Cuba and the Bolivarian Alliance Committee
The mission of the Cuba and the Bolivarian Alliance Committee is to normalize relations between the U.S. government and the countries comprising the Bolivarian Alliance. The Committee has a particular focus on Cuba because of the U.S. blockade imposed against Cuba in 1960. The Committee conducts education on the advancement of women's rights under the Cuban and Bolivarian revolution, promotes legislative advocacy to lift the travel ban to Cuba, and works to end the U.S. militarization of the Caribbean and Latin America regions.
What is the Bolivarian Alliance?
The Bolivarian Alliance is a regional bloc of nations organized in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela. It aims for social, political, and economic integration of Latin American and Caribbean nations to promote regional autonomy and alternatives to the neoliberal program of the US-led “Free Trade” pacts. Current member nations are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela. Observer states include Grenada, Haiti, Paraguay and Uruguay. ALBA, the acronym of the alliance’s Spanish name--Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América—means “dawn” in Spanish; it signals the desire of the members for a new day within and among themselves and between the alliance and the rest of the world. The Bolivarian process, like the Cuban revolution, is ongoing; women and people of color speak and work for the need for “the revolution within the revolution” to guarantee their full rights and inclusion in that process.
Issue Committee Overview
Since becoming an Issue Committee, our organizing efforts and leadership structure have continued to grow and evolve. WILPF plays an integral role as a member of the Women and Cuba Collaboration, a national project comprised of three organizations: the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, the EveryWoman's Movement for Cuba/LELO and Hermanas. The Collaborations' vision is to build a multi-racial, multi-cultural network of women formed to end the blockade of Cuba and, through this work, contribute to building a women's movement for racial and economic justice in the U.S.
We also collaborate on a variety of educational and awareness-raising activities around organizing to end the U.S. Blockade through legislation, the Free the Five Campaign, and the US-Cuba Sister Cities Association.
Some links we follow:
- News from the Venezuelan Embassy: www.venezuela-us.org
- Cuba’s multilingual digital daily news: http://www.granma.cu/ingles/index.html
- Committee to Free the Cuban Five: http://www.freethefive.org
- Magabana's blog on Haiti, Cuba, and Venezuela: http://hcvanalysis.wordpress.com
US-based news and policy advocacy sites:
- Center for Democracy in the Americas: http://www.democracyinamericas.org
- Latin America Working Group: http://www.lawg.org
- North American Congress on Latin America: http://www.nacla.org
WILPF Cosponsors U.S. Tour Premiering the Film "Maestra"
WILPF is proud to be one of the main cosponsors of the U.S. premiere of “Maestra,”(Teacher) a new documentary about the experiences of the young women who participated as teachers in the 1961 Literacy Campaign that eradicated illiteracy in Cuba in one year’s time. Accompanying the film will be Professor Norma Guillard from Cuba, feminist activists who joined the campaign at 15 years old and is featured in the film, and Catherine Murphy, Director/Producer of the film. The national ten city tour will take place from march 19 – April 9, 2011. Other cosponsor of the national tour include U.S. Women & Cuba Collaboration and the Literacy Project.
“Maestra,” celebrates this amazing story on the 50th anniversary of the literacy campaign through original film footage of the period, photographs and personal interviews of the teachers who are now in their 60's, 70's and 80's. As the Cuban women tell their stories, they reflect on the transformation of their own lives and the whole of Cuban society as a result of the literacy campaign. This documentary explores the connections between national liberation and personal liberation, and the importance of empowering women and girls.
Guillard is traveling from Cuba to be part of the national tour that carries the theme, “The 1961 Cuban Literacy Campaign: Transforming Cuban Women and Society.” Guillard is Afro-Cuban and works primarily on issues of race, gender and sexual orientation. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Havana teaching psychology and gender and a past president of the Cuban Association of Psychologists. She is also an Advisor to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO and to the United Nations Development Program on the issues of gender in the prevention of HIV/AIDS. She is a principal collaborator at the National Center for the Prevention of AIDS and the National Center for Sex Education (known as CENESEX in Cuba), which spearheads the work to educate against homophobia and lobby for civil unions in Cuba. Additionally, she is one of the founders of “Oremi”, the first organization of lesbian and bisexual women in Cuba.
Catherine Murphy lived and worked in Cuba in the 1990s, earning a Master’s degree in Sociology at the Facultad Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO) program at the University of Havana. As an independent producer, Murphy’s work has largely focused on social documentaries. She has worked on the films “Gay Cuba”, “The Greening of Cuba”, “Venezuela Rising”, subtitled “Stealing America” by Dorothy Fadiman, “Out and “Refusenicks” by Sonja de Vries, and is associate producer on Eugene Corr’s “From Ghost Town to Havana” and Saul Landau’s “Will the Real Terrorist Stand Up”. She also served as an archival researcher for Harry Belafonte’s current documentary on his life.
The national tour will go to Washington DC/Baltimore, Jackson, Mississippi, Bozeman, Montana, Seattle, WA, San Francisco, CA/Bay Area.
For continued information on the itinerary of the tour, please go to www.womenandcuba.org
For more information, contact Cindy Domingo at email@example.com or (206) 856-0324For more information on “Maestra,” go to www.theliteracyproject.org
WILPF welcomes Professor Norma Vasallo to the United States
Professor Norma Vasallo, Chair of Women's Studies at the University of Havana, has been granted a U.S. visa after a long delay and will come to the U.S. in March/April, 2011 for a 4-5 city tour including Baltimore, MD, Washington, D.C., Bloomington, Indiana, and Edinboro, PA. She will be visiting and lecturing at several universities: Goucher University, University of Maryland—BC, Indiana University, Edinboro University, West Virginia University and Towson University.
