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Canadian and American solidarity activists will hold a virtual conference and concert this weekend to discuss and act upon the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.
Organized by Cuba solidarity groups, the event will begin on Friday evening with an online concert demanding an end to the economic, commercial, and financial blockade imposed by Washington on the island nearly 60 years ago.
Tamara Hansen, executive member of the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) and one of the conference spokespersons, said the musical event would bring together artists from all fields and the three countries.
Among the concert participants are the Septeto Santiaguero, Grupo Moncada, Pablo Menéndez y Mezcla, Alexander Abreu, Rebel Diaz, Nancy Morejon, Telmary, Arturo O'Farrill, and other renowned musicians and poets.
The conference organizers report that on Saturday, the first session of the conference will take place, which will focus on the importance of complete normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba in a post-Trump scenario.
This segment of the virtual meeting will feature Cuba's ambassadors in Washington D.C., José Ramón Cabañas, and in Ottawa, Josefina Vidal, and Canadian Member of Parliament Niki Ashton and Minnesota State Senator Sandra Pappas.
The second session of the event will be held on the same day. It will focus on Cuba's leadership role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, both on the island and many other countries through the Henry Reeve Internationalist Medical Brigade.
Speakers in that segment include Andy Coates, a physician from Albany, New York, who works in the treatment of patients with coronavirus; Dr. Samira Addrey, a graduate of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana and program coordinator of IFCO/Pastors for Peace; and Alicia Jrapko, co-chair of the Cuba Nobel Prize Committee and the National Network on Cuba (NNOC).
The final session, on Sunday, will focus on how to make 2021 the year to end the U.S. blockade on Cuba officially. Speakers will include Cuba's permanent Ambassador to the United Nations, Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta; the president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship of the Peoples (ICAP) and Cuban Five hero, Fernando Gonzalez Llort, as well as the participation of labor, racial justice, anti-war, Puerto Rican independence, and environmental activists.
This session will also feature Cubans living in the United States and Canada and travel service providers, who similarly advocate for the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.
According to the CNC, the NNOC, and Table de concertation et de solidarité Québec-Cuba, hundreds of people from different parts of the world will virtually attend the conference.
Cheryl LaBash, the co-chair of the NNOC and spokesperson for the event, said that regardless of the U.S. presidential elections' results, they must intensify the campaign to end the siege against the island nation.
This dynamic event, which will combine art, culture, lectures, and debates, will allow us to realize that, despite the unprecedented levels of the U.S. blockade on Cuba, the possibility of seeing its end has never been so close, LaBash added.