On its first of 3 days, the Peoples Summit for Democracy in Los Angeles opened by surpassing expectations in numbers attending and unity. The significant organizational challenges of the event being held at the LA Trade Tech College went smoothly thanks to a committed group of mostly young volunteers who organized everything from the 9 panels that were presented to a large tented area set up to accommodate many of the over 250 organizations that represented social justice groups, veterans, students, community-based artisans, unions, women’s rights, Latin American solidarity groups and many more.
Organizers reported that of the 1000 people who had registered over 750 showed up on the first day. In the opening plenary entitled, “Democracy for Who” it was obvious that this was a serious crowd who had come to learn and connect with others. The urgency connected to the decline of the US in the eyes of the world and its inability to meet even the most basic of needs of the majority of people was obvious. Manolo De Los Santos, a key organizer of the Peoples Summit, reminded the crowd that, “this cannot be a one-time event. We have to keep in mind that we must forge unity with all those who are oppressed, exploited and victimized by this system whose time is up.”
Cuba who, like Venezuela and Nicaragua was not invited to Biden’s Summit of exclusion was brought up time and again as an example of a collective society that, despite the over 60 years of blockade and a mountain of sanctions that are now Biden’s responsibility, continues to stand up to empire unified and never wavering dignity. In most panels, the dignity of Cuba was intertwined in the discussion regardless of the topic.
In the panel entitled, Let Cuba Live: Young Voices against the Blockade, moderated by Cheryl LaBash, co chair of the National Network on Cuba, 3 young women who had recently returned from Cuba explained not only how heartwarming their experience was but how much they learned. There was a separation of belief from everything that they had been told from the official US narrative against Cuba their entire lives and the rich experience of cooperation in sharing and commitment for the common good that they witnessed on the island. The forming of this critical view will now extend to everything else they have been told about the so-called greatest democracy ever.
Danaka Katovich, national co-director of Code Pink expressed the sentiment of the panel by pointing out, “The US never consults with me about my rights as a woman, I can’t even vote on it, where in Cuba women are involved on every level. The whole point of the US blockade against Cuba is based on cruelty so the US has no right to lecture us about human rights and democracy.”
Perhaps the area where the most discussion and organizing was taking place was on the informational tables outside where people were signing up and getting into lively conversations about activism and strategies. On our Resumen Latinoamericano table, people were signing up eagerly as one woman said, “I just need to get information from new sources.”
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