Hello Family. My name is Gail Walker and on behalf of IFCO — the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization based in Harlem New York — I bring you warm revolutionary greetings on this African Liberation Day 2020.
For more than 50 years, IFCO has worked to support social progress by challenging injustice and fighting against repression.
In its early years IFCO worked to build a domestic agenda for change – organizing the National Black Economic Development Conference, supporting Farm Labor organizers, and standing solidarity with the American Indian Movement. In the 1970s and 80s IFCO worked to make global connections for justice supporting African Liberation Movements in opposition to apartheid, training organizers at the Amilcar Cabral Institute and fighting famine in western Africa. During the 80s and 90s we struggled to resist the empire at home and abroad. Throughout Central America and the Caribbean we organized caravans through our special project Pastors for Peace supporting struggles in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Chiapas Mexico, and Haiti.
And for the past 30 years we have stood in solidarity with revolutionary Cuba — organizing Friendshipment caravans and educational delegations as well as facilitating Cuba’s medical school scholarship program which has graduated tens of thousands of doctors from more than 125 nations including 185 from the United States — most of them black and brown practicing medicine in underserved communities across the globe. The Latin American School of Medicine know by its Spanish acronym ELAM was the vision of Fidel Castro and has helped to transform health care in every corner of the globe.
Tiny Cuba, with its limited resources, has always offered to share what it has with the rest of the world. A current example of this generosity is Cuba’s effort to share its medical help to fight the coronavirus. Cuba has sent medical brigades to countries to help curb the pandemic. We’ve seen plane loads of Cuban medical professionals in China, Italy, Suriname, South Africa among others – all risking their lives to help fight this deadly virus.
And this isn’t the first time Cuba has offered this kind of self-less assistance. In fact, Cuba has never wavered in her support of those who have struggled for self-determination or were in need of assistance across the globe. One of the earliest well known campaigns was in South Africa, Fighting along-side African freedom fighters, Cuban soldiers struggled intensely to crush the racist South African Army in the fight against apartheid.
Indeed, one phrase many of us have heard is “when Africa called, Cuba answered”. Not just in the fight against apartheid, but throughout the sixty years of Cuba’s revolution. Most recently there was the brave commitment of Cuban doctors to fight the deadly Ebola crisis in Western Africa. But historically Cuba’s international reach has stretched much further than Africa. We can never forget revolutionary Cuba’s focus on exporting doctors and in some cases engineers to offer a critical life-line wherever disaster struck – from the devastating hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua and Honduras, to the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti; from the horrific Chernobyl nuclear disaster in present day Ukraine to the deadly tsunami in Indonesia…Cuba was there….as she was in Mexico, Puerto Rico, Brazil and the list goes on and on.
These are just some of the contributions that socialist Cuba has made to the world all while enduring the US government’s genocidal blockade for more than six decades.
It is so appropriate that this year’s African Liberation Day highlights the brutal impact of sanctions on Zimbabwe, Cuba and Venezuela and rightly describes them as vicious acts of war that all justice-loving people must fight.
IFCO joins in this struggle against global injustice that has historically been perpetrated against people of African decent. We see this injustice played out today in too many arenas: in the world’s so-called criminal justice system, in the disproportionate impact of the current coronavirus pandemic and in the present day lynching of black people across the globe.
But we refuse to believe that we as a people are powerless. We choose to embrace the beauty and the power of Africans across the diaspora who are fighting for racial, social and economic justice. Supporting the struggles of oppressed people in the pursuit of justice and self-determination. This, my friends, is our collective commitment to our family; some of whom are living, many of whom have passed away and most of whom are yet unborn.
Let us celebrate today family, the enduring power of peace, justice and dignity that is our birthright.
Long Live all nations who have suffered under imperialist sanctions.
Together we must fight and together we will win!