Cuba: US artists demand end of blockade


More than 200 prominent individuals from the arts and showbusiness in the United States have signed a letter addressed to President George Bush expressing their support for cultural relations between the US and Cuba.

"We believe the time has come to move towards cooperation and constructive relations with Cuba", including cultural exchange, says the letter, published on the website of The Cuba Research and Analysis Group ().

The letter bears the signatures of more than 200 actors, musicians, film-makers and producers, including prestigious individuals such as Harry Belafonte, Ry Cooder, Peter Coyote, Danny Glover, Sean Penn, Bonnie Raitt, Gloria Steinem and Alice Walker.

"The present policies deny such possibilities of friendship and cultural sharing", the letter says. "In denying us the possibility of engaging in such exchanges and relationships, we are being denied our fundamental rights as guaranteed by the 1st, 5th and 14th amendments of the US constitution."

"As citizens, artists, scholars, educators and cultural workers from all artistic practices, academic disciplines, advocacy and service organizations in the arts, we hope you will read and consider", the petition says.

The letter asks for opening "a respectful dialogue with the government and people of Cuba in accord with established protocols supported by the community of nations"; ending "the travel ban that prevents US citizens from visiting Cuba and allow for Cuban artists and scholars to visit the United States, thus eliminating the censorship of art and ideas"; and initiating, "by working with appropriate members of Congress, a process that can result in the development of normal bilateral relations between our countries".

Since 1962, the US government has maintained a rigid economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba, costing the island nation over US$89 billion.

For the 16th straight year, the UN General Assembly has approved a resolution, in a vote of 184-4 with one abstention, opposing the US economic siege of Cuba. The UN adopted this resolution, proposed by Cuba, condemning Washington's blockade because of the obstacle it creates to the island's development and well-being and because it attempts to subject the Cuban people to hunger and disease.

[Reprinted from Granma International.]