by Cole Harrison
The Boston City Council voted today to pass Resolution 0618 calling for the end to the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba and for greater medical, cultural, and educational ties between the two countries. Kendra Lara, Boston City Councilor for District Six and member of DSA, introduced the resolution. Other co-sponsors included Councilors Arroyo, Baker, Bok, Breadon, Flaherty, Louijeune, Mejia, Murphy, Worrell, Flynn, and Fernandes-Anderson.
On Monday, July 11th, the Boston City Council held a public hearing which included testimony from congressional representatives, experts in public health and health care, academic experts in Cuban history, faith-based leaders, Boston immigrant community leaders, and other Boston residents.
At the hearing, Councilor Lara described the embargo as “one of the longest standing and most aggressive,” in U.S. history and said she believes it is “a humanitarian crisis that has cost many human lives… Boston has much to benefit from open medical, environmental and public health exchanges with Cuba.”
Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, Congressperson from the 6th district and Chair of the House Rules Committee testified, “The embargo makes it nearly impossible for many companies or even nonprofits to get food and medical supplies to the people of Cuba. Many biotech and research sectors are looking to a future when they can bring innovations from Cuba which has this incredible medical research program there… I have become a vocal advocate of normalizing relations between our two countries – simply put because US policy towards Cuba is misguided, self-defeating and stupid…U.S. America’s embargo has been a failure- a relic from the cold war. A majority of the people of the US support normalizing relations with Cuba.”
The resolution states that the City Council finds the U.S. embargo and travel restrictions to Cuba are prejudicial to the interests of Boston residents and is in violation of their rights to travel to Cuba for educational, research, or cultural exchange. The City Council calls for the immediate restoration of engagement with Cuba and that local medical, health care, scientific, and pharmaceutical institutions in Boston actively explore collaboration with their Cuban counterparts. Finally, the Council calls on Massachusetts Congressional Representatives and Senators to pass legislation that will end the unsuccessful and harmful 60-year embargo against Cuba.
Boston constituents also voiced their overwhelming support for the resolution. Nalda Vigezzi of the Boston Cuba Solidarity Coalition-July26.org joined Reverend Dieufort Fleurissaint, Director of True Alliance Center in supporting the passage.
According to Vigezzi, “Cuba has developed five effective COVID vaccines, a groundbreaking new vaccine for lung cancer, partnering with the Rosswell Park Institute in New York, an innovative diabetes treatment, and is now developing a treatment for Alzheimer’s. Through collaborations between Cuba and Boston, these medications could be available to my neighbors and your neighbors in Boston.”
Rev. Fleurissaint declared, “More than any other country, Cuba has provided sustainable and life-changing medical support and solidarity to my home country, Haiti. Cuba’s health system is based in communities, and we have much to learn from them. This blockade is sinful, and we need to do all we can to eliminate it.”
Boston joins over 20 cities, four states, and over 12 labor unions/councils throughout the U.S. in passing resolutions to end the U.S. Blockade of Cuba, including Brookline, Cambridge, New Haven, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Detroit. For the full list of cities, states, and labor unions, see the Cuba resolutions list. This initiative is part of the national Saving Lives Campaign organized nationally by the National Network on Cuba.
The resolution was organized and brought to the Boston City Council by a diverse group of Boston-based organizations and coalitions: Boston Cuba Solidarity Coalition-July26.org, DSA – Boston, First Baptist Church Jamaica Plain, Equity Now and Beyond (led by Agencia ALPHA, Brazilian Women’s Group, ACEDONE, True Alliance Center), Center to Support Immigrant Organizing, and Massachusetts Peace Action.
Cole Harrison is the executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action.