Hamilton Says Hands off Cuba! End the Blockade Now! Print

Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba,
September 2010


Cuban Consul General in Toronto Jorge Soberón (left) and Lisa Nussey of the
Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba.

On September 15, the Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba (HFAC)  held an event featuring Jorge Soberón, the Cuban Consul General in Toronto in an evening lecture on the topic of Hands Off Cuba! End the Blockade Now! The event was co-organized by McMaster OPIRG as part of McMaster University Alternative Welcome Week. The audience consisted of workers and youth who came to learn about the blockade and its impact on Cuba.

Lisa Nussey, HFAC Executive Member chaired the event, first welcoming Heidi Trampus from the Worker to Worker Canada-Cuba Labour Solidarity Network who affirmed the importance of union and worker exchange between the two countries. She invited everyone to the annual Worker to Worker conference, taking place from September 24 to 26 in Toronto. The conference, she announced,  will conclude with a "Free the Cuban Five" open forum on Sunday, September 26 from 9:30am to 1:00pm. It will feature guest speakers Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Cuban Five Hero Ramon Laba?ino, and Silvia Garcia Tabio, a member of the Cuban National Assembly. The HFAC encourages everyone to attend this exciting program! Heidi's remarks were followed by greetings from Brain from McMaster OPIRG to the gathering. 

Jorge Soberón then spoke, thanking everyone for their ongoing friendship with Cuba and pointing out that Hamilton-Cuba links are very strong. He also informed everyone that direct flights will soon begin from the Hamilton airport to Cuba. 

Earlier that day, Mr. Soberón said, Cuba's report on the UN General Assembly's resolution against the blockade was presented to the Cuban National Assembly. That resolution was passed by 185 countries of the UN, outlining the international community's demand for an end the U.S. illegal blockade. Despite this resolution, the Obama administration has made no substantial changes to the long-standing U.S. blockade. What little changes have been made, Mr. Soberón explained, are merely cosmetic and do not signify a real shift in U.S. foreign policy. Yet Cuba and its people will continue to push for the normalization of relations between the two countries, he affirmed. 

Mr. Soberón outlined the great difficulties faced by the Cuban people on a daily level under the blockade. Such difficulties have been aggravated recently by the devastating 2008 hurricane season which was soon followed by the world-wide economic crisis. The blockade has cost the Cuban people untold billions of dollars since its imposition in 1961 and has stifled Cuba's ability to provide for its citizens, he said.  He cited a simple example of a chemotherapy drug, used to treat brain tumors. This drug is only available in the U.S. and those who would benefit from or be cured by it must simply do without as the U.S. will not permit Cuba to import it. In the face of this aggressive policy, Cuba and its people continue to build a society that looks after the well-being of all, he concluded to applause. 

The lecture was followed by a lively discussion, with participants looking forward to future opportunities to discuss the work of Cuba and build relations between our two peoples.