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      Lift the Blockade on Cuba Now!
      Cuba Supporters in Vancouver Protest Blockade on the Streets and Online

      By Janine Solanki

      For over 66 years, the country of Cuba has been subjected to a cruel and inhuman blockade by the United States. This doesn’t simply mean Cuba can’t trade with the US, although not having the ability to import from or export to Cuba’s biggest and closest potential trading partner is hugely significant. The blockade means that US subsidiaries, US patented goods or anything made with a US part anywhere around the world cannot be traded with Cuba, as well as non-US companies have been told they must to choose between trading with the huge market of the US, or the small island of Cuba. Any ship that docks in a Cuban port is banned from docking in a US port for 6 months after, making trade very expensive. This is not only an embargo, but a blockade. Also, to prevent US citizens from seeing Cuba for themselves, travel to Cuba has been and continues to be restricted.

      However on December 17, 2014 former US President Barack Obama announced that the US would be working towards normalizing relations with Cuba. Many would think that this means all of these above points on the US blockade are now in the past. While there have been some limited exceptions made for travel and trade and diplomatic relations have been reestablished, the US trade and travel blockade is still in place and still trying to economically strangle Cuba.

      For Cuba and Cuba supporters world-wide, Obama’s historic 2014 announcement didn’t herald in the end of the US blockade on Cuba, but signaled an opportunity towards ending the blockade. With Trump in power, now more than ever it is vital that public pressure push for an end to the US blockade, in its entirety for once and all. Not long after Obama’s promise towards normalization was made, Friends of Cuba Against the US Blockade – Vancouver was formed, and has been protesting every 17th of the month since to demand an end to the blockade.

      On March 17, 2017 Cuba supporters gathered together for the monthly picket action in front of the US Consulate in Downtown Vancouver. Activists raised picket signs and voices demanding “Lift the Blockade on Cuba Now!” and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!” Between energetic rounds of picketing under typical Vancouver rain, participants heard from local speakers as well as from Cuba solidarity activists across the country in Ottawa, via phone. Alongside Vancouver, Ottawa Cuba Connections also holds a picket action in front of the US Embassy every month.

      March 17th was also a “Tuitazo”, an international twitter campaign called by the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity. Cuba supporters around the world tweeted #NoMasBloqueo against the US blockade, and Vancouver protesters took photos and tweeted to add to the world-wide twitter storm.

      Friends of Cuba Against the Blockade – Vancouver will continue organizing protests and events, no matter who is in the White House, until the blockade is lifted. Join the next protest on April 17th, 4pm in front of the US Consulate in Vancouver to demand:

      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 Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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