The United Nations General Assembly begins and once again the voice of Cuba will rise against the blockade imposed by the United States on this little island, but while diplomacy does its part in New York, the US people accompanies us from Washington in this fair claim to put an end to the genocide.
Alicia Jrapko, a beloved friend of Cuba, partner of our most urgent causes, talked to CubaSi via email on the Days of Action against the Blockade that the Solidarity Committee organizes in the North American capital.
Would you tell us on the main actions you plan to carry out?
“This is the fourth day against the blockade in Washington DC that our committee develops. The actions include public activities with special guests and visits to the Congress. Although last year’s event focused on healthcare and this year’s on education, the fact is that the blockade affects the daily life of an entire population”.
Why the emphasis on education?
“The goal of the events at DC is to raise awareness on the blockade of the United States, but at the same time, we want that the people reflect on some important questions, for example: why the budget priority of the US government is to increase military spending, rather than granting priority to education? And in contrast: why Cuba, a small and blocked country, gives priority to education from the day-care center to higher education? All these questions help us show the great injustice of the U.S.-Cuba policy. For example, many people are unaware that 32 million adults in the U.S. do not know how to read. And these are the official figures. However, in Cuba, since the triumph of the Revolution not a single school has been closed. Despite the economic difficulties, the blockade, Cuba’s achievements in terms of literacy and education are the admiration of the entire world. Two US graduates from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) will accompany us and be able to bear witness to the generosity of the Cuban government for offering free education to young Americans from humble families, with the sole condition of returning to their communities and offer healthcare with a global and humanistic vision. They will also be able to talk about how the blockade affects Cubans”.
The screening of documentary “Maestra” (Teacher), by filmmaker Catherine Murphy, is part of the activities.
“One of the main events of this day, on September 26, will take place at a movie theater, where we will show two documentaries: “Maestra”, on Cuba’s Literacy Campaign in 1961, and “Lucha Sí!”, the fight for public education in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Following the screening of the documentaries, we will have a presentation chaired by the filmmakers of both films with the participation of the public, ELAM graduates and a Cuban educator who took part in the National Literacy Campaign, Norma Guillard. The other activities will be at universities, and this year we’ll also have one in a high school in Washington DC”.
Last year, the emphasis fell on Cuba’s achievements as regards health; now, on education. However, many question Cuba’s respect for human rights. What do you think?
“Regarding Cuba’s respect for human rights, my opinion is that the country that violates human rights most is the United States. The right to health, to education, to a decent dwelling are real human rights that Cuba practices with all its inhabitants. That is not the case of this country, where health and education are privileges for an elite, and entire families increasingly shelter under the bridges of the big highways, or sleep in their automobiles, should they have them. That is a real human rights violation. The topic of human rights violation is a great hypocrisy and a big lie, which actually has no valid arguments, a big manipulation from the groups interested in reversing the few positive steps that have been taken to change the U.S.-Cuba policy, something that most of the US people want, including Cuban Americans”.
Why do you continue fighting along with Cuba for the end of the blockade? What motivates you?
“As a Latin American living in United States, I think that solidarity with Cuba is fundamental. Cuba has been an example for Latin America as regards the construction of a supportive society, with very humanistic values, in contrast with consumption societies, where the material thing is the priority. Cuba has played a fundamental role in Latin American integration. I feel a lot of indignation whenever I hear the lies of the media outlets and many people who ignore Cuban reality. Cuba is a supportive country with all peoples in the world, it is the first country to offer aid before natural disasters, and it is an example of what can be done when priority is set on the basic needs of the human being. It’s not perfect, like any society, but I do know that Cubans work together every day to improve it, and that is what U.S. does not want. Cuba’s potential is huge, and if it has achieved so much even blocked, it’s unimaginable what it could have done or might do in a future without blockade. The blockade is genocidal, criminal, irrational, immoral. I live in this country since long ago and injustice hurts me greatly. I know Cuba and the troubles they face every day because of the blockade. I am convinced that what the U.S. does not forgive Cuba is to be independent and sovereign. But I can assure you that there is an increasingly large number of people in this country who love and respect Cuba”.
You are a woman who has been very close to Cuba. How would you define our country and our people?
“I define Cuba as example of a society that is built based on solidarity, and as an alternative to the capitalist world. I define the Cuban people as an educated and dignified people who fight at all costs against injustice, without giving up their principles and “without losing tenderness”. Many people from the United States go to Cuba and return enamored with its culture, its sportspeople, its urban crops, its cooperatives, the respect and affection that Cubans profess one and other. There’s no other explanation than that of a country, which dedicates its daily effort to build a society with deep humanistic values. The fight against the blockade has been very long. Soon, it will be demonstrated at UN once again that the entire world is against the blockade. I am convinced that, sooner or later, Cuba, its people and its government, accompanied by friends from all over the world, will also overcome this injustice”.
Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff