No reason given for violation of civil liberties
By Duane Stilwell
May 6, 2023 — On May 3, U.S. Homeland Security agents at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport detained three young activists returning from their first trip to Cuba. The three were released four hours later with just enough time to catch their connecting flight to Los Angeles. In a violation of constitutional rights, the agents took the travelers’ phones and presumably inspected them. The cops offered no reason for the detentions.
The three are members of the LA US Hands Off Cuba Committee. The group — which campaigns for an end to Washington’s more than 60-year-long economic, financial, and commercial blockade of the island nation — organized the trip. The 37 participants included delegations and individual members of U.S. trade unions. Among them were union organizers from the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) in New York, Carolina Amazonians United for Solidarity and Empowerment (CAUSE) in North Carolina, and Amazon’s ONT8 warehouse in California.
The delegation also included representatives of the African People’s Socialist Party. The FBI targeted this organization last year, carrying out military-style raids on its offices. Four of the group’s leaders were indicted on April 18 on bogus charges of “sowing discord, spreading pro-Russia propaganda and interfering in elections within the United States.”
A handful of people from other organizations were also detained at the Miami and Newark airports, upon their return from Cuba, so the Fort Lauderdale detentions were not an isolated incident.
The airport detentions are an act of political intimidation. They occurred at the same time the Miami Caravan Against the U.S. Blockade of Cuba, a group that seeks to build bridges between the peoples of the two countries, has been forced to mount a defense of its First Amendment rights. Right-wing thugs have increasingly employed violent tactics against its monthly caravans and rallies, while the police, under the management of Miami-Dade County, have refused to protect the caravan’s right to peacefully assemble and protest.
The LA Hands Off Cuba Committee plans to meet to organize a response to the unlawful detention of members of its delegation, who complied with all pertinent legal requirements imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department, regarding travel to the island.
The Cuban Federation of Trade Unions (CTC) invited individuals and organizations from the United States to take part in a week-long internship, which included delegations of trade unionists from 11 Latin American countries totaling 101 people. Those attending planned to take part in Cuba’s May Day celebration — the international workers’ holiday. They also attended an international solidarity conference in Havana on May 2 that drew more than 1,000 guests.
Due to extensive wind and water damage the last day of April, the May Day celebrations were postponed from May 1 to May 5, when they took place across the country. This year, in order to save scarce fuel, several rallies were organized in Havana and other cities rather than one large march.
Due to the postponement, U.S. delegates were invited to attend a meeting hosted by Cuba’s president Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez at the Palacio de la Revolución (Revolution Palace), which serves as the seat of the Cuban government.
About 280 U.S. delegates attended the May 1 meeting. Representatives of the National Network on Cuba (NNOC), the group Building Relations with Cuban Labor, International People’s Assembly (IPA), US Cuba Normalization Conference, Black Men Build, several political parties, and the Los Angeles Hands Off Cuba Committee gave short presentations.
Many of the participating organizations immediately denounced the detentions of those returning to the United States from Cuba.
“We stand with our friends in the IPA Youth Brigade & LA Hands Off Cuba Brigade who were wrongfully detained & harassed today as punishment for showing their solidarity with Cuba,” the NNOC tweeted on May 3. “US people have [the] right to freely travel to Cuba & we will continue to exercise that right!”
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Categories: Cuba/Cuba Solidarity