Let Cuba Live displayed on a truck in midtown Manhattan. Photo: Zoe Alexandra
Activists across the world have joined forces to organize a rally in New York City during UN General Assembly week to demand, “Let Cuba Live!” On September 22, organizations including The People’s Forum, the ANSWER Coalition, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Defend Democracy in Brazil, the December 12th Movement, and others will rally in Grand Central Station to demand that the United States lift the blockade against Cuba and take the island nation off the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
Both the blockade and Cuba’s inclusion on the SSOT list have wreaked havoc on the lives of the Cuban people, precipitating food, fuel, and medicine shortages on the island.
Numerous world leaders and diplomats have expressed their open opposition to the US blockade of Cuba during the UN General Assembly week. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called out the United States’ cruel blockade at the opening ceremony to the UNGA, shortly before US President Joe Biden himself took the pulpit.
“Brazil will continue to reject measures taken without support from the UN Charter, such as the economic and financial embargo imposed on Cuba and the attempt to classify this country as a state sponsor of terrorism,” said Lula on September 19. Biden did not mention Cuba in his speech shortly afterwards.
Several other international leaders denounced the blockade. President Gustavo Petro of Colombia referenced his visit to Cuba to attend the Group of 77+China Summit. “I arrived in Havana, a country unjustly blocked, which a president of my country…managed for it to be included in the list of terrorist countries only because it had helped to make peace in Colombia,” said Petro in his UN address. He was referring to his predecessor, Ivan Duque, who was instrumental in Cuba’s addition to the SSoT after the island nation refused the extradite the peace delegation of the Colombian guerilla movement, the National Liberation Army (ELN).
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his address to the UN General Assembly, “South Africa continues to call for the lifting of the economic embargo that was imposed 60 years ago against Cuba. An embargo that has caused an untold damage to the country’s economy and the people of Cuba as well.”
The “Let Cuba Live” campaign is an international effort led by organizations such as the International Peoples’ Assembly, ALBA Movimientos, the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, the São Paolo Forum, and others. The goal of the campaign is to amass one million signatures worldwide in support of the removal of Cuba from the SSOT.
“Neither the blockade nor any other such measure will succeed in defeating the sovereignty and self-determination of the Cuban people,” reads the campaign website. “Cuba’s strength and humanism are a testimony to the achievements of its social project, and Cuba continues to be an example for the peoples of the world who fight for peace and justice.”
Signers of the petition to take Cuba off the SSOT list include former Bolivian President Evo Morales, Indian scholar and journalist Vijay Prashad, and General Secretary of the Mexican MORENA Party, Citlalli Hernández Mora.
“For the past several decades, Cuba has had its revolution impeded by an illegal embargo, and its addition to the state sponsors of terrorism list has exacerbated the suffering of the Cuban people—who nonetheless remain steadfast-and underscored the inhumanity of the United States,” writes petition signer and lauded scholar Dr. Charisse Burden-Stelly. “Remove Cuba from this list immediately and let Cuba live!”
The September 21 rally follows the historic visit of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel to the Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in Harlem on September 18. Díaz-Canel paid homage to Malcolm X, who welcomed Fidel Castro to Harlem amidst the UN General Assembly meeting in 1960, when the United States government was beginning to cut all diplomatic ties with the young socialist nation.
When the Cuban delegation arrived in New York City in September of 1960, the US had already paused sugar exports from the island nation. “This big economic blow was the real beginning of the US blockade,” writes the Workers World Party. After facing discrimination at the swanky midtown Shelbourne Hotel, Malcolm X invited Fidel Castro and the Cuban delegation to stay at the Hotel Theresa in the heart of Black, working class Harlem. There, Castro was able to meet with freedom fighters and world leaders including Gamal Abdel Nasser, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, NAACP President Joseph Overton, and reportedly even the first Black Major League Baseball player, Jackie Robinson.
“The meeting between Malcolm X and Fidel Castro was the start of a historic dialogue between them,” said Diaz-Canel at the Shabazz Center. “The same dialogue that other generations of Cubans and North Americans have maintained for six decades on the basis of mutual respect, admiration, and affection. It is the most beautiful evidence of how much we, the sons and daughters of both peoples have in common.”