‘The blockade is genocidal, criminal, irrational, immoral and more’

By Giusette León García – Cuba Si!

Alicia Jrapko, Talks with Cuba Si about the Days of Action against the Blockade Being organized in the US Capitol

The General Assembly of the UN will soon begin and once again the voice of Cuba will rise up against the blockade imposed by the United States on this island, but while diplomacy does its part in New York, the American people are standing with us in Washington calling for an end to this failed policy.

Alicia Jrapko, a dear friend of Cuba,  who has partnered with us in our most urgent causes, talked with CubaSí via email about the Days of Action against the Blockade that the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity is  organizing in the North American capital.

Can you tell us about the main actions you plan to carry out?

“This is the fourth day against the blockade in Washington DC that our committee has organized. The actions always include public activities to raise awareness with special guests and visits to the Congress. Although last year’s activities focused on health care and this year’s education, the fact is that it is the blockade affects all the aspects of the daily life of an entire population. ”

Why the emphasis on education?

“The goal of the activities in DC is to raise awareness about the US blockade, but at the same time, we want people to ask themselves some important questions, such as: why is the budgetary priority of the United States government to always increase military spending, instead of giving priority to education? And in contrast: why does Cuba, a small and blocked country, give priority to education from pre-school to higher education? All these questions help us to demonstrate the great injustice of US policy towards Cuba. For example, many people are unaware that 32 million adults in the United States cannot read. And these are the official figures. However, in Cuba, since the triumph of the Revolution, not a single school has been closed. Despite the economic difficulties of the blockade, Cuba’s achievements in terms of literacy and education are the admiration of the whole world. Two U.S. graduates from the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba will accompany us and will be able to testify about the generosity of the Cuban government to offer free education to young Americans from humble families, with the only condition that they return to their communities to offer health care with a humanist and global vision. They’ve lived there so they can also talk about how the blockade affects the Cuban people.”

I understand that the screening of the documentary Maestra, by director Catherine Murphy, is part of the activities.

“One of the main events of the week will take place on September 26, at a movie theater in downtown DC where we will show two documentaries: Maestra, about the Literacy Campaign in Cuba in 1961, and Lucha Si! the struggle for Public education in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. After the screening of the documentaries, we will have a presentation with the filmmakers of both films along with graduates of ELAM and a Cuban educator who participated in the Literacy Campaign. The other activities will be at universities, and this year we will also have one at a high school in Washington DC. ”

Many times the narrative in the US has been to accuse Cuba of human rights abuses, How do you respond those accusations?

“Regarding Cuba’s respect for human rights, my opinion is that the country that violates human rights the most is the United States. The right to free health, to free education, to decent housing are real human rights and is what Cuba practices with all of its inhabitants, it is part of the social contract from the Revolution. That is not the case in this country, where health and education are more and more becoming a privilege for an elite.  What we witness every day is entire families taking refuge under the bridges of the great highways, or sleep in their cars, if they have one. That is a violation of human rights. The issue of the violation of human rights is a great hypocrisy and a big lie, which really has no valid arguments when it comes to Cuba. It is an obvious manipulation by groups interested in reversing the few positive steps that have been taken to change the policy of the United States towards Cuba,

Why continue the fight for Cuba and for the cessation of the blockade? What motivates you?

“As a Latin American living in the United States, I believe that solidarity with Cuba is fundamental. Cuba has been an example for Latin America in terms of building a society of solidarity, with humanistic values, in contrast with consumer societies, where the priority is the material. It is a model and example that other countries should emulate. Cuba has played a fundamental role in Latin American integration and I feel a great indignation when I hear the lies of the media and of many people who do not know the Cuban reality. Cuba is a country in solidarity with all the peoples of the world, it is the first country to offer help in the face of natural disasters, it is an example of what can be done when priority is placed on the basic needs of human beings.

It’s not perfect, like any society, but I know that Cubans work every day to improve it, and that is what the United States cannot stand. The potential of Cuba is enormous, and it has achieved so much, it is unimaginable what it could have done or could do in the future without the blockade. The blockade is genocidal, criminal, irrational, immoral, punitive and just plain mean spirited. I have been living in this country for a long time and injustice hurts me tremendously. I am convinced that the United States never forgives Cuba because of its insistence in being independent and sovereign.”

You are a woman who has been very close to Cuba. How would you define our country and our people?

“I define Cuba as an example of a society that is built on the basis of solidarity, and as an alternative to the capitalist world. I define the Cuban people as well-educated and informed, and a dignified people who fight against all odds against injustice, without renouncing their principles and without “losing their tenderness”. Many people from the United States go to Cuba and return in love with their culture, their athletes, their urban farming, their cooperatives and most especially the respect and affection that Cubans profess to each other. There is no other explanation than that of a country that dedicates its daily effort to build a society with profound humanistic values. The fight against the blockade has already gone on way too long. Soon, at the United Nations it will be demonstrated once again that the whole world is against the blockade.   I am convinced that sooner or later Cuba, the Cuban people and its government, accompanied by friends from all over the world, will also defeat