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Congressional Black Caucus

Currently headed by Rep Maxine Waters, (D) Los Angeles, the Black Caucus has long had an interest in Cuban affairs.  Rep Charles Rangel is their point person on Cuba as he was on Haiti.

The 6 member February CBC delegation has arrived in Havana on the heels of TransAfrica's watershed January Cuba visit. They include the Chair, Vice Chair and Whip of the CBC and will be in Cuba until Feb 22.  The visit was organized by Pastors for Peace's Lucius Walker, who accompanied the delegation.

See also Congresswoman Lee on little Elian, 3/1/00

CBC Cuba Delegation meets with Castro for 6 hrs, 2/99

Black Caucus Delegation visits Cuba, meets with Castro, Robaina, 2/20/99 Andy Petit

Delegation meets with Foreign Minister Robaina
, 2/99


Congressional Black Caucus Meeting Marks A Turning Point, 9/21/00


The truth about Cuba has finally gotten through to the U.S. Congress. This is especially true after the recent participation of a Cuban Parliament delegation, as special invited guests, in the Annual Convention of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus, held last week in Washington. The Cuban lawmakers explained the difficult situation in Cuba brought about by Washington's 40-year blockade against the island.

Six Cuban deputies were given permission by the U.S. State Department to travel to Washington to participate in the Black Caucus meeting, though U.S. officials denied travel visas to other Cuban lawmakers who had been also invited to participate, including Cuban Parliament
President Ricardo Alarcon.

The unprecedented participation of Cuban legislators in an annual convention of the African-American sector of the U.S. Congress, has had great repercussions in the U.S. media, which termed the visit as a turning point in relations between the U.S. and Cuban legislative

Another important meeting, this one to examine the U.S. blockade against Cuba, was held earlier this week also in Washington. The U.S. International Trade Commission met to hear the testimony of representatives of the American business community and to determine the impact of the blockade on the U.S. economy.

The Head of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, Fernando Remirez de Estenoz, attended the Commission hearing. The Cuban diplomat reiterated that the U.S. economic war against Cuba is part of Washington's continued attempts to destroy the Cuban Revolution.
Participants in the meeting of the U.S. International Trade Commission pointed to the double standard of U.S. foreign policy, asking why, if Washington trades with Communist China and Vietnam, does it refuse to trade with Cuba.

During the 30th Annual Convention of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Caucus' 38 African-American congressional representatives, publicly took, for the first time, a strong position against the blockade and in favor of radical changes in Washington's aggressive
policy towards Cuba.

The U.S. lawmakers also expressed their satisfaction with an offer made by Cuban President Fidel Castro to grant up to 500 scholarships annually so that young Americans from low-income families can study medicine free-of-charge in Cuba.

In a recent speech at the Riverside Church in Harlem, while participating in the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York, the Cuban leader explained that the medical scholarships are aimed at the Third World that exists inside the United States itself. That is, said President Castro, Afro-Americans, Latinos and other minorities who live in the World's richest country, but who are deprived of every opportunity and face difficulties and hardships exactly like those in Third World nations.

(c) 2000 Radio Habana Cuba, NY Transfer News. All rights reserved.

Castro offers Black Caucus medical training for US poor, 6/4

Castro To Offer Medical Training
By The Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba is ready to give free medical training to low-income Americans who could then return to the United States and provide treatment to the poor and underserved, Fidel Castro said Sunday during a meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Castro also told the black lawmakers that while he supports their work, he's disenchanted with U.S. presidential politics. In a wide-ranging meeting that went into the early morning hours, the Cuban leader also said he hoped the United States would relax its 38-year-old trade embargo against his small island nation.

Castro offered the medical training after Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson told him that parts of his Mississippi Delta congressional district has an infant mortality rate second in the United States only to Washington D.C.

``It would be hard for your government to oppose such a program,'' Castro said. ``It would be a trial for them. Morally, how could they refuse?''

Castro also said he was hopeful about recent moves in Congress to lift restrictions on American sales of food and medicine to Cuba.

The Congressional Black Caucus, 36 voting black House members, have long supported easing the trade sanctions. They have been joined in recent months by some Republicans and business groups seeking new markets for their goods. The 73-year-old communist leader wore his trademark olive green uniform and spoke without prepared notes on a number of topics.

