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On 17 February, Rock around the Blockade and Cubans in the UK hosted an important event in Bolivar Hall, central London, to demand an end of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela, and condemned their imposition against some 40 countries around the world.

The event heard from the Venezuelan ambassador, Rocío Del Valle Maneiro González, the Cuban ambassador, Barbara Elena Montalvo Alvarez, and the Nicaraguan ambassador, Guisell Morales-Echaverry, who all condemned sanctions imposed against their countries, mainly by the United States, summarised the economic costs to their people and explained how these sanctions obstruct development. Carolina Graterol, a Venezuelan journalist and documentary maker gave a moving personal account of the human cost of sanctions, as well as detailing the cost to the Venezuelan nation. Helen Yaffe, from the University of Glasgow gave a historical account of the US blockade of Cuba, pointing to the original objective, ‘to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government’ and explaining how legislation has become increasingly extra-territorial over the last 60+ years.

Sam McGill, from the Revolutionary Communist Group pointed out that this year marks the 200th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, an early statement of US foreign policy asserting dominance over the Latin America, and how today the US uses financial and political mechanisms to assert control; financial and trade sanctions have become weapons of war. Daniesky Acosta from Cubanos en UK, explained how their community association have been directly impacted by sanctions, including in their efforts to send humanitarian donations for medical aid. Will Jones, from Rock Around the Blockade, explained how the international 1cent4Cuba campaign, which was set up last year, is using direct action to challenge non-US banks illegally imposing US sanctions against Cuba. Rock around the Blockade was one of the founding organisations of the campaign.  

Cuba’s socialist government protects the population from the impact of sanctions and, incredibly, has achieved human development indicators better than many rich nations. However, the Trump administration added over 240 new sanctions, actions and coercive measures in a ‘maximum pressure’ strategy that hoped to bring down the Cuban Revolution by generating scarcity and hardship. This coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic, producing an economic crisis. Biden has kept most of these sanctions in place. Cuba is being suffocated.

Today there are 928 coercive measures enacted by the United States against Venezuela. Supported by international allies, these have blocked oil exports, cut Venezuela off from international loans and credit, and prevented imports of crucial food and medicines, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. Venezuela’s assets abroad have been stolen, including $1.4bn of gold bullion held in the Bank of England.

Join us on Saturday 4 march for our next protest to demand a return to Venezuela of its gold stolen by the Bank of England.

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Cuba Informacion and the Euskadi-Cuba Association are under attack for reporting on counter-revolutionary groups slandering Cuba's medical solidarity brigades. This law-fare trial is very serious and could result in 6 years imprisonment of Jose Manzaneda, the website's coordinator, plus a 50,000 Euro fine. The trial is on 15 February. There are two things that you can do to help:


Either by becoming a member of Cubainformación (or by making an extra one-off contribution if you are already one) through this module: https://www.cubainformacion.tv/campaigns/yotambiensoyci/donativo

OR by participating in the crowdfunding campaign to collect funds for legal expenses on the Goteo platform.

If you belong to an organisation please write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to add your organisation's name to support Cuba Informacion in their denunciation of this 'lawfare' For more information please see the summary below Video and coverage (Spanish) here Cubainformación - Article: Cubainformación denounced in Brussels media-judicial persecution that aims to imprison its coordinator and close the media outlet (cubainformacion.tv) and links to full information and documents (in Spanish) here Cubainformación - Article: Judicial persecution against Cubainformación and Euskadi-Cuba (all materials) (cubainformacion.tv)

Prison for the critical journalism of Cubainformación and the solidarity cooperation of Euskadi-Cuba?


In mid-February, in Madrid, a trial will be held against José Manzaneda, coordinator of the media outlet Cubainformación, and against the legal representation of the Euskadi-Cuba association, an entity that, until 2020, held the ownership of the www.cubainformacion.tv domain, due to a criminal complaint of libel, slander and hate crime, filed by the president of the "anti-Castro" organization PrisonersDefenders. which requests a sentence of six years in prison and compensation of 50 thousand euros, for the content of the report "Creating a health crisis in Cuba: objective of the war against its medical cooperation".

