Cuban UN Ambassadors Visit to Connecticut

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater NH Peace Council and Millie Grenough, City of NH Peace Commission

Perhaps the highest level Cuban diplomatic delegation just visited Connecticut since Fidel Castro stopped at New Haven’s Union Station on his way to Boston in 1959. On September 9 and 10, Cuban United Nations Ambassadors Pedro Luis Pedroso and Yuri A. Gala made the extraordinary trip to Connecticut to celebrate the passage of two resolutions by two major city councils that call on the United States to end its illegal 62-year blockade of Cuba.

Photo: Paul Bloom

Their appearance was also the occasion to encourage further such resolutions and various collaborations between Connecticut and Cuba.

“Extraordinary” because the US blockade extends its economic and political war on Cuba to limiting the movement of Cuban diplomats at the UN to a small radius of Manhattan, violating the agreement by the US to honor the right of UN representatives to travel freely. Permission to travel to CT was based on a formal invitation by the CT state legislature, led by Representative Edwin Vargas of Hartford.

The two anti-blockade resolutions were passed respectively by the Court of Common Council of Hartford in 2021 and the New Haven Board of Alders in 2022.

Overall, the Cuban delegation to Connecticut was organized by Wallingford resident, Cuban-American José Oro, a leader of No Embargo Cuba, along with a large coalition of Cuba solidarity and peace activists from around the state. Oro described one glaring effect of the blockade as preventing Cuba from obtaining ventilators from Switzerland to provide life-giving oxygen to seriously ill Covid-19 patients because a small percentage of ventilator parts are manufactured in the US. Despite the blockade, Cuba was able to develop three successful vaccines. The global solidarity movement was called on to provide syringes, another item blocked from Cuba.

The first stop for the delegation was a working breakfast at Quinnipiac University where President Judy Olian welcomed the Ambassadors, who spoke on the priority that Cuba has given to education, the cost of which is fully covered from elementary school through college.

Quinnipiac Professors Mohammad Elahee, Matthew O’Connor and Osman Kilic explored the possibilities for faculty and student exchanges, micro-lending, small-business and sustainable development, and medicine and health.

Following Quinnipiac University the delegation met state and Hartford city legislative leaders and Cuba solidarity activists in the State Capitol, City Hall and the union office of Local 1199.

On Sept. 10 the delegation arrived in Willimantic to meet with state Rep. Susan Johnson, City Council member Emmanuel Pérez, Professor Ricardo Pérez of Eastern CT State University, Black Lives Matter leader James Flores, and leaders of the Willimantic Rainbow Connection, Power UP-Coventry and Veterans for Peace. Subsequent actions are planned to develop a sister city relationship and to pass a no-blockade resolution by the Willimantic City Council. Middletown and Hamden are exploring similar resolutions.

On Saturday afternoon the New Haven Free Public Library welcomed the Ambassadors who spoke and answered questions from a large audience. José Oro [aforementioned organizer and Wallingford resident] announced a new effort to reverse the cruel and false US listing of Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

At a farewell gathering, Joelle Fishman, Acting Chair of the City of New Haven Peace Commission, presented gifts from New Haven to the Ambassadors. Al Marder and Henry Lowendorf from the Peace Council, and John Lugo from Unidad Latina en Acción expressed gratitude to the Ambassadors for strengthening the human connection with New Haven and Connecticut. Jesus Puerto, owner of Soul de Cuba Café provided delicious Cuban dishes to nurture the relationship.

 

On the 77th Anniversary of the Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

by Henry Lowendorf, Greater New Haven Peace Council

The current threat of nuclear war – and the critical efforts to dismantle nuclear weapons arsenals and the need for all of us to engage in the struggle to demilitarize our society – has motivated both commemorations of the 77th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 6th and 9th.

Henry Lowendorf Photo

We were reminded by the words that Secretary General of the UN António Guterres handed to the latest review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the UN that conventional wars, such as the one in Ukraine and the one that US efforts are trying to provoke in China, where the belligerents possess thousands of nuclear weapons, are but one misstep away from nuclear catastrophe.

We were reminded in words, poetry and song, that our own action, or inaction, today determines whether our government continues to spend most of our limited resources on weapons and war, or changes course to fund human needs; whether we assure our children and their children a livable future or not.

We were reminded that General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project which generated the first atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki, lied that it was pleasant to die by radiation poisoning. And that government leaders today, who are spending $2 trillion on building more and more “usable” nuclear weapons, continue to lie to make us believe that these weapons of mass destruction – the destruction of most life on planet earth – provide us with any kind of security.

