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      “Hey Trump, End the Blockade on Cuba NOW!”

      By Janine Solanki

      Just over two years after former US President Obama’s historic announcement towards normalizing relations with Cuba, the election of Donald Trump posed the question, “what will Trump’s policy be towards Cuba?” The answer was given on June 16, 2017, when Trump gave a speech in Miami and declared that he will reverse the gains towards normalizing US/Cuba relations made under the Obama administration. So far this has included tightening travel restrictions for US citizens going to Cuba, and prohibitions on financial transactions by American companies with Cuban companies.

      After over five decades of a cruel and inhuman US blockade against Cuba, positive steps were made by the Obama administration which included the opening of diplomatic relations and embassies in Havana and Washington, the easing of travel restrictions for US citizens travelling to Cuba and the opening of some limited trade, air and sea travel. Despite these steps in the right direction, Cuba solidarity activists in Vancouver and around the world recognized that Obama’s December 17, 2014 announcement signaled an opportunity, not a promise, to lift the blockade on Cuba, and that it was necessary to increase public pressure against the US blockade. With the cruel and immoral actions taken now by Trump it is clear how correct the approach of continued and increased action against the blockade was and is!

      On June 17, just one day after Trump’s announcement to tighten the US blockade, Friends of Cuba Against the US Blockade - Vancouver held a picket action in front of the US consulate. These pickets have been organized monthly and in coordination with activists in Ottawa and on this day also with Montreal and Toronto. Protesters brought a loud and clear response to Trump’s hostile actions against Cuba, with picket signs and voices raised high to demand “End the US Blockade on Cuba Now!” and “Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!” Energetic rounds of picketing were mixed with speakers, as well as a welcoming and closing song and drumming from Indigenous activist and hereditary chief Gordon August. Protesters also heard from activists with Ottawa Cuba Connections at their protest, and the two groups shared chanting between the two cities via telephone!

      The next day, Friends of Cuba Against the US Blockade – Vancouver were also on the streets at the Main Street Car Free Festival, with an info table complete with Cuban flags and banners against the US blockade. The day long festival saw a steady stream of people attracted to a sign reading “Hey Trump – Lift the US Blockade on Cuba!” Festival go-ers were eager to get more information, sign the petition against the blockade, and express their opposition to Trump’s tightening of the US blockade on Cuba!

      Whether Obama, Trump or any other face in the White House, in Vancouver and around the world justice-loving people are standing in solidarity with Cuba. Join Friends of Cuba Against the US Blockade – Vancouver every 17th of the month at 4pm at the US Consulate in downtown Vancouver to demand:

      Lift the Blockade on Cuba Now!
      Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!
      Follow FCAB on Twitter @NoBloqueoVan

      To get the latest updates on US/Cuba relations and find out how to get involved visit: www.vancubavsblockade.org


      Follow Alison Bodine on Twitter: @alisoncolette

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