Cubainformación published this work in October 2020. In it, they described the work of Prisoners Defenders, in coordination with the U.S. Department of State, exposing the attempt to destroy Cuba's medical solidarity cooperation agreements in numerous countries. One of the objectives, the report explains, would be to apply the economic blockade against the island in the field of health, cutting off the income that its Ministry of Public Health obtains from medical agreements in some nations – only in some, since, in the poorest, Havana assumes all the expenses of cooperation – this income serves to sustain, in a scenario of acute sanctions from Washington, part of the island's internal public health system. The current shortage of medicines and medical supplies in Cuba is be a direct cause of this.

Blockade against Cuba: an act of war

Numerous legal and academic sources describe the U.S. blockade against Cuba as an "act of war." In November 2023, in Brussels, a symbolic International Court described this blockade, in its verdict, as a "crime against humanity" that "has already caused, directly and indirectly, the loss of numerous human lives".

Because of his direct participation in the blockade, because of his public justification of this in the media and because of his lobbying work in favor of the extension of the blockade, through "sanctions", to countries of the European Union, the work affirmed, in its first version, that the president of Prisoners Defenders is, "like Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, a war criminal."

Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, who was an independent expert of the United Nations Human Rights Council, says that those who carry out this blockade, whether from the US government or from the organizations that support it, are "war criminals", in the absence of "a true International Criminal Court" to judge their crimes.

Whoever reads or listens to the work understands that the expression is journalistic hyperbole referring to "criminals of the war against medical cooperation" or "of the economic war" against Cuba, and not of a declared military war. In any case, the expression was withdrawn a few days later, in one of the routine editorial revisions. However, to our surprise, a week later, we received a burofax (special registered letter) announcing the beginning of the lawsuit, centered on that phrase.

European funds to "destabilise Europe and Spain"

Once the complaint was admitted, media outlets such as ABC, El Correo or El Nuevo Herald published parts of a press release by Prisoners Defenders, which stated, among other nonsense, that the Euskadi-Cuba NGO receives "European funds (...) to undermine institutions and destabilize (...) Europe and Spain." No further comment.

This lawsuit attacks an organization and a media outlet of the International Movement of Solidarity with Cuba, seeking to economically hurt both the development cooperation developed by Euskadi-Cuba and to censor the critical and uncomfortable voice of Cubainformación.

But they're not going to win. We will continue to denounce the blockade against Cuba as a war crime and to support the Cuban people with all possible solidarity. A solidarity that Cubainformación and Euskadi-Cuba will need in the coming months, in the face of what, in our opinion, is an attack on the work of cooperation and freedom of the press.

Note from defense lawyer Endika Zulueta regarding the upcoming trial against freedom of expression in Madrid Endika Zulueta

On October 5, 2020, on the website www.cubainformacion.tv (owned at the time by the Euskadi-Cuba Association), the journalist José Manzaneda published an article entitled "Creating a health crisis in Cuba, objective of the war against its medical cooperation", in this article, among other considerations, he pointed out the following: “Javier Larrondo, a member of one of the families of the Cuban bourgeoisie protected under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, is, like Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, a war criminal. And he should be treated as such” (expression removed from the website on October 13, 2020).

Javier Larrondo is a person who is politically active in his capacity as president of the NGO "Prisoners Defenders", he is especially critical of Cuba's medical cooperation.
It is obvious that the expression "war criminal", in relation to the title of the article, implies the "war against medical cooperation" being waged by the Cuban Government, and in no way relates to war crimes committed in the context of an armed conflict, https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimen_de_guerra

At the hearing in February, the private prosecution brought by Mr Larrondo requested the sentence of 6 years' imprisonment, a fine of 26 months (15,600 euros) (13 months' imprisonment in the event of non-payment) and compensation of 50,000 euros, considering both the journalist and the legal representative of the website responsible for crimes of serious insult, serious slander and incitement to hatred for each of the accused.

Both the Public Prosecutor's Office and the defense request acquittal on the grounds that the facts do not constitute any crime.

