Great to hear the news that Presidents Obama has taken Cuba off the Country Terrorist List. This is just one small step and the hope is that we will see the lifting of the embargo soon which has had such devastating consequences for the Cuban people.
During the Easter Recess in the Dáil I took the opportunity to visit Cuba with a group of Cuban supporters. There were 12 in the group and when we arrived we stayed in Casas Particulares (rooms in the homes of Cuban people). This type of initiative is being encouraged by the government, as are other types of small enterprises.
Our visit coincided with the meeting between Presidents Obama and Raul Castro. The embargo has had serious devastating effects on the Cuban people, is against all international law, human rights and opposed by all in the United Nations (except 3 – 5 countries).
The highlight of the visit was the meeting with Fernando Gonzalez – one of the Cuban Five (pictured) and now back in Cuba, having spent 16 years in an American prison. I had hosted his mother Magali Llort in the Dáil when she was here looking for support for her son and the others – Rene, Gerardo, Ramon and Antonio.
We also visited Trinidad where we met up with Irishman Sean Clancy (recently featured in a newspaper article on Cuba), Camaguey, Santa Clara where we had an official meeting with the Director of the Che Guevara Memorial, Sancti Spiritus and Las Terrasas. Las Terrasas was an extremely interesting community of some 1,500 people, self-sufficient, eco friendly.
In each city we met the local ICAP representative and in Trinidad met local residents at an event organised by the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution.
On another aspect, there is grave concern at the attitude of U.S. now to Venezuela; we signed the petition in Havana objecting to U.S. interference in Venezuela.