Cuba today is not only under the immense strain of over 60 years of a U.S. blockade, itself layer upon layer of cruel laws and sanctions designed to make everyday life difficult for the Cuban people. Cuba is also still living under the destructive legacy that former U.S. president Trump unleashed on Cuba, and which current U.S. President Biden is continuing. This includes the 243 new measures that Trump imposed, making the blockade the tightest it’s ever been.
As the last blow in the final days of the Trump administration, Cuba was added to the infamous U.S. State Department “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list. Besides this list being the epitome of hypocrisy, as the U.S. government itself is the most destructive terrorist state in the world, being on this list further reinforces the U.S. blockade. The “state sponsors of terrorism” list reinforces the extraterritorial nature of the U.S. blockade on Cuba, with the U.S. government fining major foreign banks and non-U.S. corporations for doing business with Cuba. This means Cuba is not only facing a U.S. blockade, but is met with restrictions in making international financial transactions, trading on the world market and importing food, fuel, medicines and other essential goods.
In Vancouver, activists with Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Vancouver) have been organizing locally, nationally and internationally to defend Cuba against the U.S. blockade and to act in solidarity with Cuba.
Summertime saw Cuba represented at festival season across the Vancouver region, and Cuba solidarity activists were out for the final days of the season to talk about Cuba with festival-goers! On September 3, the annual Vancouver Corn Festival was held in East Vancouver, organized by the El Salvadorian community to celebrate Latin American culture through music, dance and food! Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) had a table at the event with books and newsletters about Cuba, a petition against the U.S. blockade on Cuba, and information about how to get involved in the Cuba solidarity movement.
On September 10, the annual Car Free Festival was held on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver, and on September 18, the festival also took over Vancouver's Main Street. This massive street festival sees thousands of people come out, many of whom stopped to pick up information at the VCSC and FCAB-Vancouver table, to talk with organizers and, in the case of kids, to take part in a drawing activity with pictures of Fidel and Che!
On September 1, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) joined the 21st Vancouver Latin American Film Festival to sponsor the Cuban film “Omara”, a documentary about Afro-Cuban music icon Omara Portuondo. As part of VCSC's sponsorship, VCSC ran a social media contest to give away free tickets to this excellent film!
Monthly Virtual Pickets demand Lift the U.S. Blockade on Cuba!
Each month, the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) holds a virtual picket action against the U.S. blockade of Cuba, bringing together CNC member groups across Canada, solidarity activists from Quebec and Cuba supporters around the world. The September 17 virtual action countered Cuban democracy to U.S. oppression, with guest speaker Deborah Santana from the Cuba Solidarity Committee in Puerto Rico. Deborah spoke about a recent campaign of harassment towards Cuba solidarity activists in Puerto Rico by the U.S. government and FBI. CNC member group Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba published a statement in solidarity with the Cuba Solidarity Committee in Puerto Rico, which can be read at https://medium.com/@VanCuba_VCSC/vancouver-communities-in-solidarity-with-cuba-vcsc-stands-in-solidarity-with-the-cuba-solidarity-2f3db32c8fa1
The next monthly virtual picket on October 17 focused on “Lessons of October '62” referencing the 60 year anniversary of the October Crisis (Cuban Missile Crisis). One of the featured speakers was His Excellency Héctor Igarza Cabrera, Cuban Ambassador to Canada, and his speech from this event is printed in this issue of Fire This Time, page 6 for the English version and page 7 for the Spanish one.
These virtual pickets also give time to CNC member groups to share greetings, and at these two actions Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba and Azza Rojbi, coordinator of Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver, both spoke to share greetings and report on Cuba solidarity actions from Vancouver.
Car Caravans Continue to Protest U.S. Blockade on Cuba!
The Car Caravans Against the U.S. Blockade on Cuba began in 2020 in Miami, Florida headed by Carlos Lazo, a Cuban-American, and the Puentes de Amor (Bridges of Love) organization. This creative initiative was started during the first year of the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic where traditional forms of protest became difficult and unsafe.
Car Caravans against the U.S. blockade on Cuba have since taken off around the world, including in Vancouver, where FCAB-Vancouver and VCSC organize the monthly action in coordination with the Miami and worldwide car caravan. On September 25, the Vancouver Car Caravan enjoyed the final days of summer, driving through Vancouver's sunny streets and catching the attention of pedestrians and drivers alike! The October 30 Vancouver Car Caravan featured more Vancouver typical rainy weather, but Cuba supporters were ready to take to the streets rain or shine and still attracted thumbs-ups and honks of support while driving through Vancouver!
Join in solidarity with Cuba!
One of the ways the blockade hits hardest is in the face of disaster when urgently needed extra resources, and reconstruction supplies are in short supply due to the U.S. blockade. Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction through Cuba in late September, especially affecting Cuba's electrical grid. The Canadian Network on Cuba launched a Hurricane Relief Campaign to assist Cuba in its reconstruction, and locally in Vancouver, VCSC and FCAB-Vancouver have been fundraising towards these efforts. If you would like to donate, please check for more details on this page.
Another way to support Cuba is with the 1 Cent for Cuba Campaign! Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba is supporting this important campaign, which is an initiative from Rock Around the Blockade (Britain), Cuba Support Group Ireland and Cubanismo (Belgium) to challenge British and European banks which have been holding or rejecting transactions related to Cuba. Learn more about how to participate at www.1c4cuba.eu.
There are many events in the Vancouver area and beyond, as well as online! Check out the next event at www.vancubasolidarity.com or follow Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba on Facebook @vancubasolidarity and Twitter and Instagram @VanCuba_VCSC .
Follow Janine on Twitter: @JanineSolanki
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