MN Cuba car caravan: Take Cuba off the ‘State Sponsors of Terrorism’ list

Participants in the car caravan in Minnesota Cuba.

Participants in the car caravan in Minnesota Cuba. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN — On Jan. 29, 35 cars drove through south Minneapolis to draw attention to the United States’ treatment of Cuba. The Solidarity Committee for the Americas and the MN Cuba Committee held their monthly Cuba caravan to call for an end to the US blockade against Cuba and also for Cuba to be removed from the list of US state sponsors of terrorism.

Though Minnesota’s harsh winter of gusty winds was at its peak and it felt like 20 below zero, activists rallied in many shifts, stuck signs on their cars, rallied for Cuba, and then drove the caravan down residential streets.

Before the caravan started, people held up banners and signs and chanted: “What do we do if Cuba is attacked? Stand up and fight!” The banners read: “Cuba removed from US terrorist list” and “Take your knee off Cuba! End the blockade now!”

Sarah Martin of the Solidarity Committee on the Americas (SCOTA) stated: “In 2015, Obama removed Cuba from the list of US state sponsors of terrorism. Trump advised them that Cuba was merely a haven for Colombian insurgents who were in Cuba due to the island’s role in facilitating the historic peace accords. Since when is providing a place for peace negotiations terrorism? Returning to the list places Cuba again under a string of harsh sanctions and international financial restrictions and transactions that limit the nation’s ability to purchase medicines and medical supplies for its people and restart its economy in the wake of the COVID pandemic. We urge Biden to act now and remove her from this list.”

Before introducing the keynote speaker, Martin described SCOTA’s November 2022 delegation trip. Mary Kosuth, a graduate student from Minneapolis, was there. Kosuth pointed out that before she goes to Cuba, she is at an age when you start seeing bad things repeatedly and feeling defeated. “For years I was an overwhelmed, underinsured, undervalued and demoralized mother of two. I had no future but to wear myself down at a thankless job, too exhausted by the time I got home to do things I was passionate about. I was too exhausted to get involved in my community. I couldn’t even fight for my own dignity at work, how could I fight for the dignity of others in the evenings and weekends? I was demoralized.” But after the trip, she told the crowd, “I fell in love with Cuba!”

Kosuth continued, “I’ve seen real health care. I saw doctors who lived in the neighborhoods where they worked. You haven’t played golf. They didn’t hide in gated communities to shop at Whole Foods. They lived among their patients. All children receive the same education. I saw food that was organically grown and locally distributed. We visited an urban farm that grew food with few pesticides and no inorganic fertilizers. I saw people working together, helping each other, raising children and caring for their elders, fighting together, in community, in solidarity. All of these incredible, inspiring and beautiful things are happening right now, despite a 61-year US embargo.”

Kosuth concluded by saying, “So what is the US government afraid of? Why does it feel so threatened by Cuba? Perhaps they are afraid that citizens like me will see a way of life where people are treated with dignity and respect. Cuba personified is a generous, affable and sincere person. A person who looks you in the eye when you speak and when you shake hands in farewell, Cuba pulls you into a hug and calls you family. The United States personified keeps you like a tractor beam in a wary eye, calculating your worth, your worth, always thinking of what they have to gain. Which of these two personalities would you rather be with?”

Before the caravan set off, there was discussion of changing the route to include the Governor’s Mansion in solidarity with the “Justice for Tire Nichols and All Lives Stolen” protest. Joe Callahan, a member of the MN Cuba Committee, stated: “In Cuba, many police officers are not armed with guns.” Callahan gave an example of the Cuban police: “In 1994, there was a riot at the docks in Havana, in which two police officers were killed were when people tried to seize a ferry to get to the US. In response, supporters of the revolution, including Fidel, went there and Fidel gave orders not to use weapons.”

The crowd agreed to change the route, noting the importance of being there with others. As the caravan traveled nearly six miles through the residential streets of Minneapolis to the Governor’s Mansion in Saint Paul, people on the streets and other passing cars saw the decorated cars with the words “Hands off Cuba!” on them. “Take Cuba off the US terror list.” People in the caravan honked their horns while other cars honked their horns in support and people waved at them.

The caravan ended at the Governor’s Mansion and joined the rally of over 200 people demanding justice for Tire Nichols and an end to the police killings.

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