Puerto Rico

Caribbean Labour Solidarity sends its support and solidarity to the Puerto Rican people and the students of the University of Puerto Rico, currently on indefinite strike. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the United States since the invasion of 1898 and shares many of the problems facing the other countries of the Caribbean. The island is saddled with a debt of $72 billion, at least a half of which was attributed in an illegal and unconstitutional manner.
The US federal government has imposed a Junta Federal de Control Fiscal [financial control committee] to take charge of the island’s finances, with powers to override the elected legislature and governor of the colony. This Junta has demanded that the government of Puerto Rico balance its budget by 2019 and required, amongst other measures, a cut of a billion dollars in the health budget and a reduction of $500,000,000 in the budget of the public university. The cuts at the University of Puerto Rico are effectively dismantling public higher education.
In protest against this attack on their institution, the students of the University of Puerto Rico have declared an indefinite strike.
We send our solidarity to the striking students and support their struggle for sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development as an independent and sovereign nation.

The Broken Housing Market

We had invited Catherine West MP to speak on the housing question at our May meeting, but the sudden calling of a General Election means that, understandably, she is no longer available. So instead, we have a film from the same film maker who many of you will remember showing us his film on the Cuban health service
More details…
At the present time, this government, for the first  time has been forced to admit  the housing market is broken. This is after “they” put forward laws that made a the market worse not better. The cap on  Housing  Benefits, The Housing and Planning Act 2016. The  Stop Paying of  Benefit for under occupants. They have all helped to heap oil on a fire. The former mayor deliberate cut in social house building and then forcing councils and  social  landlords  to have higher rents by creating “affordable housing” rents at mere 15% below the the market rate.
Housing is a complex issue but since the 1985 Housing Act and the government forcing local councils to sell off their own  council houses at a discount. The level of social housing has gone down  to what is now a fifth of it size or 21 % of what it was. While the private renting sector has seen  a three fold growth and house prices rise by a massive  10  times, nationally. In  fact, house prices in the London area  and South East has increase so much, that property  has become the number one investment for foreign companies. They can make more money investing in housing in a year than they could in 5 years as speculator  in  stock and shares on the stock market.
So when the government saying “the housing market is broken” they are doing so with a  hammer in their hands and claiming, it is  all the fault of these builders not building enough houses. The builders then come back with “a nod  and wink” and claiming that the planning laws are to strict and they are not allowed to build on “Green Belt Land”. When the reality is they have never been a time where they have been able to make bigger profits from building and the private sector is free to charge, what is now the highest rents, in whole of Europe. Therefore, we need local councils who are committed to dealing with homelessness and helping proving more support for social housing.


We were saddened to learn that Pansy Jeffrey has passed away. Her son Howard Jeffrey shares his mother’s story.

“My mother came from Guyana to England in the early 1950s. She worked as a nurse for St Charles Hospital, midwife for Hammersmith Hospital and a health visitor for the London Borough of Camden.

After the Notting Hill race riots, she was appointed by Kensington Citizen Advise Bureau (CAB) to try and improve race relations in the area.  The job required her to liaise with political parties and social workers, and she became the governor for three schools in the Kensington and Paddington areas. She was also seconded to the Race Relations Commission’s social services section.

At this time Lord Soper, a prominent Methodist minister, sent three ministers to work in North Kensington. My mother worked with this group including the Rev David Mason to set up the Notting Hill Social Council. They also created Notting Hill Housing Trust, and she remained with the Trust for six years.

My mother worked for the Kensington CAB for 27 years and during this period of time she was involved in several interesting projects. She was a committee member of the North Kensington Law Centre – the first in Britain which was started by Lord Tony Gifford. She was also involved in the Bero Housing Project chaired by Bishop Wood, was a committee member of the Community Education Trust that worked with Caribbean pupils in Islington to improve their performance at school, as well as Treasurer for the Notting Hill Carnival Committee for one year.

She also worked for 17 years as Justice of the Peace (JP), much of that time as a Senior JP at Horseferry, Marlborough, and Bow Street Courts.

By the end of the 1970s it became clear that there was an increasing number of senior citizens of Caribbean origin who were suffering from isolation and loneliness.  In 1980 my mother opened a drop-in centre for them in her office.  This evolved into the Pepperpot Club which later moved to purpose-built accommodation in Ladbroke Grove. When my mother retired, she became its President for Life.  The Queen visited the Pepperpot Club twice – once when it opened and again on its 25th anniversary.

