Selected photos from the May 30 caravan to normalize relations with Cuba, courtesy of Susan Ruggles.
On Memorial Day weekend, Milwaukee Veterans for Peace (VFP) and Voces de la Frontera joined the monthly car and bike caravan calling for normal relations between the US and Cuba and to end the US economic blockade (full album of photos and video by Susan Ruggles available here). The send off rally on May 30th included remarks by VFP leader Mark Foreman, who was badly injured while serving as a medic in Vietnam, and later visited Cuba with other US war veterans. They met with Cuban veterans, and Foreman, who became a school teacher after his discharge, noted how many schools and clinics he saw in Cuba, as compared to Milwaukee. VFP is made up of U.S. war veterans who work for peaceful solutions to conflicts.
These caravans are part of a larger movement started by Cuban-Americans in Miami to end restrictions on their ability to see or assist their relatives, and has expanded throughout the U.S. and worldwide. In Milwaukee, the demands also include justice for all Latinx immigrants and their families.
Nadxely Sanchez spoke for Voces de la Frontera, the leading immigrant rights group in Wisconsin. She is a student at Marquette University and has undocumented members of her family. She said the U.S. needs a path to citizenship for all undocumented workers, 69% of whom had been classified as “essential” workers during the pandemic. She also expressed Voces’s support for ending the embargo against Cuba.
Bashar H. M. Hamadna, a Palestinian medical student in Cuba, described his birth and childhood in a refugee camp in Jericho after his family was displaced by Israeli forces. Like the medical students from Wisconsin who were raised by single mothers on the north and south sides of Milwaukee and also expect to graduate this year, Hamadna stated that he would have had no hope of becoming a doctor if it was not for solidarity from Cuba. He endorsed Cuba’s commitment to “Make more doctors, not bombs,” and his gratitude for being admitted cost free with students from 56 different nations at Cuba’s famed Latin American School of Medicine. Click here to hear audio of his full remarks.
Art Heitzer, for the Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba, described the serious shortage of food in Cuba today, as cited in an editorial in the Miami Herald titled “Migrants are dying at sea off Florida. Why is Biden’s Cuba policy still on the back burner?” That same week, Oxfam issued a 92 page report on the serious injury to Cuba’s population, particularly women, that the continuing US policies are causing, including interfering with Cuba’s ability to import essential medical supplies during the pandemic. At the same time Cuba has sent medical missions to assist many other countries and developed its own Covid-19 vaccines that it also hopes to share with developing nations. People in the U.S. and around the world can contribute to Cuba’s vaccination efforts through the campaign, #syringes4cuba.