CONSIDERATION OF PROSECUTION. – Not only does it seem obvious to us that the facts do not constitute any crime, but it is paradoxical that the president of an Association that claims to defend human rights intends not only to criminalize freedom of expression, freedom of information and ideological freedom, but also requests the imprisonment for more than 6 years of those who simply legitimately disagree with a certain political practice in a newspaper article.

In July, Rock Around the Blockade (Britain), Cuba Support Group Ireland and Cubanismo (Belgium) hosted an online launch event for the new campaign to challenge British and European banks' compliance with the illegal US blockade of Cuba.

With guest speakers:

Johanna Tablada - General Deputy Director of US affairs at the Cuban Foreign Minister.

Vijay Prashad - Executive Director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research and author of 'Washington Bullets'.

Helen Yaffe - Senior Lecturer at the University of Glasgow and author of 'We are Cuba: How a revolutionary people have survived in a Post-Soviet world'.

Below are the videos from the speeches given at the event!


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On the 18th of Feb 22, a giant Cuban flag was unfurled in Trafalgar Square, in the centre of London, in a protest to demand an end to US sanctions on Cuba. The US blockade is the longest and most comprehensive set of sanctions in modern history. Organised by Rock around the Blockade (RATB) with support from Cubanos en UK, the Revolutionary Communist Group and other campaigners, the event also demanded an end to sanctions on Venezuela which have caused the death of over 100,000 people, and the end to all imperialist sanctions imposed around the world.

Last year, RATB helped set up a new international campaign ‘1 cent for Cuba’ (#1c4Cuba) to challenge non-US banks and other financial institutions which implement US unilateral sanctions against Cuba in violation of the laws in those countries, which make doing so illegal. Under the Trump administration, a suffocating 243 new sanctions and coercive measures were introduced, tightening the US blockade and suffocating the Cuban people, evening during the Covid-19 pandemic. Cuba has given solidarity to countries around the world, saving and improving lives. Now it is time that the world stands with Cuba to demand an end to sanctions.

In December 2023, RATB will be sending its 15th solidarity brigade to Cuba.

Find out more and donate to material aid: www.ratb.org.uk/donate

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RCG and Latin American activists protest outside The Guardian, 2017

by Robert Clough - FRFI

Update, 9 June 2020: In an article titled 'Cuba sets example with successful programme to contain coronavirus' published 7 June, Ed Augustin writing for The Guardian finally acknowledged Cuba's success in fighting Covid-19. Previously, the newspaper had followed a long-held editorial policy of hostility and slander towards socialist Cuba, which rang increasingly hollow as Cuba set an outstanding example in the pandemic. We hope that our statement published on 6 May, below, contributed to the process by which The Guardian has been forced to change its tone.


On Sunday 24 July Rock Around the Blockade, Cuba Support Group Ireland and Cubanismo (Belgium), held a very successful launch meeting for the 1 Cent for Cuba (1C4Cuba) campaign!

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Scottish members of Rock Around the Blockade (RATB) and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) have been bringing the inspiring message of the Cuban Revolution to Glasgow and Dundee with a series of fundraising events. In a year which has seen the release of the Cuban 5, Cuban doctors leading the global fight against Ebola and new victories in the fight against the US blockade, the message is clear...socialism is fighting fit and here to stay!

Raising funds for this year’s RATB solidarity brigade to Cuba, which will be bringing boxing gloves and ballet shoes to the island, over 60 people gathered in Glasgow on 28 January to celebrate the cultural achievements of the revolution. The Rebel Cinema event presented a screening of the first two parts of the legendary 1964 Soviet-Cuban film Soy Cuba (I am Cuba), a snapshot of a country on the edge of rebellion, where parasitic wealth existed side by side with grinding poverty, dominated by US interests.

paypal us blockade of cubaRock Around the Blockade (RATB) is a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group in solidarity with socialist Cuba, which uses its example as part of the struggle for socialism and against imperialism here in Britain and worldwide. This month RATB celebrates its 20th anniversary.

The US blockade has cost the Cuban economy an estimated $1.126 trillion since 1961. For 23 consecutive years the UN General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn the blockade, with 191 out of 193 nations voting against it this year. On 11 September this year, in contradiction to hypocritical US rhetoric about 'normalising relations', President Obama signed a document to extend Cuba's designation as an 'enemy' under the 'Trading with the Enemy Act' for another year.

