Pittsburgh tells Trump and Congress: #UnblockCuba

The Pittsburgh City Council took action to strongly support the sovereignty of the Cuban people on July 24.

A resolution in the form of a proclamation, sponsored by Councilmember Anthony Coghill and co-sponsored by the other eight council members, backed a renewed cooperative engagement with Cuba by the U.S., as well as restoration of the full diplomatic staff at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., and at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Members of the initiating organization, Pittsburgh-Matanzas Sister City Partnership, and other supporters were present.

Pittsburgh-Matanzas Sister City Partnership President James Ferlo and Vice President Lisa Valanti spoke briefly, and Valanti read a greeting from the Cuban Embassy. Others present included a representative from U.S. Congressperson Mike Doyle.

Pittsburgh’s resolution expresses the will of yet another U.S. community to end the U.S. commercial, financial and economic blockade of Cuba. It also sent a special message of solidarity to Cuba just two days before that country celebrated the 65th anniversary of the July 26, 1953, attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. That attack began the final stage of Cuba’s long struggle for independence and self-determination culminating in victory on Jan. 1, 1959.

Pittsburgh joins eight other U.S. cities taking a similar action: Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond and Sacramento, Calif.; Hartford, Conn; Brookline, Mass.; Minneapolis; and Helena, Mont. Activists plan to introduce additional resolutions in Midwest, Eastern and Southern cities.

The body of the resolution reviewed the history of exchanges and efforts between Pittsburgh and Cuba since 1998, including mayoral visits, trade delegations, memoranda of understandings between Penn State University and the University of Havana, and sporting exchanges. In July 2016, a spectacular youth “Boxing on the Bridge’”exhibition was held with participants from Cuba and Pittsburgh competing in the center of Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente Bridge spanning the Allegheny River.

The Pittsburgh resolution noted that only congressional action can unravel the web of many laws restricting trade and travel with Cuba. It calls for the repeal of the Helms-Burton and Torricelli acts and “urges Congress to pass the strategic pieces of legislation that would completely repeal the blockade and travel ban” — action that would benefit the people of both countries.

For instance, while 2.5 billion pounds of unsold meat and poultry are now warehoused in the U.S. and dairy farmers are going out of business (Wall Street Journal, July 22), the Pittsburgh resolution points out that there are commodities “that Cuba presently purchases from far away countries and wants to purchase from the U.S.” These economic pressures are fueling incremental but important amendments to the 2018 Farm Bill and Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 to loosen some of the blockade’s financial grip.

A video recorded in the Pittsburgh City Council chambers is viewable on the National Network on Cuba’s Facebook page: http://bit.ly/2AmeGF9.

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French Foreign Minister: We Want to Be Cuba's Partner

Havana, Jul 30 (Prensa Latina) The French minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, expressed his government's interest in becoming Cuba's partner in the framework of the Caribbean island''s update of its economic model.

After touring Old Havana, the foreign minister repeated France's intention to reinforce bilateral ties with Cuba.

In statements to the National TV News, the head of French diplomacy commented that President Emmanuel Macron asked him to convey a message to his Cuban counterpart, Miguel Diaz-Canel, and to tell him that France wants to maintain the dynamics of existing relations.

We have exceptional ties that were consolidated during then President Raul Castro's visit to France in 2016.

On Monday, the French foreign minister met with his Cuban peer, Bruno Rodriguez, who described bilateral relations as positive, and pointed out that cultural, economic and academic exchange goes well.

There is a significant potential to strengthen ties between the two nations, noted the Cuban foreign minister, who highlighted France's leadership in Europe and in the struggle to preserve the environment.

Rodriguez thanked the French State for its stance against the US commercial, economic, and financial blockade on Cuba for more than half a century.

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Canada Demands End of U.S. Blockade on Cuba (+Photos)

Havana, Jul 23 (Prensa Latina) Friends of Cuba in Canada gathered in front of the U.S. consulate in Vancouver to demand the end of the economic and financial blockade, which has caused countless damages to the people of the Caribbean country.

