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      Protest Action and Public Education fights the US Blockade on Cuba!

      By Janine Solanki

      On December 17th, 2014 US President Barack Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro made a historic announcement, that the U.S. and Cuban government would begin to normalize relations. Especially for the people of Cuba, who have struggled to survive under over 55 years of the US blockade on Cuba, this was welcome news. The far-reaching blockade has caused medicine, food and fuel shortages, internet bandwidth limitations, shortages of supplies for everything from scientific to technological to sport and arts development. Yet despite the blockade, Cuba has become a worldwide leader in healthcare, education, sports, arts and innovation. Just imagine how much more Cuba could achieve without the restrictive blockade around its neck?

      Formed shortly after Obama's December 17th announcement, Friends of Cuba Against the US Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Vancouver) is holding President Obama to account. Every month, FCAB-Vancouver organizes a picket action at the US consulate in downtown Vancouver, demanding “US Lift the Blockade on Cuba Now!” and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba!”

      On August 17, 2016 FCAB-Vancouver held a monthly picket action in front of the US consulate to demand an end to this criminal blockade. With picket signs, banners and Cuban flags, Cuba supporters picketed and chanted energetically to made sure that the US government knows that action needs to go along with Obama's promising words. At this picket, speakers included Azza Rojbi, a coordinator of FCAB-Van, Brian Sproule representing the CPC-ML, and David Whittlsey, a long time veteran social justice activist. Picketers also heard a solidarity greeting phone message from Cuba solidarity activists in Ottawa, who are also holding monthly picket actions against the blockade on Cuba. FCAB-Vancouver has resolved to keep holding monthly pickets against the US blockade until it is completely lifted, and encourages more cities to join Vancouver and Ottawa in this monthly protest action.

      From protest action to public education, on August 13th FCAB-Vancouver and Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) joined in the New Westminster Pride street festival. With an information table, Cuban flags and a banner reading “Cuba Says LGBTQ+ Rights are Human Rights”, one of the great progresses of the Cuban Revolution was brought to the attention of people enjoying the sunny Pride festival. Festival-goers received VCSC's special Pride edition newsletter, and were curious to come by the table to learn about Cuba's very active campaign against homophobia, how LGBTQ+ rights are protected in Cuba and how gender reassignment procedures are a right provided for free in Cuba.

      As long as the criminal US blockade is still in force, and as long as Guantanamo is still occupied by the US, justice-supporting people worldwide have a job to do to campaign in defense of Cuba. To join in upcoming actions please visit www.vancubavsblockade.org or on twitter @NoBloqueoVan

      US Lift the Blockade on Cuba Now!
      Return Guantanamo to Cuba!

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