Perspectives from Havana
in a Year of Covid and Embargo
Like the rest of the world, Havana and Cuba have just completed the first full year of Covid 19. It has done so with the full force of the U.S. embargo on its neck, including additional measures enacted by the Trump administration and so far not modified or removed by the Biden administration. What has Havana been like the past year? What is it like now? What have been the major challenges and achievements?
Please join us to explore these and other questions with leading voices from Cuba.
All events on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm
• April 13: From the Perspective of an Economist – Estéban Morales
• April 20 From the Perspective of Science & Healthcare – Luis Montero Cabrera
• April 27: From the Perspective of a Sociologist and Feminist – Marta Nuñez
• May 04: From the Perspective of a Poet and Writer – Nancy Morejón
• May 11: From the Perspective from a Young Person – TBA (Tentative date)
Each week will start with a short presentation, followed by plenty of time for questions and dialogue. The discussion will be moderated by Cole Harrison (Massachusetts Peace Action), Sandra Levinson (Center for Cuban Studies), and Gloria Caballero (Latin American Solidarity Coalition of W. Mass)
Register to attend (only one registration is needed for the series). At the close of each session you will be given information and options for action to lift the Sanctions and end the Embargo, as well as ways in which you can get involved with the organizations sponsoring and co-sponsoring the series, or hold events and forums in your own community, institution or organization.
Introductions: Merri Ansara and Estéban Morales in Havana
* Massachusetts Peace Action
* Center for Cuban Studies
* Latin American Solidarity Coalition of Western Massachusetts
* July26.org co-sponsor
Other organizations are invited to co-sponsor the event and provide information on follow up actions and activities for attendees.
Guantánamo and the Literacy Campaign of 1961
WOLA and In These Times Matters
In the face of the rush of webinars, petitions, news stories and commentaries greeting the Biden Administration’s reclamation of the Obama-Castro US-Cuba normalization efforts, we are struck by two clear reaffirmations and two complexities.
Guantanamo Prisoners / Literacy Brigadistas: (left) Scene to promote the Rally to Close Guantánamo and Return It to Cuba, February 2018. July26.org also sponsored programs on Guantánamo in July 2016, March 2017, and May 2017. Above right, a crowd of Literacy Brigadistas as seen in the documentary “Maestra,” shown in February 2018 as part of a program with Griselda Aguilera Cabrera, who was a seven-year-old teacher in the campaign and featured in the film, one of several July26.org Literacy Campaign offerings.
GUANTÁNAMO — Returning Guantánamo to its rightful home, ending the closest and most obvious example of U.S. imperialism, and closing the U.S. prison/torture center are two clear-cut steps that we have sponsored programs on previously, that have broad-based popular support, and that can exemplify the new president’s desire for unity and to be president of us all. Last month ended with a letter published in the New York Review of Books by seven former detainees who have written books about their experience. February 12 saw the release of The Mauritanian, a film based on the 2015 memoir, Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Salahi, one of the NYRB letter’s authors, about his experience being held for fourteen years without charge. (The film stars Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley, and Benedict Cumberbatch and has received two nominations at the 78th Golden Globe Awards.) During the week in between, more than 100 NGOs Called on Biden to Close Guantánamo. The recent stories of plans to close the prison have given rise to other supportive and reinforcing efforts; Veterans for Peace has set a national program “Close Guantanamo Now! A Call to Action” for 3:00 EST on Sunday, February 21.
THE CUBAN LITERACY CAMPAIGN OF 1961 — A recent posting on the US-CubaNormalization.org’s Organizers Forum provided a link to an interview, just published, with a participant in the Literacy campaign, Rosa Hernández Acosta, who was 10 years old at the time. Another resource for this year, the 60th anniversary of the campaign, previously remembered and celebrated by the Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition in the film showing last September of Cuba’s iconic singer/songwriter and international recording artist, Silvio Rodriguez, who was a brigadista in the campaign at the age of 14; the February 2018 program with Griselda Aguilera Cabrera, who was a seven-year-old teacher in the campaign, one of nine women featured in “Maestra,” the award-winning documentary; and a May 2016 program featuring the Luisa Campos, Director of the Literacy Campaign Museum in Havana and of the “Si, yo puedo” Global Literacy Campaign.
