We remember our first Reality Tour to Cuba back in 1990 when travel to the island was rare. There was no freedom to travel there and we worried that we would be fined or sent to prison, but we knew that the embargo was wrong, and we took the risk. Twenty six years later, we thought we broke through, as President Obama began the process of normalization.
We know that there is much more to be done to have a full normalization of relations, including a Congressional ending of the embargo and the return of Guantanamo to a sovereign Cuba. As part of our collective struggles, Cuban families can see each other more often and send remittances. There has been a surge of travelers from the United States who have had the opportunity to see Cuba with their own eyes.
We at Global Exchange are working to ensure that this new wave of travel is socially and ethically responsible tourism. We want to have exchanges between Cubans and Americans that share the best of both countries. These new travelers should learn about Cuba’s history, healthcare, culture, its internationalism.
The new administration is threatening to put that all at risk, and bring back the old Cold War irrational trade embargo. But like many parts of the Resistance, this can be thwarted, with public pressure. So, here are three thing you can do:
1. CONTACT the White House:
Call the White House Comments line: 202-456-1111, or the Switchboard: 202-456-1414.
Email the White House from their website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.
2. Tweet at your Congressmember or Donald Trump:
3. Join us for a trip to Cuba now. We have open tours that anyone can join, or we can customize one for your group.
We took a risk 25 years ago, so that we could move forward in people to people relations between our two countries. Please join us in pushing to end the embargo and end the travel ban, and if you have not been lately, join us in traveling and learning about what is new in Cuba.
This blog was written by Global Exchange Executive Director, Jeff Ordower. Ordower traveled to the Occupied Territories in 2007, was changed by his time in Hebron and Ramallah and helped start the St. Louis Jewish Voice for Peace Chapter.
This year sadly marks 50 years in which Israel has occupied Palestinian Territories seized after the 1967 war. The Occupation has been brutal. Israel determines where Palestinians can live and work. Checkpoints are omnipresent, and the apartheid state has roads closed to Palestinians but open to settlers. Palestinians not only face an armed occupying force 24/7, but are also monitored by the latest technologies.
The United States props up this “temporary” state of occupation by providing Israel with more military aid than all other countries combined. Israel, in return, sponsors what we are calling the Deadly Exchange program, where Police officials from all over the United States travel to Israel to learn the latest in policing and surveillance.
Nowhere is this combined militarism on full display every year than at New York City’s Celebrate Israel Parade. There are three separate New York Police formations in the parade, and a contingent of Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces.
This year, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), where I am a member, decided to follow the lead of activists who have disrupted the parade every year and engage in some larger disruptions, protesting 50 years of illegal occupation, as well as the Deadly Police Exchanges.
As an experienced direct action person, I was fortunate enough to be part of the planning team for the disruptions. JVP recruited members and leaders from all across the Eastern Seaboard to participate in the action, who self-organized into “Affinity Groups.” The idea of an affinity group in direct action, is to provide a higher level of comfort and coordination for people to engage in action together. Rather than showing up and being told the plan, a group of friends, or members of JVP, can all form an affinity group together and decide collective what kind of action they will take.
Affinity groups then meet together as a Spokescouncil, with there being common support that ties all the actions together, the most common being jail and legal support, communications and media, technical support, and often common art builds that undergird the Spokescouncil. As the Spokescouncil meets together, groups tell each other a little bit about their plans, coordinate timing, and make adjustments, and support people can make sure that everyone is kept safe.
As you can see from the video here, the affinity groups did an amazing job of disrupting the parade and getting their message out.
Jewish Voice for Peace’s work is one piece of the larger puzzle for police abolition and accountability, as we attempt to diminish the power of the police and militarization and increase the power of community, restorative justice and meeting people’s basic needs.
Learn more about the Deadly Exchange campaign – one critical piece of the puzzle.
Videolog from our 1st day of our training course on how to promote active citizenship and democracy. International activity organised with Young European Socialists and hosted by Sozialistische Jugend Deutschlands – Die Falken. Supported by Council of Europe – European Youth Foundation. #YOUTHINACTION