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Albany Activists Rally, Support Lifting Cuban Embargo

Amid ongoing unrest in Cuba, rallies for change in the Caribbean nation are continuing as far away as upstate New York.

Activists gathered Sunday for two separate Albany rallies at the intersection of Delaware, Holland and Morton Avenues and in Townsend Park in a show of support for protesters in Cuba who’ve been demonstrating since July 11th.

"We're here today to spread awareness about the horrors that the U.S. blockade of Cuba reaps on the Cuban people. And to urge the community here in Albany to acknowledge that we have nothing to gain from the blockade of Cubans. And we have more in common with the ordinary people of Cuba than we do with the politicians and the corporations who are enforcing this blockade of Cuba because they seek to extinguish the Cuban Revolution."

Christian Garramone with the Party For Socialism And Liberation urges locals to pressure lawmakers to lift the U.S. economic embargo.

"We have some petitions that we're encouraging people to sign that would encourage Paul Tonko to sign on to. There's a bill in the House of Representatives right now to lift the blockade, and to encourage Senator Schumer and Gillibrand to sign on to the same equivalent in the Senate."

Canyon Ryan of the Capital District Socialist Party says the protests in Cuba have been misunderstood.

"It's also important to recognize that the protests and the people that came out, they don't, they're  position is that they want food, they're sick of the queues, they're sick of the commodity shortages. They're tired of the fact that the opportunities that they have, have been declining for the last 30 years or so since the USSR fell. And it's the blockade that creates all of these issues that people are pinning on the material existence of the government, because it's right there. And you can you can fight the government but you can't fight the blockade. And what the protests, unfortunately have done so far is create more sanctions on Cuba and more international community discipline on the island that for the last 60 years has been trying to show people what anti-imperialism and socialism can accomplish around the world."

Mabel Leon of Schenectady has spent three decades working on solidarity with the people of Cuba.

"I feel the press and our President Biden, who I voted for, have been circulating some disinformation. Cuba is not a failed state. And the demonstrations, disconnect, discontent of the Cuban people has not been put in context. And the context is the COVID virus, which is a global issue. Well, Cuba created their own vaccine. Cuba has 11 million people. 1,600 have died during the period of COVID. New York City has 8 million people and 33,000 people have died. In the richest country in the world.  Cuba has free health care. Cuba has free medicine. Cuba sends more doctors around the world than the UN."

Russia reportedly has sent two plane loads of humanitarian aid to Cuba, currently experiencing a rise in COVID cases. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told news outlets Monday that it's time Biden made a decision about the embargo.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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