We just spent four days with hundreds of passionate activists, artists, students, union leaders and Cuban American friends in Washington, DC with the common demand that President Joe Biden remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. The days of action, called for by the National Network on Cuba, were marked by advocacy days on Capitol Hill, vigils, panels, artbuilds and an energizing rally and protest at the White House on Sunday. Some activists were even arrested for calling for a different policy with Cuba! Over 30 cities held similar demonstrations throughout the country, including Los Angeles, where our CODEPINKers also joined the call to action.
With President Biden set on prolonging the suffering of 11 million Cubans by continuing Trump’s anti-Cuba policies, we’ve decided to unite forces and push back. Through our actions, we sent a clear message that these criminal and illegal policies towards our neighbor do not represent the views of the majority of people in the U.S.
Check out the recap of the actions captured by independent Cuba news outlet Belly of the Beast
June 22: Three Arrested: "Cuba, Si!, Menendez, No!"
As part of the advocacy days, we delivered a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer calling for the removal of New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his pro-embargo stance and numerous investigations into his corruption.
We then went to Senator Menendez’s office where 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!
Calla Walsh (NNOC), Aleja Rincon (NNOC) and Gail Walker (IFCO/Pastors for Peace) arrested
June 23: Advocacy Day
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.
June 23: Interfaith Prayer Vigil
After a long day in Congress, we joined representatives of various religious groups for a prayer vigil in solidarity with Cuba outside the United Methodist building just steps away from the U.S. Capitol.
June 24: United in One Struggle
On Saturday, we came together with the Amazon Labor Union and dozens of allies outside Jeff Bezos' DC mansion to demand better conditions for Amazon workers and justice for Poushawn Brown, an Amazon worker who died from COVID-19 after being required to test her coworkers illegally and without PPE.
Pushawn’s sister, Tina Brown, called on us to amplify her sister’s story. ALU President Chris Smalls, who recently returned from Cuba, reminded us that our fight to end the blockade on Cuba cannot be separated from the fight for workers in the U.S. and called for more union leaders to “stand for the people of Cuba.”
June 25:March and Rally to the White House
On Sunday, we took to the streets and marched to the White House with 500 people to demand the immediate removal of Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list and an end to the cruel and illegal 63-year-old blockade.
Young activists and members of the Cuban American organization, Puentes de Amor/ Bridges of Love, were the protagonists of the rally, leading with vibrant chants, salsa lessons and powerful testimonies. Some had just returned from Cuba and shared firsthand accounts of the horrific impacts of our government's inhumane and outdated policies while uplifting Cuba’s commitment to peace and its incredible accomplishments.
"While the U.S. government clings to Cold War policies of violence towards Cuba, the movement to normalize relations and end all sanctions is growing. This past week’s actions are indicative of the groundswell of support for policy change now. We are excited to continue the momentum to break the blockade and build bridges of love between our peoples"-Samantha Wherry of CODEPINK's Latin America Team
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