An international Cuban political poster exhibit
from the collection of Stephen Lewis
at the Walpole Public Library
143 School St, Walpole MA
January 2 through January 30, 2021
Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Friday 10: a.m.-5:00 p.m. & Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Fully accessible. For library information call 508/660-7341
A sample of the approximately 40 posters here.
Nalda Vigezzi, July26.org member, organizer and spokesperson and the longest-serving co-chair of the National Network on Cuba (nnoc.info) in its history, from 2001 until two weeks ago, was given special recognition for her service and leadership at the end of this month’s two-day online gathering. As one of five co-chairs overseeing the on-going tasks and agenda of the national organization, Nalda’s leadership can be seen at nnoc.org, an early site covering 2004 to 2010, where you will find her listed as one of the then-four co-chairs introducing NNOC’s definition, principles and goals, and more.
This year’s closing session included a tribute to Nalda with a collection of photos of key occasions by colleague and comrade Bill Hackwell and the note “…it is hard to think of the NNOC without you in the organizing of it. All those great statements you wrote and so much more.” Nalda intends to continue working in solidarity with the demands for Cuban sovereignty while welcoming new organizations and leadership to the NNOC.
Photos from the tribute collection and the 2019 NNOC reception.
Click to enlarge.
November 13-15 Weekend of Action Against the US Blockade
The videos of the concert and all three sessions are available here.
The international concert and three session weekend is the culminating follow-up to the March 21-22 postponement of the International Conference on Normalizing US-Cuba Relations and the organizers’ series of webinars offered throughout the Pandemic:
For more program information and registration,
here or at US-CubaNormalization.org !
Cambridge Passes Resolution Supporting US-Cuba Medical Collaboration and Ending the Blockade
On Monday October 5, 2020 the Cambridge City Council unanimously approved a Policy Order on Medical and Scientific Collaboration with Cuba that includes the call for “suspending relevant US economic and travel sanctions against Cuba.” Highlighted by leadership from long-time Cuba activist and educator Merri Ansara and Council member Dennis Carlone, the policy order focuses on the Saving Lives aspects of the collaboration.
The resolution emphasizes Cuba’s medical achievements and the need for co-operation and solidarity in combatting the world-wide pandemic; Cuban-produced drugs (Biomodulina T, Heberon Interferon Alfa 2B human recombinant, Itolizumab, and Jusvinza/CIGB 258) unavailability in the U.S. due to ongoing and increased restrictions against collaboration with and imports from Cuba; and the City’s history of medical collaboration with the island. As noted in Lee Schlenker’s article in Telesur, “Cambridge, Massachusetts Seeks Medical Cooperation with Cuba,” the City and its institutions, including Harvard, MIT and Cambridge Hospital, have a long history of direct medical and scientific exchanges of professors and students, as well as direct collaboration with Cuba, as the policy order points out. Letters from scientists such as MIT biomedical researcher Professor Jonathan King were a key part of the campaign.
With a sister city relationship in Cuba with Cienfuegos, following a January 2000 delegation led by Cambridge State Representative and Cuban-American Jarrett Barrios, the City joins the growing list of municipalities in the national campaign to pass local resolutions expressing grassroots support for US-Cuba normalization and calling for an end to the travel and trade embargo and other blockade sanctions, an effort that this year has emphasized medical collaboration in light of Cuba’s achievements in combatting the Pandemic.
According to Cambridge resident, campaign and July26.org member Marilyn Frankenstein, future plans for Cambridge include: getting more press and social media coverage; starting to put in place plans for medical collaborations between Cambridge and Cuban medical researchers; exploring other opportunities to educate about Cuba with a long range goal of organizing support for ending the blockade.
