Dossier: Working people across Canada speak out on the pandemic and take their stand

Note to Readers

(Updated May 7) – Workers’ Forum presents the views and reports of workers on how to handle the pandemic and their struggles for the working conditions they require to make their contribution to the well-being of the population as a whole. They speak in their own name. We try to update links to Workers’ Forum when it is published. Continue reading

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Mother’s Day, May 9th and Mother

In truth, I confess that I never paid much attention to Mother’s and Father’s Day, perhaps due to the commercialism and false sentimentalism. As I grow older I am more attentive, especially this year of the pandemic, and more and more appreciative and respectful of my own mother and her strength, and the value of life. On her passing at the age of 93, we said “she moved the earth.” And to the other mothers in my family! Sarah, partner of son Nick, “super mom,” thoughtful and indefatigable. They have three growing children, 2, 5 and 17. The love of the children  is unconditional. Courtney, son Marty’s partner, is an American, with a gracious personality and intelligent insights on the murky US politics. All the women of our extended family have a great independent spirit and sense of justice. My former wife raised two fine young men, all the while working in a hospital for a livelihood and participating and leading in her trade union and progressive politics. Four generations of women on my late mother’s side were creators, fine artists, graphic designers and writers. Some are single mothers, who personify the exceptional courage of the single mom, as they had to take care not only of their life but of future life. Some singlehandedly raised children who were disabled, while my oldest sister has been the anchor for our younger brother, also disabled, and my youngest the rock of her late husband, infirmed with serious health issues. Yes, mothers are real heroes in our country for whom we have much social love. I would love to have more such women with us! 

“The Veteran. WWII” – award-winning portrait by Peggy Seed, 2003

May 9th is also Liberation of Europe Day. Canadians of Russian origin organize the March of the Immortal Regiment to proudly celebrate the peoples’ historic victory in the anti-fascist war and commemorate those who gave their lives for peace, freedom and democracy. Participants bring portraits of relatives or others who took part in the anti-fascist war to honour their contribution as well as Soviet flags, banners and a giant ribbon of Saint George (used in high military decorations in Russia and the Soviet Union). As many as 2,000 participants gathered in Montreal and 1,000 in Toronto in 2018, for example. Today, this anniversary, held under conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, took the form of a car rally. This initiative has an added significance, coming under the most difficult circumstances of state-organized attempts to marginalize them, humiliate them and extinguish their being. Every minute of every day Canadians and women of Russian, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Arabic and Muslim origin suffer the indignity and humiliation of the pressure that they must overtly prove that they are worthy Canadians by accepting what are called “Canadian values.” They are supposed to prove through every word and action that they are opposed to the governments of their countries of origin, moderate, not extremist; civilized, not medieval; democratic, not lovers of authoritarianism, theocracy, terrorism and all kinds of other buzz words on the basis of which reaction tries to criminalize belief, culture and being. One Russian woman I met had been forced to pass as Ukrainian in order to work for RBC while others had rightly refused.

Knowing that this is the case, the anti-fascist initiative takes on even greater meaning. It gives expression to social responsibility, to defend their dignity as human beings in the most profound sense of what it means to be human and Canadian, in the true sense which recognizes that being Canadian means to accept all languages, cultures and beliefs as equal and the contribution of all human persons as essential to the well-being of the society upon which they depend for their living.

Jack Seed, HMCS Wallaceburg, Royal Canadian Navy

Amongst the millions of those from the peoples of Europe, Asia, Africa and the entire world who contributed to this historic victory was my late father who served in convoy duty during the Battle of the Atlantic, including escorting the convoys to Murmansk. Politically a conservative, he never had an ill word to say about the Red Army and J.V. Stalin whom he respected from afar. Our mother, whose two brothers also fought in the war, commemorated the Canadian veterans, who numbered some 1.1 million, of whom more than 44,000 lost their lives and 54,000 were wounded, in a poignant portrait, “The Veteran”. 

Such respect and principle, the friendship between two peoples, can never be forgotten nor erased by the crude falsification of history, which attributes the war jointly to Nazi Germany and the USSR and goes so far as to deny the courage and sacrifice of the Soviet Union under the leadership of J.V Stalin in the defeat of the Hitlerites. The peoples that made up Soviet Russia and the Soviet Republics rose as one and broke the back of the Nazi war machine at tremendous cost. All of them fought for peace, freedom and democracy so that humanity would never again know the scourge of fascism and war.