Castro also thanked the Black Caucus for its support for returning 6-year-old castaway Elian Gonzalez to his father in Cuba.

Black U.S. Lawmakers Visit Cuba, 5/31

Associated Press Writer

HAVANA (AP) - Members of the Congressional Black Caucus began a five-day visit to Cuba on Wednesday to explore the prospect of relaxing the United States' 38-year-old economic embargo against the communist country.

The possibility of easing the embargo may have gained strength in the aftermath of the Elian Gonzalez case and a recent House vote to give China status as a normal trade partner, members said.

``Like no other time before, we are seeing different groups, like some Republicans, farm interests, church groups and others starting to push to end the embargo,'' said Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., who is leading the delegation of three. ``Our country is ready to re-examine our Cuba policy.''

Clyburn, along with Reps. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., and Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., planned to meet with government ministers, educators and business people and tour the city of Santiago de Cuba, the island's center of Afro-Caribbean culture.

Clyburn said that representatives of the 38 black members in Congress had planned this visit to Cuba for more than a year - before the Gonzalez case focused American attention on U.S.-Cuban relations and before last week's landmark vote to grant permanent, normal trade status to China.

Several farmers groups, seeking new markets for their goods, have made visits to the island in recent months and are pushing members of Congress to dismantle or substantially weaken the embargo imposed by President Kennedy in 1962. They at  least want Americans to be allowed to sell food and medicine to Cuba.

Over the opposition of Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, the House will vote later this month on a provision in an agricultural bill to license U.S. sales of food and medicine to Cuba as long as they aren't subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.

Supporters of the embargo maintain it is necessary to punish Fidel Castro's government and help foster internal opposition to his 41-year rule. But Thompson said he doubted a few more years of the embargo would succeed where the previous decades of choking off trade had failed.

``I don't think Castro is going anywhere,'' Thompson said. ``I think the only people who are suffering (from the embargo) are the seniors and the children.''

While Cuba has received rising numbers of U.S. lawmakers over the past year, black lawmakers share an especially warm relationship with Cuban officials. Cuban officials and members of the delegation exchanged warm embraces and joked in the early morning hours Wednesday on arrival at Jose Marti International Airport. This marks the fifth visit by members of the black caucus in the last 18 months.

Rev. Lucius Walker, executive director of Pastors for Peace, a New York-based nonprofit church group which organized the lawmakers' visit, said that if any silver lining could be seen from the battle over 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez, it is heightened awareness of the Cuban embargo among Americans.  Gonzalez was found floating at sea Thanksgiving Day off the Florida coast and was placed in the temporary custody of relatives in Miami. They sought to keep the boy from returning to Cuba despite the wishes of his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez. Now both sides await a court ruling that will determine where the boy lives.

``As traumatic as it was (for) Elian and his family, the positive is that more and more people are seeing the cruelty of the blockade,'' Walker said. ``If we didn't have this blockade, the Elian situation wouldn't have happened. And people are listening to that message now.''  

Barbara Lee of the Congressional Black Caucus
leads panel discussion on US - Cuba policy - 5/8/99 in Berkeley, CA

SATURDAY May 8, 1999

"Cuba Town Hall Meeting" Congresswoman Barbara Lee to Sponsor
Berkeley, CA at 1 pm to 3:00 pm at La Peña
Cultural Center in Berkeley, CA.

U.S. Congressperson Barbara Lee will lead a panel discussion on US-Cuba policy on Saturday May 8. The following speakers will join Congressperson Lee in leading the discussion:

Maudelle Shirek, Vice-Mayor of Berkeley
Ignacio de la Fuente, Vice-Mayor of Oakland
Henry Chang, Oakland City Councilmember
Jane Brunner, Oakland City Councilmember
Professor Alex Saragosza, Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC-Berkeley
Tom Miller, Board of Directors, Global Exchange

Location: La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley

For More Information: Call Charles Bradshaw at Congressperson Lees' Oakland office at (510) 763-0370


Radion Havana Cuba

Havana, February 18, 1999 (RHC)-- A delegation of representatives from the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus arrived in Havana on Wednesday for a working visit.  Upon the group's arrival at Jose Marti International Airport, Maxine Waters, a Democratic representative from the State of California [Chair, CBC], stated that one of the principal objectives of the visit is to see, first-hand, the effects of Washington's economic blockade against the island.

