NEW YORK.— While the Bush administration shows little interest in letting up on its icy policy towards Cuba, Harlem was once again the scene of a warm dialog this week between Cuban officials and people of the United States.
The Cuban delegation attending the 61st session of the UN General Assembly, headed by Vice President of the Council of State, Esteban Lazo Hernandez, was received by an enthusiastic public in Harlem.
"We know this neighborhood is the cradle of solidarity with the Cuban Revolution," said Lazo referring to the welcome provided there to Fidel Castro in September 1960 in response to the cold shoulder from the US government during his first visit to the UN.
During the massively attended reception for the Cuban authorities, overflowing the large hall in front of the altar of the Intersection Church, Rev. Lucius Walker, executive director of the Pastors for Peace Foundation, declared that Cuba deserves much gratitude.
"We thank Cuba for the doctors and experts it was ready to send to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina but that the Bush government did not accept," he said.
Rev. Walker also thanked Cuba for the full scholarships provided to 110 young people from US from low-income families to study medicine on the island.
National Lawyers Guild Executive Director Heidi Bogosian spoke about the case of the Cuban Five —anti-terrorist fighters imprisoned in the US for protecting their nation from terrorist activities organized in Florida.
She condemned the illegitimate legal process they have undergone and announced the celebration of a march to take place on Saturday in Washington to demand their immediate release.
Vice President Esteban Lazo called the sentences against the Cuban Five immoral and a demonstration of the hate the Bush administration shows towards the Cuban Revolution. The same hate used to intensify the blockade and introduce epidemics, and that inspired the terrorist attack against a Cuban passenger plane killing 73 people in 1976, Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said.
The audience burst into happy applause when Perez Roque reported that President Fidel Castro was recovering perfectly after his delicate operation and a group of young people delivered congratulations to the president for his recent 80th birthday.
Still more applause greeted Lazo’s remark that “the first in the trenches is Fidel Castro,” reported Prensa Latina.