End the trade restrictions on Cuba, Lift the Blockade Now!

Cuba devastated by Hurricanes Ike and Gustav— 
End the trade restrictions, Lift the Blockade Now! 
Agriculture wiped out, 100,000 homes destroyed or damaged,
electrical and telephone service downed

We are writing to you today to ask you to join a massive campaign to End the Blockade of Cuba. You can join with tens of thousands of people who are taking action today. 

"Now is not the time" to end the blockade, said Condoleezza Rice as the latest monster hurricane destroyed farms, homes, schools and hospitals throughout this beautiful island country of 12 million human beings. What an outrage! 

Now is exactly the time to end this criminal blockade that uses food and medicine as a weapon against a people whose achievements in health care and education are legendary.

Take one minute and send an email letter telling members of Congress, President Bush and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez that you support the immediate lifting of all restrictions on trade between Cuba and the United States. 

Now is the Time We Can End the Blockade 

Pinar -- Gustav
The Pinar del Río region damaged by Gustav, Photo: Granma International

Baracoa Ike
The Baracoa region damaged by Ike, Photo: Granma International

With direct and sustained blows from hurricanes Gustav and Ike, Cuba has suffered unprecedented losses in agriculture, homes, electricity and the infrastructure this week. Thanks to Cuba’s model evacuation system, there were no deaths on the island due to Hurricane Gustav and the death toll was limited to four despite the ferocious impact of Hurricane Ike. But the devastation is widespread. On Aug. 30, Gustav, a Category 4 hurricane, with record wind gusts over 200 miles per hour, pummeled the Isle of Youth and Pinar del Río province. Hurricane Gustav destroyed or damaged 100,000 homes in Cuba. 
Yet, as the people were quickly mobilizing to recover and rebuild from Gustav's destruction, Hurricane Ike, also a Category 4, tore through half of Cuba on Sept. 7 and 8, again with catastrophic damage to agriculture, homes and infrastructure. On the 9th, it resumed its path through western Cuba. 
In Gustav, half of the Isle of Youth was flooded. Of the 25,000 homes there, 10,000 are without roofs or totally destroyed, 10,000 more are seriously damaged. Of the 16 bakeries that sustain the population there, 14 were destroyed. In one region of Santiago alone, more than 150,000 banana trees were wiped out. Agricultural production and storage facilities are leveled throughout the island. Cuba’s agriculture cannot recover in sufficient time for the people to receive the food they need now and in the near future.  
In summary, Cuba is in dire need of a massive influx of purchases and donations of food, construction and electrical materials. Massive recovery efforts are underway on the island and the population is fully engaged. 

Sanctions and Blockades Kill  
What Cuba needs more than anything is the lifting of the U.S. blockade, and an immediate end to the U.S. trade and travel restrictions. The 47-year-old blockade has caused more than $86 billion of damage to Cuba.  
The prohibitive restrictions on trade—such as U.S. law that requires Cuba to pay cash for U.S. agricultural goods before delivery—plus the prohibition by the U.S. government of Cuban-Americans to travel more than once every three years to visit family in Cuba (and then only “direct family,” parents, siblings or children), must be lifted now.

The U.S. government must lift all restrictions on travel and trade so Cuba can recover! End the U.S. blockade NOW! 
On Sept. 3, Washington's "offered" to send $100,000 of aid to Cuba, but only to U.S.-designated "non-governmental" organizations, along with an assessment team whose only intention is intelligence-gathering. This piifully small amount with strings attached is an insult. The Cuban people need real solidarity and humanitarian assistance, which many people in the United States, especially Cuban-American families, want to extend. 
But U.S. laws and White House edicts continue to punish the Cuban people and their families in Florida. The U.S. policy of blockade, including the "Trading with the Enemy" Act, the Torricelli Law (1992) and the Helms-Burton Law (1996), are in direct violation of international law. Since 1992, every UN General Assembly session has voted overwhelmingly against the U.S. blockade. In 2007, the vote was 183 to 4. 
Take Action: Join the Campaign of Humanitarian Aid
and to End the Blockade! 
Cuba has never failed to extend its solidarity to people all over the world. Whether it is the 700 Cuban medical personnel in Haiti, the thousands of doctors in Venezuela, the immediate offer to send 1,100 medical doctors with emergency equipment to New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina (an offer rejected by Bush), or sending those same doctors to the Himalayas of Pakistan after 86,000 people died in the earthquake in 2006, Cuba and its people have extended concrete solidarity to others in need, time and again. 
It is our turn to extend our solidarity to the people of Cuba.

Take one minute and send an email letter telling members of Congress, President Bush and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez that you support the immediate lifting of all restrictions on trade between Cuba and the United States.

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