MN Cuba car caravan demands ‘Hey Biden, here’s the gist – take Cuba off the terrorism list!’
Minneapolis, MN – February 26, the Solidarity Committee on the Americas (SCOTA) and MN Cuba Committee (MNCC) rounded out the month on the theme of “Show Love for Cuba,” with their monthly Cuba caravan. The crowd gathered at the South High School parking lot to rally together, demanding the U.S. Government take Cuba off the U.S. State Sponsor of Terrorism list (SSOT).
The rally opened with Jerris Heckler, member of SCOTA, explaining that during this month, “We had a lot of activities which highlighted the need to remove Cuba from the SSOT. We hosted a Coffee Hour featuring Cuban diplomats, they talked about all the harm the SSOT has on their country. We sent postcards and had call-in days to send messages to the Minnesota senators and President Biden. We went to Senator Klobuchar’s office to deliver valentines and a letter urging her to tell President Biden to take Cuba off the list. Now, we are here today, to carry our message through the neighborhoods.”
With signs and Cuban flags on the cars, the caravan departed from the parking lot to drive on Lake Street, a main street in Minneapolis which is a busy commercial street in a Latino and immigrant community. People on the street and other cars driving by saw the cars with Cuban flags blowing in the wind and signs of “Hands off Cuba” and “Cuba off the terrorist list!” The drivers in the caravan noted more people in support of the caravan by raising fists in the air, other cars honking in support and having cars stop at intersections to let the caravan continue without interruption.
While en route, the caravan hosted a special “radio” show by Zoom, where everyone who signed on heard commentary and chants led by “DJ Kim” while driving through the streets. The show was very interactive, and the drivers joined in chanting in their cars while honking, “Let Cuba live” and “Hands off Cuba!” DJ Kim engaged the drivers by asking them why they still participate in the caravans. Most speakers stressed the importance of being visible in the public and drawing attention to Cuba.
The highlight of the show was an interview with a Cuban American who moved to the United States as a teenager. He was very happy and overwhelmed to see Americans showing up for Cuba. He continued, when he came here, as a young person, he wasn’t as interested in Cuba but as he got older, he realized how the U.S. government treated Cuba. He believes a change in the way we talk about Cuba can contribute a long way to help change people's views. This will enable them to have a better understanding of Cuba and its people.
Before the caravan ended, they drove past a community block party. The caravan wanted to show support and solidarity for the Little Earth community and allies in their fight against the mayor and city hall of Minneapolis in stopping the demolition of the Roof Depot site. Currently, the city wants to turn the site into a consolidated public works facility which will bring in lots of diesel trucks.
This site is in the middle of a low-income neighborhood and the building sits on arsenic-laden soil. If the demolition happens, it will release arsenic into an already polluted community. Those living in East Phillips and environmental activists, led by Native Americans and other oppressed nationalities, want to stop the demolition. Instead, they have plans to turn the site into an urban farm and community hub, including a neighborhood garden that would ultimately benefit all the residents and the city.
On February 27, President Biden has reissued the designation of Cuba as being a state supporter of terrorism. In 2015, Obama removed Cuba from the U.S. State Sponsor of Terrorism list and started to warm relations between the U.S. and Cuba. However, in the days before President Trump was to leave office, he put them back on the list, citing only that Cuba provided a haven for Colombian insurgents, who were in Cuba due to the island’s role in facilitating the historic peace accords.
During Biden’s presidential campaign, he promised to remove restrictions imposed by the Trump administration and wanted to improve U.S.-Cuban relations. By reissuing the “State Department Country Report on Terrorism 2021,” he is still following suit from the Trump’s administration by continuing the illegal U.S. economic war on Cuba. However, the people will continue to pressure the Biden administration to take Cuba off the list.