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Conference to Defend Education as a Right

Cheryl LaBash - Workers World
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June 16, 2012
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TIJUANA, Mexico - The world crisis in education and the attack on public workers is the theme for a special U.S./Cuba/Mexico/Latin America/North America conference Aug. 17-19 in Tijuana, Mexico.

It’s not just another conference to talk about how bad things are for workers battered by the global capitalist crisis.

Participants include working-class leaders who fought for and won free, quality education for all. These leaders are spreading that right throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. They will meet with young workers and students fighting against foreclosures, tuition hikes and student debt, racism, police brutality, the school-to-prison-pipeline and for immigrant/migrant rights and the right to a future with meaningful work.

People from Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Puerto Rico, teachers and students from Southern California, city and health care workers, veterans of the Occupy movement and fighters for immigrant/migrant rights have already registered. Participants can find out about Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine that graduates young, debt-free doctors from the world’s underserved and oppressed communities — including those from the U.S.

A strong push to free the Cuban Five is on the agenda. The Cuban Five have been imprisoned by the U.S. for 14 years. This injustice is the focus of an international movement for their return to Cuba.

In a three-day class preceding the conference, instructors from Cuba’s union school, Lazaro Pena, will discuss the role of a labor union and its leaders in class struggle. Topics include what is class consciousness and why it is important, workers participation in their union, and workers’ unity. The instructors are giving the class, taught in Spanish, for a second time.

This ninth annual conference is a project of the U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange, Union del Barrio, International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, International Action Center and Federacion Sindical Mundial-Americas.

In past years action programs following the conference have included national tours of selected U.S. cities by Latin American union leaders from Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico and a Cuban representative from the FSM-A. In 2008, participants supported a strike of North Carolina plywood workers. Their actions resulted in a major buyer cancelling orders of scab materials. There were also support activities in the U.S. for Mexican electrical workers.

When the Republic Windows and Doors workers forced Bank of America to the bargaining table in Chicago by occupying the factory they worked in, delegates from the Tijuana conference flew to defend the occupation and launched protests supporting the United Electrical workers in their home cities.

Labor conference participants also attend the Encuentro Sindicato Nuestra America gatherings that work toward a unified understanding of and action by workers movements in Latin America.

Register now at LaborExchange.blogspot.com. Together, the workers and oppressed in the Western Hemisphere can forge a winning strategy through solidarity.

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