November 1, 2017 marked the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) against the unjust U.S. blockade on Cuba. For 26 years the world has voted increasingly in support of Cuba in favour of the resolution condemning the US blockade on Cuba. This year the vote was overwhelmingly against the blockade of Cuba with 191 votes in favour of the resolution, and just two, the U.S. and Israel voting against the resolution. For over 55 years the U.S. blockade on Cuba has put enormous strain on Cuba’s economy to the tune of over 1.3 trillion dollars in damages. The blockade has prevented Cuba from having access to everything from vital medicines to construction supplies, which is especially pressing after the recent destructive hurricanes. While U.S. President Obama made some positive first steps towards normalizing relations, the blockade has remained in place and U.S. President Trump has rolled back some of the progresses, including restricting U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba.
Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Van) united with groups in solidarity with Cuba around the world, for an international day of action against the criminal U.S. blockade on Cuba. With U.S. President Trump’s increasing threats and attacks on Cuba, organizing this international day of action came at a critical time!
In Vancouver, Canada, actions began with a book launch of “Cuba-U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond” by author Arnold August. The event was organized by the People’s Coop Bookstore and Fernwood Publishing, with the endorsement of VCSC and FCAB-Van. The Montreal-based author, journalist and lecturer Arnold August introduced this valuable book to Vancouver readers and spoke on Trump’s policy against Cuba and the long history of U.S. hostilities towards Cuba. Earlier in the day, VCSC and FCAB-Van also arranged for visits to local high schools with Arnold August, where he was able to talk to students about US-Cuba relations and the vote at the United Nations condemning the U.S. blockade on Cuba.
In the evening, VCSC and FCAB-Van co-organized a cultural-political evening against the U.S. blockade on Cuba, at the Roundhouse Community Center in Downtown Vancouver. The event started out with a welcoming drumming and song from Indigenous elder Eagle Eyes. The audience was treated to the music of South African singer/songwriter Bouna Verdere Jabu, accompanied by guitarist Tony Chotem. The audience then heard from the legendary Cuban musician Gerardo Alfonso, on his last day in Vancouver before returning home to Cuba. Between performing his incredible Nueva Trova songs, Gerardo expressed his appreciation to be part of this event standing in solidarity with his country against the unjust policies of the U.S. government. The evening had another special element, which was to celebrate Gerardo Alfonso’s birthday! As Gerardo wrapped up last song, organizers surprised him with a cake lite with candles, and the audience joined in singing happy birthday.
Another special guest at the event was Arnold August, who spoke and shared a statement of greetings and solidarity in both French and English from the organization La Table de Concertation de Solidarité Québec-Cuba (La TCSQ-C). La TCSQ-C in Montreal organizes monthly picket actions in front of the U.S. Consulate against the U.S. blockade on Cuba, in coordination with the Vancouver picket actions on the 17th of each month organized by FCAB-Van and other (and growing!) cities.
The 45 people in attendance were reminded by event host Tamara Hansen, coordinator of VCSC, that they were standing alongside people around the world against the cruel and immoral U.S. blockade on Cuba, in a united and coordinated international day of action. Participants were referred to the website http://www.us-cubanormalization.org to see other cities organizing against the U.S. blockade on Cuba.
Lift the Blockade on Cuba!
Cuba si! Bloqueo no!