NYC City Council Takes a Stand Against the US Blockade of Cuba

The resolution, which passed with a vote of all 51 council members, calls the blockade unfair to the Cuban people.

Jacob Buckner Jun 23, 2023

Read essays from Indy journalists who went to Cuba last year: A Society Rooted in Solidarity Feels More Human and Resisting the Blockade, 60 Years Later

The New York City Council has passed a resolution calling for an end to the United States’ political and economic blockade on Cuba. The resolution, passing with a vote of all 51 members of City Council represents a decisive step in the initiative to end the U.S.-led blockade against the island and to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, a designation that has been shown to be unfounded and cruel since its inception in 1982. From Washington, D.C., to Chicago, Illinois, other resolutions have been passed throughout the country, representing the next step toward ending the 63-year-old sanction policy against Cuba. 

The National Network On Cuba (NNOC) is planning a week of action starting Sunday, June 25 to demand the Biden Administration finally remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list.

The New York City version, Resolution 0258-A, calls on “the United States Congress and President to end the Cuban embargo and Cuban travel ban and to remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list due to the unjust harm it causes to the Cuban people.”

The legislation, introduced by City Councilmember Charles Barron, notes the negative effect of the 60+ years of sanctions: “The U.S., in the hope of isolating Cuba and starving the Cuban people into rebellion, has maintained an economic blockade, or embargo, of Cuba, which was first imposed in 1960 during the Eisenhower administration and which is the longest economic embargo in history. … Every year since 1992, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has adopted a resolution declaring the embargo a violation of the both the Charter of the United Nations and international law.” 

Resolution 0258-A acknowledges that the blockade as a cruel punishment that continues to hurt the general Cuban public. Others venture to call it an act of war. 

What is the SSOT list?

The State Sponsors of Terrorism list was first applied to Cuba in 1982 by the Reagan Administration. Used as a continuation of the original sanctions enacted by the Eisenhower administration in 1960, this designation makes additional economic challenges for a country that has faced ongoing political attacks from the United States. The SSOT list intends to punish countries that have “provided support for acts of international terrorism,” but Cuba has been abused for simply aiding international movements and refusing to concede to the orders of the United States. 

Cuba has been constant in connecting its future with the success and advancement of other oppressed nations and international solidarity movements. For instance, from 1975 to 1991, 500,000 Cuban doctors and soldiers traveled to Africa to aid in the Angolan Independence struggle. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Cuba provided political asylum to U.S. Black political prisoners, and in the 1980’s-1990’s, Cuba aided the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. 

The terrorism designation has been used as a means to strangle the island nation by limiting its economic and political autonomy. The SSOT list stipulates additional limitations on finances and goods, including “restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.” It is thus impossible for the Cuban people to thrive, because there is a limit on imports of essential goods such as needed medical supplies, updated technology and advanced tools for building infrastructure. 

The passage of Resolution 0258 opens the possibility of dialogue 

The legislation It states that an exchange of supplies and knowledge between the United States and Cuba is not only possible but essential:

“Ending both the Cuban embargo and the travel ban would be of great benefit to the U.S. and Cuba, particularly in the areas of medical and biotechnological research, economic opportunities, education, health care, the arts, music, sports, and tourism. … New York City (NYC) would greatly benefit from the restoration of trade with Cuba both through the exportation of products and services to this neighboring country of over 11 million people and through the importation of Cuban products useful to NYC, such as life-saving medicines and vaccines.”

The people of the United States can benefit from Cuban medical knowledge in the areas of diabetes and lung cancer (for which doctors there have developed a vaccine). We can also take inspiration from Cuba’s political system, looking toward the country’s advancement of LGBTQ+ rights with the passing of the 2021 Family Code. 

Alternatively for Cuba, opening relations would mean accessing essential medical equipment currently inaccessible because of the blockade, as well as important industrial equipment for developing infrastructure to properly care for its citizens. It would also open up trade between Cuba and many other countries, as the embargo’s stipulations make it very difficult for a country to have trade relations with both the United States and Cuba, and nearly all countries prioritize the superpower. 

But the United States fears the collective effort to stop its 63-year-old sanction campaign, a stranglehold maintained to denounce the political path of the socialist island since its 1959 revolution. 

#OFFTHELIST: Cuba is not a state sponsor of Terrorism! 

The National Network On Cuba (NNOC) is planning a week of action starting Sunday, June 25 to demand the Biden Administration finally remove Cuba from the State Sponsor of Terrorism list. Members of organizations from around the country will travel to Washington DC and hold a mass march and rally calling for this demand. Groups present will include CODEPINK, IFCO Pastors for Peace, New Jersey-New York Cuba Si Coalition, Claudia Jones School for Political Education, Amazon Labor Union, Canadian Network on Cuba and Puentes de Amor. 

At the same time, coordinated local NNOC actions will take place in hundreds of cities throughout the United States. 

The passage of Resolution 0285-A will add energy to the demand being made in D.C. on June 25, connecting New York City’s effort with the national campaign to call on President Biden and Congress to end the ongoing punishment on Cuba.

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