End the Cuban Embargo - Al Fox Rally

09/05/06 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday

Yesterday in the Channelside district near the Port of Tampa a Labor Day rally was held to end the Cuban embargo and to call attention to the campaign of Al Fox. Fox is a candidate for the 11th Congressional District, the seat Jim Davis is vacating.

Forty people held signs supporting Al Fox and calling for an end to the Cuban Embargo. One of the speakers at the rally was community historian Maura Barrios who spoke about why she thinks the embargo is unjust.

"Imagine if you were Alex Haley and you wanted to write your book, Roots, and you were told you couldn't go back to Africa to do the research to write that book. And that's what's happened to so many of us academics as well as people who just want to visit the homeland of their grandparents, to know our own history. Imagine saying to an Irish-American you can't go back to Ireland [crowd -- I'll be damned!] to do research on your family, right? [crowd - right!]"

Barrios continued saying that if the embargo were lifted the U.S. would learn lessons from Cuba such as the island nation's system of universal health care.

"Cuba has many lessons for America. The fight for universal health care, yes? [Crowd - yes!] Hey, if Cuba can do it, a poor nation, why can't we? Why isn't anybody asking that question or raising that issue? Al Fox is raising that issue. [Crowd - yes he is]"

Nancy Wright is a member of the No War On Cuba Movement. She gave examples of how the Cuban embargo is unjust, including this example which prohibited trade in an infant formula.

"It prevented a Canadian company from delivering infant formula, saying that the formula was a threat to U.S. security. So what are we to expect, that babies now from Cuba are lined up with their little bottles tossing formula at the United States? Is this our fear?"

WMNF asked Congressional candidate Al Fox how he proposed to end the Cuban embargo if he is elected.

"I will take on the two Cuban-American members of Congress that are related to Fidel Castro, very few people know that. You have, Mario Di­az-Balart and Lincoln Di­az-Balart are Fidel Castro's nephews. For them it's personal and hatred, a family hatred. I don't have a dog in that fight; neither do the American people. You know, I want to sit down with them and get them to understand that what they are doing is hurtful to America. This issue for me is what is in America's best interest."

According to Fox, the embargo cannot have the effect intended by its supporters.

"There is no way that the people of Cuba would ever turn to anybody in Miami to run their government, it's just not ever going to happen, it's and insanity for anybody to even believe that. As a matter of fact, I can make a strong argument that that's what got us in trouble in Iraq as well, that we listened to an Iraqi exile community for 30 years had never been back to Iraq. In our case with Cuba it's 40 years or so. I think this policy is wrong, it's immoral, it's un-American and it's just time to end it, period."

For several years, the United States has tried to disrupt the elected Venezuelan government, going so far as to support a coup in 2002, in part because Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is an ally of Cuba. Fox explained his feelings about American policy toward Venezuela.

"That is the stupidest foreign policy known to mankind. It defies logic. But because Hugo Chavez plays footsie with Fidel Castro, we're going to exclude him too? It defies logic; it just defies logic. We've lost enormous credibility all around the world because of our insane policy with this small, insignificant country 90 miles from our society. This policy is un-American and not in America's best interest and if we're now going to isolate Venezuela like we're doing to Cuba, that's just going to be our death knell, very frankly. We're losing all of central and South America."

WMNF asked Al Fox if he had an opinion on whether another embargo, the Israeli embargo of Lebanon, should also be terminated.

"Yeah, I do. I'm opposed to all embargoes because I don't know anywhere in the world where they work. And I think the best way to end that violence there is for a group within the international community to sit down and deal with this issue because as long as you're negotiating, you have a chance.�

People attending the rally gave WMNF their opinions about the Cuba blockade. This is Anamaritza Golan.

"We're trading with China, we trade with Vietnam where we lost 50 thousand lives, American blood was shed there, we trade with them. The only thing we lost in Cuba was money. What is important to this country -- is it lives or is it money? What values do we have? Right now I have a sick uncle in Cuba I can't visit. He might die before I see him. But I can go to China; I can go to Vietnam. Does that make any sense? It doesn't to me."

Lenin Garcia, who was a political prisoner under Fidel Castro, tells why he favors ending the embargo against Cuba. His answer is translated by Jose Rodena who also mentions why he participated in this rally.

"So relations will improve between the United States and Cuba. I was a political prisoner in Cuba. Now, Fidel Castro has survived with or without the embargo. What the embargo does is give him an excuse for all the things that are going on in Cuba. I feel that the embargo has to be lifted."

"I believe that if Al Fox wins this election, it will have a repercussion nationwide. I think the American people, little by little, are waking up. That we have allowed a group of right-wing Cubans in Miami to hijack U.S. foreign policy for 47 years, a policy that has not worked."

Another participant, Julie Monroe, told WMNF why she thinks the Cuban embargo should end.

"I really believe that the embargo is a failed policy. Ending the embargo is not just a financial or economic wise decision, it's also a decision based on families being able to see each other again."

For more information about the Al Fox campaign, visit the website alfoxforcongress.com. A list of other candidates for the 11th Congressional District can be found at votehillsborough.org.

National Committee to Free the Cuban Five

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