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Re: Wash., DC Town Hall Meeting on Cuba held

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  • Robert L. Snyder
    To: CubaNews Digest from: (NWC!) No War on Cuba Movement! -abstract by Bob Snyder (WASHINGTON, DC.) July 1, 2003 NO WAR ON CUBA! TOWN HALL MEETING ON US-CUBA
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2003
      To: CubaNews Digest
      from: (NWC!) No War on Cuba Movement! -abstract by Bob Snyder
      (WASHINGTON, DC.) July 1, 2003


      NO WAR ON CUBA! TOWN HALL MEETING ON US-CUBA RELATIONS DRAWS 200 PEOPLE!

      WASHINGTON, DC.---Despite the hot, muggy weather (low 90s) over 200 people
      packed All Souls Unitarian Church in Wash., DC on June 24th to hear 5
      panelists speak on US-Cuba relations. The No War on Cuba Movement (NWC)
      sponsored the Town Hall meeting to raise community awareness about US
      aggression against Cuba in the past and at present. WPFW radio station
      (FM 89.3) taped the event and broadcast it later that evening. Eight media
      outlets signed in at start of the Town Hall mtg. including Univision.

      The 5 panelists were: Nancy Wright, member and spokesperson for the No War
      on Cuba Movement; Rev. Lucius Walker, founder of Pastors for Peace; Jose
      Pertierra, Cuban-American immigration rights attorney; Jose A. Prieto
      Sanchez, Cuban Interests Section Representative; Leonard Weinglass,
      attorney for Antonio Guerrero, one of the five Cuban patriots unjustly
      imprisoned in the United States. The 2 hour event was moderated by No War on
      Cuba Movement member, Sue Ashdown. It was followed by a Q & A session with
      the audience.

      NWC spokesperson NANCY WRIGHT opened the evening with a summary of the
      history between the two countries, including the US' most recent aggressive
      actions that led concerned Cuba solidarity activists to form the No War on Cuba
      (NWC) movement at the end of April. These recent actions included the US
      order that 14 Cuban diplomats in Washington and New York be sent back to Cuba and
      blatant attempts by US government, through its Interests Section in Havana,
      to foment unrest with the express purpose of overthrowing the Cuban government.

      Ms. Wright explained that in light of the recent US war of aggression and
      occupation in Iraq and explicit statements by several US officials, NWC is
      concerned that a US military invasion is not out of the question. As a result,
      NWC demands a 180 degree turn in US policy towards Cuba by:
      1.) organizing an end to the US blockade against Cuba and promoting the
      normalization of relations between the two countries;
      2.) supporting our human right to travel to Cuba and opposing any US
      imposed sanctions and restrictions towards Cuba which limit exchanges and interactions between US and
      Cuban citizens;
      3.) respecting Cuba's sovereignty and freedom from US
      government-sponsored, influence, harassment, intervention, terrorism,
      aggression, or invasion.

      The Rev. LUCIUS WALKER spoke about the 40 year US imposed trade blockade and
      travel restrictions against Cuba and the various hardships that the Cuban
      people have endured over the years due to this unjust policy. He carefully
      detailed how the US blockade has been imposed on other countries trading
      with Cuba leading to widespread shortages throughout the island over many
      years.
      As founder of Pastors for Peace and with over 13 years of experience
      in collecting and transporting much needed medical and humanitarian donations and supplies to
      Cuba through the US-Cuba Friendshipment Caravans despite the blockade, Rev.
      Walker provided inspiring and first-hand accounts of their successful experience
      in challenging the US blockade. He also highlighted the valiant effort of
      the Cuban people to maintain free education and health care in the face of
      the oppressive US blockade. His talk was followed by some in the audience chanting,
      "Cuba Si, Bloqueo No!"

      Cuban American attorney, JOSE PERTIERRA, gave a humorous account of first
      entering the US in the early 60s when he was 9 years old and ending up in Los
      Angeles rather than Miami. Growing up in LA gave young Pertierra the opportunity
      to be free of the Miami mafia mentality so pervasive in Miami. "It's no
      surprise that Miami recently hosted the largest pro-war demonstration in the United
      States. Cuban-American demonstrators passionately shouted "Today Iraq,
      tomorrow Cuba" during their rally in Miami," said Pertierra.

      Pertierra further explained that "under the guise of promoting ethnic
      diversity within the Administration, President Bush appointed over two-dozen
      right-wing Cuban-Americans to positions of influence in the federal
      government. Emboldened by their inclusion in the highest echelons of
      power in the Washington, Elian's Miami relatives and their fanatical
      supporters think that the time is ripe to finally topple the Cuban
      revolution.

      The US lied to us about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and the US
      lies to us about Cuba having biological weapons. They lied to us about
      rebuilding Afghanistan and they will lie to the American people about why
      the US needs to invade and liberate the Cuban people." "It's a lie that
      all Cuban-Americans of Miami today favor toppling the Cuban leadership,"
      said Pertierra. Indeed a recent poll showed that more than half of South
      Florida's Cuban-American population favors dialogue with Cuba's leaders.
      "A new generation of Cuban-Americans wants a normal and
      respectful relationship with their home country." Pertierra concludes, "I, for
      one, cast my lot on the side of our poet and patriot, Jose Marti, and say with
      him: "Con los pobres de la tierra quiero yo mi suerte echar. El arroyo de
      la sierra me complace mas que el mar. I hope you do the same!"

      JOSE A. PRIETO SANCHEZ represented the Cuban Interests Section in Washington,
      DC at the NWC public forum. He focused on the current and more recent
      statements, sanctions and hostility directed at Cuba from the United States and US
      officials in Cuba and other countries. In addition he recalled the escalation of
      Cuba-bashing rhetoric from various US government sources and the US coercion
      of the European Union to pile on with condemnations. He noted that the US'
      heavy-handed efforts to get others to gang up on Cuba fell on deaf ears when
      Colin Powell went to speak at the OAS..

      Human Rights attorney, LEONARD WEINGLASS, spoke on the issue of the unjustly
      tried and imprisoned five Cuban nationals currently being held in five
      separate prisons around the United States. He recounted how the Cuban government had
      to send "the five" here to monitor Cuban exile groups actively planning
      terrorist acts and a military invasion of Cuba because the US government and its
      security agencies repeatedly ignored earlier warnings and information provided to
      them by the Cuban government. To this day, Cuban exile groups continue their
      training for terrorist acts and invasion, and the US government continues to
      ignore these illegal activities (these activities are a violation of the US
      Neutrality Act). The Cuban government agents are imprisoned in the US, a few for
      life, only because of attempts to apprise the US government of terrorist
      activities operating on its own shores. Weinglass brought the audience up to date
      on the appeal process, the harsher treatment of the Cuban 5 under the Bush
      Administration and the request that Cuba solidarity supporters mobilize around
      this issue as this has been the only way in the past to make sure that the law
      is followed appropriately.

      At the close of the evening, a fellow NWC member spoke to one of the
      videographers at the event who is not a member of NWC and is not familiar with
      US-Cuban issues. She said, "I learned so much here tonight. I had no idea of how
      terrible US foreign policy towards Cuba is."


      -NWC! --WASH. DC., July 1, 2003




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