Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Defense Campaign goes to Cuba

This is part one of a series of articles that will highlight the events and outcomes of the May 2023 delegation to Cuba.

From April 23 to May 3, 2023, Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! (HOUHOA) Chair Mwezi Odom joined forces with the U.S. Hands Off Cuba Committee–LA delegation on a trip to Cuba. She joined over 271 youth and labor delegations that represented over 58 countries.

This trip was of strategic importance to the HOUHOA campaign.

On April 18, 2023, the U.S. government indicted three members of the Uhuru Movement, African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) Chairman Omali Yeshitela, African People’s Solidarity Committee Chairwoman Penny Hess and Uhuru Solidarity Movement Chair Jesse Nevel. This set the precedent and urgency for the trip.

It was important to make clear that the APSP is under attack for its over 50 years of anti-colonial struggle. Just like Cuba, the vanguard leadership of the African working class presents a threat to an already shaky social system, breaking free from the colonial mode of production, built on the backs of the workers of the world, who are indeed rising up!

Cuba trip critical for Hand Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! campaign

Throughout Cuba, HOUHOA carried the objective to unite the hundreds of African people who attended from countries all around the world with the reminder that we are one people—no matter where we have been dispersed.

This series of articles will provide examples of how the theory of African Internationalism on the question of national identity, colonialism, and the struggle for workers rights was embraced by Africans from the U.S., Brazil, Peru, Cuba, Colombia and Niger, to name a few. Africans shared the oppression they face in their respective countries from lack of energy—due to excessive mining, women’s health, racism, inhumane working conditions and isolation from political and electoral arenas. Thousands of flyers and propaganda were distributed about HOUHOA.

Africans and colonized peoples were quick to shout out and greet each other with “Uhuru!” throughout the delegation. Freedom was on the minds of everyone.

Hands Off Uhuru unites with delegation’s anti-colonial demands

Our delegation had various labor union representatives, such as Amazon Labor Union (ALU), Longshorewokers, Tenants Rights activists and others from California, New York, North Carolina and Florida. The demands were End the Blockade! Stop all travel bans and sanctions! Remove Cuba from the illegitimate list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

This delegation/internship, which helped to set the stage for the upcoming May Day Parade (which was postponed due to extreme weather), included a series of workshops hosted by Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC), and the Regional Secretariat for Latin America and the Caribbean of the World Federation of Trade Unions, and culminated on May 2.

The international solidarity conference on May 2 was preceded by a week of touring various labor sites, meeting with the Federation of Trade workers, a visit to a neighborhood project of Comites de defense de la revolucion, exploring Old Havana, an exchange with the Federation of University students at the University of Havana, where members of the delegation met with over 70 students who were introduced to the theory of African Internationalism, and much more.

Cuba and Africa: history of anti-colonial unity!

HOUHOA stands in total unity with the righteous struggle of the Cuban government to defend its revolution and break from white power and imperialism.

We know that Cuba is a threat to the U.S. because it is an example of power in the hands of the working class and its vanguard leadership. The Cuban Revolution speaks to the question of democracy. Not a colonial democracy that terrorizes, attacks and imprisons those who express their so-called freedom of speech and freedom of association and assembly; but the highest form of democracy, which we understand in the Uhuru Movement is self-determination

Since the 1960s, Cuba has faced hundreds of immoral and inhumane sanctions, embargoes and travel bans. And those who’ve expressed solidarity with Cuba are threatened, targeted, or raided, with recent examples of Puerto Rican caravan members who were raided in 2022, and three members of the May LA delegation who were detained and interrogated for over four hours upon return to the U.S. on May 3, 2023.

The full complicity of U.S. imperialism and its allies, as well as the colonial media’s propagation of lies and ideological fodder, continues to wage war on the advances of the Cuban government—which serves the interests of its working class.

Cuba made manifest how Africans persecuted in the U.S. could take refuge from persecution. We see this in examples of Cuba’s embrace of our dear comrade Assata Shakur, and Robert Williams and his wife Mabel Ola Robinson. Cuba’s history of internationalism shows solidarity with the African Nation and struggle against colonialism.

In the early 1960s, Cuba sent ongoing brigades of medical volunteers and military contingents to Africa in support of the struggles for independence in Algeria, Angola and South Africa (Occupied Azania), for example. Despite its size and limited access to resources, this tradition of extending aid to other oppressed nations around the world remains active today in Cuba.

Under the weight of imperialism via the blockade, Cuba faces rising costs of imported resources, and enormous fuel, energy and food shortages. With some of the best medical care in the world, Cuban doctors rely on donations of medical supplies to provide life saving surgeries and treatment to patients.

The May Day LA delegation visited the Calixto Garcia Hospital in Havana which included a presentation and Q&A with Cuban medical professionals and the delivery of 22 suitcases filled with $5,000 worth of computer and tech supplies, and over $40,000 of medical aid supplies: from first aid, to trauma, orthopedic/rehabilitation devices and over-the-counter medication for the medical staff.

It became clear throughout the delegation that the popular demands “Cuba Si! Bloqueo No!” “End the embargo” “Remove Cuba from the state sponsored terrorist list” will not be enough to overturn imperialism’s stranglehold on Cuba.

Struggle between past and future

We must not let Cuba’s continued oppression be minimized as a struggle against fascism.

The political and ideological attacks against Cuba, economic sanctions, travel bans and embargo are symptoms of colonialism. African Internationalism provides the strategy to overturn the parasitic relationship between oppressed and oppressor nations.

Just like Cuba, the Uhuru Movement has been attacked with economic sanctions and travel restrictions. The same oppressor that struggles to keep Cuba isolated and under constant attack is the same oppressor that is responsible for ongoing terror, underdevelopment and attacks on African people.

HOUHOA stands in solidarity with all anti-colonial struggles for freedom.

Comandante Fidel Castro states, “A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.”

The African Revolution will and must play a central role in building a future in which the workers assume power to the benefit of our whole society.

Cuba Si, yes! Freedom, yes, indeed!

Viva Cuba! Uhuru (Freedom) in our lifetime!

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