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Report from Cuba: International seminar against foreign military bases begins

By Kait McIntyre |
November 24, 2015
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Havana, Cuba - After a two-day bus trip from Havana to Guantanamo Province, delegates from around the world arrived for the fourth International Seminar for Peace and Abolition of Foreign Military Bases. The bus trip included several stops in various cities and provinces, including the Che Guevara memorial. It is clear the Cuban people are proud of their country and the many accomplishments the revolution has achieved in spite of the U.S. blockade.

On the morning of Nov. 23, with over 150 people present, the President of the Cuban Movement for Peace & Sovereignty, Silvio Andrés Platero Yrola, and the president of the World Peace Council, Maria Do Socorro Gómes, welcomed the delegates and gave opening remarks. Each emphasized the goals of the meeting: to strengthen the movement against foreign military bases imposed against the will of the people - particularly the U.S. military base in Guantanamo - end the U.S. economic blockade against Cuba, and to solidify international solidarity.

In addition to providing demographic information on Guantanamo province and the harmful effects the U.S. military base has had on the environment, speakers also placed the base at Guantanamo within the context the U.S.’s overwhelming military presence on the entire planet.

The ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador and the ambassador of Bolivia reaffirmed the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States declaration of Latin America as a peace zone and thanked participants for their presence and political work.

In the evening, delegates attended a cultural gala: My Guantanamo That Is Not The Naval Base. Performers at the gala demonstrated the rich culture of the province, including dancing, orchestral performances and singing. The gala illustrated that, while it is important to raise awareness around the U.S.’s use of torture at the naval base, the citizens of Guantanamo province and all the Cuban people are true models of how to move forward: with an enthusiasm for life and art, resilience and determination.

Although the Cubans see the normalization of relations with the U.S. as a step forward, they know it will be a long process that will not be complete until their demands are met: an end to the blockade, returning the land currently occupied by the U.S. naval base, and compensation for all the losses incurred due to the blockade.

Along with the Cuban people, the participants in this conference, and those all around the world who stand in solidarity with Cuba, are taking steps to ensure that happens.