News on Cuba - July 10, 2013 Print

IFCO Launches New Civil Disobedience Challenge to the US Blockade of Cuba This July

IFCO/Pastors for Peace will launch a nationwide challenge to the US blockade of Cuba with nearly 100 faith-based and social justice activists from across the US, Canada and Mexico traveling to Cuba without the permission of the US government this July.

As part of the effort, organizers in more than 35 cities in the US, Canada and Mexico will participate in the 24th IFCO/Pastors for Peace US/Cuba Caravan week of activities July 8-15th aimed at educating local constituencies about the devastating effects of US policy toward the island.

“The blockade is a byzantine maze of US Cold War-era policies aimed at destabilizing our neighbors in Cuba -- from the ban on commercial transactions, which still stifles Cuba’s ability to get basic medicines to the travel ban which separates families, to putting Cuba on the list of state-sponsors of terrorism, which is absolutely absurd,” said Gail Walker, Co-Director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. “How can we label a country which sends doctors and teachers around the world and trains thousands of young people to become doctors for the poor as terrorist?”

IFCO chooses to deliver its humanitarian aid without a government license because it believes that the government uses licensing to maintain control over the flow of aid - for its own political purposes. Father Luis Barrios, Co-Director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace says, “By granting some licenses and not others, the government attempts to control which US organizations can send aid to Cuba and which cannot. IFCO believes that US government control of churches’ prerogative to give aid and charity violates the separation of church and state, which is guaranteed under the First Amendment. Instead the organization chooses to engage in this act of civil disobedience to oppose the unjust treatment of our Cuban brothers and sisters and to follow the teachings of the gospel, by providing ‘a cup of cold water.’”

As part of the civil disobedience challenge, caravanistas will carry with them humanitarian aid such as insulin, the majority of which is made by US companies and therefore difficult for Cuba to import. Caravanistas will travel to Cuba for nearly two weeks on July 18th for nearly two weeks of educational and faith-based activities.

Caravanistas will also bring construction tools and supplies to help in the reconstruction efforts in Santiago de Cuba, the eastern end of the island which was severely affected by Hurricane Sandy. “Many communities of color in the Northeastern US are also recovering from Hurricane Sandy and we see this as an opportunity to show our solidarity and to learn from Cuba’s tremendous knowledge and experience in climate change preparedness,” said local New York City environmental activist Julien Terrell, who will participate in the caravan for the first time.

This is the 24th IFCO/Pastors for Peace US/Cuba Caravan since 1992 and is a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), which has been been working for racial, social, and economic justice since 1967.


Solidarity With Cuba to Stop EU Common Stance

Berlin, Jul 5 (Prensa Latina) Organizations of solidarity with Cuba demanded today that the Lithuanian presidency of the European Union to stop the common stance against the island, for considering that it violates the basic principles of the international law.

In an open letter to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, who assumed the EU presidency in early June, they highlighted that the bloc's stance affects the right to self determination of countries.

Thus, organizations of solidarity with Cuba from 17 European States sent copies of the letter to the presidents or Foreign ministers of their respective countries.

According to Edgar Goell, vrece president of the Network of solidarity with Cuba in Germany, the document was presented to the governments of Belgium, Portugal, Austria, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Greece, Romania, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Malta and Lithuania.

In the document, they explain that the EU Common Stance about Cuba was elaborated in the year 1996, under the US political pressure, with the objective of intensifying its illegal blockade against Cuba.

They said that abolishing that decision would be consistent, because the EU member countries reject every year in the United Nations the US economic, trade and financial blockade against Cuba.

The German Network of solidarity with Cuba is demanding, together with the other 16 European organizations and networks, strengthening fair economic and respectful relations with Cuba.

"Climate protection, desertification, biodiversity, struggle against poverty, fair trade and the goals for a sustainable development, currently elaborated by the UN, would be points for a bilateral dialogue between the EU and Cuba," Goel told the news agency Prensa Latina.

In a press release, the German Network of Solidarity with Cuba also referred to the international scandal of US wire tapping against its European allies.

"This scandal could help the European Governments to understand the methods used by the United States, and Cuba has been a victim of this aggressive policy for 54 years," the communique concluded.


Cuba and Belgium Increase Collaboration

Havana.- Cuba and Belgium signed today a memorandum of agreement between the Ministry of Foreign Relations (MINREX) from Cuba and the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs from Belgium. The signing took place at MINREX headquarters in Cuba by vice minister of Foreign Relations, Rogelio Sierra, and the Belgian ambassador in Cuba, Luc Devolder.

Both sides considered the memorandum a progress in bilateral relations to show the political interest of both countries to develop and strengthen friendship ties and exchanges. They also expressed that the signing boosts the international collaboration according to the principles of United Nations charter.

In statements to the press, the Belgian diplomat said that the agreement includes meetings between ministries and embassies of both countries. (PL)