I had the great honour to speak at a recent webinar on the theme of ‘Ending US Aggression Against Cuba is Key to World Peace’ alongside a brilliant panel which included Cuban journalist Iroel Sanchez, Venezuelan Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Carlos Ron and Chris Hazzard Sinn Féin MP. You can watch the entire event on YouTube here.
Below I share a video and transcript of my contribution to the meeting.
Ending US Aggression Against Cuba is Key to World Peace
Speech to an online event co-hosted by the International Manifesto Group, No Cold War, Black Alliance for Peace and the Tricontinental Institute which took place on Sunday 29 August 2021
I’d like to start by congratulating the Federation of Cuban Women who this week celebrated their 61st anniversary.
Today 24,000 Cuban women medical professionals are present in over 40 countries across the world – providing healthcare to those in need during this pandemic.
It is amazing to note that the majority of doctors and nurses serving in Cuba’s International Medical Brigades are women.
These women are fulfilling the promise made by Fidel Castro when he said:
“Our country does not drop bombs on other peoples… Our country’s tens of thousands of scientists and doctors have been educated in the idea of saving lives… Doctors, not bombs.”
It is this spirit of internationalism and global cooperation that humanity needs especially right now to overcome our common problems – saving lives by ending this devastating pandemic, making poverty history and stopping climate breakdown which threatens us all.
Yet the world’s most powerful country – the United States of America – is shunning global cooperation.
In defiance of global public opinion, the US is intent on waging a dangerous new cold war against countries that aren’t willing to submit to Washington’s diktats. Countries who only wish to exercise their right to determine their own futures and pursue their own path of national independence and development.
This is exactly why Cuba is under increasing attack from the US. Just over 60 years ago the Cuban people chose an independent path and refused to submit to US colonial control. Ever since, the US has been intent on overthrowing the Cuban government.
As US military forces withdraw from Afghanistan, ending the 20 year ‘War on Terror’ which has killed, injured and displaced millions of people, we cannot say that the US government has drawn any lessons from this defeat, or that it regrets the immense human suffering US military intervention has caused.
In fact the US is becoming more aggressive. In particular the US is focused on intensifying its cold war offensive against China, against Cuba and also against other progressive forces in Latin America struggling for national sovereignty and social progress.
With an annual military budget of 750 billion dollars and over 800 foreign military bases, 400 of which surround China, the US is moving on from its ‘War on Terror’ and is determined to stop the peaceful rise of China and the development of a multipolar world.
Right now Cuba is the focus of US’s attack in Latin America. By punishing the Cuban people the US hopes to send a threatening message to all those who stand up to Washington – that they will also be subjected to a cold war if they resist the US’s demands.
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The Cuban people understand more than anyone else in the world that the US administration is the greatest threat to world peace and prosperity.
For 60 years Cuba has endured US aggression. It is estimated that the US blockade has cost the Cuban economy over 147 billion dollars.
It is disgraceful that the US, during a global pandemic, chose to make the Cuban people suffer more by tightening its blockade with further sanctions started by President Trump and continued and intensified by President Biden.
The inevitable consequence of this US aggression has been to produce shortages in vital medical supplies and food in Cuba. So much for the US support for human rights in Cuba – what hypocrisy!
The majority of the world is opposed to this behaviour from the US. In June, at the UN General Assembly 184 countries voted against the US economic blockade of Cuba – only 2 countries voted in favour.
The US has completely failed to win international support for its attacks on Cuba. Even the US’s closest allies have refused to support them.
Indeed, in response to the latest US attempts to destabilise the situation in Cuba – through the waging of an enormous international media campaign of disinformation and imposition of further sanctions – in response to this, people all over the world have mobilised against the US to support Cuba.
Russia, China, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Mexico have all sent practical aid to Cuba.
There is even some significant opposition to the US aggression against Cuba within the US itself. In the New York Times 400 prominent US celebrities and organisations signed an open letter calling upon Biden to ‘Let Cuba Live’ and end US aggression.
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For centuries the US has sought to dominate Latin America and the Caribbean – regarding the region as Washington’s ‘backyard’. This continues to be the case.
But the US is facing major challenges. Progressive forces across the continent are pushing forward in their struggle for self-determination:
– In Peru Castillo won the Presidential election on a promise of using the country’s natural resources for the peoples development
– The sovereign and legitimate governments of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba have successfully resisted US attempts to overthrow them – against the enormous pressure of economic warfare and campaigns of destabilisation
– In Bolivia, last year the people overturned the US-backed coup against Evo Morales and the Movement Towards Socialism
– In Brazil former political prisoner Lula da Silva is free and cleared of all the fake charges of corruption that the US organised against him. Lula currently has a 26% lead in the opinion polls ahead of the 2022 Brazilian Presidential election
This advance of progressive forces in Latin America is a blow not only to the US foreign policy that designates Latin America as its ‘backyard’ but to the US’s determination to dominate global affairs.
That progressive forces in Latin America are increasingly pursuing ‘win-win’ relations with China is regarded as a very threatening development by the US cold war hawks in Washington. China has become a major trading partner for most countries in Latin America. The US wants to stop this movement towards a multipolar world.
China offers Latin American countries vaccines, trade, investment and respect for sovereignty. This is a welcome alternative to the US coups, destabilisation campaigns and economic warfare.
Just yesterday it was reported that new supplies to help Cuba fight Covid19 had been donated by China. What a stark contrast to the US approach of exacerbating the impact of the pandemic by applying more sanctions.
The advance of progressive forces in Latin America and their growing links with China is completely intolerable to the US.
And so in addition to opposing the US’s increasing aggression against Cuba, the world must be alert to the imminent threat of a US-backed coup in Peru and a serious destabilisation campaign in Nicaragua ahead of the election in November.
We must be aware that high profile US figures such as Trump’s former advisor Steve Bannon are already intervening into next year’s Presidential election in Brazil – with new plans of a soft coup to keep the far right Jair Bolsonaro in office and to stop Lula from claiming his democratic victory.
The US cold war in Latin America is heating up. And Cuba will continue to be on the frontline of facing US attacks.
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A final word:
We must support Cuba’s right to self-determination, sovereignty and development. Opposing US aggression against Cuba, including all sanctions, and the illegal trade embargo is the best way we can do this.
This is not radical – it’s simply just and in line with world opinion. It is also key for world peace and the struggle against the new cold war.
Let Cuba Live!