For me, thus unity is personified by an early 1943 painting commemorating the visit to the USA and Canada of the famed woman sniper, Lt. Lyudmila Pavlichenko of Ukraine – her total of confirmed kills during World War II was 309, including 36 enemy snipers. In speeches across America and often before thousands, the woman sniper had made the case for a U.S. commitment to fighting the Nazis in Europe, which Stalin had repeatedly requested and which the Anglo-American powers refused through much of the war and before – during the 1930s. And in doing so, she drove home the point that women were not only capable, but essential to the fight. In Chicago, she stood before large crowds. “Gentlemen,” she famously said, “I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist occupants by now. Don’t you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?” Her words settled on the crowd, then caused a surging roar of support. In Canada she was presented with a sighted Winchester rifle now on display at the Central Armed Forces Museum in Moscow. While visiting Toronto along with Vladimir Pchelintsev (fellow sniper) and Nikolai Krasavchenko (Moscow fuel commissioner) they were greeted by thousands of people. This reception reflected by the painting by Paraskeva Clark signalled the people’s demand for the opening of a second front in Europe and iron unity in a just cause. This cannot be denied.

Lieutenant Lyudmila Pavlichenko and her comrades at the Toronto City Hall | 1943 painting by Paraskeva Clark, Ontario Gallery of Art.

It seems to me that Mother is a timeless book that unites both events of May 9th! I downloaded a copy and am popularizing it by sending it by e-mail to all the ladies. The famous novel of revolutionary conversion and struggle. This novel of Russia before the 1905 Revolution is without question the masterpiece of Maxim Gorky, Russia’s greatest living writer, whom I first read at the age of 16. Into one passionate, astonishing book has been gathered the spirit of the heroic struggle against the Tsar’s autocracy. In it the people of Russia stand forth in a flood of light. His novel perfectly shows how the revolutionary spirit, the desire for a new life, arose among the workers. This unquenchable spirit is embodied in the impassioned defence by oppressed humanity of the cause of peace, freedom and democracy in today’s conditions.

On May 9, let us profoundly honour the memory of all those who fought to defeat fascism by working to make Canada a zone for peace, opposing Canada’s political and economic integration into the U.S. war machine and opposing the use of force to resolve conflicts between nations and within nations.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms today, those who are with us, and those who left us.

An excerpt from Mother by Maxim Gorky, 1906

Maxim Gorky (1868-1936 | RIA Novosti: Guriyano

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Keeping workers and society safe and defending workers’ rights

By Rob Ashton

BC longshore workers stand in solidarity with striking Montreal Dock workers, April 27, 2021.

Rob Ashton is the President of The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada

We’ve been fairly successful in keeping COVID-19 off the waterfront. In the longshore industry we’ve been able to, from March to March, keep it to about 140 positive or presumptive cases out of 7,000 people. We have really good protocols in place on the waterfront that we’ve developed over the last year, most developed jointly, some by the union locals. Each local has their own protocols with the employers. If we do have a bit of an uptick, if someone tests positive, it gets squashed quickly because of the policies we have in place. We changed the way we do dispatch in a couple of the locals until the pandemic is over because we can’t all come into one place for dispatch now, so some locals went to an automated or phone dispatch. Everybody does the check-in at the start of the shift. There are cleaning crews at most sites, almost every shift, depending on the terminal. Continue reading

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Bobby Sands

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Bobby Sands died on 5 May, 1981, 40 years ago this week. This article recounts how he became inspired to join the Irish republican struggle and to lead the 1981 hunger strike against the criminalisation of political prisoners. Continue reading

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Latest anti-China motion in the House of Commons (I)

By Louis Lang

On February 22, an anti-China motion was introduced in the House of Commons accusing China of “genocide.”[1] The private member’s opposition motion was put forward by Conservative Michael Chong (Wellington–Halton Hills, ON), and says: Continue reading

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Stand with Indian farmers! Increase use of dirty tricks to suppress farmers’ movement

Farmers in Punjab finish their wheat harvest and return to the protest camps, April 20, 2021. Camps are expected to grow after May 10 as harvests are completed in different regions.