Activist Tamara Hansen told Prensa Latina via Facebook that the mobilization took place as it has every month since the initiative was launched on September 17, 2015.

Under the slogan 'Lifting the US blockade Against Cuba Now' and organized by the Friends of Cuba against the U.S. Blockade-Vancouver (FCAB-Van) group, the peaceful demonstration called on the White House to listen to the international outcry.

On November 1, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against the blockade for the twenty-sixth consecutive time, supported by an overwhelming majority (191 votes in favor and only two against, the United States and Israel).

During the solidarity demonstration, participants carried banners reading: 'Cuba Yes, Blockade No!' and 'Return Guantanamo to Cuba Now!', referring to the territory illegally occupied by a US naval base in that eastern province of the Caribbean island.

The blockade, imposed in 1962 and maintained by both Democratic and Republican governments, is the longest economic siege in human history, experts say.

A statement by the group almost three years ago, when the monthly sit-ins in Vancouver began, stressed that 'despite the normalization of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States (...), many of the criminal policies (...) have been in place for more than 50 years'.

FCAB-Van is the successor to the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver. It was founded shortly after the celebration of the victory over the return of the island's anti-terrorists unjustly imprisoned in the United States on September 12, 1998.

FCAB-Van publicly warned that'as long as the cruel blockade exists, the group will return each month in front of the U.S. consulate in Vancouver', as they did for the return of the Five to their homeland (Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez).

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Cuban economy grows 1.1 percent in first half of 2018

Cuban Gross Domestic Product had a discreet growth of 1.1 percent at the end of the first half, when the county faced shortages in hard currency, said Miguel Diaz-Canel, President of the Council of State and Ministers.

In his closing speech of the first ordinary session of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP), the president said that the result "is encouraging in the midst of so many adverse factors.

He argued that the tense situation in the external finances remains, due to the failure to meet planned revenues from exports, tourism and sugar production, as well as the harmful effects of recent weather events.

Diaz-Canel said that such circumstances caused an impact on the arrival of inputs and raw materials, while stressing, therefore, the need to adopt additional measures to control the main assurances of the plan in this second part of the year.

He called for more focused work on import issues and other foreign exchange expenditures, and for maximum use to be made of available resources, without forgoing planned objectives such as those related to development and basic services to the population.

According to the President, thus addressing this situation will allow us to lay the foundations for making the 2019 economic plan objective, realistic and sustainable, based on solid and achievable foundations.

Díaz-Canel said a plan will be sought that will encourage, despite the difficulties, the continued development of priority programs in pursuit of growth and progress, as long as it contributes to the gradual restoration of the nation's financial credibility. (ACN)

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CELAC and EU call for end of U.S. blockade of Cuba

The foreign ministers of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) called Tuesday for the end of the blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States, since "it has caused undue humanitarian consequences for the Cuban people." 

"We reiterate our rejection of the application of those coercive measures of a unilateral nature with extraterritorial effect," the ministers said in the statement signed after a meeting in Brussels of the EU and CELAC foreign officials. 

The ministers also reaffirmed their rejection of the application of the extraterritorial provisions of the Helms-Burton Act, approved by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, which states that any non-U.S. company operating in Cuba may be subject to legal reprisals. 

In this regard, representatives of the EU and CELAC stressed that the United Nations General Assembly had adopted a resolution condemning this blockade, which was only opposed by the United States and Israel. 

"These measures are damaging the legitimate development of commercial ties between Cuba, the European Union and other countries," concluded the EU and CELAC foreign ministers. 

Edited by Pavel Jacomino
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End of U.S Blockade Against Cuba is Demanded in Streets of Miami

Washington, July 9 (Prensa Latina) The Martiana Alliance coalition, which gathers various organizations of Cuban emigrants in the U.S. city of Miami, Florida, called today for a new protest against the U.S. blockade imposed on the island.

