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