Home | About Us | Archive | Documents | Campaigns & Issues | Links | Contact Us

      Building Cuba Solidarity Against U.S. Aggression and Blockade on Cuba During the Global Pandemic

      By Tamara Hansen

      “Let’s build unstoppable international momentum to defeat the U.S. blockade of Cuba in 2021!” was the title of the third session of the International U.S.-Cuba Normalization Concert and Conference held virtually from November 13-15, 2020. Tamara Hansen, the coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba; an executive member of the Canadian Network on Cuba; author of the book, “5 Decades of the Cuban Revolution the Challenges of an Unwavering Leadership”; as well as an organizer in the U.S.-Cuba Normalization Conference Committee was invited to speak on the issue of, “Building solidarity online during Covid-19.”

      Fire This Time is reprinting an excerpt of Tamara’s talk from that day. Videos of the full weekend of virtual events are available online on the conference website: www.us-cubanormalization.org

      I want to say it has been a real pleasure working with the U.S.-Cuba Normalization Conference Committee for over a year now to bring together a great series of webinars. At the same time, Covid-19 has made our Cuba solidarity work very different and more challenging. We have also been able to use new technologies to maximize our cooperation across time zones, borders, and any other challenges Covid-19 has tried to put in our way.

      Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba was founded in Spring 2004 when U.S. President George W Bush tightened the U.S. blockade on Cuba and imposed restrictions on travel and money transfers on the Cuban- American community. We began with protest actions and a petition campaign against the blockade. Since then, we have been devoted to broadening our Cuba solidarity organizing with what we call the 3 C’s – Consistency, Cooperation, and Creativity!

      We believe that all political work must be consistent and organized into campaigns to be effective. We know that U.S. imperialism is very organized and consistent in its attacks on Cuba. We have a responsibility to work as seriously, consistently, and in unity to expand and grow our local and national activities to build an effective international movement.

      Why are we pushing the idea of Ending the U.S. Blockade on Cuba in 2021?

      As many know, during this global pandemic, the U.S. has been tightening its cruel, over 60-year-old, blockade on Cuba. While tourism and many other industries have had to shut down to stop the spread of Covid-19 in Cuba, the Trump administration has been working to strangle Cuba by imposing further restrictions. Ending the blockade on Cuba is a political priority for the solidarity movement, for all friends of Cuba around the world, alongside the great heroic Cuban people.

      Why does the U.S. government have a blockade on Cuba? As many have said, there are different reasons for this blockade. But I believe the most important for the U.S. ruling class, and what they are most afraid of, is Cuba’s example. U.S. imperialism has become increasingly vicious and criminal towards Cuba because Cuba has established so much in human progress. Cuba is a respected government and a respected country by the world community. Throughout its history, Cuba, especially after the 1959 socialist revolution and its revolutionary internationalism, has become the standard for humanity.

      The acceleration of U.S. attacks on Cuba reinforces the responsibility of strengthening our efforts to defend Cuba and build a broad and robust campaign in the U.S., Quebec, Canada, and internationally.

      As groups based in Canada – Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba and the Canadian Network on Cuba - know that Canada and Cuba have had unbroken diplomatic relations for over 75 years, which we are proud of. However, the current Liberal government under Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, has made some unprovoked attacks on Cuba, including the “sonic attacks” allegations. This means we must keep an eye on the government here, not just in the U.S.

      Canada is also a leader in the Lima Group, which is working to destabilize Latin America, including Venezuela, Bolivia, and Nicaragua. In Canada and around the world, we need to work with parliamentarians, municipal politicians, mainstream media, unions, progressive organizations, religious organizations, and local ethnic media to ensure the perspective of the Cuba solidarity movement is being heard.

      How do we continue our work during a global pandemic?

      Let me tell you, while President Trump is busy planning to undermine Cuba’s right to self-determination and human rights, we too, in Canada, are working hard and are busy with building broader solidarity and friendship with Cuba and the Cuban people.

      The Canadian Network on Cuba has now had six virtual picket actions on the 17th of the month during this time of the pandemic. These expanded on the regular monthly pickets in Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, and Kiev that have been organized since 2015. Participation in these virtual pickets has expanded from four cities to twenty countries counties across the world, including – Australia, Jamaica, Russia, UK, Chile, Zambia, Peru, Venezuela, South Africa, Columbia, Ireland, Philippines, Argentina, Tunisia, Italy, Ukraine, the U.S., South Korea, Puerto Rico & Cuba.

      We are looking forward to reaching out to many more countries in the coming months.

      While some groups are already back picketing in front of U.S. consulates and embassies, these virtual pickets have taken on a new role of connecting a broader network of Cuba solidarity organizers around the world. In fact, the work that has been done by Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba and the Canadian Network on Cuba has inspired the Colombian Movement in Solidarity with Cuba (MCSC), who we are working with to organize a global 24- hour virtual picket, which is aimed to be a couple of hours in each time zone where people would log in to speak and then log off as another time zone takes over. We are currently planning this event for December 17, the 6th anniversary of our 5 Cuban heroes’ freedom from the U.S. jails.

      You may have heard today Fernando Gonzalez, the President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and one of our 5 Cuban heroes, encouraging you in his video greetings to join the virtual pickets on the 17th and specifically the 24-hour action on December 17. If you register for November 17, we will send you info about December 17 soon!

      Virtual pickets are only part of the work. I want to conclude by saying we can also discuss increasing online petition campaigns. To do more creative campaigns to build awareness by online contests, or support ICAP led twitter storms, social media contests, sharing articles and videos. These activities can be extended to online days of action, letter writing to mainstream media, campaigns to call politicians offices, etc.

      While traditional protest actions may be limited at this time of the global pandemic, we are responsible for continuing to pressure the U.S. government. The UN vote on the blockade, which was mentioned in the plan of action, will be in May 2021. This will be an important international day of action against the blockade; we all need to join together.

      Also, fundraising is something we have been able to do during the pandemic. Of course, it is a challenging time financially for a lot of folks, but the Canadian Network on Cuba successfully raised over $53,000 in support of Cuban doctors with the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigades.

      It is true that Covid-19 can make us feel isolated and some of our regular methods of work are not possible at the moment. However, this is an excellent time for us to connect across cities, provinces, states, countries, and across all borders to reach out in friendship and solidarity towards each other and Cuba’s valiant people. We believe connecting to the U.S.- Cuba Normalization campaign and working together has been an important step forward for us in North America. Together with la Table de concertation et de solidarité Québec – Cuba, National Network on Cuba (NNOC), the Canadian Network on Cuba, the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), and the U.S.-Cuba Normalization Conference Committee we have built a powerful Cuba solidarity campaign against the blockade on Cuba. This is an advancement in terms of building an effective and strong movement to defeat the blockade decisively. Our international work has grown in leaps and bounds, so let’s continue working together to defend Cuba against the U.S. empire and its cruel, unjust, and criminal blockade! Viva Cuba!

      Together, we can do it! We will win! ¡Venceremos!

      Follow Tamara Hansen on Twitter: @THans01

      Back to Article Listing