Detroit demands: take Cuba off “sponsors of terrorism” list

BY: Madeline Stanczak And Detroit Club, CPUSA| August 9, 2023
Detroit demands: take Cuba off “sponsors of terrorism” list


There was a powerful atmosphere of urgency, organization, and solidarity at the General Baker Institute on June 3, 2023, as organizers from across southeast Michigan came to westside Detroit to report back on their eye-opening visit to Cuba. The event was called in order to educate and spread resistance among the U.S. people to the blockade against Cuba. The struggles ahead are fierce, but the revolutionary optimism was far fiercer!

The Michigan Action on Cuba Committee (MACC) is a committee made up of members from several working-class and people’s organizations in Michigan. They came together in the struggle for the liberation of Cuba from the hybrid war the U.S. has waged against the nation over the past half-century. They are organizing around a series of demands in alignment with the National Network on Cuba (NNOC): the ending of the blockade, lifting of all sanctions, removal from the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SSOT) list, ending the U.S.’ illegal occupation of Guantanamo, and — in response to more recent events — opposing H.R. 314 (the FORCE Act) legislation which would codify Cuba’s SSOT designation into federal law.

One major aim of the two-hour panel — stocked with Yemeni and Cuban coffee, flags, pins, and pamphlets — was to bring back organizing strategies focused on unity and solidarity, with a view toward building revolutionary movements. “Revolution is not an internet thought exercise, it’s a practice,” said Ian Matchett of Swords Into Plowshares, a peace center and art gallery in downtown Detroit. Through living acts of radical unity and solidarity, the working-class-led government of Cuba offers an inspiring example of what is only possible when people are prioritized over profit.

In addition, the panelists shared their thoughts about the joys and struggles of modern Cuban life under the U.S.-imposed blockade. They spoke of contradictions and struggles within their own brigade, and the current tendency towards infighting and frivolous disagreement between progressive forces in the U.S. Specifically, they emphasized how critical it is, when we are living in the “belly of the beast” of U.S. imperialism, to build unity when internal conflicts arise. The Cuban revolution is so close to our country, and it is our job as internationalists to expose our own ruling class, and speak about global exploitation and oppression in public spaces.

Make no mistake: Cuba is no threat to U.S. sovereignty. The current designation of “terrorist state” for a country that has the highest doctor-to-population ratio on the globe, and a near-100% literacy rate, is nothing more than a 61-year-long grudge, supported by finance capital, and characterized by imperial hubris and tremendous disdain towards the hope and light Cuba offers the world. Cuba has been on the receiving end of a hybrid war since their revolution, a dizzying imperialist strategy to achieve full spectrum dominance over military, political, economic and informational terrains.

As U.S. big business media outlets dust off their refurbished Cold War propaganda machine, Cubans are developing methods of creative resistance and innovation in the face of imperialism. Panelist Sandhya P., who organizes with several mutual aid organizations in Michigan, mentioned how scientists and farmers have developed permaculture techniques to naturally mimic pesticides. This helps deal with a lack of food supply, advancing an important method of self-preservation as the blockade increasingly restricts Cuba’s access to the international market. Surviving over 60 years of brutal military, economic, political, and informational warfare requires mass effort. Cuba has not abandoned its obligation to uplift and empower working people in name or deed, guiding and forming a society constituted on trust, education, material well being, health, and revolutionary optimism. In the face of sustained terror, Cuba proves that nothing can replace the grounding feeling of standing on soil where your human dignity is truly honored, where you can trust your neighbor, your community, and your government to stand next to you in struggle.

On the other hand, many people in the U.S. have a major blind spot with regard to U.S. foreign economic policy, due to our government’s history of stifling political education. Many have the impression that sanctions are a relatively benign method to punish a country. At least, some might think, it is the kinder alternative to drone strikes, atom bombs, and chemical warfare, which the U.S. has utilized elsewhere. In reality, economic sanctions have a catastrophic and violent impact on the people of Cuba, causing the very hunger and strife that the big business media in the U.S. parades as an example of a “failed socialist state.” Anti-Communist propaganda has been ramped up considerably across the past two administrations. These ideological weapons are a powerful tool which the ruling class wields against working and oppressed people in the U.S., causing further disunity and apathy, and prolonging the struggle. The ongoing Cuban revolution proves time and time again that political education is an indispensable component of the struggle for liberation.

Prof. Emeritus Baba Charles Simmons ended the panel with a most valuable perspective. From the radicalizing experience of working for the U.S. military, to playing baseball with Fidel Castro, he spoke of the necessity for organizers to struggle, unify, and reach resolution with each other and our communities. Without the ability to find common ground with others fighting for fundamental change, our movement will suffer from division and sects, a welcoming environment for fascism to grow and spread. It’s our obligation to fight against the tide and push for unity on issues that move us together in a progressive direction.

On June 25th, MACC organized and led a march in the heart of Detroit to bolster the growing pro-Cuba movement. Mirroring NNOC’s day-of-action in D.C., they congregated around the Hazen S. Pingree Monument to share sunscreen, signs, and unity before marching to City Council to speak publicly on the devastating effects of the U.S.’ blockade on Cuba’s sovereignty. Onlookers appeared genuinely curious rather than angered or disturbed, a stark reminder that U.S. imperialism operates without our people’s consent, often under the cover of opportunism and chauvinism. Connecting the struggle in Detroit to Cuba, the current attack on education in the face of tax abatements for big real estate and developers, Detroiters stood tall.

Supporters can plug into the fight for Cuban liberation at home by using NNOC and MACC’s resources to educate and network. Join a fight to pass a resolution in your own city or town’s council. Educate your coworkers and neighbors about the on-going struggle for Cuba’s right to sovereignty. Get involved in the movement for peace, democracy, and socialism!

Thank you to Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM Detroit), Swords into Plowshares (SIP), General Defence Committee (GDC), General Baker Institute (GBI), Michigan Action for Cuba Committee (MACC), National Network on Cuba (NNOC), Communist Party USA (CPUSA), Young Communist League (YCL) and all those present in the ongoing fight for liberation in the belly of the beast and abroad. Cuba Sí, Bloqueo No!

Images: Detroit CPUSA


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