Cuba: Sanctions fuel the fire!

Friday, 12 August 2022 — Peoples Dispatch

In Cuba, a massive fire broke out at an oil storage facility in the city of Matanzas last week. Around 7pm local time on August 5, a lightning strike set off a blaze in crude oil storage tank 52 at the Matanzas Supertanker Base. As of the morning of August 8, three out of the eight tanks at the site had collapsed.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of Cuban firefighters and those sent in solidarity from countries such as Venezuela and Mexico, the Matanzas fire has been contained. But this fire will only exacerbate the energy crisis in Cuba, which has been racked with high fuel costs and aging infrastructure, in part due to the 60-year US blockade of Cuba. Yet anti-blockade organizations claim that existing US policies make providing humanitarian aid extremely difficult.

“Right now, the biggest impediments to both Cuba’s relief, but also recovery in the future, continue to be the US’s unilateral sanctions, the blockade, the fact that Cuba continues to be on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, despite engaging in no way or form in any of this,” People’s Forum co-executive director Manolo De Los Santos told Peoples Dispatch.

As a result, US-based activists have launched the campaign “Sanctions Fuel the Fire”, urging Biden to lift sanctions on Cuba and contribute humanitarian aid.

As part of the campaign, prominent figures on the left around the world have signed on to an open letter to US President Biden.

The open letter concludes: “When your neighbor’s house is on fire, the normal human reaction is to rush next door to help. To save lives. To extinguish the flames. Cuba is our neighbor!”

The letter was released August 9, and as of August 10, a growing list of prominent figures in the US and international left have signed on, including Cornel West, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Noam Chomsky, and Jeremy Corbyn.

A delegation of the Colombian government, headed by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva Durán, visited Cuba on August 11, to establish contact with the leadership of the National Liberation Army (ELN).

On behalf of the Petro government, Levya rejected the classification of Cuba by the US as a state sponsor of terrorism, and called for its removal from that list because “it disregards the island country’s commitment to the peace in Colombia and the world.”

Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez of the Historic Pact coalition were sworn in as the first left-wing president and vice president of Colombia on August 7, the day that marked the 203rd anniversary of the country’s independence from Spain.

In the first press conference to local media after being sworn in as president, Gustavo Petro confirmed the official resumption of negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the largest guerrilla group active in the country. “We want to revitalize the protocols and in the coming weeks it will be announced whether we will maintain the dialogues in Cuba. It doesn’t depend only on us, but on who wants to negotiate,” the head of state said on Monday August 8.

Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez of the left-wing Historic Pact coalition were sworn in as the president and vice president of Colombia on August 7. (Photo: Francia Márquez/Twitter)

Worldwide imperialism continues to mount its assault against the people of the world.

ceasefire came into effect at around midnight on Monday, August 8, ending the three-day-long Israeli bombing campaign inside the occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza. The latest round of Israeli aggression on the besieged territory, which began on Friday, killed at least 44 Palestinians and wounded more than 360 others.

On Monday, August 8, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held an emergency meeting on the situation in Gaza amid uncertainty around the fate of the truce reached the previous day after three days of Israeli aggression.

Palestinian prisoner Khalil Awawdeh was moved to a hospital on Thursday, August 11, due to deterioration in his health condition after being on hunger strike for 162 days.

Awawdeh sent a message to his family members in which he claimed that “I went on strike for freedom, and I have sacrificed a lot for the dearest and strongest need, freedom..my abstinence from food is not a rejection of life, but rather a rejection of chains.”

Palestinans inspect the rubble of their homes destroyed by Israeli airstrikes during the recent aggression on Gaza. Photo: Quds News Network

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