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker spoke of ensuring the security of the future of his two small children. Former mayor Toni Harp explained how as a young girl she discovered her birthday was not the same as some famous movie star but the day the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were brutally snuffed out in the faraway city of Hiroshima.

Veterans for Peace Connecticut leader Jim Brasile informed us that the sailing ship Golden Rule will visit New Haven and other cities in Connecticut next spring. The Golden Rule has a marvelous history sailing the Pacific to highlight the threat of nuclear weapons and encourage action to abolish them. It will be here in May and June, 2023, to help us celebrate, contemplate and defend the right to live free of nuclear war.

As we commemorated the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and diplomats from around the world debated how to get the nuclear-weapons states to abide by their obligations under the NPT, our own government is spreading nuclear weapons technology to new territories in the Indo-Pacific. Peaceful Ocean indeed!

As residents and citizens of the only nation that has ever purposefully used nuclear weapons against civilians, we are obligated to actively demand that our leaders lead in rapidly abolishing them.
grnhpeacecouncil@gmail.com, https://nhpeacecouncil.org, 203-389-9547.

New Haven Peace Commission, New HOPE Housing Program, Newhallville Neighborhood to Celebrate International Day of Peace

by City of New Haven Peace Commission

In 1981 the United Nations General Assembly declared September 21 as the International Day of Peace. The Assembly established it as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.

To bring attention to the importance of this day, the City of New Haven Peace Commission for more than a decade has planted a tree on the grounds of a city school, library, or public space. This year, the New Haven Peace Commission, New HOPE Housing Program, and Newhallville neighborhood will join together with the international community to recognize the International Day of Peace by co-hosting a program at the new home of HOPE, 660 Winchester Avenue, New Haven.

The program has been planned jointly by Newhallville neighborhood organizations, Alder Devin Avshalom-Smith, Peace Commission members, Rev. Bonita Grubbs and staff of Christian Community Action, and new residents of HOPE. [The date of the program was not chosen before our newsletter went to print. The event will be during the week of Sept. 18. Contact the City of New Haven Peace Commission at nhpeacecommission@gmail.com.]

During the program, a permanent memorial to recognize International Day of Peace will be installed on the grounds of HOPE, near a specially-chosen tree, provided and planted by URI (Urban Resources Initiative) and the placement of a plaque nearby to commemorate the day. The tree is planted to remember those killed by gun violence in our communities and in wars abroad and to affirm the commitment of New Haven as a Peace Messenger City, for action toward peace and justice everywhere.

2022 Theme: End racism. Build peace. From the United Nations website for 2022 International Day of Peace: https://www.un.org/en/observances/international-day-peace.

Each year the International Day of Peace is observed around the world on 21 September. The UN General Assembly has declared this as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, through observing 24 hours of non-violence and cease-fire.

But achieving true peace entails much more than laying down arms. It requires the building of societies where all members feel that they can flourish. It involves creating a world in which people are treated equally, regardless of their race.

The Peace Garden Is Blooming!

by Frank Panzarella, volunteer at the Peace Garden

Great progress is being made in the West River neighborhood of New Haven in restoring the Peace Garden. Gladiolas, Echinacea, roses, butterfly flowers, flowering bushes, milkweed and more now adorn the site and new mulch is currently being spread to keep down the stubborn weeds.

All this requires many volunteers to weed, water and distribute the mulch. The Peace Garden sits at a gateway crossroad for New Haven and will be adjacent to a new housing construction project in the West River neighborhood.

Our thanks to members of the Peace Commission, URI, the West River Watershed Coalition, and residents of the West River neighborhood for their ongoing work at the garden.

We want to see this garden become a jewel in the revival of New Haven attractions and a portrait of our values in promoting world peace and peace within our own city. We are currently looking for ideas from the community as to what they would like to see in improving the layout of the garden.

Included in this garden is a significant donation from the City of Hiroshima: a Ginkgo tree taken from a cutting of a tree that survived the destruction of Hiroshima — a symbol of the tenacity of life.

We need your help to restore the beauty of this garden. Please come and volunteer to work. We meet every Friday from 9:30 to noon. The garden is located at the end of the Route 34 connector between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Legion Avenue, where they meet Ella Grasso Boulevard. For more information call 203-562-2798 or email frankpanzarella@hotmail.com.

Build Back Better: End the New Nuclear Arms Races

by The CT Committee for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

[Vice President Kamala Harris was met by demonstrators when she spoke in New London on May 18 at the graduation of the Coast Guard Academy. The following is from the email calling for people to join the demonstration.]

