Today car and bike caravans in many U.S. cities are rightly demanding that Cuba be taken off the U.S. State Department’s “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list. Did you know there was such a thing? Every presidential administration appoints a secretary of state. Now it is Antony Blinken; before him was Mike Pompeo, and under Obama it was John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. And the president, through the secretary of state, can put countries on this list or take them off. It is that arbitrary. As a parting slam against Cuba, on Jan. 12, 2021, just eight days before Joe Biden assumed the presidency, the Trump administration condemned Cuba once again. And Biden has let it stand, although he can waive provisions or decide to remove Cuba from the list altogether.
What right does the United States have to starve civilians to achieve political goals? Despite its obvious importance, this question is largely absent from mainstream discourse. Through economic sanctions, or economic warfare, the U.S. can unilaterally collapse economies and generate famine in foreign countries. The civilian death toll from sanctions is often equal to—and sometimes greater than—the toll from conventional warfare. Yet on both sides of the aisle, it is taken for granted that we have the “right” to impose destitution on civilian populations in order to advance our interests. The U.S. administers two types of sanctions: primary and secondary sanctions.
Thirty Cuba solidarity activists heard updates, Sunday, August 28, on how the people of the island are adapting to the ongoing impacts of the US economic blockade and the recent fire at an oil depot in Matanzas, fifty miles from Havana. Three members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation gave report backs from a recent visit to the island, which included the delivery of humanitarian assistance, part of the Hatuey Project. The updates preceded a car caravan, one of many around the country, demanding an end to the US blockade of Cuba. Sam Doucas, Erica Steib, and Alexa 'Lex' Nutile spoke about Cuba’s justified reputation for providing health care for all of its citizens. They pointed out that Cuba’s infant mortality rate is less than that of the more developed United States. However, because of the 62-year US economic blockade, the Cuban health care system is short of vital medicines and diagnostics and surgical equipment to facilitate health on the island. To help support Cubans’ health, the three PSL members joined with others in the Hatuey Project to bring medical supplies to support maternal care on the island.
By now, the images of the oil explosion that erupted in the Cuban province of Matanzas on Friday, August 5 and continues blazing have become international news. When lightning struck an oil tank in Cuba's largest oil storage facility, it quickly exploded and began to spread to nearby tanks. As of now, four of the eight tanks have caught fire. Dozens of people have been hospitalized, over 120 have been reported injured, at least 16 firefighters are still reported missing and one firefighter has died. This latest disaster—the largest oil fire in Cuba's history—comes at a time when Cuba is currently undergoing an energy crisis due to soaring global fuel costs, as well as over-exploited and obsolete infrastructure. The raging fire will undoubtedly further exacerbate the electricity outages that Cubans are suffering from as a result of the on-going energy crisis that is occurring in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record globally.
At least one person has died, 17 firefighters are missing, and 121 people have been injured in a huge fire that broke out on Friday, August 5, in a fuel depot in Matanzas, in western Cuba, 60 miles east of Havana. The fire started on Friday evening after a lighting hit a fuel tank in Matanzas, and then in the early hours of Saturday it spread to a second tank, causing a big explosion around 5:00 A.M. while government officials and firefighter teams were trying to control the first explosion. All throughout Saturday Cuban authorities worked tirelessly to prevent the fire from reaching a third tank. The storage facility consists of eight storage tanks overall. The governments of Mexico and Venezuela have already sent expert teams to help the Cubans in the midst of the catastrophe that has shaken the island nation subjected to more than 60 years of an illegal US blockade.
Marco Rubio has done it again. The man famous for slandering and being ashamed of his Cuban and Latino roots once again made a fool of himself before the world by requesting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct an “immediate” inquiry into the ties between the U.S.-based solidarity group Puentes de Amor and Cuba. The Florida senator believes it is highly suspicious that Carlos Lazo, who founded and currently coordinates the group, is meeting with authorities on the island. The movement has traveled to the Caribbean country dozens of times with health supplies and food, especially during the hardest months of the pandemic. According to Rubio, it is inadmissible that Lazo has met with Cuban leader Miguel Diaz-Canel at two very recent moments, in June of this year and August of last year.
