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      Hands Off Cuba!
      Lift The Blockade on Cuba!

      By Janine Solanki

      “We are taking additional steps to financially isolate the Cuban regime,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on September 6, 2019, announcing new restrictions imposed by the U.S. government limiting the amount of money Cuban Americans can send to their family in Cuba.

      This is one of many inhuman measures the U.S. government is taking to tighten the cruel blockade on Cuba. These include restricting Cuba’s access to foreign exchange, impacting Cuba’s contracts with shipping companies and limiting access to fuel. The U.S. sanctions on Venezuela have also reduced Venezuela’s ability to ship oil to Cuba, further intensifying the impacts of the blockade.

      Cubans are now feeling the effects of these blockade-imposed fuel shortages, which have caused long lineups at bus stops and gas stations. Cubans are getting through this in the same way they have survived almost 60 years of the U.S. blockade – by pulling together and finding solutions, such as state cars and trucks helping to transport people, suspending some energy-intensive investment projects, and Cubans working from home if possible. Cuban President Díaz-Canel was on Cuban TV to announce these and other measures to ensure basic services until regular fuel shipments resume, where he reminded Cubans to “remain alert and ready to respond to any challenge with unity, firmness, optimism, and unwavering confidence in victory.”

      On September 17, Friends of Cuba Against the U.S Blockade - FCAB in Vancouver along with activists in Montreal and Ottawa, Canada and Kiev, Ukraine united around the world and on the streets for a monthly coordinated action against the U.S. blockade. At the Vancouver action, protesters picketed in front of the U.S. Consulate with voices raised high demanding “lift the blockade on Cuba now!” and “return Guantanamo to Cuba now!” In between rounds of picketing, local participants spoke to the crowd about the increasingly brutal measures of the U.S. blockade and the importance of people here in Canada standing up to defend Cuba. This is especially true as the government of Canada has taken recent measures against Cubans, by halting visa services at Canada’s IRCC offices in Havana, Cuba. This means it is near impossible for Cubans to travel to Canada, including those visiting family members, as well as academics, artists and students.

      A Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) petition to demand that the government of Canada fully reopen all visa services offered to Cubans in Havana, Cuba can be signed at https://www.change.org/p/justin-trudeau-canada-must-reopen-ircc-office-all-visa-services-to-cubans

      Vancouver protesters felt the connection to the other coordinated protests through a voice message from Ottawa Cuba Connections, who shared words of solidarity from their action. The Vancouver action also made their protest felt worldwide by sharing photos of the action on social media, including the customary photo of signs, banners and Cuban flags held high in front of the U.S. Consulate doors!

      For the next action, visit www.vancubavsblockade.orgor follow on Facebook and Twitter @NoBloqueoVan

      Follow Janine on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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