The Biden-Harris Administration proposed a new economic agenda to Build Back Better, investing in children and caregivers, affordable healthcare, housing, education, and clean energy technologies, while increasing jobs and improving our quality of life. However, billions of dollars are flowing into the modernization of nuclear weapons, including the Columbia-class submarine and weapons for Ukraine. While U.S. nuclear doctrine is “Mutually Assured Destruction,” the war in Ukraine fans nuclear tensions between the United States and Russia, who collectively possess more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. For more info, email: nuclearbanct@gmail.com.

The Voluntown Peace Trust posted the above photo and following update on its Facebook page.

The Voluntown Peace Trust posted the above photo and following update on its Facebook page.

This morning, as Vice President Kamala Harris spoke at the Coast Guard Academy commencement ceremony, 18 demonstrators gathered nearby with signs to remind the visiting Vice President of an important message: that we cannot adequately fund the national infrastructure at home while also funding war-making abroad at the same time.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the demonstration, and thanks to Jonathan Daly-LaBelle for the photo.

West River Peace Garden Needs Volunteers

by Frank Panzarella, volunteer at the Peace Garden

Through the hard work of the City of New Haven Peace Commission, New Haven became a United Nations Peace Messenger City several years ago. In recognition of this distinction, a Peace Garden was established in the West River neighborhood and work was done to lay out a sign and establish a design for the garden.

For several years the garden was tended by the West River Neighborhood Services Corporation, particularly by Stacy Spell, the Board President at that time, and occasionally other volunteers.

A volunteer tends to the New Haven Peace Garden

A volunteer tends to the New Haven Peace Garden

Since then, the original sign was replaced due to weather damage and a new team is working to make major improvements on the garden led by Aaron Goode.

This garden sits at a gateway crossroad for New Haven and will be adjacent to a vibrant new housing construction project in the West River neighborhood.

We want to see this garden become a jewel in the revival of New Haven attractions and a portrait of our values in promoting world peace and peace within our own city.

Included in this garden is a significant donation from the City of Hiroshima: a Ginkgo tree taken from a cutting of a tree that survived the destruction of Hiroshima — a symbol of the tenacity of life.

We need your help to restore the beauty of this garden. Please come and join us, and volunteer to work. We meet every Friday from 9:30 to noon. The garden is located at the end of the Route 34 connector between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Legion Avenue where they meet the Ella Grasso Boulevard. For more information call 203-562-2798 or email frankpanzarella@hotmail.com.

Stand Against War and Empires

Joan Cavanagh, New Haven Sunday Vigil

We condemn the Russian invasion and war against the people of Ukraine in the strongest terms. There is no justification for this new war in Putin’s quest for empire, with the terror, suffering and death it is inflicting on the innocent and the threat it brings of a wider war which puts the entire world at risk.

We condemn the U.S. and allied Western governments for their historical complicity in helping to create at least a partial pretext for this invasion, including their aggressive expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance in the post-Soviet world and their own long history of imperialist war-making.

We condemn the nine nuclear powers (the United States, Russia, France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea) for refusing to abolish nuclear weapons. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the global nuclear stockpile is close to 13,000. Together, the U.S. and Russia possess 90% of that stockpile. These weapons make a nuclear exchange a real and present danger in the current crisis.

The sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe are bringing more misery and hardship to the people of Russia. They, like the Ukrainians, are victims in Putin’s attempt to recreate the Russian Empire.

Jockeying for domination over the world’s resources benefits only a very small number of people-the 1% who already control most of the wealth on the planet- while killing, maiming, terrorizing, and displacing those who stand in their way. There are both shared as well as competing business interests among the members of that small percentage in this as in every crisis they foment.

We celebrate the brave Russians who are taking to the streets in protest against their government’s actions, risking not only arrest but, in many cases, their lives. We wish our fellow citizens would follow their example to protest our own government’s ongoing military incursions throughout the rest of the world.

We stand with the brave and suffering people of Ukraine.

Join our vigil to RESIST THIS ENDLESS WAR every Sunday, 12-1 p.m., Broadway, Park and Elm Streets, New Haven. https://newhavensundayvigil.wordpress.com.

To donate to humanitarian relief for Ukraine, go to the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee website (uuarc.org) and click on the “Donate Now” button. This is the quickest way to get much-needed help to the people. (Alternatively, you could send a check to the organization at 1206 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19111. Memo: “Victims of war in Ukraine.”)

Connecticut Activists Rally in Solidarity with Ukrainian Victims of the Russian Invasion

by Erwin Freed, Socialist Resurgence, March 8, 2022

[Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in its entirety at socialistresurgence.org/2022/03/08/connecticut-activists-rally-in-solidarity-with-ukrainian-victims-of-the-russian-invasion].

