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On 17 February, Rock around the Blockade and Cubans in the UK hosted an important event in Bolivar Hall, central London, to demand an end of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela, and condemned their imposition against some 40 countries around the world.

The event heard from the Venezuelan ambassador, Rocío Del Valle Maneiro González, the Cuban ambassador, Barbara Elena Montalvo Alvarez, and the Nicaraguan ambassador, Guisell Morales-Echaverry, who all condemned sanctions imposed against their countries, mainly by the United States, summarised the economic costs to their people and explained how these sanctions obstruct development. Carolina Graterol, a Venezuelan journalist and documentary maker gave a moving personal account of the human cost of sanctions, as well as detailing the cost to the Venezuelan nation. Helen Yaffe, from the University of Glasgow gave a historical account of the US blockade of Cuba, pointing to the original objective, ‘to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government’ and explaining how legislation has become increasingly extra-territorial over the last 60+ years.

Sam McGill, from the Revolutionary Communist Group pointed out that this year marks the 200th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, an early statement of US foreign policy asserting dominance over the Latin America, and how today the US uses financial and political mechanisms to assert control; financial and trade sanctions have become weapons of war. Daniesky Acosta from Cubanos en UK, explained how their community association have been directly impacted by sanctions, including in their efforts to send humanitarian donations for medical aid. Will Jones, from Rock Around the Blockade, explained how the international 1cent4Cuba campaign, which was set up last year, is using direct action to challenge non-US banks illegally imposing US sanctions against Cuba. Rock around the Blockade was one of the founding organisations of the campaign.  

Cuba’s socialist government protects the population from the impact of sanctions and, incredibly, has achieved human development indicators better than many rich nations. However, the Trump administration added over 240 new sanctions, actions and coercive measures in a ‘maximum pressure’ strategy that hoped to bring down the Cuban Revolution by generating scarcity and hardship. This coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, producing an economic crisis. Biden has kept most of these sanctions in place. Cuba is being suffocated.

Today there are 928 coercive measures enacted by the United States against Venezuela. Supported by international allies, these have blocked oil exports, cut Venezuela off from international loans and credit, and prevented imports of crucial food and medicines, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. Venezuela’s assets abroad have been stolen, including $1.4bn of gold bullion held in the Bank of England.

Join us on Saturday 4 march for our next protest to demand a return to Venezuela of its gold stolen by the Bank of England.

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