On January 30, 2022, car caravans and other actions demanding an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba took place in several cities across the United States, as well as other countries. Below are reports from two of these actions in the U.S., written by organizers and participants.
By Pete Seidman
It was a cold day across much of the U.S. and Canada on Sunday, January 30. In Miami, we woke up to 43°F temperature.
Thinking I understood this place and the people I work with here, please imagine my surprise and delight when I got to the assembly point for the caravan against the U.S. blockade of Cuba. Even one hour before our scheduled assembly, 15 caravan activists, dressed as best they could from wardrobes not really set up for this kind of weather, were already there stomping feet, giving hugs, and getting ready for a great day!
By departure time, we were surrounded by some 100 joyous activists ready to start off the year right driving 70 vehicles!
This was a marked increase from the holiday season vigil we organized at the Miami airport the month before. People came from Jacksonville, Naples, and West Palm Beach in Florida as well as Las Vegas, Nevada.
During this first month of the year, the Biden Administration had made it clear, by announcing increased sanctions, that it intended to maintain its criminal blockade of Cuba despite campaign promises to the contrary.
But while Biden has refused to change, the atmosphere in Miami definitely has—as reflected in the reactions from people on the streets as our caravan passed through a city that, far from being the monolithic bloc of reaction depicted in the media and by politicians, is actually divided and polarized over the issue of the blockade.
The morning started with music and statements by Carlos Lazo, national leader of Puentes de Amor (Bridges of Love); Liber Baruetta, a YouTube personality whose program Pellizcando En Vivo has played an increasingly prominent role in promoting the caravan; Haitian community activist Paul Namphy; Max Lesnik from the Alianza Martiana; and others.
There were new signs in English and Spanish proclaiming the six major demands of Puentes de Amor: U.S. Embassy in Havana; Family Reunification; Flights to Provinces; Restore Remittances; Right to Travel; Cultural-Scientific Cooperation. Also, newly designed more permanent vinyl signs for peoples’ cars were available to add to the visual impact of our procession.
We took a new route. After leaving City Hall—a point chosen to underscore our continued disgust with the Mayor’s call for considering a bombing of Havana similar to what was done in Panama when the U.S. invaded in 1989—we drove through the main street of Coconut Grove, then on across the “Miracle Mile” of Coral Gables, followed by a complete round trip down Calle Ocho, the principal street of Little Havana. We drove by such sites as the Versailles Restaurant, Domino Park, and the Bay of Pigs Monument.
Black pedestrians in what is called “The Black Grove” stopped to applaud us and raise their fists in support. When we passed along a section of SW 7th Street as part of our loop through Little Havana, there was actually a group of five or so residents appearing to have waited for us. They waved Cuban flags, gave us thumbs up and yelled “Abajo el Bloqueo!” (End the Blockade). This was definitely a first, although these were by no means the only Cubans saluting us!
In contrast, the usual brigade of counter-protesters, called out by old-line right-wing radio personality Ninoska Perez of Radio Mambi, had shrunk down to only 13 hysterics. They continued to express their outrage that Miami city police had again granted us a permit and kept them across a street from us, making more difficult their efforts to provoke and disrupt our action.
The day was completely peaceful and without incident. We ended the caravan with a rally in Coral Gables at the monument to José Martí, Cuba’s national hero, marking the 169th year since his birth. There we presented bouquets of white roses in honor of this leader of Cuba’s fight for independence.
Organizers announced that the next caravan, the twentieth in a row on the last Sunday of each month, will be on February 27.
NEW YORK CITY
By Barbara Mutnick
Four cars and 11 people showed up at the New York State Office Building in Harlem to oppose U.S. intervention against Cuba, particularly the decades-long blockade. It was the day after the nor’easter that blanketed New York City with snow and brought frigid temperatures to the area.
I noticed positive responses to the car caravan, including from a group of young men who began pumping their fists upon seeing our banners drive by; and then as we came to a stop for a short rally at the office building from a man who, catching sight of us, shouted, “Yeah, they developed covid vaccines, and they aren’t getting sick like Americans are here!”
A Cuban American with a carefully lettered slogan demanding an end to the U.S. blockade on his ball cap was one of the solidarity activists who attended.
Categories: Cuba/Cuba Solidarity