RATB uses PayPal to process payments and donations via our website,www.ratb.org.uk The funds raised from merchandise sold go towards our activities in Britain. RATB organises political and educational discussions, film showings, street rallies and cultural celebrations, about Cuban socialism.

Without warning or communication, PayPal has blocked our account, for the second time in two years.

In late April 2016, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond became the highest-ranking British government minister to visit revolutionary Cuba. He signed four memorandums of understanding for cooperation in higher education, energy, culture and in the financial and professional services sector, including an agreement to restructure Cuba’s debt to Britain. Hammond affirmed that Britain, and the European Union, are in favour of lifting the 55-year old United States blockade of island.

As a sign of just how punitive the blockade remains, earlier that month a group of Cuban musicians based in Britain had their money withheld by Eventbrite, a US website-based company. Cuban pianist Eralys Fernandez, who lives in London, had used the ticket sales website for a classical music concert held in an East London church in mid-March.

The concert, supported by a group called Cubans in the UK was a fundraiser for a project to ‘send a piano to Cuba’, which aims to raise £10,000 to buy a second hand concert piano to send to the Conservatory Amadeo Roldan in Havana. Despite being one of the most prestigious institutions in Cuba, its existing grand pianos are in a poor condition. The Conservatory has struggled to get access to new pianos, largely because of the US blockade, and there are no piano producers or retailers in Cuba. The project has been endorsed by Sting and now has Cuban musicians throughout Europe signed up to support.

After the concert, Eventbrite informed the organisers that ‘we were contacted by our bank to let us know that the payout we initiated on 17 March 2016 for £360 has been temporarily held’. They wanted to know of ‘any direct or indirect benefit to Cuba or a Cuban in this transaction’. The organisers, who have dual British and Cuban citizenship, answered in the affirmative; it was obvious from the name and description of the event that it was fundraising to send a piano to Cuba. A month later, Eventbrite confirmed that the ticket money was withheld ‘pursuant to US Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) regulations and sanctions program’ – in other words the US blockade. ‘In order to have the funds released’, advised Eventbrite, ‘you will need to obtain a license from the US Treasury Department’.

Director of Cubans in the UK, Daniesky Acosta, said they had no intention of applying for an OFAC licence. ‘It would mean legitimising the 55-year old US blockade, which has cost our country over (US) $1 billion and which almost every country in the world opposes in the annual UN General Assembly vote on it.’ They were already seeking legal advice on the matter.

It is extraordinarily intrusive for OFAC to regulate how or where British, Cuban or any other citizens can spend their money. The concert tickets were sold to the British public in pounds sterling, not in US dollars. The organisers did not event know they were using a US company, as the website appeared to be based in Britain. However, under EU regulations, Eventbrite should be mandated to abide by British rules, which include no such sanctions against Cuba. The fact that they are not shows the extraterritorial impact of the US blockade and the weakness of Hammond’s assertion that Britain wants improved relations with Cuba.

Acosta said: ‘We do not need a license to send money to Cuba from the United Kingdom, We do not have one and we are not going to apply for one in order help our own people. In fact, we are not sending money to Cuba; we are raising money to buy a piano from a UK retailer.’ For these British-based Cuban artists it seems that the US blockade has been tightened for non-US citizens and companies since diplomatic relations were restored between Cuba and the US. They are not alone. The Cuba Solidarity Campaign recently has its Cooperative Bank account closed and the group Rock around the Blockade had its Paypal account shut down, both under OFAC regulations, even while the head of Paypal joined Obama’s 1,200-strong delegation to Havana. Is this part of a US soft-power strategy; to strengthen US engagement with Cuba, while constricting trade and exchange from third countries?

In December 2015, Lord Hutton, chairman of Cuba Initiative, an independent, bi-lateral, non-governmental organisation to promote British-Cuban relations, put a formal question to the British Treasury: ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what advice has been given to UK banks regarding business and personal financial transactions between UK individuals or UK-registered companies and Cuban counterparties based in Cuba.’ The answer he received is cited in full below.

