In defiance of the U.S. government’s attempts to spread fear and discredit Cuba’s reputation as a safe country, members of the U.S. Non-governmental organization CODEPINK, visited the Caribbean island to show their opposition to the White House’s hostile policy
Nov 9, bySpeaking before national press outlets at the Havana headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), the activists condemned the criminal economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the U.S. on Cuba, called for the closure of the illegal Naval Base in Guantánamo, and for the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries. CODEPINK, founded on November 17, 2002, is a women-led grassroots organization working to end U.S. wars and militarism, support peace, environmental protection, and human rights initiatives; as well as redirect taxpayer’s money destined for the military sector into areas linked to social development.
Co-founder of the organization, Medea Benjamin, highlighted the irony of the U.S. State Department’s attempt to create fear by issuing travel warnings on Cuba, when it is one of the safest countries in the region, and given the level of violence and death in the U.S. as a result of the right to bear arms.
“When we get back we will talk about our experience here in Cuba and recommend that people visit the island, not only to meet with solidary people but also to get to know a country with a very interesting culture and way of life,” she noted, going on to emphasize the high level of safety on the island.
The CODEPINK co-founder went on to note that much work remains to be done to raise awareness around the issue of war; especially at such a complicated time for the country, with many domestic matters to resolve. In this sense she noted that the organization is working to build alliances with other progressive groups, above all those struggling to end police violence against African-Americans and people of color, immigrant rights movements, and environmentalists. Madea stated that 50 years after the unjust blockade was imposed on Cuba, she never imagined she would still be struggling to bring an end to the immoral and irrational policy, which has been condemned by international organizations such as the UN and the Vatican.
“Only the U.S. oligarchy and Cuban-American mafia groups are interested in maintaining the policy; and President Trump announced a reversal in bilateral diplomatic relations to appease these individuals, but firm opposition from the U.S. public, who condemn this hostility, has prevented him from implementing new laws,” she explained. The activist also noted that the results of surveys conducted by renowned U.S. institutions show that the vast majority of citizens support normal relations with Cuba and want to be able to freely visit the Caribbean island.
“It’s our job to continue educating people by showing them that the blockade remains in effect, and negatively impacts both Cuban and U.S. citizens,” she noted.
Meanwhile, young journalist Eleonor Goldfield, visiting Cuba for the first time, stated that she wanted to gather and share information about the island, noting that the mass media in the U.S. hide and distort information about the Caribbean island to create a negative image of the country among the general public. Meanwhile, 16-year-old high school student Charlotte Guyot had a similar experience whilst walking around Old Havana one evening. She explained that on being approached by a restaurant promoter, she was frightened at first as ever since she was a young girl, she had been taught not to trust strangers. “Today, I think that this idea is wrong and believe that you should trust in people until they give you a reason not to,” she explained.
The young student also noted that most of her friends know little about Cuba and tried to dissuade her from visiting the island. However, she decided to travel to the island to get to know the country and intends to tell her classmates about her experience when she returns.
Meanwhile her mother, Jadie Sarda, noted that she was happy her daughter wanted to join the trip as a member of CODEPINK, stating that the last time she visited the island Cubans were excited and pleased about the opening up of diplomatic relations with the U.S. “I’m for the normalization of relations between the two countries and it’s down to me to motivate other U.S. citizens to demand ongoing adequate exchanges,” she noted.