On the last weekend of September, local coalitions organized car caravans and other actions demanding an end to Washington’s economic war against Cuba. The activities took place in cities across the United States, as well as other countries. Organizers of these actions in three Canadian and two U.S. cities sent World-Outlook the reports that follow.
By Pete Seidman
The September 25 Miami caravan against the U.S. blockade of Cuba was a resounding success! About 80 people (in 40 vehicles) joined to make this action larger than the previous one in August. Meanwhile, the rightist haters who have become fixtures of provocation and disruption decreased in numbers for the second month in a row. We had twice as many people as they did!
There was a short rally at the caravan assembly area in Coral Gables. Speakers included Jacuna Matata, a Cuban activist who flew in from Las Vegas, Nevada, where she organizes caravans; Oni Shango, one of the original bicycle riders in the very first caravan in July 2020; longtime Cuba solidarity leader Max Lesnik; Nesbit Crutchfield, a national leader of the Venceremos Brigade; YouTuber Bijote from Calimba TV; and Miami caravan leader Valerio Coco. Puerto Rican youth activist Libre Sankara chaired the rally.
Coco announced the call for a large national demonstration against the blockade to take place in New York City and other places on October 29, before the United Nations (UN) General Assembly is scheduled to vote for the 30th time on a motion by Cuba to condemn the blockade. Leaflets bearing the names of scores of national endorsers for this action were distributed and received an enthusiastic reception.
Another inspiring aspect of the day was the participation by a growing number that are identifying as “caravan youth.” They had organized an educational event the night before where they showed a Belly of the Beast documentary about the blockade that about 30 people, mostly young, attended, braving a huge rainstorm to participate. A party full of political discussion, music, and food followed.
These events mark a continued opening of political space in Miami for those opposing the blockade. The shifting relationship of forces has taken place despite a red-baiting news conference held August 2 by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio where he called on the FBI to investigate organizations and leaders that oppose the blockade, accusing us of violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Rubio’s attempt to grab headlines has failed to reverse his slide at the polls. The incumbent was some 20 points ahead of his Democratic challenger, former Tampa police chief Val Demings, as recently as last June. The Hill political website reports that now, less than six weeks before the elections, “A USA Today-Suffolk University poll… found Rubio ahead with 45 percent to Demings’s 41 percent. The results fall just inside the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error.”
The Miami caravan organized a news conference to respond to Rubio’s red baiting. The caravan’s ongoing fight to expand its democratic rights has also been successful in winning important changes to the protocols that the police of the City of Coral Gables and City of Miami follow with counter demonstrators. These went into effect during the August caravan. The police now create strictly enforced neutral zones between the two groups and no longer turn a blind eye to the provocative and violent behavior of the rightists with the phony justification that the rightists are exercising their equal right to “free speech.” At the July caravan, officers arrested two of the rightists for their violent behavior.
As they are pushed back into a separate space and ignored by caravan activists who are focused on presenting our own message, the rightists are entering a demoralizing decline in their efforts to intimidate us. Conversely, caravan participants increasingly sense we are winning in the effort to expand our right to demonstrate. We also see the beginning of our movement’s growth, including the new and inspiring participation by young people.
When the caravan reached its destination at Miami City Hall Park, there was a joyful atmosphere, including dancing and many group photos. The caravan will be holding a general meeting soon to begin planning for sending a large delegation from Miami to the October 29 event in New York City.
NEW YORK CITY
By Mark Satinoff
The opening of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly marks a time of increased opportunities and stepped-up activity for the work of the NY-NJ Cuba Sí Coalition.
On Saturday, September 24, a packed audience of 500 people attended the “People’s Summit: Democracy Beyond the U.S. Empire” at the historic Riverside Church. Featured speakers included Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba’s foreign minister; Carlos Faría, Venezuela’s foreign minister; Vijay Prashad, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research; and Claudia de la Cruz, The People’s Forum. Many Cuba Sí members who were in attendance handed out hundreds of flyers for our “Bridges of Love” (Puentes de Amor) protest the following day.
On Sunday, September 25, around 40 Cuba solidarity activists marched and rallied in the Corona neighborhood of the borough of Queens, New York, to demand an end to the criminal U.S. blockade of Cuba. Corona is overwhelmingly working class and Hispanic.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NY-NJ Cuba Sí Coalition’s monthly protests typically took the form of car caravans in Manhattan. We have now shifted gears and are oriented toward carrying out more street protests and extending our reach into working-class neighborhoods outside of Manhattan. This rally was held in Corona Plaza, which is one square block in size, jam-packed with food vendors. It’s also the scene of a busy subway stop, which makes for lots of foot traffic.
