The US blockade on Cuba is usually discussed in terms of its impact on Cuba. However, the recent devastating hurricanes to hit the Caribbean and US Gulf Coast have shown that the US blockade is a policy which has negative effects for the US too – particularity at the expense of poor and working people in the US and Puerto Rico. Although both Cuba and Puerto Rico took direct hits from Hurricane Maria and Irma and sustained massive damages, the preparation and recovery responses were very different. In Cuba many steps were taken to protect lives and infrastructure including evacuations of people and pets, and reconstruction efforts were immediate and well organized. In contrast, Puerto Rico under U.S. occupation is still struggling to get electricity restored, which has become its own scandal, and to provide medical attention to those who need it and to reconstruct homes and infrastructure.
Despite Cuba being in the middle of their own hurricane recovery, they have offered at least 39 doctors to assist in Puerto Rico. However, since Puerto Rico is (unjustly and illegally) under US rule, this offer has not been accepted. Cuba has shown itself to be a model for hurricane preparation and recovery, and for their international solidarity particularity with sending doctors to disaster zones. Imagine how much better off the people of Puerto Rico could be, and how much more international solidarity Cuba would be capable of, if the blockade was lifted!
For over two years, Friends of Cuba Against the US Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Van) has been organizing monthly picket actions in front of the US Consulate in Vancouver, demanding an end to the US blockade on Cuba and for the return of US-occupied Guantanamo to Cuba. FCAB-Van started these protests after former US President Obama made the historic announcement on December 17, 2014, that the US would begin normalizing relations with Cuba. This opened a unique opportunity for the lifting of the blockade that made public protest in against the blockade even more important. Now with US President Trump trying to roll back the few progresses made under Obama, the call to end the blockade and return Guantanamo must be even louder and stronger!
On October 17, 2017 FCAB-Van was out in full force in front of the US Consulate in Vancouver. This monthly action has been taken on in other cities by Cuba solidarity activists and groups, and coordinated actions were held in Ottawa, Montreal and even Kiev, Ukraine! Supporters held up signs and marched in a picket line chanting energetically, “Lift the blockade on Cuba now! and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba now! The program of speakers included local activists, as well as a greeting of solidarity via phone message from Ottawa Cuba Connections and their picket in front of the US embassy.
Join FCAB-Van at the next picket on Friday November 17th at the US Consulate (1075 W.Pender St, Vancouver) at 4pm to stand up against the criminal US policies towards Cuba. For more information about actions against the blockade on Cuba visit www.vancubavsblockade.org, follow FCAB-Van on Facebook or on Twitter @NoBloqueoVan
Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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