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The strategy of the Los Angeles Hands Off Cuba committee has focused on ending the US embargo of Cuba through extensive outreach to union struggles, nurses protests for adequate PPE, civil rights and Medicare for All rallies, campaigns against police killings and brutality, Palestinian marches and every opportunity to win new support. The committee recently participated in panels on Cuba sponsored by the LA Raza Educators Association and the All-African Revolutionary People’s Party.

Leading up to the August 29 successful caravan, and press conference, committee members joined in the West Coast march commemoration ML King’s 1961 march on Washington, sponsored by the Southern Christian leadership conference to defend voting rights, winning new support from protest organizers, demonstrators and Black Worker Center.

Invited to speak at the Anniversary of the 1971 Chicano Moratorium, committee members joined the rally in East LA. In 1971 30,000 marched against the war in Vietnam. That same day, LA Cops at the demonstration murdered LA Times reporter Ruben Salazar for his exposure of cop brutality.

The committee received a terrific response in her speech to the rally at Salazar Park, read by Guadalupe Cardona, LA Chair of Raza Educators Association, committee leader Diana Cervantes said:

“The US must stop its campaign to overthrow the Cuban government and Cuban people. The #SOS campaign and small one day protests in Cuba July 11, reflected the dire impacts of the embargo but had the hand of the US government all over it. It was the latest example of the US efforts to destabilize Cuba and make Cubans suffer.

Even though as a country they may have less material goods than more economically developed countries, the resilience and generosity of the Cuban people shines through. Cuba is known for its world-class doctors, nurses, and medicine. They have sent volunteer doctors, more than 30,000 of them, to over 100 countries.”

I am actively involved in the anti-embargo movement, and urge other Cubans to be also because one day the US and Cuba can be friends freely.

The caravan against the embargo then proceeded down Cesar Chavez Blvd. to downtown LA for the press conference held outside a large Cuban Music Festival. 

During the press conference hundreds of flyers were distributed to participants with very few hostile remarks, many voicing agreement and having civil conversations, reflecting the important changes within the Cuban American community.

Speaking at the press conference was a broad array of opponents of the blockade. This included, Floyd Bryan, So. CA. District Council president of the ILWU (International Longshoreman and Warehouseman’s Union) who read part of the recent convention resolution.

Whereas: the ILWU has enjoyed an international relationship with the Cuban Workers Federation (CTC), and in 1947, participated in organizing the International Sugar Workers Committee,

Therefore, be it Resolved that this Convention calls on the Biden administration to vote FOR this Resolution to end the U.S. unilateral extraterritorial embargo of Cuba and act swiftly to remove Cuba from the spurious US list of state sponsors of terrorism, reset Cuba regulations to January 1, 2017, and continue the respectful discussion to fully normalize US-Cuba relations, and

Further be it Resolved, that the ILWU donate $10,000 to GlobalHealth Partners to purchase Syringes4Cuba, and

Further be it Resolved, that this Resolution be distributed to Congressional delegations, the news media, and all labor organizations urging them to do the same.”

James Lafferty, President Emeritus of the LA National Lawyers Guild sent a statement saying:

 “America’s longest war is not in Afghanistan, it’s in Cuba. Ever since the 1959 Cuban revolution, successive U.S. Administrations have employed numerous war-like efforts to overturn that revolution, such as death producing sanctions and blockades, the Bay of Pigs invasion, attempts on Castro’s life, preventing billions of dollars’ worth of U.S. tourism to Cuba, and the banning of much-needed remittances from Cuban Americans to their families in Cuba, which in 2019 alone amounted to starving Cuba of $1.5 billion dollars. End the longest U.S. war in Cuba! Let Cuba live…and thrive!”

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Committee leader and Cuban American JP Cabrera also spoke.

I am here speaking at this press conference because I like the majority of Americans believe that US should have normal relations with Cuba. This inhumane and cruel embargo has done nothing to change the Cuban government except to hurt the Cuban people. Cubans have a right to determine their own society. The embargo has cost the Cuban economy billions of dollars and has caused pain, suffering and death to Cubans due to lack of basic medications which Cuba cannot purchase from the US and is denied access to dollars to purchase them.

 I am actively involved in the anti-embargo movement, and urge other Cubans to be also because one day the US and Cuba can be friends freely, with normalized relations.”

Jennifer Alvarez, was a student studying for her Masters in Public Health degree, when she went to Cuba to study their public health system.

“During that time, we visited many different sites and learned about Cuba’s universal healthcare system that not only is able to provide care for its own people, but to also train a global workforce able to provide necessary emergency care to those in need around the world.”

She read a statement by Bita Amani, Epidemiologist professor in public health equity work, who takes students to Cuba.

“The US embargo placed upon Cuba is a cruel political tool intended to disenfranchise, marginalize, discipline, and control the Cuban people. It has resulted in the Cubans not being able to get necessary and essential resources that include food, medicines, and equipment. Embargos and sanctions are political strategies intended to alienate and cut off a group of people from opportunities to have healthy and mutually beneficial economic relationships with others in the world. They result in increased malnutrition, death, and despair... Cubans have the right to self-determine and there should be no question about this. To continue threatening this right through an embargo not only undermines them, but it also undermines our global goals of equity.”

Excerpts of the letter against the embargo sent to President Biden by local politicians, Congresswoman Nancy Barragan and Senator Ted Lieu was read.

“Among the policies that should be immediately reversed are restrictions on both remittances sent by Cuban-Americans to their families in Cuba as well as donative remittances. After nearly 6 decades of U.S. sanctions, 40 percent of Cuban-Americans send remittances to their families in Cuba and well over half of Cuban citizens depend on them.We also urge you to roll back the Trump Administration’s restrictions on travel to Cuba.”

We also urge you to reverse the recent politicized decision by the Trump Administration to add Cuba back to the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. This designation will further damage Cuba’s economy and place another roadblock in your path towards improved relations.

ILWU-S.-CA-District-President-Floyd-Bryan-speaking-at-LA-press-conference-Against-US-embargo-of-Cuba

These initial steps should be part of an ongoing process that seeks an ultimate end to the harmful and extra-territorial “embargo” (also called an “economic blockade”) against Cuba. Ending the embargo is supported by a majority of people in the United States,6 and it negatively impacts U.S. global leadership, as evidenced by the 28 years of consecutive votes condemning it by nearly all members of the U.N. General Assembly, including our allies.

Also speaking was Maureen Cruise- an RN nurse representing, Healthcare for All-LA, and

CaroleFrancis Likins of the Board member of the Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace

Ending the press conference Cervantes said

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Through the caravans all over LA, we have built spaces where people come together and share their stories and thoughts on the blockade and donate to Cuban medical aid. We hold street rallies and have received press from Univision, channel 4, 7, La Opinion, Estrella TV, and many more. Through donations, we were able to contribute to the syringe campaign where we helped send more than 6 million syringes to Cuba which they need to administer their covid vaccines.

We urge you to join us. END THE US EMBARGO OF CUBA. END THE SANCTIONS NOW.

Mark Friedman