This is part of the “Honoring Cuba’s Achievements: Ending the Blockade and Saving Lives Together Campaign” that was kicked of at this year’s July 26th Celebration. We are hoping to reach out to other cities and towns around the state. If you’d like to help out, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the three U.S. -Cuba Normalization Webinars being held this month:
* On Cuban trained doctors – confronting COVID-19 in Cuba, abroad and in the US
* Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of President Fidel Castro’s Historic NY Visit
* Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Cuban Women’s Federation and 20 years of the US Women and Cuba Collaboration
see the bottom of the Zoom Support Page.
(click to enlarge, l to r) René González of the Cuban Five, from Hubert Sauper’s Epicentro, iconic singer/songwriter and Cuban Literacy brigadista Silvio Rodriguez, Eliades Ochoa of the Buena Vista Social Club, from El Último Balsero (The Last Rafter), Author and Poet José Lezama Lima
* Interview with René González, a member of the Cuban Five who spent 13 years in a US prison and whose real life experience inspired the Netflix film The Wasp Network. “A very good interview.” — John Waller
* Epicentro — The blurb reads: “Epicentro is an immersive and metaphorical portrait of post-colonial, ‘utopian’ Cuba, where the 1898 explosion of the USS Maine still resonates. Continue reading
Programs preceding this event with information and registration links:
• 2 Day Concert For Cuba, Sat-Sun, July 18-19, 8:00 p.m.
• Race Relations in Revolutionary Cuba: A Personal Story, Ths, July 23rd, 7:30 p.m.
• An American Baptist in Cuba with Rev. Allan McClendon, Sun, July 26th, 11:00 a.m.
Honoring Cuba’s Achievements:
Ending the Blockade and Saving Lives Together
a July26.org/Pastors for Peace OnLine Meeting
cosponsored by the First Baptist Church of Jamaica Plain
Tuesday, July 28, 7:00-8:30 pm
Featuring Stephanie Sarantos, Dr. Emily Brown, Merri Ansara (updated 7/23)
Hosted/Moderated by Lee Schlenker, July26.org & Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective
and Gloria Caballero, Ph.D. in Spanish & Portuguese Studies,UMass/Amherst, and presenter of the Tuesday, July 23, 7:00 webinar on “Race Relations in Revolutionary Cuba: A Personal Story,” cosponsored by July26.org.
This fundraising event for Pastors for Peace combines a rescheduling of our previously postponed March PfP Caravan program, our annual July 26 Cuba Revolution Day Anniversary event, and the premiere announcement of the campaign for a Commonwealth of Massachusetts Resolution to End the Blockade and Save Lives in light of Cuba’s medical achievements in combating the Covid-19 Pandemic around the world.
For our friends and those interested in the Boston area, in Massachusetts, in Connecticut and Maine and throughout New England. Featuring:
- Stephanie Sarantos, updated IFCO/Pastors for Peace spokesperson, former Registered Nurse and improvisational dance instructor. Stephanie has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and is a founder and current staff member at The Clearwater School near Seattle, a radical model of education governed through student-staff participatory democracy. Stephanie became a strong advocate for the people of Cuba through traveling on several Pastors for Peace caravans.
- Emily Brown, MD, graduate of Escuela Latinoamericana de Medicina (ELAM) in Cuba and currently a second year resident in the UMass Medical School Family Medicine Program in Fitchburg. Emily was one of the presenters in Left Berlin’s May program on “Coronavirus and Internationalism: Solidarity á la Cuba.”
- Merri Ansara, member of the first Venceremos Brigade to Cuba in 1969 and long-time Cuba activist, having worked there as a journalist, translator, urban planner and teacher. She was a founding member of July26.org and director and founder of Common Ground Education & Travel Services. Recently in Cuba, Merri is a leading organizer for a Massachusetts resolution to End the Blockade and Support the Saving Lives campaign.
Please register in advance for this meeting —
First time Zoomers welcome — help available.