Albany Cuba Solidarity

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Albany Cuba Solidarity is based in upstate New York.

Cuba trip

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What began as a trip to discover Cuba, has resulted in a greater mission for a group of travelers. The trip was organized by Albany Cuba Solidarity, founded five years ago by a group of Capital Region residents who believe normalizing relations between the U.S. and Cuba would be best for both countries. Pepe Jose Rossy-Millan leads the group.

"It's urgent President Obama and congress end the embargo on Cuba," said Rossy-Millan

The twenty travelers, ranged in age from mid-twenties to mid-seventies and all have different backgrounds. Amani Wilson is an educator and local advocate for Black Lives Matter.

"It's silly, its disastrous, it's disgusting for us to punish a nation for it governing itself the way it sees fit," Wilson said.

The group learned about healthcare.

"How on earth is it the United States spends 15 times more on healthcare than Cuba does and Cuba has higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality," Rossy-Milan said.[1]

Mira Peck is a scientist, author and chemical engineer who grew up in socialist Poland and held an executive position at BASF Corporation. She says lifting the embargo will be a game-changer. "Cuba could have access to advanced U.S. equipment, while the U.S could learn how to reduce its medical costs, and more significantly, benefit from Cuba's expertise in brain mapping, lung cancer prevention and advanced wound care."

Longtime area socialist-activist Jon Flanders took more than 1,300 photographs of Cuba; people always ask to see the ones of old cars. "There are two kinds of old cars, the Americans everybody likes, and some of them are really fixed up and some aren't, and then there are the Soviet-era 80s Ladas that are all over the place. Between the two of 'em, they create a lot of pollution. Havana, you distinctly smell exhaust fumes in Havana, and it's due to these old cars. We all think it's wonderful and picturesque. For the Cubans, I'm sure they'd prefer to have more modern vehicles if they could get a hold of them. And that's again the embargo."

Amani Olugbala is a Black Lives Matter organizer who came to Albany from Brooklyn 10 years ago. She was impressed with the Cuban people, admires their activism, and feels the U.S. shouldn't punish the nation for deciding to govern itself. "Cuba is an example of international solidarity for young people, who are like learning about Malcolm X, Fidel, kickin' it together, sharing ideas and learning from one another. I feel like all those examples are just - and - people about Cuba knowing about Black Lives Matter, without access to the same kind of internet materials that we have here, I think it's just a strong statement in solidarity, and just keep up the work that is necessary and is continuing."

The Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba has been criticized in the GOP presidential primary, but long-time progressive advocate Mabel Leon of Schenectady disagrees: "We say President Obama, use your power to lessen the pain on the Cuban people, and we say to Congress, lift the embargo."[2]

According to Ariela Perez-Wallach;

Albany Cuba Solidarity is sending a delegation of 20 people to Cuba from February 4th-14th, and has generously offered to reserve space for local Black Lives Matter Movement organizers. I cannot put into words how ecstatic I am that I and another organizer from Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration (CAAMI), Amani Olugbala, have been given this unbelievable opportunity to delve into creating international solidarity movements.
We will be hosted by the Martin Luther King Center in Havana, and the group has a full schedule of learning and activities to give us a better understanding of the Cuban Revolution, including it’s accomplishments and challenges. As an AfroBoricua, Cuba gives me hope. Cuba reminds me that revolution is possible. Cuba reminds me that Puerto Rico can be free. That we can all be free. I intend to bring this spirit of liberacion (liberation) back to my community, and I intend to be a more effective social justice fighter after diving deeper into the revolution that has inspired me to fight back.
This experience will broaden me as a leader as the Albany community continues to fight for justice for Dontay Ivy, the release of Marquis Dixon, and the overall (in)justice system that has oppressed black and brown people for far too long.

The total cost of the trip is $2500, and the Albany Cuba Solidarity Committee has offered me a scholarship of $1500. That means I only need to raise $1000, which will help with my airfare, my stay at the Martin Luther King Center, some meals, and extra fees (museum visits, etc.). Anything extra that is made will go towards spending money/incidentals for Amani and I. Any amount is DEEPLY and TRULY appreciated!

In Solidarity and Peace,
Ariela”[3]

References