Photo: San Francisco protest
In a resounding rejection of the corporate media’s non-stop propaganda campaign, people in cities all across the United States participated in demonstrations July 24 to 26 to demand an end to the blockade of Cuba and all U.S. intervention. Organizers of the demonstrations argued that the hardships experienced by the Cuban people are the result of the six-decade-long economic war being waged on the country by the United States. They rejected the lie that the Cuban government is oppressive towards its people and expressed support for the Cuban revolution.
The actions coincided with the annual July 26 holiday, which commemorates the 1953 raid on the Moncada barracks led by Fidel Castro that sparked the revolution.
In Washington, D.C., hundreds rallied at the White House on Sunday calling for an end to the blockade of Cuba and demanding that President Biden lift the 243 sanctions on the country imposed by the Trump administration. The action was organized by the ANSWER Coalition, CODEPINK, National Network on Cuba, Puentes de Amor and other groups. The demonstration also welcomed Carlos Lazo and six other Cuban-Americans who walked over 1,300 miles from Miami to Washington, D.C., to present the Biden administration with a petition bearing over 25,000 signatures calling for the lifting of sanctions on Cuba.
Carlos Lazo highlighted the widespread and broad opposition to the sanctions and blockade among people he met during his journey to Washington, demonstrating the disconnect between the people of the United States and the actions of the Biden administration. ANSWER Coalition organizer Sean Blackmon recounted the police response to the uprisings against racism in Lafayette Park last summer, pointing out that “[The U.S.] government has no right to call any government repressive.”
In Tampa, Florida, activists rallied at Ybor Centennial Park and marched to Parque Amigos de Jose Marti (Friends of Jose Marti Park), a park commemorating the Cuban national independence hero. Activists chanted “U.S. hands off Cuba!” and “Yo Soy Fidel!” in the face of an aggressive right-wing counterprotest calling for U.S. intervention. The event was co-hosted by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Students for a Democratic Society, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Democratic Socialists of America, Students for Justice in Palestine and the ANSWER Coalition.
On July 22 in New York City, activists gathered to shine a light, literally, on the cruelty of the U.S. blockade.
Over 50 cars and many bikes participated in a caravan through the Mission District in San Francisco sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee, Saving Lives Campaign and the Venceremos Brigade – Bay Area. At the rally ahead of the July 25 caravan, Liván Montoya, who grew up in Cuba, offered these words: “I grew up in Cuba. I was born in 1974, so I have a pretty good idea of the abundance times before the 90s when everything tumbled down and the Special Period started. So, I can compare how life was before and after, and I totally don’t believe that it is the Cuban government’s responsibility for the economic situation right now. … Thank you for supporting the Cuban struggle, you have made me even more proud to come from Cuba.”
Community members attended the monthly picket and car caravan against the blockade in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. Participants included the Seattle Cuba Friendship Committee, ANSWER Seattle, PSL Seattle, Veterans for Peace #92, and U.S. Women and Cuba Collaboration. Chairing the rally, Jane Cutter of ANSWER told the crowd about the Puentes de Amor demonstration taking place at the exact same time in Washington, D.C., which was led by Seattle area teacher Carlos Lazo. Following a spirited sign waving session at the busy intersection, decorated cars drove through the community.
Protesters gathered for a rally at Philadelphia’s City Hall on July 26 organized by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Black Alliance for Peace and Workers World Party. Speakers gave special attention to the many instances of international solidarity shown by Cuba to oppressed people around the world — from South Africa to Namibia, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Black people in the United States. Speaker Xiomara Torres from the Party for Socialism and Liberation recalled famous Puerto Rican poet Lola Rodríguez de Tió who asserted that “Cuba and Puerto Rico are two wings of the same bird.”
In Los Angeles, the ANSWER Coalition joined the U.S. Hands Off Cuba Committee in their caravan to demand an end to the blockade. The caravan started with people driving five miles from Carson all the way down to Wilmington. Throughout the ride, organizers waved their flags, honked and displayed “End the Blockade” signs. ANSWER organizers were synchronized in blasting the iconic song “El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido ” through their car stereos.
Diana Cervantes, an organizer with the U.S. Hands off Cuba Committee, noted that the U.S. government blocks Cuba’s access to syringes, a shortage which prevents the government from fully vaccinating all the country’s people from COVID-19. She stated: “It’s really difficult for Cuba right now to administer their own vaccine because they don’t have enough syringes for their people. The vaccine requires 3 doses so they need at least 3 syringes per person, but getting syringes to Cuba is really difficult because of the blockade and sanctions against the country.” At the end of the caravan, everyone gathered at Banning Park for a rally and picnic.
A car caravan traveled through Milwaukee’s South Side in the Mitchell Park, Clarke Square, and Silver City neighborhoods on July 25. Educator and former Milwaukee School Board member Tony Baez argued, “This [U.S.] aggression is not new, the interests of this country in expansionism and capitalism. … In 1823, they were already talking about taking over Cuba and Puerto Rico. In 1898, they made aggression toward countries that were on their way to take over Puerto Rico. You think that the Americans came to Puerto Rico because they love us? No! They came to Puerto Rico because they wanted corporate control and they have tried to do the same in Cuba.”
Nearly 20 organizations were part of the Detroit rally held downtown on July 26. Darryl Jordan, co-director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, told the crowd: “If you know anything about Cuba, you know that we should be trying to model [our society] to be like them. We’re over here fighting about water, they’re not fighting about whether they [Cubans] can afford their water. Over here, we got people hungry. You might not eat what you want, but you are not going to be hungry in Cuba.”
On July 24, protesters in Boston demanded an end to U.S. intervention in both Cuba and Haiti. At the rally and speakout, ANSWER Boston organizer Rachel Domond told the crowd: “We are here to denounce the genocidal blockade against Cuba, but we are also here to denounce U.S. intervention in Haiti. Both of these revolutions, the Haitian and Cuban, produced shining examples of what the poor and the oppressed classes can achieve when we band together and fight as a class against the mega-rich elites who exploit us.”
A speak out and march was held through the streets of downtown Chicago July 25. The action received wide support among community and progressive organizations with 15 groups participating. Dr. Lashawn Yvonne Littrice from Make Noize for Change said at the rally, “I am standing in solidarity with the Cuban revolution because I believe that our government needs to stop committing these crimes against our brothers and sisters.”
Organizations in Albany, New York, formed the Albany Campaign to End the Blockade, made up of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Albany Cuba Solidarity, Upper Hudson Green Party, Capital District Socialist Party, Albany and Troy Democratic Socialists of America, and Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace. A community speak out took place in Lincoln Park before a march through the city, ending with a rally at Townsend Park. In Indiana, two actions were held on July 18 — in both Ft. Wayne and Indianapolis. Protesters gathered on July 23 in Eureka, California, raising awareness about the cruel blockade by waving signs in front of the 101 highway. Nearby in Fresno, United Students Against Sweatshops, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the ANSWER Coalition, and Let Tower Live led a car caravan that traveled all over the city.
While the long and multi-faceted U.S. war on Cuba continues, the solidarity movement among the people of the United States is growing. Instead of supporting the Biden administration’s regime change push, more and more people are speaking out in favor of the full normalization of relations between the two countries and an end to the U.S. blockade.