As the Cuban government celebrates the July 26 Day of the National Rebellion — a public holiday commemorating the 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks that is considered the precursor to the 1959 revolution — U.S. groups are calling on the Biden administration to end cruel sanctions that are creating such hardship for the Cuban people. In particular, they are pushing President Joe Biden to take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Being on this list subjects Cuba to a series of devastating international financial restrictions. It is illegal for U.S. banks to process transactions to Cuba, but U.S. sanctions also have an unlawful extraterritorial reach. Fearful of getting in the crosshairs of U.S. regulations, most Western banks have also stopped processing transactions involving Cuba or have implemented new layers of compliance.
Havana, Cuba - Today, the government of the United States announced several measures, which are positive but of a very limited scope, regarding Cuba associated to the granting of visas, regular migration, flights to Cuban provinces, remittances and adjustments to the regulations governing transactions with the non-state sector. Taking into account the nature of such measures, it would be possible to identify some of the promises made by President Biden during the electoral campaign of 2020 to alleviate the inhumane decisions adopted by President Trump’s administration, which tightened the blockade to unprecedented levels and increased the “maximum pressure” policy applied ever since against our country.
The world is living in uncertain times. The Western powers, led by the United States, insist on escalating tensions in Eastern Europe over an regional conflict that should have nothing to do with them. Unbridled hatred is spreading through social networks as never before, towards Russia, Russians, and anyone who is not on Washington’s side in defending its “world order”. The White House and its allies announced a battalion of sanctions against Moscow for the war in Ukraine and deployed thousands of NATO troops across the region, threatening to bring the planet to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe. Their obedient media echo the messages of violence, exaggerate the successes of Ukrainian troops, paint Russian leader Vladimir Putin as the Hitler of the 21st century and this morning Biden from Poland called for regime change in Russia.
Paris, France - The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) announced today its support to the media marathon called by the channel Europe for Cuba to denounce and condemn the blockade imposed by the United States on the island for more than 60 years. The WFTU, the militant voice of more than 105 million workers worldwide, supports and participates in this initiative scheduled for April 2 and 3, said the organization’s Secretariat, in a communiqué shared with Prensa Latina by the European solidarity platform activated in October 2020. In the document, the Federation recalled its traditional rejection of the economic, commercial and financial siege that Washington applies to the Caribbean country, a policy intensified in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This Sunday, January 30, on the streets of Cuba and other parts of the world, the demand for lifting the illegal US blockade against Cuba prevailed. This came just days after the 60th anniversary of the officialization of this hostile policy against the Caribbean island. According to the Twitter profile of the Cuban Foreign Affairs Ministry, from the cities of Santa Clara in the center of the country, and Bayamo in the east, the family of the Antillean nation joined a caravan that demanded the end of the economic, commercial and financial siege. “Compatriots residing in Italy and friends of #Cuba build #PuentesDeAmor and demand the end of the blockade that hit this Island 60 years ago,” published the Twitter account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, since the initiative is also engaged with other cities around the world.
On January 15, 2022, the organizations Puentes de Amor, The People’s Forum and CODEPINK are sending a cargo plane loaded with 15,000 pounds of powdered milk from Miami to Cuba. Representatives of the organizations are traveling to Cuba with the shipment. The aid will be received by the Martin Luther King Center in Havana. It will be distributed to pediatric hospitals in Havana. Since the pandemic and the disruption of food supplies it has caused, there has been a shortage of powdered milk in Cuba, which is normally given out by the state—for free—to children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with medical needs. Due to the reluctance of U.S. companies and banks to deal with Cuba for fear of running afoul of U.S. sanctions, Cuba buys imported milk—at an inflated cost—from places as far as New Zealand and Uruguay.
This 2021 has been the most difficult year for the Cuban people. In addition to the ravages of the blockade, thousands of people died due to the Covid-19. The list was immense, and as the days went by, names became familiar and beloved faces. Moreover, it was also a year of economic readjustments and changes needed to move the island towards a possible and sustainable development over time. The changes, the deaths, and the pandemic came at a time when the world economy suffered the strongest recession since the years of the Second World War. Cuba suffered double this new crisis since it had already been dragging around the chains of an unjust financial blockade for decades, which between April 2019 and December 2020 alone caused over nine trillion dollars in losses.
Most of the 193 member states of the United Nations made public statements to defend Cuba against the “maximum pressure” campaign. In a statement, the 120 members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) “strongly condemn[ed] the international campaign organized… with the purpose of destabilizing the Republic of Cuba.” The NAM called for an end to the US blockade.