomatic posts were advisor to the Foreign Minister of Global Political Affairs and Cuba’s ambassador to the European Union. 

Her Excellency Teresita Vicente

Teresita is the current ambassador to Britain. Previously to this she was the Cuban ambassador in Canada and has worked in the Cuban Foreign Ministry.

Rt. Hon. Brian Wilson (UK)
A former Energy Minister and Labour MP from 1987-2005. Currently chairman of Havana Energy - which has secured the first ever joint venture to build power stations fuelled by biomass from sugar plantations.

Keith Bolender (Canada)
Keith Bolender is a lecturer in journalism and the award winning author of two books on Cuba – ‘Voices From the Other Side; An Oral History of Terrorism Against Cuba’, and’ Cuba Under Siege:American Policy, the Revolution and its People’.

Professor Antoni Kapcia (Nottingham University)
Professor Antoni Kapcia specialises on modern Cuba, including the Revolution's ideology, radicalisation and cultural development, with a wider interest in the questions of nationalism, national identity, and ideological patterns; and contemporary Cuban history and politics, focussing on participation, the Party, the political system and cultural politics.

Dr Emily Kirk (Nottingham University)
Dr Emily Kirk specialises in International Development and is a lecturer in US-Cuba relations and Cuban history. Her research focuses on health and well-being in Cuba, with publications in areas including sexual diversity, human rights, medical internationalism and global health.

Richard Burgon MP 
Richard Burgon, recently elected MP for Leeds East and excellent speaker on progressive movements in Latin America

Dr Steve Ludlam (UK)
Dr Steve Ludlam is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Sheffield. He teaches contemporary Cuban and Latin American politics, visits Cuba regularly, and is a specialist in Cuban employment law. He is a member of the Cuba Research Forum, an editor of the International Journal of Cuban Studies, and an honorary member of the Faculty of Third Age Studies of the University of Havana and of the Cuban National Lawyers Union’s Labour Law section. He is co-editor of Reclaiming Latin America: Experiments in Radical Social Democracy and of Rightwing Politics in the New Latin America: Reaction and Revolt.

Linda Perks (UK)
Linda is the London Regional Secretary for trade union Unison, and the Vice President of South East Region Trades Union Congress (SERTUC) who are joint hosts of Cuban Futures 2015.

Lauren Collins (UK)
Lauren has carried out in depth research on democracy and participation in Cuba as part of her studies at Nottingham University.

Workshop themes

As well as plenary sessions exploring the issues making the headlines, workshops will explore underlying themes in more depth including; where exactly blockade legislation stands; how relations with Cuba can never be normalised until the US leaves Guantánamo; how US intervention in Cuban affairs has evolved over the years and how it might manifest itself in the future; the new Labour Code and challenges presented to the Cuban trade union movement by growing self employment, free trade zones, and US funding of ‘independent’ unions; Cuba’s participatory democracy – how does it work and what will the country look like after the 2018 elections when Raúl Castro stands down as President; the role in of ALBA and regional priorities and threats; defending the gains of the Revolution; and more.

Workshop sessions include:

The blockade – where it’s at
US intervention – is it business as usual for US ‘regime change’ advocates? 
What about the workers – new challenges for Cuban unions
Media myths and Cuban realities
What now for the solidarity movement?

What are the biggest threats now facing Cuba? How can the international solidarity movement support Cuba, end the blockade and build support for doing so? A key discussion at the conference will be to discuss the important role that international solidarity still has to play to end the blockade once and for all, and to publicise and help defend the gains of the Cuban Revolution.

CSC believes there is a need to counter the widespread misconception that the blockade is over and that Cuba is no longer under threat from US intervention. Whilst US methods may be changing, the objective of regime change and promoting US interests on the island remain the same. Solidarity activists need to be armed with up to date information to counter new attacks against Cuba both in the media, and the assertion from some commentators on the right and left that, with improving US relations, Cuba should somehow now be obliged to change its political and economic system to one more in keeping with US and European models. 

With this in mind, briefing papers will be produced to accompany each session so that delegates have resources to take away and back to organisations or local groups. Full reports from the conference and each workshop will also be produced and made available online following the event. 

Tickets are available now priced £10 waged/£8 unwaged

Book online today here / call 0207 490 5715 / email 

Conference Dinner

Join us for a post conference fundraising dinner at TAS Turkish Restaurant in the heart of Bloomsbury. The dinner will provide a relaxing atmosphere to meet informally with other delegates and conference speakers and listen to after dinner speeches.
Tickets are £40 and include a Havana Club Rum welcome cocktail, a three course meal with wine, and after dinner coffee or tea.
The meal includes a choice of five main course dishes including chicken, lamb, seafood, and vegetarian options.
Please book early as there are only limited places at the restaurant.

Download the conference leaflet here

Cuban futures is organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and South East Region TUC International Committee and supported by the Ken Gill Memorial Trust and the Nick Burdon and Denis Blockley Memorial Trust Fund.

With thanks to support from:

Unite North West Region
Unite London and Eastern Region
GMB Yorkshire & N Derbyshire Region
Unite 6235
Unite Tyneside Eees Branch
El Societe Grande
Unite NE/GEO/29 Durham Geog
Unite LE 1365 Stansted Airport
Miss C Howard
Guiseppe Deidda-Atzori
Unison Hammersmith & Fulham
Unite Preston & S Ribble Branch (0522)
Unite Bolton & District Branch
Unite Brighton SE/6246 Branch
Unison St Helens & Knowsley Health Branch
Unite Sudbury L/E 979 Branch
Unite (Amicus) Bamber Bridge Branch
Unison Gateshead Health Branch
ASLEF Feltham Electric Branch
Unite Yeovil SW/8007 Branch
Unite Dartford & North Kent Branch
Unite West Midlands 7685 Branch
Unite NE/GEO/1 Sheffield East Branch

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