For over 125 years, the U.S. military has illegally occupied Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay. In recent history, Guantanamo Bay has been infamous as the site of a U.S. detention center known for torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite, and arbitrary detention of prisoners. The U.S. occupation of Guantanamo Bay continues despite Cuba’s demands to have the territory returned to them. Considering the “regime change” goals of the U.S. government against the Cuban revolution, the U.S. military occupation of Cuban territory is a constant threat to Cuba’s sovereignty and self-determination.
On July 5, 2023, a nuclear-powered submarine arrived at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay where it remained for 3 days. This maneuver was a provocative escalation of the ongoing threat by the United States towards Cuba, which was condemned by the Cuban government and Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Alongside the U.S. occupation of Guantanamo Bay and this recent threat, Cuba has faced over 6 decades of a criminal U.S. trade and travel blockade. Under former U.S. President Trump, 243 new sanctions were imposed against Cuba, making the blockade the most restrictive it has ever been. Trump also placed Cuba on the U.S. State Department’s List of State Sponsors of Terrorism, which makes Cuba’s international trade even more difficult as banks and financial institutions often won’t process transactions of countries on this list. Two years into his presidency, U.S. President Biden has failed to reverse this illegitimate and immoral designation.
Despite the enormous challenges imposed by the U.S. blockade, the Cuban revolution continues advancing in the fight to build a better world!
Cuba’s Moncada Day – the spark of the Cuban Revolution!
July 26, 2023, marked 70 years since Cuba’s Moncada Day. On this day in 1953, Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro led an attack against the Moncada Army Barracks in Santiago de Cuba, which sparked the Cuban revolution and led to its victory in 1959. To read more about the history and importance of Moncada Day, read our article on page 19 of this issue of Fire This Time.
On July 26, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) brought together Cuba supporters for a cultural evening and delicious BBQ to celebrate Moncada Day in East Vancouver’s Trout Lake Park. The event was opened by Kelly White, Coast Salish Facilitator and Elder, who drummed and sang, leading participants in powerful chants of “Viva Cuba!” The coordinator of VCSC, Tamara Hansen, spoke about the significance of Moncada Day in sparking the Cuban revolution and the gains of the Cuban revolution which continue today. Participants were treated to the beautiful music of Maria Melendez, a multitalented Salvadorean musician who sang Latin-American classics with her guitar. The evening also featured moving poetry from Lucy Ortiz and Alejandro Mujica-Olea, two organizers with Proyecto Cultural Sur– Vancouver. Cuba supporter, Francisco Trujillo Avalos-Davidson, also recited a captivating poem by Pablo Neruda, the famed national poet of Chile. Participants also heard about important Cuba solidarity campaigns from Azza Rojbi, coordinator of Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver, and Andrew Barry, organizer of Vancouver’s Monthly Car Caravan Against the U.S. Blockade on Cuba. The event also included an exciting raffle draw and a piñata and games for some of the younger Cuba enthusiasts! To close out the event, VCSC organizer Janine Solanki led a salsa lesson, and participants danced into the summer evening to the irresistible rhythm of Cuban salsa music!
Cuba solidarity on the streets!
The summer has brought Vancouverites outdoors, and Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Vancouver) have also been on the streets protesting the U.S. blockade on Cuba!
Car Free Festival
On July 29, VCSC and FCABVancouver joined the New Westminster Car-Free Festival with an information table and spoke to a constant stream of festival-goers curious to learn more about Cuba. Many people stopped to sign the new postcard campaign directed to U.S. President Biden, demanding that he remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. This postcard campaign was initiated by VCSC and endorsed by FCAB-Vancouver, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, NY-NJ Cuba Si Coalition, Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee and Unblock Cuba. Since the postcard campaign was launched in February, over 6000 postcards have been printed, and thousands have been handed out and mailed to groups and individuals around the world for distribution in their cities. If you would like to order postcards, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Car Caravan for Cuba
The next day, July 30, Cuba solidarity activists hit the streets again, but this time for the Monthly Car Caravans Against the U.S. Blockade of Cuba! This monthly action is organized in Vancouver by Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. BlockadeVancouver and is part of a global campaign started by Cuban American activist Carlos Lazo and Puentes de Amor (Bridges of Love). The Car Caravan rolled through Vancouver streets, cars decorated with Cuban flags and signs demanding “Lift the U.S. blockade on Cuba!”
Working with local U.S. Green Party
From on the street actions to online, Cuba solidarity is uniting activists across borders! On July 5, the Green Party of California and Missouri Green Party hosted a webinar about the U.S. healthcare crisis and the fight for affordable healthcare. The event featured many prominent speakers in the U.S. and was moderated by former Green Party presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein. The webinar was sponsored by Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade - Vancouver, whose coordinator, Azza Rojbi, spoke about the example of Cuba’s renowned universal healthcare system.
Join us in the next event in solidarity with Cuba! Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba is online at www.vancubasolidarity.com, and you can follow us on Facebook @VanCubaSolidarity and Twitter and Instagram @vancuba_vcsc. You can also visit Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade at www.vancubavsblockade.org and follow on Twitter and Facebook @NoBloqueoVan.
Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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