Pascal Joly, France’s General Confederation of Labor’s general secretary for the Ile de France region (URIF-CGT), described Cuba as an example to follow and a point of reference for the world, speaking to Granma International in Havana, after being presented with the Friendship Medal, awarded by the Council of State.
He recalled the various initiatives undertaken by the union since the 1990s, when the Caribbean island experienced a severe economic crisis, known as the Special Period, provoked by the fall of socialism in Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union, and the tightening of the United States criminal economic, financial and commercial blockade.
He offered the example of a ship sent from France loaded with several tons of medicine and supplies for Cuban hospitals. The donations were collected by French workers, committed to the principles of solidarity and internationalism.
“Our organization will continue to support Cuba so that the Revolution can be maintained,” Joly said.
The General Confederation of Labor (CGT) was founded on September 23, 1895, and throughout the 20th century, its main struggle was to bring together all French trade unions and secure massive membership. Today it is the largest French trade union confederation.
On expressing his gratitude for the medal, before a plenary session at the Cuban Workers’ Federation (CTC) headquarters, Joly also expressed, on behalf of his fellow trade unionists, solidarity with the Communist Party of Cuba because “it has fought to maintain the great achievements of the Revolution, which is why it is immersed in a process of updating the Cuban economic model.
“We know the difficulties that this people face due to the U.S. economic blockade, and more recently the consequences of Hurricane Irma for the country. Despite this, Cuba remains active and generous. This perseverance is an example for us and for the world, on defending the right to decide for yourselves,” he added.
Since the 1970s, Pascal Joly has been active in the struggle for the rights of French and European workers, and committed to internationalist causes, especially in those countries where imperialist forces are increasingly aggressive.
On his first visit to Cuba in 1995, accompanied by more than 150 CGT members, he learned of Cuban workers’ struggles and resolved to work to support them. Since then, he has promoted and maintained a sustained relationship of solidarity and fraternity between the French and Cuban peoples.
Joly has worked both with fellow trade unionists and workers of his country, and those of other regions and trade unions around the world. Initiatives have included actions to call for the liberation of the Cuban Five, who were unjustly imprisoned in the United States, and to denounce U.S. interference in Cuba.
“Be assured that my organization will continue its efforts to strengthen cooperation between our countries,” the French union leader stated, concluding that he will wear this Cuban medal with pride, as it is a “symbol of our common struggle for social justice and peace.”