10 Municipal Resolutions in 2020
Support Ending the Blockade and Medical Collaboration
Building upon the Movement from 2016-19
The resources and reinforcements from local campaigns calling for an End to the Embargo/Blockade 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: 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 other campaigns continued despite the difficulties. Moreover, the remarkable achievements of Cuba and its medical community have given rise to a 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 — gave 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.
Ten Municipal Resolutions in 2020: Five New Cities: San Francisco, Cleveland, Cambridge, Santa Cruz, and Madison and Five Reaffirmations: Richmond, Berkeley, Sacramento, Pittsburgh, and Oakland
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. 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 and Berkeley, reaffirming their earlier support for ending the blockade and San Francisco joining as the first new city to sign on in the midst of the pandemic. Their resolutions are models for similar resolutions elsewhere.
On July 1 the Cleveland City Council Emergency Resolution calling for the United States to end its economic, commercial, and financial embargo against Cuba passed 14-1 (see report), and on September 9, six members introduced a resolution to End the Blockade to the Chicago City Council, both indicating the viability of on-going End the Blockade resolutions.
On October 5 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”; more on this is available here. On October 20, the Oakland City Council resolution supporting medical and scientific collaboration between the City and Cuba to address the COVID-19 health crisis was passed unanimously and reaffirmed their 2016 support for ending the blockade (story here).
On November 10, the Mayor and Council of the City of Sacramento followed up their 2017 resolution calling for an end to the embargo by passing a resolution that “urge[s] the U.S. Congress and the President to lift restrictions on access to Cuban medical expertise to more effectively combat the COVID-10 pandemic by suspending travel sanctions against Cuba; cease ongoing measures deterring Cuba from importing medical equipment and medicines and cease attempts to prevent other countries from accepting Cuban medical brigades and assistance” (story here). In California on the same day the City of Santa Cruz, where the county began developing a sister city-type relationship with the coastal municipality of Guamá, in Cuba’s Santiago Province in 2002, passed a resolution to promote medical and scientific collaboration to fight Covid-19 and calling for an end to economic and travel sanctions.
On November 17 the Pittsburgh City Council passed a Will of Council resolution supporting “medical, health care, scientific, academic and pharmaceutical” collaboration with Cuba and to do so “while restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba, ending the decades-long economic blockade, and engaging in all mutually-beneficial areas of human endeavor,” building upon the City Council’s 2018 pledge. And a fuller resolution was submitted by the Pittsburgh-Matanzas Sister Cities Partnership.
Near the end of the year it was discovered that the Madison, Wisconsin City Council had passed a general resolution, “Wishing the delegation of Madisonians visiting our Sister City, Camagüey, Cuba, in January 2020 much success in their endeavors to maintain the links of friendship between our communities and calling for a Return to Engagement as policy in US-Cuba relations.” (Story here.)
In addition, five other municipalities had resolutions in the works: two more in California, Davis and West Sacramento; in Minneapolis and St. Paul; and in Seattle. In California efforts were also underway in the State House, Sacramento and Yolo counties, and with the State Labor Council. Additional State House efforts had begun in Massachusetts and Minnesota and with labor councils in Minneapolis and Washington, DC. Efforts began being reported by school boards as well as other governmental and non-governmental civic organizations. A resolution supporting U.S.-Cuba collaboration in fighting Covid-19 was passed by the Board of Trustees of the Lennox School District in Los Angeles on August 11.
Labor group efforts have been especially prominent and California has been in the leadership in this arena, too. BuildingRelationsWithCubanLabor.org has been an active force with useful resources and summaries. The first California Federation of Labor Resolution, July 2016 was passed in July 2016; the Sacramento Central Labor Council Resolution on Medical Collaboration with Cuba was taken up and passed on August 20, 2020. Resolutions were passed the next month by the Seattle MLK Labor Council (September 13) and the Washington State Labor Council (September 28). The year ended with the Troy (NY) Area Labor Council AFL-CIO Resolution Calling for US-Cuba Collaboration to Save Lives in The Fight Against Covid-19 (December 16).
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 also http://www.us-cubanormalization.org/viva-cuba/contact/ or the National Network on Cuba at http://nnoc.info/contact-us/. The Saving Lives campaign has a useful guide on “Steps towards passing action resolutions in your city, state or labor union” on its home page.