On August 29, 2021, caravans opposing the U.S. blockade of Cuba took place in more than a dozen cities across the United States, as well as Canada, United Kingdom and other countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world. Below are reports, along with photos, from four of these actions in the U.S.
By Linda Loew
“Cuba makes doctors, not bombs! Unblock Cuba!”
About two dozen cars joined Chicago’s Cuba Caravan August 29, driving from Chicago’s border with Indiana to Steelworkers Park along the Lake Michigan shore. The action was part of the ongoing nationwide movement of monthly caravans calling for an end to Washington’s economic war against Cuba. The caravanners traveled through an historic industrial and residential community that includes a major Latinx population. Bystanders showed support for the demand “End the U.S. Embargo against Cuba” with horns honking, fists raised, thumbs up, and vocal support.
At the concluding rally, sponsoring groups, including anti-war and peace committees from Chicago and the city’s southern suburbs, called for an end to the crippling U.S. blockade, and voiced opposition to any further U.S. intervention against Cuba.
Cuban Americans living in Chicago who spoke hailed the accomplishments of the Cuban revolution and its people in the fields of medicine and education, both in Cuba and around the globe. The best way to support these extraordinary achievements, especially during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, speakers explained, is to demand the U.S. government end the embargo now!
By Mark Friedman
The August 29 caravan against the embargo joined the rally in East Los Angeles (LA) on the anniversary of the 1970 Chicano Moratorium where a message from LA Hands Off Cuba Committee leader Diana Cervantes was read to the crowd and received a warm response. The Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War was a mass action of 30,000 people. It was attacked by LA County Sheriffs who killed that day Ruben Salazar, a ground-breaking reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Leading up to the August 29 caravan, committee members joined in the West Coast march commemorating the historic 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, sponsored by the Southern Christian leadership conference
The Caravan then proceeded down Cesar Chavez Boulevard to downtown LA for a press conference held outside a large Cuban Music Festival. During the press conference hundreds of flyers were distributed to festival attendees. Many voiced agreement and the generally civil conversations that took place reflected important changes within the Cuban American community.
Speaking at the press conference was a broad array of opponents of the blockade. This included, Floyd Bryan, Southern California District Council president of the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union); Hands Off Cuba Committee leader and Cuban American JP Cabrera; Jennifer Alvarez, a Masters’ Degree student in public health who has visited Cuba to study its public health system; Maureen Cruise, an RN nurse representing the group Healthcare for All-LA; and Carole Francis Likins, board member of the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace.
Statements were read from by Bita Amani, an epidemiology professor who has led students on trips to Cuba, and James Lafferty, president emeritus of the LA National Lawyers Guild. A letter to President Joe Biden, opposing the U.S. embargo of Cuba, from members of Congress Nancy Barragan and Ted Lieu, was also read.
“Through the caravans all over LA, we have built spaces where people come together and share their stories and thoughts on the blockade and donate to Cuban medical aid,” said Cervantes in closing the press conference. “We hold street rallies and have received press from Univision, Channel 4, 7, La Opinión, Estrella TV, and many more. Through donations, we were able to contribute to the syringe campaign where we helped send more than 6 million syringes to Cuba which they need to administer their Covid vaccines. We urge you to join us. END THE US EMBARGO OF CUBA. END THE SANCTIONS NOW.”
By Pete Seidman
Some 40 vehicles and 60 people participated in the August 29 caravan here in Miami. There were two important features. First, no right-wingers turned up to countermobilize. This was a bit of a surprise considering that caravan leader Carlos Lazo had made a highly-publicized visit to Cuba in previous weeks that included a meeting with Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel. This may be a sign that the extreme commotion generated here at the time of the July 11 events in Cuba, has receded, as it has become clear that those events did not represent the threat to stability there, that some opponents of the Cuban Revolution have wished for.
The caravan ended at the Statue of Toussaint Louverture in Little Haiti, where a solidarity collection was taken up for the people of Haiti. Haitians have been hit with a major earthquake while in the midst of political turmoil in the wake of the assassination of President Juvenal Moises, as well as announcements by the Biden administration that it will not extend Temporary Protection Status to Haitians in the U.S., nor halt deportations, despite the current situation on the island. Some $440 was turned over to five Haitian activists who joined the caravan event. This was an important step forward in forging alliances between the anti-blockade elements of the Cuban family and Haitians, here in Miami.
By Duane Stilwell
The second Phoenix caravan against the U.S. Blockade of Cuba continued building on the momentum of the first caravan last month. With the beginning of classes at Arizona State University (ASU), activists who oppose U.S. sanctions on Cuba were able to speak to several student organizations and build awareness of the issue on campus.
Some of the student activists involved with the caravan took the lead in organizing the event and decided to also participate with a table on “First Friday” to build support for the next caravan. First Friday is a popular evening event in downtown Phoenix on the first Friday of every month where large numbers of people gather to walk among vendors and sample food trucks. Its open town square atmosphere is a big opportunity to reach people from all walks of life and invite them to the third Caravan.
The group also plans to organize the next caravan on or near the ASU campus.
Categories: Cuba/Cuba Solidarity