Local Campaign Update 2020

Update from 2016-19: Local Cuba Campaigns 2020
Support Ending the Blockade and Medical Collaboration

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..

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 — 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. 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.

On July 1 the Cleveland City Council voted 14-to-1 for an Emergency Resolution calling for the United States to end its economic, commercial, and financial embargo against Cuba (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 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).

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.” A fuller resolution has been submitted by the Pittsburgh-Matanzas Sister Cities Partnership.

In addition, seven other municipalities have resolutions in the works: four more in California, in Davis, Oakland, West Sacramento, and Santa Cruz; in 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/.