Sydney joins global call to lift US blockade on Cuba

June 20, Sydney. Photo: Australia Cuba Friendship Society / Facebook

Activists joined a global week of action against the United States blockade on Cuba, with the Australian Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS) organising a gathering on June 20 outside the Opera House.

The United Nations General Assembly voted on a resolution, put by Cuba, calling for an end to the US-imposed economic, commercial and financial embargo against the island on June 23. Only the United States and Israel voted against it, with Brazil, the Ukraine and Colombia abstaining. 

The US-Cuba Normalization Committee called for actions beginning June 17, leading up to the UN vote.

The General Assembly has voted 28 times in favour of the US lifting its barbaric policy. The blockade has been disastrous for the small island nation that led a revolution against a US-backed dictator in January 1959.

The economic blockade was first imposed by President John F Kennedy in 1960. In 1963 it was extended. The country’s economy suffered, particularly during the last year of the pandemic.

Every element of Cuba’s political, economic and social life has been adversely affected.

ACFS spokesperson Chela Weizel told Green Left that the majority of UN member countries support Cuba’s bid to get the blockade lifted. Australia does as well.

The blockade is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history, lasting 60 years. Weizel said the revolution remains strong, pointing to the country’s resilience to the pandemic.

“Cuba is developing a number of strong COVID-19 vaccines. One of their strongest, which they have just finished testing on children under the age of 12, is Soberana. Cuba is also part of the vaccine-sharing campaign.

Weizel said ACFS works with the Cuban-based Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples and is organising an event on July 25 to commemorate the July 26, 1959 revolution. The event will be raising money for syringes for Cuba.

ACFS activist Baskaran Appu said this year marks the 60th anniversary of the failed military coup at Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) and the 60th anniversary of the country’s education literacy campaign, Si se puede.

[This article has been updated to include the UNGA vote on June 23.]