By J. Singh and Meera Kaur

The power struggle between the movement of Indian farmers and the elites in power in India continues. The farmers have the support of the working people of all India as well as abroad. They are demanding the repeal of three neo-liberal farm laws which will dispossess them due to their aim of serving narrow private interests. The Indian ruling elites are now adopting dirty tricks of all kinds to defeat the farmers. These go from misuse of laws which target individual farmers to break their ranks, and the dirty tactics of political police to threaten and discourage the farmers. Continue reading

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May Day 2021 – Organizing to get results

May Day Greetings Worker’s Centre of CPC(M-L)

The Workers’ Centre of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) wishes everyone a very happy May Day. Across the country and all over the world, workers are getting together to highlight their own struggles and demands, take stock of the situation they face and how things stand, and make pledges of what they want to achieve in the coming year. Continue reading

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May Day, 2021. Two Worlds in Combat

By HARDIAL BAINS

There are two worlds in combat today. One is the world of the bourgeoisie, counter-revolution, retrogression and the anti-social offensive. This world of reaction and war tramples underfoot the right of the peoples of the world to chose their own system. There is another world, the world of the working class and all progressive humanity, the world of revolution and the opening of the door for the progress of society. This is the world of pro-social programs, the world of unity and struggle of the peoples of all lands. Continue reading

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Government passes back-to-work legislation against Montreal dock workers

Members of cabinet and Conservative MPs should go work on the docks. Perhaps that will notch their anti-worker arrogance down a peg or two. Support the demands of the dock workers! Denounce the government legislation and anti-worker arrogance! #CUPE375

Oppose the Criminalization of Workers’ Just Demands!

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Dock workers at Port of Montreal launch general strike

In the News – For the information of readers, we are reposting a news article from Worker’s Forum on the strike of the port workers who are being threatened by emergency back-to-work legislation of the Trudeau government. Continue reading

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This Day. National Day of Mourning for workers killed, injured or made ill on the job

Monument in Edmonton, Alberta

Westray Miners Memorial, Nova Scotia

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

On the occasion of the National Day of Mourning, April 28, the Workers’ Centre of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) issued the statement, “The fight for lives is the fight for rights!”: Continue reading

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105th Anniversary of the Irish Rebellion, 1916: We Only Want the Earth

– Poem by James Connolly, 1907 –

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105th Anniversary of the Irish Rebellion, 1916: The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up

– V.I. Lenin –

Painting of the inside of the Dublin Post Office entitled “The Birth of the Irish Republic”

The following is an excerpt from the article by V. I. Lenin, “The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up,” first published in October 1916. Lenin wrote to clarify the issue of self-determination of nations including the significance of the Irish Rebellion in opposition to the opportunist and chauvinist theses put forward by Polish social-democrats and the so-called Zimmerwald Leftists. These theses dismissed the revolt of oppressed nations such as Ireland and the important role of their struggle for their right to self-determination in the proletarian revolution. In his conclusion, Lenin pointed out, “The epoch of imperialism has turned all the ‘great’ powers into the oppressors of a number of nations, and the development of imperialism will inevitably lead to a more definite division of trends in this question in international Social-Democracy as well.” Continue reading

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105th anniversary of the Irish Rebellion, 1916

Glorious uprising of the Irish people | Dougal MacDonald

Mural, Falls Road, Ireland, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 2016

The Easter Rising (Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed uprising in Ireland during Easter Week in 1916, from April 24-29. The Rising was part of the centuries-long ongoing struggle of the Irish people for independence from England, which began in 1169 with Henry II’s annexation of Ireland. The Rising was no isolated incident or “putsch” as some labeled it at the time to denigrate it. The Irish people have always resisted British rule without letup. Prior to the Rising, at least 20 other separate rebellions had taken place since the 16th century, including within Canada. The single-minded aim of the Irish people has always been to fight to win their independence by ending British colonial rule so as to be free to decide their own destiny. Today they are fighting to reunify Ireland. “A United Ireland Is an Idea Whose Time Has Come,” the leader of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald said in 2021. Continue reading

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This Day. Earth Day 2021. All out to humanize the natural and social environment!

#EarthDay2021 once again brings into focus the extent to which the natural environment is being endangered. It also raises a fundamental matter that when speaking about the natural environment we must per force raise the issue of the social environment.

Montreal Earth Day march, April 27, 2019

Earth Day 2021 once again brings into focus the extent to which the natural environment is being endangered. It also raises a fundamental matter that when speaking about the natural environment we must per force raise the issue of the social environment because on the fate of the former rests the fate of the latter. This raises the central issue of who controls the economy and who makes the important decisions which cause so much environmental damage. Continue reading

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Global warming is ‘fundamentally’ changing the structure of our world’s oceans

KELLY MACNAMARA

(AFP) – Climate change has wrought major changes to ocean stability faster than previously thought, according to a study published in March, raising alarms over its role as a global thermostat and the marine life it supports.

