November 1, 2017 marked the 26th annual vote in the United Nationals General Assembly (UNGA) on a resolution opposed to the U.S. blockade on Cuba. The vote yet again was overwhelmingly on the side of Cuba, with 191 votes in favour of ending the blockade, and just two countries, the U.S. and Israel, voting against the resolution. This vote comes at a time when the U.S. government and U.S. President Trump are escalating their hostile policies towards Cuba. Despite the good initial steps towards normalizing U.S./Cuba relations made under the Obama administration, the U.S. blockade against Cuba was never lifted and now U.S. President Trump is attempting to roll back the minor progress which was made.
For almost 60 years the U.S. blockade has put an enormous strain on the Cuban economy, with damages totaling over $1.3 trillion. The blockade makes everything from medicines to school supplies to construction materials difficult and expensive to import. Alongside the cruel policy of the blockade, the U.S. occupies the Cuban territory of Guantanamo Bay, despite Cuban and international demands to return the territory to Cuba.
In Vancouver, Canada, Friends of Cuba Against the Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Van) is organizing in solidarity with Cuba against the U.S. blockade. Every 17 of the month, FCAB-Van holds a picket action in front of the U.S. Consulate. This protest action is growing, and now Ottawa, Montreal and Kiev, Ukraine are holding these coordinated monthly picket actions!
On November 17, Cuba supporters in Vancouver came out in front of the U.S. consulate, holding picket signs reading “End the Blockade on Cuba Now”, “Cuba Si! Bloqueo No!” and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!”. To open the protest and later to close it, Indigenous elder and activist Eagle Eyes from the Sechelt nation led the protesters in song, acknowledging that the action was being held on unceded and traditional Indigenous territories. In between spirited rounds of picketing and chanting, picket participants heard from local speakers as well as heard a voice message of solidarity from Ottawa Cuba Connections and their picket action in front of the U.S. Embassy.
Next month’s picket action on December 17, 2017 will mark three years since Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. President Obama made historic announcements declaring that the U.S. and Cuba would be normalizing diplomatic relations. Also on that day, the remaining three of the Cuban 5 heroes were released from U.S. jails and returned home to Cuba, a huge victory for Cuba and for Cuba solidarity activists who had fought for their release for many years. FCAB-Van formed shortly after this announcement, realizing that public opinion and protest were needed to keep Obama to his word and to put pressure on the U.S. Congress to approve ending the blockade. Three years later, the blockade is still in place, President Trump is continuing the hostile policies towards Cuba, and the job of Cuba solidarity activists and supporters is more important than ever!
For more information or to find out about future events, visit www.vancubavsblockade.org or follow on Facebook and Twitter @NoBloqueoVan
End the Blockade on Cuba Now!
Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!
Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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