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End the crackdown on travel to Cuba!

Sign-on statement: Stop freezing US/Cuba Labor Exchange funds
By staff |
May 10, 2013
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The U.S. government is escalating its attacks on socialist Cuba and U.S. residents who try to travel there. These attacks have now been directed at U.S. labor union activists. Five U.S. union activists who tried to register to participate in the U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange in Havana, Cuba over May Day had their funds frozen and seized without explanation by the Labor Exchange’s bank, Charter One Bank in Detroit, Michigan.

A dozen people were able to participate in this year's annual delegation to Havana, Cuba for U.S. trade unionists to meet with Cuban union leaders during the week of May Day, International Workers Day. But some of the five whose funds were seized were unable to participate in the delegation, having their ability to travel freely to meet with workers in Cuba violated.

The U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange, which has organized worker-to-worker exchanges with Cuba since 1991, is circulating a sign-on statement demanding that those five people have their funds unfrozen and returned to them unconditionally, and demanding an end to the flawed U.S. government policies that aim to restrict U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba for people-to-people exchanges.

The statement is reprinted below. If you would like to add your name please email [email protected] with your name, and your labor union/organization (if any).

__________________________________________________

The US seized the money of 5 US workers for traveling to Cuba for May Day

Please endorse this statement

The inhumane economic blockade against Cuba has once more shown its ugly face - this time against five U.S. workers from New York with travel plans to that country by seizing money paid to the U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange's account in Detroit, Michigan.

The seized funds were money transfers by each respective traveler's bank to pay for a trip designed as an exchange between union members of both countries.

The seized funds were without documentation explanation even when the 5 travelers explained to their respective banks, upon request of Charter One Bank, their reasons for traveling to Cuba.

The travelers' banks claim they weren't told why its account holder was not given their money back upon demanding a return of their wired transfers from Charter One Bank.

Yet, these U.S. citizens were expressing their human and civic right to travel, and in particular, have a participatory educational and cultural experience with fellow workers in Cuba.

This freedom has been tampered with by ultra-right policies that aim at criminalizing travel to Cuba and by Democrats bowing to them by demanding licenses, or permits to exercise a fundamental right.

Washington forces its citizens wishing to travel to Cuba to submit a detailed itinerary before they are granted a permit. Yet even after compliance with that prerequisite, it still denies some the right to travel to Cuba. This in a nation that champions the concepts of "freedom", and "equality under the law."

The U.S. government bowing to the ultra right pressure that prevents people to people exchange is a flawed policy. The money seized should be returned immediately to those workers without any further repercussions.

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