During the June 25-26 weekend, local coalitions organized car caravans and other actions demanding an end to Washington’s economic war on Cuba. The actions took place in a number of U.S. cities, as well as other countries. Organizers of these Cuba solidarity activities in two cities — Miami and New York — sent World-Outlook the two reports that follow.
Miami Caravan Withstands Ultrarightist Attack
By Pete Seidman
MIAMI, Florida, June 26, 2022 — Pent-up frustration with their growing isolation and political impotence boiled over today, when about 30 ultrarightist thugs attacked the Miami Caravan Against the U.S. Blockade of Cuba.
The attack took place in front of the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach, just as the caravan was wrapping up its 24th consecutive monthly action.
Participants had finished singing Cuba’s national anthem, the Bayamesa. We were putting away our giant Cuban flag, other banners, and taking posters off our vehicles. That’s when the thugs came screaming into the area we were using as part of the permit we had obtained for our protest. They quickly overwhelmed the two City of Miami Beach police officers who tried to separate the attackers from our peaceful event. Within 10 minutes, a dozen more squad cars arrived at the scene, as officers kept pushing back against the aggressors.
Caravanistas made a disciplined and dignified, if hasty, retreat to our vehicles and left. None of us were injured or arrested in the fray.
The caravan began earlier, when we assembled across from the Miami-Dade County offices in downtown Miami. We had chosen this location to protest the June 14 vote by the County Commission — conducted while 4 of its 13 members were absent — to condemn President Joe Biden for a modest reversal of a few U.S. sanctions against Cuba his administration recently announced. Up to that point, the White House had kept intact, and even strengthened, more than 240 anti-Cuba sanctions imposed by Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump. As far as we are concerned, Biden did not go too far; he didn’t go anywhere near far enough!
A difficult tactical situation arose at the site of the county government offices. The county has a ridiculous requirement that protesters on the plaza outside its building need to present proof of a $300,000 insurance policy. So, we had to demonstrate across the street. About 75 rightists crowded the sidewalk on the plaza, across the street from us. They also brought a sound truck with overpowering noise levels right into the prohibited area, where authorities let it stay. For the first time in two years, the rightists outnumbered the 50 caravanistas present.
After the starting event, we were able to line up our cars and launch the caravan without further problems. The 25 vehicles on the caravan made an impressive sight as we crossed downtown streets and then took to the long causeway over Biscayne Bay, which ends at Miami Beach. Many cars passed us as we slowly made our way. A lot of drivers rolled down their windows to give friendly waves and thumbs up. We got the same kind of overwhelmingly positive response as we crossed the major tourist areas along 5th Street and Collins Avenue.
It is exactly that kind of friendly response that the hate-filled, pro-blockade Cubans are trying to cut off.
The rightists are feeling betrayed by Biden. His administration’s policy considerations don’t start with them — despite what the right-wingers may imagine — but rather with the broader interests of U.S. imperialism.
Washington recently made a few small concessions on its Cuba policy following its diplomatic failures around the Summit of the Americas it hosted in Los Angeles (and other thorny issues such as a recent increase in immigration from Cuba). A number of top government officials from Mexico and other countries boycotted the Summit of the Americas to protest the U.S.-led exclusion from the meeting of Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. Recent political winds in Latin America are less favorable to Washington.
This is part of the background to the explosion of violence by the ultraright today. The failure by these forces to force the cancellation of a concert last month by the popular Cuban band Los Van Van, which about 1,000 people attended, also fueled their thug attack. The rightists’ utter inability during our May caravan to bring “hundreds of thousands of Cubans” in the streets against “communists” — that is, caravanistas who mobilized 130 people outnumbering the opposition — was another factor in inflaming the right-wing rage on full display today (see “May 29 Miami Caravan Stands Up to Rightist Threats.“)
These right-wingers can no longer credibly speak as the only voice of the Cuban community in Miami. A city that is, in fact, deeply divided on the issue of the U.S. blockade. The consistency and success of the monthly caravans, broadcasting the demand for an end to Washington’s economic war on Cuba, makes this polarization clearer and clearer.
