International convention guest Avigail Pérez Llanes comes from the Havana local of SNTAP, a public sector union in Cuba representing more than 250,000 workers across the small island country. Given shifting U.S. relations and the unstable Cuban economy, it’s now more important than ever to keep the bonds of solidarity strong between his organization and ours, he told CUPE Communications at convention.

The relationship between CUPE and SNTAP runs deep, spanning decades. While the financial support CUPE provides is valued, Pérez Llanes stresses the importance of the political support SNTAP’s Canadian partner union provides. “Our relationship is built on many things. Being here at convention, I am able to grow our voice in Canada,” he said, “We need to raise more awareness among Canadian workers about the struggles we face.” In presentations at the post-secondary and health care sector meetings earlier this week, Pérez Llanes spoke to the importance of universality in Cuba.

In response to adverse conditions in Cuba, CUPE has been eager to show its solidarity with SNTAP through the Global Justice Fund. As well as facilitating access to goods not available in Cuba due to the U.S. blockade, CUPE has funded training in professional development and union responsibilities for the SNTAP Havana local and its members. CUPE looks forward to continuing this relationship.