The delegation is made up of Representatives Sheila Jackson from Texas [Whip, CBC], Barbara Lee of California, Julie Carson from Indiana, Gregory Meeks from New York and Earl Hilliardof Alabama [Vice Chair, CBC]. 

Representative Maxine Waters, who is heading the delegation, stated that many of the congressional representatives already have some information about Cuba. But she hoped that additional facts would help the Black Caucus take a leading role in introducing legislation to change current U.S. policies toward Cuba.

Jorge Lezcano, President of the International Relations Commission of the Cuban Parliament, received the U.S. congressional representatives upon their arrival in Havana.   Lezcano told reporters that the visiting members of the Congressional Black Caucus plan to meet with Cuban lawmakers and other government officials. He added that during their stay on the island, the U.S. delegation will also visit places of cultural and historic interest.

Info on Cuba 2/99 delegation

Maxine Waters CA Chair, CBC
Sheila Jackson TX Whip, CBC
Barbara Lee CA
Julie Carson IN
Gregory Meeks NY
Earl Hilliard AL Vice Chair, CBC

Black Caucus Delegation visits Cuba, meets with Castro, Robaina

La Habana, Feb. 20, 1999 Andy Petit
The leadership of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus visits Cuba to evaluate the U.S. embargo, meets with Castro

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, and Chair of the Black Caucus, Rep. Earl Hilliard, D-Alabama,Vice Chair of the CBC, and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, Whip of the CBC, were joined by 3 additional CBC members and others in a delegation that arrived in Cuba on Feb 17th.

Representative Waters told reporters that CBC members want to analyze the effects of the U.S.-imposed embargo in preparation for a debate in the U.S. Congress which is likely to occur in the next three months.  Waters said: "We have come with our minds open to study the impact of the embargo on the Cuban population.  We hope to exercise some leadership, even a modest amount, in the future debates on a resolution about U.S-Cuban relations."

The legislators' visit was organized by the US based Pastors for Peace, headed by the Rev. Lucius Walker, who accompanied the delegation.  They have organized several aid "caravans" in the United States to collect supplies and take them to the island.

The representatives will meet with their Cuban counterparts and travel throughout the country until Feb. 22. Besides the three CBC leaders, the delegation includes Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.), Rep. Julia Carson (Ind.), and Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (N.Y.) as well as legislative aids, community leaders, business people and journalists. The delegation plans to meet with the president of the International Relations Parliamentary Commission, Jorge Lezcano, other legislators and the Economy and Tourism ministers.  They will also visit hospitals as well as cultural and historic centers.

On Thursday, February 18th, the group met with Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina and held a question and answer session with him. The Cuban domestic news agency AIN said the encounter covered Washington's "aggressive policy" toward Cuba and the effects of the long-running U.S. economic embargo against the communist-ruled island.   Robaina also talked about what he called the "enormous misinformation" about Cuba in the mainstream U.S. media.

Late Friday, February 19th, the group met with President Fidel Castro for 6 hours. There have as yet been no details on the meeting in the Cuban press. Vice President Carlos Lage and Ricardo Alarcon, president of the parliament, were also present.

The group returns to the US on Monday.

Delegation meets with Foreign Minister Robaina


Havana, February 19, 1999 (RHC)-- Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina met in Havana with visiting members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus. Members of the Black Caucus arrived in Havana Wednesday evening to observe first-hand the effects of Washington's economic war against Cuba.

During the meeting, Robaina commented on the immense disinformation published by the U.S. press about Cuba. He said, however, that despite four decades of Washington's hostility towards the island, Cubans respect and admire the American people.

The members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus -- accompanied by Pastors for Peace leader Reverend Lucius Walker, legislative aides, community leaders and journalists -- recognized Cuba's achievements in the areas of health and education.

This first Black Caucus delegation to visit Cuba is made up of congressional Representatives Maxine Waters and Barbara Lee of California, Sheila Jackson of Texas, Julie Carson from Indiana, Gregory Meeks of New York and Earl Hilliard of Alabama.


The Congressional Black Caucus

Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.


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