New York City Council calls for ending U.S. blockade of Cuba
via NNOC

NEW YORK—The New York City Council has passed a resolution calling for an end to the U.S. political and economic blockade on Cuba. The resolution, passed unanimously, represents a step toward ending the U.S.-led blockade and removing Cuba from the “State Sponsor of Terrorism” list. From D.C. to Chicago, similar resolutions have been passed by other councils.

The NYC resolution, titled Res. #0285-A, was originally introduced by City Councillor Charles Barron. The resolution notes the negative effects of the 60+ years of sanctions and shifting U.S. public opinion toward the country’s island neighbor, with the legislation stating:

“The U.S., in the hope of isolating Cuba and starving the Cuban people into rebellion, has maintained an economic blockade, or embargo, of Cuba, which was first imposed in 1960 during the Eisenhower administration and which is the longest economic embargo in history…. Every year since 1992, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly has adopted a resolution declaring the embargo a violation of the both the Charter of the United Nations and international law.”

This legislation is important for the fact that it not only denounces Cuba’s placement on the State Sponsor of Terrorism (SSOT) list but also acknowledges the blockade as a cruel punishment that continues to hurt the Cuban people.

What is the SSOT list?

The State Sponsor of Terrorism list was first applied to Cuba in 1982 by the Reagan administration. Used as a continuation of the original sanctions enacted by the Eisenhower administration in 1960, the terror designation adds additional economic challenges to a country that has faced ongoing political attacks from the United States.

The SSOT list intends to punish countries that have supposedly “provided support for acts of international terrorism.” Cuba was added for aiding international movements such as the anti-apartheid fight in South Africa, which the Reagan administration considered “terrorist.”

Cuba has been constant in connecting its future with the success and advancement of other oppressed nations and international solidarity movements. From 1971 to the ’90s, 500,000 Cuban doctors and soldiers traveled to Africa to aid in the Angolan independence struggle; throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Cuba provided political asylum to U.S. Black political prisoners; and, as mentioned, in the 1980s and early ’90s, Cuba aided the anti-apartheid struggle.

This designation has been used as a means to strangle the island nation by limiting its economic and political autonomy. When a country is added to the SSOT list, it faces additional limitations on finances and goods, including, “Restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.”

This makes it impossible for the Cuban people to thrive because it limits essential items coming into the country such as needed medical supplies, updated technology, and advanced tools for building infrastructure.

New York resolution opens possibility of dialogue

Another important aspect of Res. #0258-A is its intention to bridge the gap between people and institutions of both countries, resulting in an exchange of essential supplies, knowledge, and cultural ideas, leading to joint cooperation.

“Ending both the Cuban embargo and the travel ban would be of great benefit to the U.S. and Cuba,” it declares, “particularly in the areas of medical and biotechnological research, economic opportunities, education, health care, the arts, music, sports, and tourism.” It also says that New York City would directly benefit from the restoration of trade, both through the exportation of products and services to a nearby nation of 11 million people and through the importation of Cuban products, such as medicines and vaccines.

The resolution calls ongoing dialogue between the U.S. and Cuba is not only possible but essential. The United States government fears an exchange of ideas because it represents a collective effort to stop the 63-year-old sanction campaign, a stranglehold the U.S. has used to denounce the political path of Cuba since its 1959 revolution.

The people of the U.S. might benefit from Cuban medical knowledge in the areas of lung cancer and diabetes research, and they may well take political inspiration from Cuba’s political system, looking particularly at its advancement of LGBTQ rights with the passing of the 2021 Family Code.

Alternatively for Cuba, opening relations would mean gaining access to essential medical equipment currently out-of-reach because of the blockade, as well as important industrial equipment for developing infrastructure.


With a June 25 rally in D.C., the National Network on Cuba (NNOC) launched a week of action to demand the Biden administration remove Cuba from the SSOT list. Organizations from around the country—including CODEPINK, IFCO Pastors for Peace, New Jersey-New York Cuba Sí Coalition, the Claudia Jones School for Political Education, Amazon Labor Union (ALU), the Canadian Network on Cuba, and Puentes de Amor—will be present. Coordinated local NNOC actions will take place in hundreds of cities throughout the U.S.

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Jacob Buckner
Jacob Buckner

Jacob Buckner writes from New York. Jacob Buckner escribe desde Nueva York.