AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, for nearly a century, the American Federation of Teachers has had a deep and abiding commitment to human rights, labor rights and democracy, so powerfully captured in our early slogan "Democracy in Education, Education for Democracy"; and

WHEREAS, the AFT's commitment to human rights, labor rights and democracy does not end at our national borders, but is international in scope, as we see the freedom they enshrine as the birthright of all humanity; and

WHEREAS, in solidarity with our fellow educators, healthcare workers and trade unionists struggling for human rights, labor rights and democracy around the globe, the AFT has long opposed authoritarian governments of all political hues, whether they be apartheid South Africa and Pinochet's Chile or Stalinist regimes in China, Cambodia and eastern Europe; and

WHEREAS, one of the authoritarian governments in the world today has been the repressive Castro regime in Cuba, which has denied the Cuban people their fundamental rights—freedom of expression and conscience, freedom of press, due process of law and freedom of association, including the right to establish independent, democratic unions—and the ability to chose their government in free, democratic elections in which all political parties can compete; and

WHEREAS, since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, widely respected human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have reported hundreds of political executions and tens of thousands of political imprisonments; and

WHEREAS, in March 2003, the Cuban regime engaged in a mass wave of political repression, imprisoning scores of trade unionists, human rights activists, independent librarians and independent journalists for no crime other than the exercise of their human rights and labor rights; and

WHEREAS, in November 2009, Human Rights Watch published a report, New Castro, Same Cuba: Political Prisoners in the Post-Fidel Era , which thoroughly documents the ongoing political repression in Cuba since 2006, when Fidel Castro formally transferred power to his brother, Raul Castro; and

WHEREAS, Cuban educators have courageously organized themselves into a free, independent and democratic union, the Colegio de Pedagogos Independientes, which is led by a prominent Cuban trade unionist and educator, Roberto de Miranda Hernández, who was arrested by the Castro regime with other independent trade unionists in 2003; and

WHEREAS, as part of its union organizing, the Colegio has undertaken the important work of preparing for the introduction of democratic education in post-Castro Cuba; and

WHEREAS, in November 2009, at the invitation of the Cuban union, representatives of the AFT and of the Polish union Solidarnösc attended a nationwide conference of the Colegio de Pedagogos Independientes in Havana, where they witnessed Cuban state security breaking up the meeting and threatening the Cuban teachers with arrest for simply convening together; and

WHEREAS, in protest against the deplorable and inhumane conditions of political prisoners in Cuban jails, a number of those prisoners have undertaken hunger strikes; and

WHEREAS, the Castro regime has responded to these protests with callousness, refusing to provide hunger strikers with medical care, thus allowing Orlando Tamayo Zapata to die after 84 days on a hunger strike and leaving other hunger strikers on the verge of death; and

WHEREAS, after nearly 40 years during which the U.S. government has made it illegal for American citizens to visit Cuba and for American corporations to trade with Cuba, it is evident that this embargo has failed to move the Castro regime toward respecting human rights and labor rights or transitioning Cuba toward democratic governance; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. government travel restrictions on Cuba have made it difficult for family members outside of Cuba to visit with those inside Cuba and forced American citizens who want to meet with and support Cuban human rights activists, trade unionists, independent librarians and independent journalists to violate American law, and U.S. government trade restrictions have provided the Castro regime with an excuse for the impoverished state of the Cuban economy under its rule:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers declare its solidarity with the Cuban people and, in particular, with Cuban educators, healthcare workers and trade unionists, in their ongoing struggle for human rights, labor rights and democracy; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT establish and maintain fraternal relationships with the Colegio de Pedagogos Independientes, working with AFT locals to provide support to this Cuban union in its work; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT condemn the callous treatment of Orlando Tamayo Zapata and other Cuban political prisoners on hunger strike and call on the Cuban government to provide medical care for all ill political prisoners; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT call upon the Castro regime to release all political prisoners—all those held in Cuban prisons for advocacy for human rights, for union organizing, for independent journalism and for the sponsorship of independent libraries; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT call upon the Castro regime to remove all internal and external travel restrictions on Cuban citizens and in return that the U.S. government lift all restrictions on the travel of American citizens to Cuba and on the travel of Cubans to the U.S. in order that Americans may visit Cuba to engage its civil society; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT join with Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations in calling on the U.S. government to end the restrictions on American citizens and corporations trading with Cuban enterprises and to replace them with a multi-lateral set of sanctions, including ones specifically directed at members of the Cuban state and policy-military institutions , in order to place genuinely effective pressure on the Cuban state to free all political prisoners in Cuba, cease its regime of repression and institute free votes for referenda and free elections.


Please note that a newer resolution, or portion of a resolution, may have superseded an earlier resolution on the same subject. As a result, with the exception of resolutions adopted at our most recent AFT convention, resolutions do not necessarily reflect current AFT policies.