Over the first few months of 2020, the U.S.-Cuba Normalization Committee brought activists from the US, Canada, and beyond to plan the International Conference for the Normalization of U.S.-Cuba Relations. Although the Covid-19 pandemic brought plans for an in-person conference to a halt, it quickly became apparent that now more than ever, Cuba needs support, solidarity, and activism against the U.S. blockade on Cuba. The coalition organizes regular webinars, which bring to light Cuba's significant contribution to the fight against Covid-19 and demand an end to the U.S. blockade on Cuba. The blockade has been tightened to unprecedented levels under U.S. President Donald Trump, targeting especially much-needed medical supplies and fuel.
On August 13, the U.S.-Cuba Normalization Committee held a webinar marking what would have been the 94th birthday of Comandante Fidel Castro, former Cuban president and leader of the Cuban Revolution. From Vancouver, Canada, the event was co-chaired by Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and executive member of the Canadian Network on Cuba. The event featured notable speakers: José Ramón Cabañas, Cuban Ambassador to the United States; Josefina Vidal, Cuban Ambassador to Canada; Ana Silvia Rodriguez, Permanent Representative of Cuba to the United Nations; and former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, among many other captivating speakers as well as cultural performances. The event was a beautiful testament to the life and legacy of Comandante Fidel!
The weekend of solidarity with Cuba kicked off with a Friday night International Concert Against the Blockade of Cuba. The MC of the evening was Alison Bodine, Fire This Time editorial board member, and the star-studded program included some of Cuba's finest musicians as well as artists from the U.S. and Canada. Cuba's rich culture and the spirit of solidarity made for an exciting and enjoyable evening for the more than 800 people who tuned in!
The first conference session was “After the U.S. Elections: For Normalization! Why We Must End the Blockade on Cuba!” The session featured Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas and Ambassador Josefina Vidal, NDP Canadian Member of Parliament Niki Ashton and Sen. Sandra Pappas, Democrat State Senator from Minnesota, U.S., among other speakers.
The second session of the day focused on the “Saving Lives Campaign - Bringing Cuba’s Example to the U.S. and Canada during the Global Pandemic.” See more about this important campaign below this report. This session featured inspiring speakers, including physicians, authors, and Cuba solidarity organizers, and was co-chaired by Alison Bodine from FTT in Vancouver, Canada.
The third session was titled “Let's build an unstoppable international momentum to defeat the U.S. blockade of Cuba in 2021!” The session featured special guests Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, Permanent Ambassador of Cuba to the United Nations, and Fernando Gonzalez Llort, President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Cuban internationalist fighter in Angola 1987-1989 and one of the Cuban Five heroes. The fourth session was titled “Broadening Cuba Solidarity - How to end the blockade in 2021.” The speakers included Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC), and Canadian Network on Cuba executive committee member. Her talk is printed in this issue of Fire This Time on page 22. This session also included a section on “Cuban voices from U.S. and Canada” and a “Solidarity Beyond North America” panel that touched on Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Mexico's social movements.
These three days of Cuba solidarity brought together over 1500 people from the U.S., Canada, and countries around the world. The conference culminated in a United Action Plan and Timeline to Defeat the Blockade in 2021. The action plan spans from working with elected officials at all levels to virtual and street actions and educational events in the U.S., Canada, and around the world. To read the document, visit www.us-cubanormalization.org/viva-cuba/united-action-plan-and-timeline-to-defeat-the-blockade-in-2021/
To watch any of the U.S.-Cuba Normalization events, including the concert and conference reported here, visit www.us-cubanormalization.org/viva-cuba/videos-past-webinars
For upcoming events, stay tuned to www.us-cubanormalization.org – www.vancubasolidarity.org – www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca – www.nnoc.info.
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