Cuba has previously been subject to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s on-going Global AML/CFT Compliance Process due to concerns over strategic deficiencies in its systems for anti-money laundering (AML) and combatting terrorist financing (CTF). HM Government notifies the financial sector of FATF’s decision to list countries and the risks associated with transactions with identified countries. In October 2014, the UK welcomed Cuba’s significant progress in improving its controls and noted that Cuba was no longer subject to the FATF’s monitoring process. This was also communicated to industry.

There are no UK, EU or UN sanctions regimes restricting transactions between the UK and Cuba. The US has economic sanctions against Cuba. EU legislation (Council Regulation (EC) No 2271/96) provides protection against and counteracts the effects of the extra-territorial application of US Cuba sanctions within the EU. The Government does not provide advice on sanctions regimes outside UK jurisdiction and does not intervene in the decisions of banks or other financial firms when made on the basis of their internal risk assessments.

Three months later, on 15 March 2016, OFAC announced amendments to controls on financial transactions, including permitting US banks to process Cuba related US dollar denominated transactions where neither the sender not the beneficiary of the transactions are subject to US jurisdiction. Nonetheless, the frequently asked questions related to Cuba section of their website, states clearly that ‘sanctions’ are still imposed on Cuba, despite the restoration of diplomatic relations between the countries.

‘Most transactions between the United States, or persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction, and Cuba continue to be prohibited, and OFAC continues to enforce the prohibitions of the CACR [Cuban Assets Control Regulations]. The regulatory changes, effective in January, June, and September 2015, as well as in January and March 2016, respectively, are targeted to further engage and empower the Cuban people by facilitating authorized travel to Cuba by persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction; certain authorized commerce and financial transactions; and the flow of information to, from, and within Cuba.’

There are signs that authorities in Europe are starting to hit back against the extraterritorial character of the US blockade. In April 2016, it was reported that a district court in Dortmund, Germany, issued an order against PayPal for applying US laws in the country. Just like the situation with Eventbrite and the piano project in Britain, the German case involved ticket sales through a website-based company PROticket for a musical comedy ‘Soy de Cuba’ (I am from Cuba) and a concert by Cuban signer Addys Mercedes in late 2015. In November, PayPal blockade the PROticket account, citing OFAC regulations. In this case, however, PROticket complained to the German court, which ordered PayPal’s European subsidiary, located in Luxenbourg, to unfreeze the account with immediate effect or pay out 250,000 euros to PROticket if they fail to so. The judges also prohibited PayPal from freezing their clients’ accounts because they use the words ‘Cuba’ or ‘Cuban’.

News about this ruling has not appeared in the British press despite its relevance to similar cases in Britain. The question remains: what will Eventbrite do with the money it has confiscated from Eralys Fernandez, who just wants to help out the music school from which she had the privilege of graduating for free? The next fundraising concert takes place on July 2nd in London. How can the organisers avoid confiscation of their ticket sales money? Let’s hope Philip Hammond honours his declarations in Havana and takes up the case. Only when European authorities take retaliatory action against OFAC regulations will the expropriation of billions of dollars in frozen funds and punitive fines meted out to individuals, groups and businesses around the world for interacting with Cuba be halted. This is, after all, what US President Obama himself has called for.

A Response From Evenbrite, Inc.

As a US company, Eventbrite and its subsidiaries are subject to OFAC. Under OFAC, Cuba remains a restricted country, which means we cannot facilitate any transactions that provide any direct or indirect benefit to Cuba.

We continually monitor and screen our listings to ensure compliance with our legal obligations. If issues arise, we work directly with the organizer.

The Eventbrite Merchant Agreement states that merchants must comply with US law related to restricted countries.

Amanda Livingood
Corporate Communications, Eventbrite



Helen Yaffe is an Economic History Fellow at the London School of Economics and the author of Che Guevara: The Economics of Revolution published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Between 2011 and 2014, she was a Research Associate at Leicester University on a project investigating the history of the anti-apartheid movement in Britain. Her recent commentaries for BBC and Sky News on US President Obama and British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond’s visits to Cuba can be seen at: http://palgrave.typepad.com/yaffe/