New York City Council resolution to end blockade of Cuba
A resolution of the New York City Council calling for an end to the blockade of Cuba, Resolution 1092, has been officially introduced and is moving through the legislative process. After the resolution’s initial introduction, it was referred to the council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations. On Thursday, Oct. 31 2019, it was formally brought before the committee which is chaired by Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, who is also one of the bill’s co-sponsors.
At the committee session, Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, a co-sponsor of the resolution, spoke of the context for the new resolution, particularly the recent re-introduction of harsh restrictions against Cuba by the Trump administration.
The resolution was formally introduced by its main sponsor, Council Member Inez Barron. In her remarks, Barron also said that the blockade was a Cold War leftover that has achieved nothing positive over the last nearly 60 years.
Chairmen Van Bramer then opened the hearing for public comment, first speaking in favor of the measure, saying, “the embargo only hurts people.” He said “the President is wrong on virtually everything,” and the blockade against Cuba “is one of those things.”
Gilberto Villa, who was born and lived in Havana but who is now living in New York, spoke not only of the economic losses caused by the blockade but also the immense but personal costs.
Some of the speakers who participated during the public comments section of the hearing included Dr. Damian Suarez, Pat Fry, Emily Thomas of Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, and Tom Gogan of U.S. Labor Against the War. |
Of note also were the remarks of Dr. Damian Suarez. Suarez related how he received his medical training in Cuba at no cost and pointed out that such training could be affordable, and thus accessible, for students of low or modest means like himself if the blockade was lifted. Suarez said he worked in a public hospital in the Bronx and that other doctors trained in Cuba were working in underserved neighborhoods across the U.S. There could be many more, he said, but the blockade limits this, thus preventing communities in the U.S. from getting this service.
Stephen Millies, an Amtrak retiree, spoke in a related vein about how two of his co-workers had died from meningitis even though an anti-meningitis vaccine has been developed in Cuba but which they could not access.
US Labour Against the War Involvement
Center for Labor Renewal