On December 17, 2014, US President Obama made a historic announcement that the US government would be normalizing relations with Cuba and beginning the process of ending the US blockade on Cuba. While many people believed the end of the blockade was imminent, Cuba solidarity activists in Vancouver answered Cuba's call to put even more pressure on the US government to end the criminal, unjust blockade. Friends of Cuba Against the Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Van) formed shortly after Obama's announcement, and recognized that the opening of talks between the US and Cuban government presented an opportunity, not an inevitability, to end of the blockade. Over the last two years FCAB-Van has organized monthly picket actions in front of the US Consulate in Vancouver, Canada, as well as held forums and other events against the now 56 year long blockade of Cuba.
Two years on, there have been positive steps forward. Diplomatic relations have officially been restored, and embassies have reopened in Washington DC and Havana. Some travel and trade restrictions have been eased. At the 2016 25th annual United Nations resolution against the US blockade on Cuba the US abstained from the vote for the first time, causing the resolution to pass unanimously. These have been major victories for Cuba, but have still stopped short of ending the blockade.
Now, come January 20th 2017 Republican President-Elect Trump will be inaugurated as President of the United States, with a majority Republican Congress. While the decisions that the new administration will take in regards to US/Cuba relations cannot be predicted, Donald Trump has threatened to “terminate” the progresses made so far at normalizing relations. It is clear now more than ever that protest and public pressure to end the blockade is vital.
Picket Line Continues
On December 17th, 2016 FCAB-Van organized a monthly picket action at the US consulate marking two years since US President Obama's announcement. With picket signs and energetic chanting, protesters demanded “End the Blockade on Cuba Now!” and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!” Along with local speakers at the picket action, a phone greeting was also played from Ottawa-Cuba Connections, who organize monthly picket actions in front of the US Embassy in Ottawa. Coordinated actions in Canada against the US blockade also included a protest in Toronto, making it three major cities in Canada protesting in solidarity with Cuba and against the blockade!
Twitter Campaign for Cuba
In response to a call from Cuba solidarity activists in the US, protesters in Vancouver also took part in a twitter storm directed at Donald Trump. Activists took photos holding signs demanding the end of the blockade and tweeted them with the hashtag #CubaSiBloqueoNo to send an online message to @realDonaldTrump! You can see these photos and more on twitter @NoBloqueoVan.
FCAB-Van will be out on the streets again in front of the US Consulate, on January 17 at 4pm, just a few days before Donald Trump's Presidential inauguration, to send a strong and clear message to the government of the US and Donald Trump:
END THE BLOCKADE ON CUBA NOW!
RETURN GUANTANAMO TO CUBA NOW!
US GOVERNMENT STOP THE CAMPAIGN OF ‘REGIME CHANGE’ IN CUBA AND IMMEDIATELY STOP INTERFERING IN CUBA’S SOVEREIGNTY AND SELF-DETERMINATION!
To find out about upcoming events against the US blockade go to vancubavsblockade.org
Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki
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