Partisans of the caravan will be meeting soon to discuss a political response to the June 26 attack.
We will demand at a minimum that county and city authorities — as well as the police that is supposed to enforce the law — safeguard the right to free speech in Miami.
On to the July 31 car caravan in Miami!
NY Jackson Heights Rally Attracts Attention
By Jason Corley
JACKSON HEIGHTS, QUEENS, New York, June 25, 2022 — Members of the New York – New Jersey Cuba Sí Coalition led about 30 people in a rally and march here today. The action was part of monthly caravans to demand an end to the U.S. government’s economic war on Cuba.
We hold these demonstrations in solidarity with “Puentes De Amor” (Bridges of Love). Led by Cuban American Carlos Lazo, this is a group that helped spearhead the monthly actions.
Coalitions in about 40 cities across the United States, as well as Canada and other countries, organize the caravans the last weekend of every month. They are part of a united front in opposition to U.S. policy toward Cuba, which is designed to grind down the Cuban people and ultimately overthrow their government and socialist revolution.
We chanted slogans and distributed literature in English and Spanish to appeal to as many people as possible. Many people in this ethnically diverse neighborhood in fact speak Bengali or Hindi. People of various nationalities took literature today. Several, including two Cuban Americans, signed a mailing list to receive more information about upcoming events.
Speakers at the rally included Negash Abdurahman, who directed the recently released film “Cuba in Africa.” With past- and present-day footage, the movie documents the historic role Cuba played in national liberation struggles across southern Africa from the late 1970s through the early 1990s.
After invasions of Angola by the racist apartheid regime, hundreds of thousands of Cuban volunteer troops assisted the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which led the government of that country. Cuban volunteers also helped SWAPO, which led the struggle to liberate Namibia from apartheid’s colonial boot. Cuba’s selfless aid “broke the back of apartheid,” Abdurahman said. Cuba’s help was essential for safeguarding Angola’s sovereignty, winning Namibia’s independence, and freeing Nelson Mandela from prison in South Africa. Mandela led the victorious democratic revolution in South Africa that toppled the apartheid regime.
Several people from the neighborhood spoke as well. They included Kewulay Kamara from Sierra Leone, who described the critical role of Cuba’s medical assistance in the fight against the Ebola virus in West Africa in 2014-2016.
Wellington Echegaray, originally from Ecuador, praised Cuba’s determination to maintain its revolutionary course despite the crippling U.S embargo. Cuba offers an example for people across Latin America, he said, who stand up to reactionary policies that put the weight of the capitalist economic crisis on the backs of working-class people. Echegaray highlighted recent protests that have shaken Ecuador this month. Indigenous people and others have risen up in that country, demanding relief from skyrocketing food and fuel prices.
Other speakers included Puerto Rican Alma Rodriguez, whom organizers met in the Puerto Rico Nationalist Party contingent at New York’s recent Puerto Rican Day parade.
Yhamir Chabur, a young Colombian American and a member of the Cuba Sí Coalition also spoke. Chabur cited the recent victory of Gustavo Petro and his running mate Francia Márquez in Colombia’s presidential elections as a positive step for that country and the continent.
Barbara Mutnick, a Cuba Sí member and one of the rally co-chairs, denounced the U.S. Supreme Court repeal of Roe v. Wade, taking away only three days earlier the federal right of women in the United States to choose abortion. “The U.S. is becoming an outlier in the Americas,” Mutnick said. “Mexico and Argentina have recently decriminalized abortion. And Cuba leads the way — having had free and legal abortion available to all who need it since 1965!”
Categories: Cuba/Cuba Solidarity
I have reports of other caravans in Milwaukee, Montreal, Vancouver, and Portland. There may well have been others. I hope they will report here!
Pete, thanks for the feedback. We encourage all Caravan activists across the world to send monthly reports to World-Outlook.