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Veterans For Peace Golden Rule In Havana, Cuba

Above photo: From Facebook.

Gerry Condon’s Remarks at Havana Press Conference, January 5, 2023.

Thank you to the many Cuban people who have welcomed us to their beautiful country.  Thank you to ICAP for hosting our press conference.  And thank you to the members of the media who are here today to listen to our message of peace, love and solidarity.

We are a diverse group of people from the United States and Hawai’i.  We are from the US states of California, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota, New York and Rhode Island.  And several of us are from the island nation of Hawai’i.  We are the crew and supporters of the historic anti-nuclear sailboat Golden Rule. Many of us are members of Veterans For Peace, an organization of former soldiers who are dedicated to abolishing nuclear weapons, and to abolishing war.

Veterans For Peace is sailing the Golden Rule all over the United States to educate people about the growing danger of nuclear war, and to promote the historic UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which the UN General Assembly passed by a vote of 122-1 in June 2017.

We thank Cuba for signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and for being among the original 50 states parties when it entered into force on 22 January 2021.

When signing the treaty on 20 September 2017, the Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said, “We all share the common responsibility to preserve the existence of human beings in the face of a nuclear threat.”

None of the nine nuclear-armed states – the U.S., the UK, France, Russia, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan or Israel – have yet to sign the treaty to ban nuclear weapons, so we still have a lot of work to do.  And now the war in Ukraine, involving the two nuclear superpowers — the US and Russia — has seriously increased the threat of nuclear war.

Like Cuba, Veterans For Peace and the US peace movement is calling for a Ceasefire and Negotiations to end this dangerous war as soon as possible.

Five of us here, under the leadership of Captain Kiko Johnston-Kitizawa, sailed the Golden Rule last week from Key West to Havana.  We arrived to Marina Hemingway on Saturday, December 31, just in time to join in your joyful celebrations.

We have come to Cuba to remind the world that we almost had a terrible nuclear war 60 years ago, in large part because of the US hostile foreign policy toward Cuba.  After the failed CIA –organized Bay of Pigs invasion, the US imposed an economic blockade of Cuba that continues to this day, 60 years later, and has even become much harsher.

The US blockade is illegal under international law. It is immoral. It is mean-spirited. It is unacceptable.  And it has been condemned by the whole world.  Every year the United Nations General Assembly votes overwhelmingly to call for the end of the Blockade.  This year only the US and Israel voted against the UN resolution.

The US blockade of Cuba is an act of ongoing bullying and terrorism against the Cuban people, whose only crime to seek their own sovereignty, their independence, and their right to develop a unique socialist economy to serve the needs of all Cubans.  So it is ironic that the US has declared Cuba to be a “State Sponsor of Terror,” a designation that makes it even harder for Cuba to carry out normal international financial transactions.  Cuba does not sponsor terror.  Cuba sponsors international medical brigades and provides free medical training to its own citizens as well as to young people around the world.

There is no doubt that the US blockade has severely damaged the Cuban economy and made life difficult for Cubans, leading to a large emigration of many Cubans.  We were pleased to hear the news yesterday that the US Consulate will resume its responsibilities to issue visas.  We call on the Biden administration and Congress to take further steps to normalize relations with Cuba and to reverse the many punitive sanctions that make up the US blockade.

We apologize to the Cuban people for the suffering that our government has caused you.  To tell you the truth, most people in the US do not even know about the blockade.  When we return to the US, we promise to do all we can to raise awareness and build political support to end the US blockade of Cuba once and for all.

We love the Cuban people and we want to be good neighbors.

Con Amor y Solidaridad!

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