Dear member.

Here is your newsletter which gives details of our events and activities over the past three months.

To complete 2017, we held our yearly lively and well-attended festive social on the 10th of December at the railway Club in Brighton. The atmosphere was congenial and warm-hearted.

On the 28th of January we celebrated once again the birthdays of both Jose Marti and Robbie Burns at the Bridge Inn in Shoreham. John McLoud spoke informatively about Marti (see pages 28 and 29 of the current edition of Cuba Si for more information) and a number of CSC members read out a variety of poems written by Connie Fraser over the years about Robbie. Connie and Valerie Mainment contributed a few of their own lines written spontaneously. The occasion was as always well-attended and I for one felt happy to be amongst fellow travellers, all wanting to see justice for Cuba.

On Tuesday February the 6th , Natasha Hickman, CSC Campaigns Director, spoke about the latest US/Cuba relations. She began by reminding us that despite movement under the Obama administration to begin to “normalise relations”, 15 billion dollars worth of fines were paid by companies during his term in office. She continued by informing us that Donald Trump was and continues to be indebted to Miami anti-Cuba leaders and has tightened up the blockade since becoming president.  The result has been that investors in the Cuban economy have been pulling out. Licenses to travel for professional people involved in cultural, academic and sporting exchanges are not being given resulting in less revenue for the tourist industry. Natasha reminded us of the recent news regarding sonic attack illness widely reported upon throughout the world. There has been no scientific evidence that these occurred, The result has been a reduction of staff at the US embassy in Havana which in turn has caused difficulties for Cuban people to have their visas processed to visit relatives in the US.  Many Cubans have had to travel to the US embassy in Columbia to get visas. Natasha also informed us that on the 30th of January of this year, Trump singled out Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea as being “rogue nations” which would have to be dealt with. He has also signed an executive order to keep Guantanamo open.  There are 41 prisoners there.  She finished her talk by saying that despite everything Cuba wants to improve relations and wants to be open to respectful dialogue.

Most agree that there continue to be tough times ahead for Cuba.

One success story is that of the campaign to get the Open University to reverse its policy regarding taking Cuban students.

It was also pleasing to read that the £75,000 raised by Cuba Solidarity for the Hurricane Irma appeal is now being put to good use.

Please note that our meeting in May will be on the 30th of the month rather than the first Tuesday as we are hosting the Canadian author Arnold August who will also be coming to talk to us about recent developments in Cuba/Us relations.  This is part of an extensive tour of the UK. His most recent publication is called – Cuba-U.S. relations : Obama and beyond.

We look forward to welcoming you at this and our other events planned for the next few months. See DATES FOR YOUR DIARY.