It also called for a full normalization of relations between the two peoples and governments, and an end to restrictions on Americans traveling freely to Cuba.

With these purposes in mind, the Martiana Alliance plans to hold a caravan of cars next Saturday along important avenues in Miami.

We cannot sit idly while our families and the rest of the Cuban people suffer the consequences of these cruel and arbitrary policies by the administration of President Donald Trump,' said Andres Gomez, national coordinator of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, a member of that entity.

He also criticized the position of the Cuban extreme right wing allied with the government in the city.

On March 10, a caravan similar to the one planned became a way of protesting against Washington's decision, days before, on its embassy in the Caribbean.

The initiative was then valued as very good and timely by Damien Diaz, president of the Martiana Alliance.

There were no provocations by right-wing and anti-Cuban groups against our cars, and we felt the positive support of many people during the tour, Diaz told Prensa Latina.

We even heard shouts of Long Live Cuba! and Long Live the Revolution! as we travel down busy avenues in Southwest and near the University of Miami, he added.

As they have done on other occasions, the participants in the two-hour caravan also expressed their rejection of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba more than 55 years ago.

The U.S. State Department announced on March 2 that it will continue indefinitely to reduce staff at its embassy in Havana, despite calls from various groups to allow the return of diplomats and officials.

The number of people in the legation is similar to the level of emergency maintained after the September 29 departure order when Washington withdrew more than half of its officials citing health incidents reported by them.

A few days after such a move, the United States expelled 17 diplomats from the island's embassy in Washington.

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Cuba Will Maintain Aid on Disaster Prevention Despite U.S. Blockade

Havana, Jul 4 (Prensa Latina) The head of the National General Staff of Civil Defense, Major General Ramon Pardo, assured here that Cuba will maintain its international aid on disaster prevention despite the U.S. blockade.

'Our country that suffers an inhumane and cruel economic, commercial and financial blockade for over five decades is in a position to continue contributing through organizations such as the Association of Caribbean States,' Pardo ensured to the participants of the 10th International Congress of Disasters.

Pardo also explained the characteristics of the Cuban Civil Defense system, which, he stressed, has its essence in the vision and humanist character of the Revolution and its historical leader, Fidel Castro.

He noted that the island has a national platform to reduce disasters and strengthen resilience, which is constantly improving, he argued.

Among the tools created in the Caribbean nation to reinforce the warning system he mentioned the methodologies for studies of danger, vulnerabilities and territorial risk, and the State's plan for confronting climate change.

Pardo pointed out that Cuba maintains as a priority the surveillance system and the preparation of the people on rules of behavior and procedures against threats with actions such as the Meteoro exercise, which is carried out annually since 1986.

The 10th International Congress on Disasters, which began on Tuesday and will end on Friday, brings together experts from Cuba and several countries to strengthen collaboration in response to adverse weather events.

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Cuba Thanks Belarusian Solidarity in the Fight against Blockade

Havana, Jul 2 (Prensa Latina) The President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Fernando Gonzalez, thanked Belarus for its solidarity with this Caribbean country in its fight for the end of the U.S. blockade.

We recognize the support of Belarus in the demand of Cuba for the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the northern country on the island for almost six decades, stated Gonzalez in a ceremony for the 74th anniversary of the victory of Belarus over the fascism, celebrated in Havana.

In his words, the head of ICAP reminded the heroes and martyrs of that epic event when on July 3, 1944, the city of Minsk was liberated from the Nazi occupation.

Our solidarity hugs to the Belarusian people, reiterated Gonzalez and then referred to the agreements both nations are implementing in the economic, educational and scientific spheres.

He also spoke about the high level of bilateral relations and about the joint work in favor of peace that Cuba and Belarus have made in the Non-Aligned Movement and in the United Nations Organization.

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