The research published in the journal Nature looked at 50 years of data and followed the way in which surface water “decouples” from the deeper ocean. Continue reading

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Significant archives are under threat in Cape Town’s fire. Here’s why they matter so much.

The African Studies collection consists of an astonishing collection of works related to Africa. These range from works published from as long ago as the 1500s through to the present day.

Significant Archives Are Under Threat in Cape Town's Fire. Here's Why They Matter So Much.

Firemen walk through the burnt out remains of Jagger Library at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa, April 20, 2021 | REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

A wildfire on the slopes of South Africa’s Table Mountain has wreaked havoc at the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus. Among the sites of historical significance that have been damaged is the Jagger Library. The library houses rare and specialist collections, such as the important African Studies collections. The Conversation Africa’s Nontobeko Mtshali asked UCT academic Shannon Morreira to share her insights on what the loss means for the historical records held by the university. Continue reading

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60th anniversary of historic Cuban victory at Playa Giron! 60 years of victories!

By Isaac Saney, Canadian Network on Cuba, Spokesperson

April 16, 2021 – Cuba and the world mark two transcendental anniversaries in April that vividly affirm the line of march consciously embarked on by the heroic Cuban people: the proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution and the defeat of the CIA-mercenary invasion at Playa Girón. On the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of these historic events, which opened up a new era in the Americas, the Canadian Network On Cuba extends its warmest and heartfelt greetings to the people of Cuba. Continue reading

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In the News: The Royal Consort

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April 15, 2021 · 7:07 am

Canadian solidarity network to send significant shipment of medical supplies to Cuba

The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) is readying the shipment of a container to Cuba with 1,920,000 syringes to support that country’s vaccination program against COVID-19. The initiative is part of the fundraising campaign launched by the CNC on January 8 aimed at sending medical supplies to Cuba. This solidarity campaign has received the support of many Canadian friends, Cubans and citizens of other countries residing in Canada. Continue reading

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105th anniversary of the Easter Rising, Ireland

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Republican organisations are issuing statements and making speeches to mark the 105th anniversary of the heroic Easter Rising in Dublin of 1916, affirming their commitment to the unification of Ireland. Continue reading

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Cuba leads in global fight against COVID-19 pandemic

By Isaac Saney

Cuban Doctors head for Italy In April, 2020.

Cuba continues to receive international accolades for its singular role in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. This is illustrated by the numerous nominations of Cuba’s internationalist medical contingent – the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade against Disasters and Serious Epidemics – for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. Continue reading

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Another campaign against Cuba in social media is unmasked

Cuban TV unmasks another subversion campaign

Cuban television news shows in videos how a “human rights activist” and “hunger striker” received abundant food at home.

(April 2) – Cuban television news unmasked this Thursday a new campaign against the Caribbean island deployed on social networks and supported by media with funding from the United States, which is focused on an alleged hunger strike. Continue reading

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The Mi’kmaq right to their self-regulated fishery

Three articles:

  • Hold Governments to Account for Violation of Treaty Rights and Nation-Wrecking! –  Philip Fernandez 
  • Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Chiefs Respond to Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Announcement
  • The Mi’kmaq Right to a “Moderate Livelihood”

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Flashback: The day the war broke out

Halifax, March 20, 2003. Hundreds upon hundreds of people take to the streets to condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq the night before.

Halifax, March 20, 2003. Hundreds upon hundreds of people take to the streets to condemn the U.S. invasion of Iraq the night before.

In this article from our archives, TONY SEED chronicles the response of Haligonians – and authority – to the first day of the U.S. war against Iraq. Similar demonstrations take place in Shelburne, Wolfville and Antigonish and a silent vigil in Sydney, Cape Breton, as well as in Fredericton, New Brunswick (see below), across Canada and around the world. History shows the correctness of this just stand. The war and ensuing occupation, endorsed and supported by the Chrétien government and every daily newspaper in Canada, caused a terrible tragedy for the people of Iraq and West Asia (Middle East): the number of Iraqis slaughtered is an estimated 1,455,590 people. From reports submitted to Shunpiking Magazine and TML Daily.

