What are these artists, activists and political leaders celebrating? After decades of brutal repression and horrible labor conditions Polish workers were able to finally organize a labor union in 1980 and forced the communist regime to recognize it following a prolonged labor strike. This labor union, Solidarity, is still active today in a free and democratic Poland that it made possible with its courageous actions 30 years ago.
Taken from the Solidarity website is a brief breakdown of what took place in 1980:
- July 1st - The Government introduces so called "commercial prices" (market prices) for meat products in factory eateries. This minor decision provokes an increasing wave of workers' protests.
- July/August - A wave of strikes is running through the country. Jacek Kuroń says: "Do not burn the committees! Establish your own ones!"
- August 14th - The strike in Gdansk Shipyard starts, after two days it becomes a general strike of all companies in Region, then in all of the country. This is the beginning of "the Polish August".
- August 17th - The Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee (MKS), led by an electrician Lech Wałęsa, announces 21 postulates (including e.g. the right to establish free trade unions, freedom of speech and the right to strike)
- August 24th - The Plenary of the Central Committee of Polish United Workers Party (PZPR) dismisses eight close associates of Edward Gierek (PZPR General Secretary), including the Prime Minister Edward Babiuch.
- August 30th - The Governmental commission ratifies the agreement with the MKS in Szczecin.
- August 31st - The agreement is ratified in Gdańsk. At the gate of the shipyard Lech Wałęsa says: "We have free and independent trade unions!".
- September 17th - The representatives of over 30 regional founding committees adopt the resolution establishing the Independent and Self-governing Trade Union (NSZZ) "Solidarność".
- November 10th - The Supreme Court acknowledges the Constitution of NSZZ " Solidarność". In 1981 about 9.5 million people were members of the union.
Now you might ask yourself what is a Cuban punk rocker doing in the middle of all this? How did he wind up speaking at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles?
It wasn't easy, in terms of getting out of Cuba [in fact the rest of the "Porno para Ricardo bandmates had planned to play the above song in Los Angeles but were unable to travel ] but as to participating in this gathering Gorki's presence makes perfect sense. It turns out that at the same time Solidarity was taking off in Poland so was Punk Rock.
Thenews.pl places it all in context:
The event was organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Polish Film Institute to mark the 30th anniversary of Solidarity and takes its motto – ‘How to overthrow a totalitarian regime using a home-made amplifier’ – from the subtitle to the documentary film Beats of Freedom, which shows the history of Polish rock music under communism and its role in the struggle for freedom.Beats of Freedom trailer
The screening of the film’s abbreviated version will be followed by a panel with the participation of Jacek Borcuch, the director of All That I Love, the Polish candidate for an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Film category.Beats of Freedom Part 1/8
Its promotional campaign is in the hands of the Los Angeles-based company Block Korenbrot and is held under the motto ‘Poland 1981. Solidarity is on the move. Every movement begins with its own sound’.
Jacek Borcuch's All That I Love also deals with the impact of punk rock music and Solidarity in the 1980s but is a fictional account with a Romeo and Juliet romantic subplot.
Gorki Aguila, of the Cuban punk rock group 'Porno para Ricardo' was the perfect choice to attend and demonstrates the relevance and similarity between the punk music scene in Poland 1980 and Cuba 2010.
(L-R) Musician Stephen Stills, former Polish President Lech Walesa and actress Sharon Stone attend the 30th Anniversary of Solidarity celebration in Los Angeles at the Museum Of Tolerance on December 15, 2010*
Thank you to whomever thought up of the idea to invite Gorki to celebrate the founding of Solidarity with an act of solidarity with the Cuban people.
*(All photos were taken in L.A. by Charley Gallay/Getty Images North America)