Update from 2016-19: Local Cuba Campaigns 2020
Support Ending the Blockade and Medical Collaboration
Since 2016 there has been a slow but steady movement to organize municipal campaigns — and state and county, labor, and other organizational ones — to develop official support for Ending the Embargo, “El Bloqueo” as the Cubans have been calling it for decades, clearly a Blockade, with the intensification of a brutal roll-back and reversal of the Castro-Obama rapprochement and move towards normalizing relations, along with the pressure on other countries to do the same.
These campaigns provide an expanding impact on national policy and practices with the demonstrated support of grassroots constituencies as well as inform, contribute to, and supplement local agendas involving Cuba.
The resources and reinforcements from the campaigns over the previous four years — the collection of the 13 resolutions passed, the model cases and tools kits, the guide published by NACLA on the importance and usefulness of “Ending the U.S. Embargo on Cuba at the Grassroots” and how to organize one — helped 2019 end with eight municipal campaigns at various stages of development, in Chicago, San Diego, New York City, Washington DC, Baltimore, Durham, New Haven, and Oklahoma City.
The pandemic hit with a jolt in March and slowed work considerably, though New York City strongly persisted — in fact its organizers developed a useful tool kit for campaigns at the March webinar offered in place of the postponed US-Cuba Normalization Conference — and Chicago and Baltimore are still in active process. Moreover, the remarkable achievements of Cuba and its medical community have given rise to a new revitalized national and local campaign to support medical collaboration.
Cuba’s exemplary plan for protecting lives at home, its development of medicines to fight Covid-19 both there and internationally, and its placement of Henry Reeves Brigade doctors and other medical staff across the globe — all undertaken in the face of U.S. governmental failures to develop any constructive program to deal with the pandemic outbreak even in its own country along with its anti-Cuba escalation of sanctions, including an attack on its doctors and program of international medical support — has given birth to the U.S.-Cuba-Canada Collaboration in Fighting COVID-19, led by the two national organizations providing major organizing support for the US-Cuba Normalization conference, the Saving Lives Campaign, at savinglives.us-cubanormalization.org.
On April 29, the campaign announced more than two hundred medical professionals, academics, elected officials and concerned multi-country residents endorsed a statement calling for medical, clinical and scientific collaboration with Cuba, incorporating Cuba’s Interferon Alfa 2B Recombinant in clinical trials and ending the attempts to stop other countries from accepting Cuban medical assistance and measures preventing Cuba from importing medical equipment and medicines. Its home page features a continually updated fact sheet on Cuban Medical Internationalism and webinars that support its work.
In May, June and July, three City Councils in the Bay Area passed resolutions supporting US-Cuba medical and scientific collaboration in fighting Covid-19: Richmond, Berkeley, and San Francisco. Their resolutions are models for similar resolutions elsewhere.
A report on the July 1 Cleveland City Council 14-to-1vote for an Emergency Resolution calling for the United States to end its economic, commercial, and financial embargo against Cuba, and August plans for a September introduction to the Chicago City Council for its resolution indicate that End the Blockade resolutions are still active.
In addition, nine other municipalities have resolutions in the works: five more in California, in Davis, Oakland, Sacramento and West Sacramento, and Santa Cruz; and in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Minneapolis and St. Paul; and Seattle. In California efforts are also underway in the State House, Sacramento and Yolo counties, and with the State Labor Council. Additional State House efforts are underway in Massachusetts and Minnesota and with labor councils in Minneapolis and Washington, DC.
We know that the final “official” resolution of any campaign is developmental, the result of planning among its evolving group of proponents, and then with city and town councils and policy-makers and their various processes. The specifics of any Cuba support resolution are variously decided by its organizers and the processes they are involved with. Options and resources are growing. For help or more information, see http://www.us-cubanormalization.org/viva-cuba/contact/ or the National Network on Cuba at http://nnoc.info/contact-us/.