International Solidarity with Havana

The following is reprinted from Granma International digital edition, November 16, 2004

More than 600 delegates from 24 countries demand an end to the blockade

MAYORS, deputy mayors, city councilors, governors and deputies from 24 countries meeting in Havana have called for increased solidarity with Cuba and rejected the policy of hostility that the U.S. government has maintained against the Island for more than 40 years.

At the closing session of the 12th Municipal Authorities for Cooperation and Solidarity with Havana Conference, 600-plus delegates at the International Conference Center condemned the "U.S. shameful economic, political, commercial and financial blockade" of Cuba and demanded its elimination.

"As representatives of local municipalities, we must strengthen our commitment of solidarity to include the defense of Cuba wherever it may be attacked, here in Havana and in our own cities," affirmed José Antonio Barroso, mayor of the Andalusian municipality of Puerto Real, Spain.

"We must demand of our governments the strict obligation of respect for sovereignty and self-determination and that they should maintain full and friendly relations with the Cuban government and people," he added.

In his speech, Barroso called for the immediate release of the five Cubans imprisoned in the United States since September 1998, who were handed down heavy sentences ranging from 15 to 30 years for having fought against terrorism. Representing 50 non-governmental organizations from Spain, Francisco Sauquillo, president of the Peace, Disarmament and Freedom Movement, called on the European Union (EU) to end its sanctions against Cuba.

The measures applied by the EU in June 2003 against this nation do nothing to foster a positive understanding between the two sides, commented Sauquillo, who also called for the reestablishment of bilateral relations based on mutual respect.

Juan Contino, president of the Provincial Assembly of People’s Power in the Cuban capital, gave the official welcome to the delegates on behalf of all the people of Havana. Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Cuban parliament, and Fernando Remirez de Estenoz, member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, offered the participants information on international support for the Revolution and cooperation programs with other countries, among other topics.

Eusebio Leal, the city historian, praised the shared history of popular struggles and their coincidental aims of working today for a future of peace, equality and justice on the planet.

Although the precise numbers of twinned cities, cooperation plans and letters of intent were not available, the organizers highlighted the impetus that these meetings have given to the 500 agreements between City of Havana province and its 15 similar municipalities in the world.

These forums, which have taken place since 1993, bring together friends of Havana on a date close to the founding of the city by the Spanish on November 16, 1519, and this year on the occasion of its 485th anniversary.