In building for the rally, Cuba Sí members distributed flyers for our protest at some of the many activities that took place during the past few weeks that coincided with the opening of the UN General Assembly. This included rallies for the newly elected President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, and recently elected President of Honduras, Xiomara Castro. We also leafleted at a protest denouncing the Marcos – Duterte government sponsored by The Northeast Coalition to Advance Genuine Democracy in the Philippines.
Representatives of member groups of the Cuba Sí Coalition attended and spoke at the Corona action. They included the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, the Venceremos Brigade, Socialist Action, Socialist Workers Party, and Workers World Party.
Two young women from the Palestinian Youth Movement attended for the first time, one of whom addressed the rally. They plan to raise with their membership joining the Cuba Sí coalition.
Three members of the National Lawyers Guild were present throughout the event as legal observers. But unlike the past couple of protests, the rightist Cuba haters did not show up. We received a friendly response from the neighborhood. A number of people signed the mailing list.
Plans are underway for a November march and rally in Brooklyn’s large Caribbean community.
We are building and supporting the call for a powerful, united demonstration in New York City on Saturday, October 29. This precedes the UN’s annual vote on a motion by Cuba to condemn the U.S. blockade of Cuba. The 30th consecutive vote is scheduled for November 2 and 3.
By Tamara Hansen
On Sunday, September 25, people in three cities in Canada took to the streets demanding an end to the unjust U.S. blockade on Cuba.
In Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver organizers and supporters joined together to remind U.S. president Biden that for over 60 years the people of Cuba have been living under the cruel U.S. blockade and that this injustice must end now!
In Ottawa,organizers drove their vehicles to the streets, with signs and waving Cuban flags. Signs in English and French reflected the importance of reaching both communities in the Ottawa/Gatineau area. The car caravan stopped outside the Cuban Embassy to show support for the Cuban people in their struggle against the blockade.
In Toronto, folks rallied in front of the U.S. Consulate. Julio Fonseca, co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba and president of the Association of Cuban residents of Toronto “Juan Gualberto Gomez,” said there was a good showing. Over 40 protesters representing many organizations took part. They included young people from the Canadian Federation of Students, the Juan Gualberto Gomez association, the Canadian Cuba Friendship Association-Toronto, and others from a diversity of Latin American groups. The program included chanting, picketing, and speakers demanding, “¡Abajo el bloqueo!” (Down with the blockade!).
Here in Vancouver, 21 anti-blockade activists drove through city streets in 13 cars decorated with signs and Cuban flags. Afterward everyone gathered back at the starting point for a short rally and group photo. While in the park, several passers-by asked about the Vancouver caravan and expressed support for Cuba in its struggle against the U.S. blockade.
During the rally speakers reminded everyone of the importance of these monthly actions and reported on the success of the Miami caravan, which had sent a video to organizers in Vancouver of their action that took place earlier in the day.
Andrew Barry, coordinator of the Vancouver Car Caravan and organizer with Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver, said during the rally, “Soon the UN General Assembly will be meeting in New York and for the 30th time Cuba will be presenting a motion calling for an immediate end to the US Blockade on Cuba. There has been an international week of actions called for the days leading up to the vote October 26 to November 3. Here in Vancouver, we will participate in those actions with our next car caravan on Sunday October 30. It will be an important month to show our strength and unity against the unjust blockade on Cuba!”
An urgent appeal: On September 27 Hurricane Ian made landfall in Cuba, causing devastation. Cuba urgently needs our assistance in reconstruction. Please consider donating to the “Let Cuba Rebuild” Campaign organized by Let Cuba Live if you are in the U.S. or the Canadian Network on Cuba’s Hurricane Relief Campaign if you are in Canada.
Let Cuba Rebuild: https://letcubalive.info
Canadian Network on Cuba: http://canadiannetworkoncuba.ca
The Let Cuba Live website explains, “The U.S. sanctions and embargo are preventing Cuba from rebuilding after Hurricane Ian. The Biden Administration needs to act right now to help the Cuban people. Hurricane Ian caused great devastation. The power grid was damaged, and the electrical system collapsed. Over four thousand homes have been completely destroyed or badly damaged.”
The need for urgent action is clear! Please consider donating to one of these funds, while also keeping up the pressure on the Biden administration to End the U.S. Blockade on Cuba!
Categories: Cuba/Cuba Solidarity
The reports on the actions against the blockade of Cuba are heartening. Excellent article by Peter and Mark. Unfortunately, my health problems (I’ll be 85 in a week) prevent me from being very active and doing much traveling.