Responding to an international call initiated by major antiwar groups, activists in Connecticut organized an emergency protest at the Federal Court Building in New Haven in solidarity with Ukrainian victims of the ongoing Russian invasion on March 6. The main slogans of the international call, initiated by Code Pink and two British antiwar coalitions, were “Stop the War in Ukraine! Russian Troops Out! No to NATO expansion!” The international call also opposed U.S./EU sanctions against Russia, which are a way of waging war by economic means, and demanding opening borders to refugees.

Endorsers of the Sunday action included Unidad Latina en Acción, New Era Young Lords, Promoting Enduring Peace, Mending Minyon, 350CT, International Marxist Tendency (Socialist Revolution), Socialist Resurgence, and a number of individual members of local clergy, labor, and other social movement groups. The protest was quickly organized on an emergency basis in a collaborative manner with much collective discussion on slogans, speakers, and building activities by activists from endorsing groups. Despite the limited time to build the action and bad weather conditions, over 100 people showed up to listen to a broad range of speakers, to stand in solidarity with Ukrainians struggling against Russian occupation and against U.S./NATO intervention.

Speakers at the demonstration connected the war on Ukraine and mounting inter-imperialist militarism with a diverse range of different local and international issues. Stanley Heller of Promoting Enduring Peace kicked off the rally by denouncing the Russian invasion and calling for international solidarity for the Ukrainian people and Russian antiwar activists, as well as victims of imperialist violence in Syria and Yemen.

Melinda Tuhus, speaking on behalf of 350 Connecticut, spoke about the devastating human and environmental cost of militarism. Melinda pointed out how “the war in Ukraine highlights dirty energy’s role in destabilizing our geopolitics,” giving specific examples of how the war and responses by various countries and companies have horrific implications for the environment. This includes a planned increase in liquified natural gas by the United States, a type of fuel whose production releases methane emissions, which are 100 times worse for the climate than CO2. She pointed out that “militaries around the world, with the U.S. far in the lead, consume massive amounts of oil and gas” and that the U.S. military’s almost $800 billion budget should be converted to human needs.
Nika Zarazvand, a local Iranian activist involved with many struggles for justice, spoke about the devastating effects of sanctions for working and oppressed people. She mentioned her own experience: “As an immigrant from Iran, I am used to people not knowing anything about my country other than the talking points of sanctions and nuclear weapons.” She continued that her family members in Iran were unable to access COVID vaccines, PPE, and health care due to the crippling unilateral sanctions on Iran. In the U.S., Nika’s family members “are interrogated for over two hours at their own bank … because they send money to Iranian medical students in Ukraine.”

Update from Mark Colville of the Kings Bay Plowshares

[See past issues of PAR and visit kingsbayplowshares7.org for more information on the Kings Bay civil disobedience against nuclear weapons and the trial]

Mark’s Facebook posting of Feb. 3 Update: my noncompliance hearing in Hartford tomorrow morning is canceled!

At the eleventh hour comes a communique from the judge which reads in part:

“ORDER: The Court has been advised…that (1) restitution has been paid in full by Mr. Colville’s co-defendant [Translation: the government has already stolen the inheritance of one of my co-defendants against his will], (2) Probation does not object to the Court’s waiving the drug testing condition because Mr. Colville does not have a history warranting such a condition, and (3) Mr. Colville is otherwise responsive to the Probation Office, makes himself available for home and office visits, and is respectful and communicative… [I]t does not appear that there is a need to hold a hearing on any violation. Nor does the Court see why it would be productive to have a compliance review hearing in light of the above. If the Probation Department believes at some point in the future that such a hearing is necessary, it shall file on the docket either a violation report or a request for a compliance review hearing with a clear explanation setting forth the reasons such a hearing is necessary. Further, unless anyone objects within 7 days of this order, the drug testing condition will be considered waived. Accordingly, the violation hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow (2/4) is CANCELLED. Signed by Judge Michael P. Shea on 2/3/2022.”

To all the friends who were planning to come (tomorrow), I do apologize for the late notice and hope you check your social media before getting in the car. That said, it sure is nice to get a win once in a while! The Amistad Catholic Worker will celebrate tonight.

And tomorrow we will wake up again in a country that is still spending $100,000 per minute for the coming ten years on first-strike nuclear weapons. Indeed, we have work to do–especially in Connecticut, where a huge chunk of that money is being spent at the General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard in New London. So stay tuned for many more opportunities to resist this criminal government.
Peace and Joy and thanks… And the next round’s on me (in a really kind of wishful-thinking sort of way)!

Mark Colville

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