Chicago celebrates the Return of the Cuban 5, Steps Ending the US Travel Ban and Blockade against Cuba – and Opposes US Sanctions on Venezuela

On Tuesday, December 23 at the Chicago Consulate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela over 100 people turned out to celebrate Cuba’s victory and to oppose the new sanctions on Venezuela. Let’s not allow the US government to take its boot off the neck of Cuba, just to put it on Venezuela’s.

The freeing of the Cuban 5 was a great victory for Cuba and for all who defended Cuba over the last half century, and for those who fight to free all U.S. political prisoners. It was also a victory for all of Latin America, and we celebrate this defeat for the almost 55 year cruel policy of the US government against Cuban and Latin American self-determination.

We chose to celebrate at the Consulate of Venezuela in Chicago not just because of the Consulate’s long support for Cuba, but to stand with Venezuela, now threatened by US sanctions.

In attendance included members of the Venceremos Brigades, the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5, the Chicago Cuba Coalition, Boricua Human Rights Network and supporters of Oscar Lopez Rivera, the All-African Peoples Revolutionary Party, and framed-up Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh and her supporters.

Of the three speakers, DePaul University’s Felix Masud spoke about having been in a conference in Havana when the changes were announced and the remaining Cuban 5 came home. He explained that the changed US policy did not mean the US war against Cuba was ending, only that it was modifying its policy of regime change. He pointed to the sanctions on Venezuela as evidence the US aims in Latin America remain the same.

Gisela Lopez, long time Cuban activist, touched on some of the past support for Cuba, going back to the time she and her sister Gilda worked in Chicago’s Fair Play for Cuba Committee and the Alianza de Trabajadores Cubanos. She thanked and congratulations to all those who fought for justice for her country, including, besides those named above, the National Lawyers Guild, the Nation of Islam, Chicago Religious Leadership Network and Pastors for Peace. She gave particular thanks to the Consulate of Venezuela in Chicago, which she dubbed the “Cuban Consulate in Chicago” because of their active solidarity. Gisela ended by calling all to defend Venezuela and work for the freedom of Oscar Lopez Rivera.

Finally, Jesus Rodriquez, Consul General of Venezuela Consulate, spoke on the new US sanctions on Venezuela, it being the new target of the US, and how insulted Venezuela is by the hypocrisy of the US government’s actions. He called on all to work to oppose this new US threat to Latin American self-determination.

This was the largest gathering of Cuba solidarity activists in Chicago in years, and the largest event ever held at the Venezuelan Consulate, filling two rooms and spilling out into the hall.

Stan Smith, Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5

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