Monday, May 2, 2016

Reflections on the Free Cuba Protest Flotilla

 "Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." - Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964 

Freedom Flotilla protests discriminatory visa policies of the Castro regime
Active non-violence is not easy but it beats violent resistance in two areas: 1) There is a higher cost in responding to nonviolent resistance with violence and repression. 2) Committing violence exerts a greater psychological toll that makes it more difficult to mobilize large numbers of persons compared to nonviolent action.

However, despite these two advantages nonviolence is not a magic bullet. Active non-violence needs the development of tactics and strategy to be successful. You can't beat a plan without a plan. The first step is to have a vision of where you want to go.

In the campaign generated over the Carnival Cruise to Cuba, that initially accepted discriminating against Cuban-borns, refusing to sell them tickets to satisfy the demands of the Castro regime. Ramon Saul Sanchez of the Democracy Movement has a vision of where he wants to go: "I'm sure that someday all the walls will come down and new bridges will be built, and Cubans will be able return to their homeland," said Ramón Saul Sánchez.

Mass protests, law suits and negative press led to Carnival first backing down and selling tickets to Cuban-borns stating that if the Cuban government did not allow this group of travelers to enter Cuba because of their national origin then the cruise would be called off on May 1st.  A short while later the Castro regime announced that it would permit Cuban-borns to travel to Cuba on the cruise ship ending this discriminatory practice.

Prior to all this the Democracy Movement had announced a "protest flotilla" against Carnival for discriminating against travelers of Cuban origin. However when Carnival changed its stance the tone and mobilization of the protest was lessened.

Nevertheless the protest continued, although no longer directed at Carnival, but to highlight the continued discrimination by the Castro regime. Ramón Saul Sánchez called on the Cuban dictatorship that in the same way that they ended "the discriminatory regulation that impeded a Cuban to enter or exit by sea that they now take a second step" and end the obligation of Cubans to obtain a visa explaining that "they are instruments to get money and to discriminate."

The challenge was then made that if the discriminatory practice were not repealed, Miami exiles would organize a larger protest flotilla with the objective to reach the coasts of Cuba.

Shift in tone after Carnival's change

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