(HALIFAX, 20 March 2003) – TODAY a mass democracy meeting broke out at Dalhousie University on Canada’s Atlantic coast against Bush’s barbarous war against Iraq, beginning a day of mass opposition and upheaval that swept across the nation, from east to west, continuing a wave of protest unfolding around the globe, first Oceania, then Asia, the Middle East and Europe and onto the Americas as surely as the earth travels around the sun. Continue reading

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Origins of NATO. Geopolitics of Atlanticism –  Winston Churchill’s 1946 ‘Iron Curtain’ speech

Events related to the establishment of NATO. March 5 is the 75th anniversary of the infamous speech by the former British prime minister | TONY SEED

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Winston Churchill and U.S. President Truman arrive at Fulton College in Westminster, Missouri, March 5, 1946, where Churchill would deliver his “Iron Curtain” speech.

(April 6, 2019, Updated March 24, 2021) – Recent U.S. presidents, as past ones, demand that their leadership be accepted on the basis that they alone can establish an international order that will bring about peace and stability. Prior to the advent of the doctrine which claims that the U.S. is the one indispensable nation to which all must submit, that order has traditionally been equated with the interests and demands of an “international community.” In this vein, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently issued a thinly-veiled call for a coup d’état against the constitutional government of Venezuela by demanding that “the international community” must immediately unite behind the illegitimate Venezuelan opposition as they chart their path forward because “the moment for a democratic transition is now.” Continue reading

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Calendar of Events. International Women’s Day 2021

On March 8, International Women’s Day, around the world women organize rallies, marches and gatherings of all kinds to assert their claim as women to a say and control over all the affairs of society. Their struggle to affirm their collective rights is part and parcel of the fight to defend the rights of all.

One hundred and ten years ago, International Women’s Day was established to highlight the fight of women for peace, for their rights as workers, and for their right to participate in political affairs and to take their place in the vanguard of all fields of human endeavour. Continue reading

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International Women’s Day: Origins and History (I)

Women from around the world gathered at the Second International Conference of Socialist Women in 1910 passed the resolution establishing International Women’s Day.

International Women’s Day was first celebrated in March 1911, with March 8 set as the official date in 1921. Ever since women fought for the right to vote in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the essence of their fight has been political. They have put forward their claims on society as a matter of right, facing all kinds of state-inspired discrimination and violence against them and state-sanctioned attempts to relegate them to second, third and fourth grade citizenship based on brutal identity politics and exploitation. Women, however, speak in their own name and refuse to accept any limitations on their right to decide all matters which affect their lives. Their courage and determination in the front ranks of the struggle for a society which recognizes everyone as equal members of the body politic with equal rights and duties inspires everyone to also fight for the rights of all. Continue reading

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Striving of Indian farmers to decide what happens to their produce

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Mahapanchayat (enlarged village meeting) in Barnala, Punjab, February 21, 2021

(March 1, Workers’ Forum) – The farmers’ struggle in India is now entering its fourth month since hundreds of thousands converged on the borders of Delhi in December 2020. Continue reading

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Cuban solidarity network condemns Garneau-Blinken interventionist meeting

By Isaac Saney, CNC Spokesperson, March 2, 2021

Vancouver monthly pickets against U.S. blockade of Cuba, February 17, 2020

The Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) is outraged by the communique from Global Affairs Canada summarizing the February 26 virtual meeting between Foreign Minister Marc Garneau and U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. It is an open declaration that Ottawa, lock step with the United States, arrogates to itself the right to intervene in the affairs countries across the globe, particularly in the Americas. Continue reading

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More than 50 US organizations urge Biden to end hostile Cuba policy

A call to end the blockade and normalize relations, from broad sectors of U.S. society

A letter from more than 50 U.S. social, religious and academic organizations has urged the administration of President Joseph Biden to fulfill his campaign promise and “reverse the failed Trump policies that inflicted harm on Cubans and their families.”

The text advocates the initiation of a more constructive U.S. policy toward the island nation and the launching of legislative action to put an end to restrictions and take the path toward ending the blockade.

The signatories described as “ill-considered and damaging,” the activation of the Helms-Burton Act’s Title III, as well as the decision to return Cuba to the list of state sponsors of terrorism, adding, “The almost sixty-year-old embargo is a relic of the past that should be replaced by a more constructive policy of engagement… We call in this letter for immediate actions, but these are intended only as the first steps toward full normalization of relations.”

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