Talk given by Cheryl LaBash, co-chair of the National Network On Cuba (NNOC), at the webinar “What We Can Learn from Cuba’s ‘Code of Freedom’ for Families,” hosted by Women In Struggle/Mujeres En Lucha on Jan. 22.
Sixty years is a long time. But that is how long the United States government, led by both Democrats and Republicans, has waged an economic, financial and commercial war against the Cuban people.
Even before that, the Eisenhower administration recognized that Fidel and the July 26th Movement – Raul, Che, Almeda, Camilo, Vilma, Haydee, Celia, Melba and so many more – would stay true to their promise: liberation, equality and sovereignty for all the Cuban people.
An April 6, 1960, State Department memo admitted the fact that the Cuban people supported the revolution. So it prescribed the path taken by the U.S. from then until today:
“Every possible means should be undertaken to weaken the economic life of Cuba,” the memo states. “If such a policy is adopted, it should be the result of a positive decision which would call forth a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of the government.”
Although the goal didn’t change, the tactic did. On Dec. 17, 2014, President Obama and President Raul Castro agreed to begin a different road. President Obama even visited Cuba – and as a result many people wrongly believe the blockade ended then. Some things were eased, but behind it all, the coercive economic measures continued.
Then, in June 2017, President Trump declared he would return to the failed direction outlined by the State Department in 1960.
And then came the pandemic. Cuba had to close its main source of hard currency – tourism – and used its reserves to save lives, develop five COVID vaccines (three now in emergency use) and send its famous Henry Reeve Brigades to countries needing help against the pandemic.
U.S. uses pandemic as weapon
The United States saw its opportunity to use the pandemic as a weapon. Some 243 new measures were implemented to block any financial possibilities for Cuba. Surely the Cuban people would be desperate enough to embrace capitalist landlords, bankers and bosses.
Then as a parting shot, after the 2020 Biden election, Cuba was again declared a “State Sponsor of Terrorism.” Certainly an insult as well as an injury to Cuba.
Although President Biden has been in office two years, he has done virtually nothing to lift the pressure on the Cuban people. The SSOT can be lifted with a letter from Biden!
Instead, we have been inundated with propaganda about “human rights” to justify turning back the changes made by the Obama administration in 2014-2015.
There is no alternative truth. Cuba is not a state sponsor of terrorism, but has been targeted by terrorist acts organized and financed in the U.S. The intensified blockade has hurt Cuban families on both sides of the Florida straits. For three years, Cubans in Miami have said “end the blockade” in the streets every month.
And it hurts farmers, workers and ordinary people in the U.S., too. Cuba has developed medical treatments that make 70% of diabetic amputations unnecessary, and a lung cancer vaccine that prolongs the quality of life of patients.
Guess what? The U.S. categories of “legal” travel to Cuba do not include medical treatment. It’s the only country in the world where U.S. travelers need to declare a U.S. government designated category.
Elected bodies representing more than 44 million residents from California to Connecticut, from Montana to Michigan to Alabama, have called for the blockade to end, including city councils and labor organizations, school boards and county commissions. Find out how to get local resolutions where you live.
The last weekend of every month, caravans are held to end the blockade in Miami and cities across the U.S. and around the world. Make a sign with hashtag #UnblockCuba and #OFFtheList.
Sixty years is too long. This campaign needs you to act now.
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