I have many fond memories of mother, including her always having an open house with lots of people from the world of politics and culture passing through. These people included  George Lamming, Cy Grant, Cheddi Jagan, Maya Angelou, Ram John Holder, Norman Beaton, Lord Gifford,  MP lady Margaret Hodge, Jeremy Coburn, Trevor and Mike Phillips to name but a few.  There was a constant feeling of living in a happy loving family, a sense of security and having lots of positive role models around you.”

Same meat different gravy

Donald Trump is a racist, sexist, extreme right-wing bigot. How much that makes him different from most other Presidents of the United States is, of course, open to question. When does a quantitative change become qualitative?

What is clear is that there is a reactionary offensive taking place in the USA which is emboldening the extreme right worldwide. We see the rise of the Front National in France and Geert Wilders in Holland, while Turkish President Recep Erdoğan and Israeli Prime Minister “Bibi” Netanyahu are consolidating their power. All are using extreme nationalism and racism to blunt opposition and pursue policies aimed at enriching the oligarchy’s they represent.

In particular we need to remember that the main enemy is at home, so let us not forget our own Theresa May who completes the set of reactionary leaders. The present British government’s policies do not differ very much from Trump’s, it is just that May has better manners. He wants to build a wall, she already has the Channel, their anti-immigrant stance is the same, the deportations are the same. May is currently even refusing to recognise the right to stay of EU citizens who have made their lives here perfectly legally. Trump denies the existence of Climate Change and signs off the Dakota access pipeline, while the British government promotes fracking. Trump tries to repeal the Affordable Care Act and May starves the NHS of finance. Both are stoking islamophobia, both are war-mongers – the list of comparisons go on, but essentially it involves the use of nationalist rhetoric to cover economic policies that enrich the already wealthy at the expense of working class living standards.

But the working class movement can defeat this. Let us take the small example during the last election in Britiain. The Thanet Stand Up to UKIP collective, who campaigned solidly for a year and more before the election, stopped Nigel Farage winning what he thought would be a shoe-in. By campaigning on specific policies that unite the maximum number of people in opposition to the present government’s agenda, we can start to rebuild a movement for socialism. By organising international solidarity with the victims of Trump, Netanyahu and Erdoğan we can strive to make that movement Internationalist rather than National Socialist.

Cutlass #9

The latest issue of the CLS bulletin, “Cutlass”, has now been published and may be downloaded from here…

Articles on:

  • Workers in Solidarity
  • Report from the Tivoli Committee on their recent actions to seek justice for the victims of the Tivoli Massacre
  • Housing – the broken market
  • Destination Guyana
  • Why we should add Climate Change to the claim for Reparation for Slavery in
    the Caribbean
  • Book launch – “Killing Communists in Havana”
  • Cuban posters for African liberation 1967 – 1989

International Women’s Day

Global Women’s Strike events on Wednesday 8 March in London, UK
Central Family Court, First Ave House, 42-49 High Holborn, London WC1V 6NP
Stop the unjust separation of children from their mothers, and the rise in children taken into care, forced to have contact / live with violent fathers, or adopted against their mother’s wishes.
Old Palace Yard (opposite House of Lords)
We can all say why we’re striking and what changes we want.
The All African Women’s Group will perform their short play about the sexism and racism of the immigration system – from Yarl’s Wood Detention and Removal Centre to the courts.
We invite all anti-austerity MPs, especially women, to join us in support of our demands.
St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ
Honouring the Southern Peasant Federation of Thailand who risk their lives defending land and water from corporate land grabs.
On 8 March 2017, women in over 40 countries will take time off from waged and unwaged work – for the whole day, or for hours or minutes – to protest, march, flash mob, put a broom outside our door, hang a banner from the window . . .
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The call for this International Women’s Strike (IWD) follows mass protest in 2016 against men’s violence in Argentina and the criminalisation of abortion in Poland, and the women’s marches against Trump which mobilised millions in the US and 15 other countries, including 100,000 in the UK. The Women’s March UK and US have endorsed the IWD call.
To join, call a huddle where you are or come to ours, work out your demands and actions, publicise them – we can help. In London, Global Women’s Strike and Women of Colour GWS are coordinating actions against violence, poverty, discrimination, exploitation, war.