New York, NY – Over two hundred people gathered Thursday in Union Square to stand with the Cuban people in opposition to the 60 year illegal blockade and US regime change efforts. The demonstration, organized by the New York Young Communist League (YCL), drew people from many different parties, groups, and backgrounds. The Center for Political Innovation’s John Brown Volunteers joined with the various leftist parties as well as many individuals in a show of solidarity.
Since the Cuban Revolution of 1959, in which the brutal US backed dictatorship of Batista was ousted and replaced by a people’s socialist government, the US imperialists have been relentless in their attempt to strangle the Cuban Revolution in its cradle. Despite the endless attempts at sabotage, espionage, assassinations, and economic embargo, the Cuban Revolution has prevailed. In spite of being under an all-encompassing blockade since 1962, Cuba has accomplished incredible feats all things considered. Just 300 miles off the coast of Florida the Cuban Revolution has managed to wipe out illiteracy, dramatically raise the life expectancy of the people, and develop a medical school and healthcare system that UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called the “most advance[d] medical school in the world.”
Despite these achievements, since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the cessation of economic assistance and trade from the socialist bloc, and especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba has had to tighten their belt. In the 1990s they underwent what is known as the “Special Period,” marked by rationing of oil, gasoline, as well as food. Today, during these most recent months of the pandemic, the Cuban medical system has become overwhelmed. A lack of hospital beds, syringes to administer vaccines, among other things have caused unrest in Cuba. However these hardships the Cuban people have faced and are facing today are not, as US mainstream media would have you believe, an act of malice by the Cuban government against its own people. An act of malice by a government with no concern for its people is happening, but it is not the Cuban government. The blockade is in fact an act of malice by the US carried out with complete disregard for its own people as well as the people of the world. It is an act of malice against the American people because we cannot access the medical innovations that Cuba has pioneered in recent years, including a lung cancer vaccine.
Why can’t Cuba have the hospital beds they need to treat sick patients? Why can’t Cuba get the syringes it needs to vaccinate their people? The answer to these questions is the US embargo of Cuba. Cuba cannot do business with American companies, and any companies that do business with Cuba are forbidden from trading with the US. Under these circumstances, it is understandable why Cuba is struggling, especially with COVID-19, since much of the state revenue has come from tourism which has slowed due to the pandemic.
The gathering in NYC urged Americans to look beyond the deceptions in capitalist media presenting Cuba as an ruthless oppressive state, and to understand Cuba’s record as a progressive socialist society raising living standards and standing in solidarity with anti-imperialist struggles around the globe.