The U.S. blockade on Cuba is severe, inhumane and cruel. Between 1961 and 2018, the United States economic blockade on Cuba caused damages calculated at over $134 billion. Recently U.S. President Trump has taken unprecedented steps to tighten the U.S. blockade on Cuba, such as implementing Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the act which codifies the U.S. blockade into law. Title III has never been enacted until now, opening the door for U.S. lawsuits against Cuban and foreign businesses operating in Cuba. In addition, Trump has sanctioned more than 100 Cuban companies and imposed stricter travel restrictions on U.S. citizens, which is expected to cut the number of people from the U.S. who visit Cuba in half.
After nearly 60 years of the U.S. blockade, Cuba has continued to exercise their right to self-determination, and develop a society that puts the interests of the Cuban people first. For example, although the U.S. blockade makes importing medicine and medical supplies difficult, expensive or downright impossible, Cuba still provides its people with world-renowned free and accessible healthcare!
The government of Canada is also taking its own hostile and unprecedented actions against Cuba. On May 8 Canada made the abrupt decision to shut down the visa services section of its Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) Office in Havana, preventing Cuban citizens from being able to visit Canada. This has divided families and caused massive delays, uncertainty, and significant financial obstacles for Cubans wishing to visit Canada for business, cultural, scientific and sporting relations.
The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) has initiated a campaign demanding Canada fully reopen the IRCC office and visa services in Havana, Cuba, and called for a Coast-to-Coast Day of Action on July 17. Here in Vancouver, the Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Van), members of the CNC, organized their monthly action against the U.S. blockade on this day.
Cuba supporters and activists gathered in front of the U.S. consulate in downtown Vancouver and raised their picket signs demanding “Lift the Blockade on Cuba Now!” and “U.S. Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!” Between rounds of picketing and chanting, protesters heard from speakers including a voice message of solidarity from activists with Ottawa Cuba Connections. Vancouver is joined by Ottawa and Montreal, Canada and Kiev, Ukraine every month for these united actions. This month, as part of the day of action, many other cities joined in with a social media campaign! Using the hashtags #CdnVisasforCuba #UnBlockCuba and #NoMasBloqueo the internet was lit up with solidarity with Cuba. This included a video from the Vancouver action, with protesters chanting their demands with banners and picket signs under the U.S. Consulate sign!
Find out about the next Vancouver action against the U.S. blockade on Cuba, at www.vancubavsblockade.org or follow on Facebook and Twitter @nobloqueovan
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