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Issue #1695      July 29, 2015

“A turning point in history”

Kenia Serrano Puig is a member of the National People’s Assembly of the Republic of Cuba. She has been President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) for six years. She has represented Cuba in a number of countries, participating in international conferences and bilateral visits. Kenia was recently a guest speaker at the National Consultation of the Australia & NZ-Cuba Friendship Societies held on June 6-8 in Sydney. Between sessions, she spoke to the Guardian.

Kenia Serrano Puig addresses the ACFS National Consultation, Sydney June 6.

Guardian: December 17 has become a day of historical importance to the Cuban people. Could you please outline why it is so significant?

Kenia: It is the day when our president Raul Castro and the US president Obama announced their decision to take steps to resume diplomatic relations with the aim in the long term of normalising Cuba-US relations.

Of course it was a very important announcement because [the remaining three] of the Cuban Five were freed thanks to those talks that had been taking place over the previous 18 months.

So one of the things that as a solidarity movement we consider the world should hear is that the US government has recognised the failure of their policy on Cuba. President Raul also thanked the international solidarity movement with Cuba that all the Five are now free. It is a testament to that support and the result of our strength as a people, our resistance, our unity as a people.

So I think it is a very important moment in the history of Cuba. Of course you cannot see December 17 as the end of a process. I think it is a very important turning point in our history.

You have to see that it is going to be a process, a very long process. It is not going to be solved in a few talks. It is going to be solved step by step, and of course it depends on the real actions the US government takes to reflect on and rectify the failed policy that they have had on Cuba for the past 50 years or more.

Guardian: Some people think that the December 17 announcement means the US blockade has been lifted. Have the announcements made any difference to the blockade?

Kenia: Well not exactly. The blockade is still there, still in place. In the announcement made by Obama, he said they were going to engage the US Congress in order to lift the US blockade. It is the Congress where the blockade should be lifted; it’s codified by law. We expect it to happen, but nothing has happened yet.

So Cuba is suffering the impact of the US blockade in economic terms, in financial terms, in trade and in many other social and economic aspects. Of course we ask people around the world to keep struggling and campaigning against the blockade until it is lifted.

Guardian: It is the 55th anniversary of ICAP. How important do you feel ICAP has been with its solidarity work?

Kenia: Firstly, ICAP was created in 1960, and we are very proud to be one of those pioneer institutions to be created in 1960 following the Revolution.

Fifty-five years after that I believe the Revolution is still very strong. I believe that ICAP has contributed tremendously to that strength.

Fidel created an institution for solidarity and friendship with the peoples. We have many institutions, and there is this one that was specially created in order to give and receive solidarity and to give and receive friendship.

We have a network of more than 2,000 associations in 152 countries of the world, it is a huge network. That network exists because the Revolution is strong, because that Revolution is here.

That every person who is willing to defend Cuba is doing that, because they are inspired by Cuba and the achievements of the Cuban Revolution. So ICAP feels very proud of our work and ICAP is very committed to the future of the Cuban Revolution because we know that without solidarity we won’t go anywhere.

We need solidarity to continue our Revolution.

Guardian: I understand that you have visited Canberra during your stay here. What sort of reception did you receive? How do you think Cuba is perceived?

Kenia: I had a very good program in Canberra, now I am in Sydney and I am also going to Melbourne for a public event. The reception has been excellent. I have been talking to various members of Parliament.

I was welcomed by the Speaker, by the president of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, and also by Julie Bishop, the Foreign Affairs Minister. Of course I have met with the Latin American diplomatic corps, with the various friends of Cuba in Canberra.

Here in Sydney I am participating in the National Consultation in Solidarity with Cuba. It has been organised by the Australia & NZ-Cuba Friendship Societies.

I can tell you from my perspective it is amazing the way that people here, so far from Cuba, understand Cuba. There have been many reports about activities done in Australia. Also Jack Beetson spoke about the experience of the Yes I Can program in Australia. A doctor from Timor Leste who graduated in Cuba also came to the Consultation to explain what she has been doing in Timore Leste since she graduated, together with hundreds of other East Timorese.

Believe me, it’s days like this that allow us to believe it is worthwhile, that the Cuban Revolution is very strong. We have been able to multiply our solidarity efforts internationally and that’s why we are encouraged to continue doing things like this.

I would like to thank all the people here, those from the Latin community in Australia, from many other countries and Cubans living here in Australia. I feel there is a positive perception of Cuba here and I hope that positive perception results in many more important actions and campaigns to continue the struggle against the blockade and for Cuban solidarity.

Next article – Victories out of resilience – Final Statement of the National Consultation of ACFS

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