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NNOC Fall Meeting Report

The fall meeting of the National Network On Cuba was held on October 31 and November 1, 2009 in Richmond CA, a city of 100,000 in the Bay Area of San Francisco, CA.  

There were approximately 40 people in attendance, and about 10 groups represented, mostly from the Bay Area.  Groups included MN Cuba Committee, July 26th Coalition from Boston, Socialist Worker Party, Marin Interfaith Task Force, Socialist Action, National Committee to Free the Cuban 5, International Committee to Free the Five, and individuals not representing groups.   

Richmond was chosen in part because of the strong support from the Mayor's Office to the Richmond/Regla Sister City Project (one of the oldest sister city organizations) and their support of the Cuban 5 and the campaign to obtain visas for the family of the 5. Alicia Jrapko has worked with the Mayor and the Sister City group and was a great help in setting up the meeting and helping it run smoothly.

The Sister City group had about 10 people present at the meeting.  They also assisted with arranging the meeting location and logistics.  The Richmond/Regla Sister City group had applied to the US for a license to travel to Cuba.  They were planning to go to Cuba in early November and their delegation included the Mayor of Richmond, Gayle McLaughlin.  Their request was denied by the US State Department.  The Mayor attended the meeting, welcomed the NNOC, and reported on the denial and inquired about steps to reapply, etc.  We then heard a report on the history and plans of the Richmond/Regla Sister City including their links with churches and schools in both communities.  

A discussion and report on the issue of travel then followed; this included licenses to travel to Cuba and visas for Cubans traveling to the US for cultural and academic purposes.  A report was given on the travel challenges of 2009 including the VB, IFCO, US/Cuba Labor Exchange, Vilma Espin Brigade, and the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party delegations and the experiences crossing back to the US.

We had a report on Legislation to remove the travel ban.  Bobbie and Placido Salazar updated the progress in the Congress and Senate.  We need to work on the Senate, especially Harry Reid.  Bobbie and Placido are working with Latino organization in Nevada and encouraged the NNOC to meet there. Continue to contact Congress and urge Representative and Senators to co sponsor legislation.  Senate Bill S428 and House Bill HB874.

We had a discussion about including Cuba and Cubans at the upcoming US Social Forum which will take place in Detroit in June.  Both Sobukwe and Louis are on committees working on the Forum.

We followed this with a tribute to Patsy Behrend which was attended by several of her friends and family including her husband.  Letters from the Cuban Interest Section and the ICAP were read.   

The afternoon including reports on the work on the Five from Gloria and Alicia who reported on the resentencing in Miami of Antonio.  Gloria also reported on the FOIA process. Cindy O'Hara, an attorney from Oakland, who attended the resentencing also added legal information on sentencing guidelines.  

We had a dinner with the Mayor and about 20 people from the meeting at a Richmond restaurant on Saturday evening.   

Sunday included primarily NNOC business issues.  Igancion Meneses, founding co chair from Detroit has resigned and we acknowledged his contributions and read his letter of resignation.   

An election was held for co chairs. Nalda and Sobukwe were reelected.  There was another candidate, Randi Poindexter from New Orleans.  Louis has spoken with her and will encourage her to attend a NNOC meeting so we can learn about each others work and interests.

Work continued on ideas about the US Social Forum.  We will start a working group and schedule conference calls.   

A proposal was made to change the by laws to eliminate the need to elect co chairs from specific regions. Rather the co chairs will be elected at large and assigned specific geographic areas.  This will be voted on at the next meeting.  

Website report was read. Website continues to generate a lot of interest.   We received a $58 referral fee from Amazon for book purchases made through the NNOC website. Steve welcomes all who would like to work on the website.  

Next meeting date and place was discussed including having meeting as part of the Social Forum in June in Detroit and taking place just before or just after it.  

Proposal for a demonstration in DC for an end to travel ban was made from Ike Nahem of NYC. Proposal was discussed; no action taken.

Meeting adjourned at about 12:00 noon


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