Carlos Nepomuseno. Photo by Leni Villagomez Reeves

People of Cuba, Living under U.S. Siege

By Leni Villagomez Reeves

For 60 years, Cubans have been suffering as the price for being independent. The United States offers lip service to freedom but doesn’t tolerate it for a second anywhere in the world. We, the United States, have to be in control of all the resources, which means all the economic and political setups everywhere possible.

Why Cuba? It’s not like it has some unique natural resource that we’ve just got to have. It’s that bad example of autonomy, of integrity, of not only defying the United States, but of doing it in a way that just might look good to someone somewhere in the world trying to figure out how to scavenge that next bite to eat from a garbage dump. A country where all the children go to school and none of them have to work or beg? Lead me to it!

So every week, there is some new tightening of the stranglehold on the Cuban economy that is the U.S. blockade. As the world’s dominant economy, the United States has the power to block almost everyone in the world from engaging in trade and financial transactions with Cuba. The United States is exercising that power. This is not an embargo—it is a cruel siege warfare.

Some People Living That Reality

My name is Gilberto Garcia. I am 78 years old, and 60 of these years have passed under the U.S. blockade of Cuba, which affects the Cuban people in every aspect—education, transportation, replacement parts for industry and, above all, healthcare. I lost the sight of one eye due to the blockade during the Special Period, when there was little food supply. But we are still here. We are still on our feet, defending our sovereignty, defending our people, and, above all, we need people like those of you who support us, who offer us ongoing solidarity. Thank you for everything.

My name is Yoamaris Neptuno Dominguez. I am young, Black and a Cuban woman. I have a degree in humanities, as an art instructor and in social communications. Every day of my life is an effort to be more useful and to plant a seed by my actions. I want to do so much, I want to do more. But just wanting doesn’t make it possible. What stops me? The limitations of my country, for which my government is not responsible. Ever since I was old enough to understand, I’ve been hearing about bad laws and bad actions taken against my country. I’m tired of this story already. Outside of political discourse, I try to find some reason for maintaining this hostility toward my country. This sustained campaign that tries to discredit us in the world. This string of absurd lies told by and to people ignorant of the reality of my people. I ask myself, why? I This is how I feel, and I’m not looking for a medal for how I try to resist. I am Yoamaris, a young Black Cuban woman, and proud to be so. Just one more woman with a dream.

Well, I am Carlos Nepomuceno, a radiology technician, and, here’s the way it is, the shortages we have are enormous. We don’t have x-ray film, we don’t have syringes, there’s a big syringe shortage. Reactant chemicals for lab tests are also in short supply, we are almost out and so on. There are a lot of things we need; there are many shortages.

My name is Justina. I belong to the Baptist Church. I feel good in the church, and I have been in the Elders Activity group since 1990. The instructor takes us on trips, we enjoy ourselves, we tell stories.  Old as we are, it seems as if we were only in our 40s, but I am 89.  

I am Gustavo Mayor Reyes. Here we Cubans are confronting the U.S. blockade and siege that have lasted more than 60 years already. But we are also following the teachings of Jose Martí. We are trying to be united at all times to block the advance  of the “Giant with the Seven League Boots” that wants to destroy us and beat us to our knees. But we have our dignity and the teachings of Martí and Fidel Castro to confront this blockade, and we are sure that we will win.

My name is Nora Cuello. I live in Marianao. I am 78 years old, so I have lived during the whole Revolutionary period and in the era prior to the Revolution. So I can make a comparison of the two situations. In these moments, we are feeling sad because, thanks to the U.S. government, we are under a fierce blockade that obstructs my getting blood pressure medicines I need at my age, antibiotics for health problems and medicines for hospitals that care for children and old people. And personal hygiene products are also a problem—soap, shampoo, detergent. We can’t always eat what we’d wish, but we have enough to keep going, thanks to the efforts of our revolutionary government.

So, hi, my name is  Edelso Moret, currently working with Martin Luther King Memorial Center, as a translator-guide for solidarity groups coming to Cuba. And, talking about solidarity, I will always say that we Cubans really appreciate what the U.S. people are trying to do in order to have normal relations with Cuba. We know it’s a matter of politics, it’s a matter of government and we would like to see good relations between Cuba and the United States.We are just 45 minutes away. Always, Cuba and the United States could be good neighbors and collaborate on issues that could be important not only for Cuba and the United States but also for the whole world.

My name is Yosbel Cervantes Gonzalez, and on account of the blockade I had to change jobs; it was necessary. About fuel, the ships carrying petroleum could not enter the country and I had to change my job, which had been as a taxi driver.

My name is Jorge Nuñez. I work in a psychology/teaching center for children with handicaps, where they can learn different tasks and develop abilities working with wood, clay and paper maché. They make food, work with seeds and participate in cultural events. And this is a job that is beautiful, that makes the professor’s heart grow larger by being there, by placing all his effort and dedication in the service of this worthy task, which is repaid by the affection of the children.

Learn More

The Pastors for Peace Caravan is coming to Fresno to share news and perspectives on Cuba. This is information that you won’t get from the media. Special guest Richard Becker will speak about the situation in Cuba today, the current state of U.S.-Cuba relations, and the nature and role of the Caravan in challenging Trump’s policies.

Bring a potluck dish and try a little Cuban food, too. Music by Teatro de la Tierra/Generaciones. The event is scheduled for April 4 at 6:30 p.m. in the Fireside Room at Wesley Methodist Church..

*****

Leni Villagomez Reeves is a local physician and activist. Contact her at lenivreeves@gmail.com

Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba

Participate in a life changing experience in Cuba

Are you ready to go to Cuba in defiance of the U.S. travel ban?

Many people from the Fresno area have done that and have seen the real Cuba for themselves.

Our caravans extend solidarity to the Cuban people and give you an opportunity to learn about Cuba through direct experience. This year, the caravan will travel to Havana and Matanzas Province to explore how the Cuban people are surviving under an economic blockade maintained for more than 60 years by the United States and intensified by the Trump administration.

Despite the blockade, participants will see how the Cuban people are moving forward in fields such as healthcare and organic farming, the diversity of religious expression in Cuba and Cuba’s efforts to tackle the colonial legacies of racism, sexism and homophobia.

Pastors for Peace Caravan applications are now available. Caravan dates July 17–30. Deadline to apply: May 1. For more information and to request an application, contact Pastors for Peace at friendshipmentcaravan@ifconews.org or 212-926-5757, ext. 6.

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  • The Community Alliance is a monthly newspaper that has been published in Fresno, California, since 1996. The purpose of the newspaper is to help build a progressive movement for social and economic justice.

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