We just spent four amazing days with hundreds of activists in Washington, DC to demand that President Joe Biden remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Some activists were even arrested for calling for a different policy with Cuba! The days of action, called for by the National Network on Cuba, were marked by advocacy days on Capitol Hill, vigils, panels, art builds and an energizing rally and protest at the White House on Sunday. Over 30 cities held similar demonstrations throughout the country, including Los Angeles, where our CODEPINKers also joined the call to action.
With President Biden and hawkish politicians like Senator Bob Menedez set on prolonging the suffering of 11 million Cubans by continuing Trump’s anti-Cuba policies, we’ve decided to unite forces and send the clear message that these criminal and illegal policies do not represent the vast majority of people in the U.S.
As part of the advocacy days, our group delivered a letter signed by many of you, urging Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to remove New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his pro-embargo stance and numerous investigations into his corruption. As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez holds a lot of influence over our country's foreign policy and national security decisions, which he uses to thwart any efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.
Now that we’ve delivered the message to Schumer, we need to make sure the Senate Foreign Relations Committee continues hearing from us. We will be delivering a new letter to Senator Ben Cardin, the second most senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, with the same demand! Tell Senator Cardin that it is unethical to have someone with such questionable morals lead such a powerful committee.
When we went to Senator Menendez’s office, we were met with unwarranted hostility. We had hoped to share our concerns with the senator, but instead of meeting with us, Menendez had three activists from our group arrested. While Menendez accuses Cuba of having a repressive dictatorship, he has peace activists arrested and handed court dates. So much for freedom of speech! Help us get this crook out of the Foreign Relations Committee.
During our advocacy day, it became very clear that Senator Menendez is the main barrier for normalizing relations between the US and Cuba. Multiple offices expressed a desire for a new Cuba policy but Menendez uses his powerful position to prevent that from happening by intimidating his colleagues. We were happy to find that the majority of the offices we visited agreed with our demand that Cuba must be removed from this list. Many offices even expressed interest in visiting Cuba and learning more about how they can support our efforts. Menendez's hawkish position is out of step with the people of the United States and even members of his own party disagree with him.Tell Senator Cardin that we need a leader who prioritizes diplomacy with our neighbor!
This past week’s vibrant display of solidarity with the Cuban people is indicative of the groundswell of support for policy change now! While the U.S. government clings to Cold War policies toward Cuba, the movement to normalize relations and end all sanctions is growing. We are excited to continue the momentum to break the blockade and build bridges of love between our peoples but we need anti-Cuba Senator Bob Menendez to step aside!
Onwards to Peace,
Samantha, Medea, Michelle, Teri and Ysa