Dr. Vasallo’s tour is cosponsored by WILPF and U.S. Women & Cuba Collaboration.
Dra. Vasallo is a leading Cuban scholar and educator in the fields of social psychology and global feminisms, and a prolific author. With the co-sponsorship of the Federation of Cuban Women, Dr. Vasallo is the convener the biennial International Conference, "Women in the 21st Century," which this year will take place May 16-20, 2011 at the University of Havana. Through plenary talks, panels and workshops, conference participants will engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange experiences around the themes of gender, feminisms and women's studies. U.S. Women & Cuba Collaboration's next delegation will attend this conference.
Dra. Vasallo's original national tour scheduled for October-November last year was cancelled due to the delay of the U.S. visa. It is our hope that we will be able to reschedule a full national tour in the fall of 2012 when Dra. Vasallo will attend the Latin America Studies Association Conference scheduled in San Francisco, CA.
For Vasallo’s U.S. itinerary and topics, please click here to view and download a pdf file.
For more information, contact Carydad at firstname.lastname@example.org and / or 304 685 7588 (cell) or 410 887 3748 (office). Please contact Carydad if you would like to schedule an event in any of the cities on Vasallo’s itinerary.
New Travel Regulations Issued by the Obama Administration
On Friday, January 25th, 2011 the Obama Administration’s new travel regulations were published in the Federal Registry, effective immediately and apparently with no comment period. Read the White House’s press release on the new regulations.
For further information, please to to www.lawg.org
Click here to view and download a pdf version of the White House press release detailing the new regulations concerning travel to Cuba.
WILPF has been working to normalize relations between Cuba and the U.S. since the imposition of the blockade in 1960. Resolutions passed by the 15th WILPF International Congress in 1962, the 21st Congress in 1980, the 26th Congress in 1995, the 27th WILPF International Congress in 1998 and the 2004 Congress in Sweden have all supported the sovereignty and right to self-determination for the Cuban people.
In the tradition of woman-to-woman diplomacy, WILPF members have been traveling to Cuba to learn about the realities of Cuban women’s lives and the success of the women’s movement under the Cuban revolution.
In the 1960’s, in response to the U.S. government travel ban to Cuba, Helen Travis, a trade union and social justice activist and an active member of U.S. WILPF, traveled to Cuba and was prosecuted by the U.S. government. After a number of appeals, Travis’ case was accepted and successfully overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court after the Court decided that U.S. citizens have a protected freedom to travel. Since then many groups including WILPF, U.S. Women & Cuba Collaboration, Venceremos Brigade and U.S. Labor Exchange have used this case to challenge the U.S. ban on travel to Cuba.
Beginning in the 1990’s WILPF began organizing delegations of women to attend peace and women’s conferences in Cuba and to meet with women in the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC). These delegations visited schools, hospitals, farms, urban gardens and neighborhoods to exchange information on our countries and to build solidarity with the Cuban people. During President Clinton’s administration, under the relaxation of rules for travel to Cuba, WILPF was able to bring delegations under a license issued by the U.S. government, making travel “legal” under our government guidelines.
Through these various delegations, hundreds of women traveled with WILPF to Cuba. Under George Bush, Jr.’s administration all licensed travel to Cuba ended, the blockade was intensified and scores of travelers to Cuba were prosecuted even though Helen Travis had won the right to travel in the 1960’s.
In 2006, WILPF International sent a women’s delegation and issued a report with recommendations on potential areas of work to continue building solidarity with the people of Cuba.
WILPF members carry out their Cuba work through the Cuba and the Bolivarian Alliance Committee and play leadership roles in U.S. Women and Cuba Collaboration and U.S.-Cuba Sister Cities Association.
1. The U.S. is, and has been, waging a "low-intensity war" on Cuba for over 40 years through the blockade on trade and travel, support of anti-Castro terrorists, and a U.S, media that constantly projects an image of a brutal, repressive,totalitarian dictatorship that belies the reality of Cuba.
2. While U.S. peace activists haved focused on ending the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan and the violence in the Middle East, the Bush administration was quietly stepping up its plans for the takeover of the Cuban government. A Coordinator for the Transition to a Free Cuba was appointed by the State Department and shortly thereafter the Commission for the Transition to a Free Cuba was reconvened. Its task was to up-date the Commission's 2003 plan which resulted in the overt funding of Cuban dissidents, draconian restrictions on travel to Cuba, expanded barriers to trade, and an escalation of government provocative rhetoric.
3. The U.S. war on Cuba jeopardizes the welfare of Cuban women. The Revolution brought even more benefits to women than it did to others in the population, with woman's equality of pay, free childcare, unlimited education and career opportunities, elder care (which formerly fell mostly to the women), and free and quality reproductive services, such as family planning and access to safe abortion. All these gains would be threatened if the plans of the U.S. government and the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba were implemented after a takeover.
What can you do? Here are some suggestions:
• Form a committee in your branch to educate members and the public to challenge the U.S. Policy on Cuba
• Join the Cuba Advocacy Network (CAN!) and work to bring change in policy through the U.S. Congress
• Promote a delegation to the International Women’s Peace Conference in Havana
• Join the WILPF Cuba and the Bolivarian Alliance Committee
For help with getting off the ground in any of these efforts, contact WILPF’s Cuba and the Bolivarian Alliance Committee c/o the national office, or Nancy Abbey, 831-465-8272 , email: email@example.com