On September 9th, 2016, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said in a news conference that the US blockade of Cuba, which cost Cuba $4.6 billion last year alone, is "the main cause of the economy's problems and obstacle to development." Many people will read that statement and think, hold on, isn't the blockade over?
Yes, US President Obama made a significant step in the right direction on December 17, 2014, when he announced that the US would be normalizing relations with Cuba. Yes, another positive step was made when the US and Cuba opened embassies in each others countries and reestablished diplomatic relations on July 20, 2015. However, as we near almost two years since Obama's historic 2014 announcement, the US blockade on Cuba still stands. In fact, during the 2015 United Nations General Assembly vote to end the US blockade on Cuba, the US still voted against! With a vote of 191 to 2, the resolution was approved in favour of Cuba for the 24th consecutive year, and the only other country to join the US in voting against ending the blockade was Israel.
On September 17, 2016 Friends of Cuba Against the US Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Van) held a monthly picket action in front of the US consulate in downtown Vancouver. Cuba solidarity activists and supporters raised picket signs, banners and chants, energetically calling on the US to end their blockade on Cuba and to return Guantanamo to Cuba. Rounds of picketing were combined with speakers, including a voice message from activists from Ottawa Cuba Connections, who have also taken up monthly picket actions on the same day in front of the US Embassy in Ottawa.
This action also included a twitter campaign initiated by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the peoples (ICAP). Vancouver joined this international campaign, taking photos in front of the doors of the US Consulate and tweeting them around the world with the hashtags #SolidaridadVsBloqueo (solidarity vs blockade) and #YoVotoVsBloqueo (I vote vs blockade). For more information on this campaign and to add your vote against the blockade, visit www.cubavsbloqueo.cu
Cuba solidarity in Vancouver also took to the big screen in September. The 14th annual Vancouver Latin American Film Festival (VLAFF) presented the 2015 Cuban/Irish made film “VIVA” on September 2nd and 4th. As a community partner of the screenings, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) spoke to the audience before the screenings, and were at the theater with a Cuba solidarity informational table. The film, a beautiful and emotional story, raised the topic of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans) issues in Cuba. As members of VCSC had recently returned from attending Cuba's events marking International Day Against Homophobia, VCSC was able to speak to the audience from this experience on the progress and leadership that the Cuban revolution has taken for LGBT rights and against homophobia in Cuba.
From protesting against the US blockade on Cuba to promoting Cuban art and culture, Vancouver is standing alongside Cuba in solidarity with this exceptional revolutionary island. To find out about upcoming events and actions, visit www.vancubavsblockade.org and www.vancubasolidarity.com , or follow on twitter @NoBloqueoVan and @VanCuba_VCSC
Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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