By Héctor Planes on October 18, 2016
Beginning in the early hours of October 17 students from the University of Havana, in keeping with the international call for actions on the 17th of each month against the genocidal blockade of Cuba, rose up in a display of strength and unity against this injustice that has gone on way too long. They were joined on the historic steps of their university by people from civil society and by other students from high schools and student organizations including Students from the Federation of University Students (FEU), the Communist Youth Union (UJC) and the Continental Organization of Latin American and Caribbean Students (OCLAE). People from civil society also attended. The theme of the day was “We have Memory, Solidarity Against the Blockade” a slogan that came from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) back on September 4.
The demonstration also emphasized the demand that the Guantanamo Naval Base had to be closed and the land returned to its rightful owners; the Cuban People. The demand to end this outpost of war and torture coincided with the regional demand; the defense of Latin America as a Zone of Peace. Simultaneous student led demonstrations took place at other university campuses in cities and towns all over the island.
Among the many testimonies at the University of Havana was an interactive dialogue, rejecting every aspect of the blockade, between the students and
Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, General Director of United States affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Cuba (MINREX). Most of that discussion revolved around the prerogatives that President Obama still has at his disposal to end the blockade and the recent steps taken by his administration that favors the U.S. more than Cuba. Contributing to the dialogue were Fernando Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, Heroes of the Republic of Cuba.
As in all political events in Cuba cultural and artistic performances including a beautiful Flashmove and children dance took place. Artistic expressions in murals, hand prints on large canvas all expressing the theme of the blockade has to end. It was an intense day of activity that was reported with the activation of a Wifi network to utilize various social networks with the label #YoVotoVsBloqueo. Pioneers, students from different grades, along with foreigners who are studying in Cuba, gathered in the halls of the University of Havana to express their resounding No to the blockade through their computers.
The International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity, one of the active groups participating, held a workshop explaining the consequences that the application of the blockade has on patients with cancer, especially children and adolescents.
The Committee presented the Therapeutic Clowns, a group created through the Cuban Children Theater Company La Colmenita. This group does extraordinary work in the pediatric division of the cancer hospital in Havana by bringing a ray of joy to the children in their difficult situation. The Committee also presented a short documentary film about the Theraputic Clowns that will soon be available for social networking.
The news agency Resumen Latinoamericano also presented a viewing of their documentary film, “All Guantanamo is Ours” by filmmaker and journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina and produced by Resumen Latinoamericano-Cuba.
What the October 17 activities demonstrated was something in remarkable contrast to the way Cuban youth are characterized in the corporate media in the U.S. Here were thousands of youth actively demanding an end to the blockade versus the crass generalization we so often see of all young people on the island being disenfranchised and craving consumer goods from the North.
Source: Resumen Latinoamericano, translated by the North American Bureau