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Biden needs to be pressured to change Cuba policy & end the blockade

“During the height of the pandemic, the US blocked a shipment of vital medical supplies from China from entering Cuba. The shipment included more than two million masks, 400,000 rapid diagnostic kits & 104 ventilators. The Cuban Government labelled the move at the time as ‘another twist of this genocidal, inhumane policy’.”

By Ryan Smith, Cuba Solidarity Campaign

In June, the world will vote on the illegal US blockade of Cuba at the United Nations General Assembly for the twenty-ninth time. When the last vote took place in 2019, 187 countries voted in favour of Cuba’s resolution calling for an ‘end to the economic, commercial and financial embargo’ imposed by the United States. Only the US and its cheerleaders Israel and Brazil voted to support the blockade and ignored the international consensus that the policy is wrong.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) had hoped that the Biden administration would take a constructive approach to relations with Cuba by acting swiftly to reverse some of the 240 anti-Cuba measures imposed under Donald Trump. Unfortunately, there is little evidence of this being a priority and there is a powerful right-wing Cuban American lobby in the US working very hard to stop it.

The blockade continues to be the main obstacle to Cuba’s economic development. The challenge for solidarity activists now is to do everything we can to influence the US into changing its policy.

In Britain, 58 Members of Parliament from various political parties signed Early Day Motion 1550 on Cuba and the US blockade. The EDM calls on the Biden administration to normalise relations between the two countries by removing the island from the ‘state sponsors of terror’ list and ending the blockade.

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba, Grahame Morris MP has written to President Joe Biden, calling for the newly elected President to urgently reverse the wave of new sanctions against the island introduced by President Trump. He writes, “This has impacted on living conditions, the availability of food, fuel and medicines – even preventing delivery of emergency COVID-19 medical aid during pandemic from third countries to Cuba.”

During the height of the pandemic, the US blocked a shipment of vital medical supplies from China from entering Cuba. The shipment included more than two million masks, 400,000 rapid diagnostic kits and 104 ventilators. The Cuban Government labelled the move at the time as “another twist of this genocidal, inhumane policy.”

It is because of this, that solidarity with Cuba at this time is as vital as ever.

CSC has been supporting the International Caravans against the blockade in support of Cuban Americans who want restrictions on remittances and travel to be lifted to allow them to support and visit their families in Cuba. The actions, under the banner Puentes de Amor (Bridges of Love), symbolise the humanitarian demands of this campaign: to enable families to support each other during, and be reunited after, the pandemic.

Meanwhile, it is important that we continue to lobby the British government to maintain positive relations and engagement with Cuba, rather than bowing to US pressure to isolate and sanction the island. By supporting trade, cultural, educational and scientific exchange and cooperation, we counter the propaganda and pressure from the right wing anti-Cuban lobbyists in the US and Europe, and demonstrate that international relations based on mutual respect and understanding is the way forward and beneficial to both the UK and Cuba. That is why CSC believes it is important to congratulate the British government when it votes against the blockade and engages positively with Cuba on joint projects such as medical research, or facilitating the posting of Cuban medical brigades to British overseas territories.

CSC are confident that in June the world will once again vote to end the US blockade. But this alone is not enough. It is our task to do everything we can to turn this vote into a tangible change of policy towards Cuba from the US and all countries, which will enable the Cuban people to thrive and realise their potential free from economic warfare and intervention.

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