The following greetings were sent by Mumia Abu-Jamal to the Sept. 8 address by Fidel Castro at Riverside Church in Harlem.
Ona Move! On behalf of the committee to welcome the Cuban delegation to the Millennium Summit and their supporters in various communities, we say bien venidos, mis amigos y amigas de Cuba. Bien venidos.
We welcome His Excellency el Presidente Fidel Castro, members of the honored Cuban delegation, and the members of the welcoming committee that organized this event and made it possible.
Bien venidos. We welcome you to the historic Riverside Church of Harlem. This is an important moment in history. For as the late revered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.”
It is time for us all to recognize the futility of the blockade that continues to stifle Cuban economic life. In a time when the watchword on every major politician’s lips is “free trade,” how can such a thing as the blockade, a naked restraint of trade if ever there was one, be maintained?
It is an anachronism, a rusty tool of the Cold War era, due for storage in a dusty museum of another century. It should be joined by the Cuban Adjustment Act, another Cold War relic of another age, another time.
If lawmakers were honest, it would be called the Cuban Destruction Act, for it lures poor and desperate people into the shark-infested, treacherous waters of the Florida Keys.
Every empire in the world has acted like an economic magnet for poor people on the periphery. but it is inhumane to set up a system that treats their survival like a deadly obstacle course. Like the blockade, the stalled Cuban Adjustment Act punishes free trade and also forbids free travel by Americans to that island just 90 miles offshore. It too is an idea whose time has past.
We gather today to join our voices to the swelling chorus of millions calling for an end to the blockade, repeal of Helms-Burton, and an end to the travel ban. The recent American media fever over Elian has provided an invaluable opening for those like the late Philadelphia activist Bob Simpson who want to bring some sanity to an American-born policy that is muddled in madness.
Take heart, for madness cannot last forever. Even the most raging fever will break. You are all the breath of fresh air that is signaling the return of sanity to Cuban-U.S. relations. So again, bien venidos, we welcome you.
We also want to thank you for your continuing resistance to the empire, for four decades of remaining true to the revolution; for building a system where education is a fundamental human right; for aiding in the long and arduous fight to free South Africa from the obscenity called apartheid; for providing a home for fugitives from the prison house of nations, like Assata Shakur, like Mahanda, like the late Dr. Huey P. Newton, and briefly, Eldridge Cleaver. We thank you and we welcome you to Riverside.
Ona Move! Viva Fidel! Viva la Revolucion!
Viva John Africa!
From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.