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      From Obama to Trump,
      Vancouver Still Demands “Lift the U.S. Blockade on Cuba!”

      By Janine Solanki

      On January 13, 2017, outgoing US President Obama signed an executive order declaring Cuba a "National Security Threat." This hostile act allows the president to use national emergency resources against Cuba, including to enforce sanctions. Flashback to December 17, 2014 when Obama made the historic announcement that the US would be normalizing relations with Cuba and working towards ending the over 55 year old blockade of Cuba. Over the last two years many positive steps forward have been made, such as the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana, and some limited easing of travel and trade restrictions. However, the blockade of Cuba is still in place and continuing to subject Cuba to economic hardship and makes access to everything from medicines to sports equipment very difficult.

      With Obama making one of his final acts as US president to deal another blow against Cuba instead of trying to make progress on lifting the blockade, we can see that Obama's motivations were never based on fairness or justice. In Vancouver, Canada and around the world, Cuba solidarity activists knew from the time of Obama's December 2014 announcement that this signaled an opportunity, not an inevitability, for the blockade to be lifted and that it was more important than ever to put the pressure on the US to end the blockade. Now with Donald Trump as US president, the necessity to organize in solidarity with Cuba for an end to the blockade is even more critical. Back on November 28th 2016 Trump tweeted that if Cuba doesn't make a better “deal” that he would “terminate deal”. On February 3rd, 2017 US Press Secretary Sean Spicer notified the press that the administration is “in the midst of a full review of all U.S. policies towards Cuba”. Clearly neither of these statements are positive for moving towards lifting the US blockade on Cuba.

      In Vancouver, Canada the Friends of Cuba Against the US Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Van) formed soon after Obama's 2014 announcement in order to organize against the US blockade on Cuba as the new door of US/Cuba negotiations opened. On January 17th, 2017 FCAB organized its monthly protest action which month after month has been bringing protesters out in-front of the US consulate. Cuba solidarity activists picketed and chanted with the demands of “Lift the Blockade on Cuba Now!” and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!” In between rounds of picketing, protesters heard from local speakers as well as a solidarity phone message from Ottawa Cuba Connections, who on the same day also hold monthly picket actions against the US blockade in front of the US Embassy in Ottawa.

      Whatever president is in office in the US, Friends of Cuba Against the US Blockade is committed to continue organizing for the US blockade to be lifted and for Guantanamo to be returned to Cuba. Join FCAB on the 17th of every month in front of the US consulate, marking the day of Obama's December 17th 2014 announcement of normalization which has yet to be realized. For more info and upcoming events check out vancubavsblockade.org or follow on Twitter @NoBloqueoVan

      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!

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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