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Cuban Americans March From Miami to DC to Protest Against US Embargo

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – A group of US Cuban activists are marching throughout the country to protest against Washington’s longtime embargo on the island nation and draw attention to the suffering it has caused, group leader Carlos Lazo told Sputnik.

The White House has slammed the Cuban government for its crackdown on protests amid the country’s economic crisis and on Tuesday even threatened to sanction officials. President Joe Biden last week said the United States will not allow Americans to send money to relatives in Cuba.

“We are walking from Miami to Washington, DC 2,000 kilometers (1,300 miles) to protest against the embargo,” Lazo said. “In this journey, we are contacting and talking to every American that we can.”

Embargo Causes Suffering

US restrictions on trade with Cuba date back to the island nation’s communist revolution in the late 1950s and involve at least a half dozen different American laws. President Barack Obama took steps to normalize bilateral relations with the island, but the policy was reversed by the Trump administration.

“Most regulations have hurt overall Cuban people. For example, during the last two years, the Trump administration implemented sanctions and tightened sanctions that create suffering of the Cuban people,” Lazo said.

He accused former President Donald Trump of cutting programs that allowed ethnic Cubans living in the US to send money to their relatives in the island.

“Even the American embassy in Havana was closed, and now, if people want to get a visa and visit families, they have to deal with the difficulty of going to other countries to try to get those visas,” he said.

Lazo, 56, was born and spent half of his life in Cuba. He said he was imprisoned after the first failed attempt to run to the US, and came to Florida after his second in the late 1980s.

The decorated US Army veteran of the Iraq war noted that despite differences with the Cuban government he supports the people of Cuba.

“I have been the witness of all this suffering that the embargo has caused to the Cuban families during many years,” Lazo said. “The embargo was established with intent of overthrowing the Cuban government, but all the measures implemented by the embargo really hurt innocent Cuban people. I have seen that for so many years.”

In fact, the activists see the embargo as a major cause of the recent protests in Cuba.

“I think, these protests are fueled by the fact that this embargo has created desperation on the Cuban people [and] hunger,” Lazo said. “That made people to get desperate and go to the street because they do not have food, medications.”

Lifting the embargo will allow Americans to provide real support for the Cubans, he added.

Regular Americans Support Us

Speaking of the march itself, Lazo said they have serious support from everyday Americans.

“In our way, we have found support from many Americans, who find this blockade as something very unhuman and unjust,” he said, adding that the group of six activists does approximately 60 miles per day.

The activists are going to churches, local organizations and communities, explaining their position on the embargo. They already visited Orlando, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Raleigh and other big cities and small towns, Lazo said.

In North Carolina they were able to meet with members of the state Senate, he added.

“We are trying to talk to different organizations, people from different backgrounds, and Democrats, Republicans, veterans, peace activists,” the activist said.

While being in Washington, protesters plan to organize a peaceful rally in front of the White House and send a petition with 26,000 signatures to Biden urging him to lift the blockade, he added.

Death Threats

Lazo has emphasized that the group did not face problems with police on the way, but received some “warnings,” including death threats, from opponents.

“We have a peaceful march and do not see any opposition from the police on the way. We received only support from Americans,” he said. “However, in Miami in the beginning we got several threats, especially from those Cuban Americans who oppose our efforts.”

Some tried to hit group members with their car, other opponents sent death threats online, with many accusing them of sympathizing with communists.

Lazo said these accusations are not true.

“We are doing this rally as a work of love,” he concluded.



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Canadian police investigating Manitoba residential school abuse claims | Indigenous child graves

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A branch of Canada’s federal police force says it has spent the last decade conducting a “large-scale investigation” into allegations of sexual abuse at a former residential school.

On Tuesday, the Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it launched a criminal investigation in 2011, investigating claims that students were assaulted during their time at the Fort Alexander residential school.

The rare disclosure of an ongoing investigation was prompted by questions from the Winnipeg Free Press newspaper.

“Due to the many people affected by this investigation as well as the larger social implications, it was determined to be in the public interest to provide as much information on the ongoing investigation as we can,” the RCMP said in its news release.

At least 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools across the country, which were funded by the federal government and run by churches as part of the campaign to strip the youth of their cultural identity.

The Fort Alexander residential school, 125km (78 miles) north-east of Winnipeg, opened in 1905. Children often tried to run away from the institution, according to the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre. In 1928, two boys drowned while trying to escape by boat.

It was closed by the federal government in 1970. Elders have long spoken about abuse within the institution, including testifying at the country’s truth and reconciliation commission.

More than 80 RCMP officers have been involved in the investigation so far, which has involved speaking to more than 700 people across North America.

Investigators travelled to Ottawa to scour archival records from the school, as well as the province of Manitoba’s records. They also canvassed residents in the area where the school was located, on the grounds of the Sagkeeng First Nation.

Police obtained 75 witness and victim statements.

Grand chiefs of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Southern Chiefs’ Organization have worked closely with police on the investigation, as have the chief and council of the Sagkeeng First Nation.

In addition to testimony of abuse, survivors have long said children went missing or died while attending the school.

Last week, teams searched the grounds of Sagkeeng First Nation using a drone and ground-penetrating radar technology to look for human remains.

To date, more than 1,300 unmarked graves have been discovered on the grounds of former schools, prompting a national reckoning over Canada’s colonial past.

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EU urges Lebanon to form government ‘without delay’

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The EU called on Tuesday on Lebanon political leaders to form a government without delay, following the nomination of businessman Najib Mikati as prime minister. “It is now of crucial importance that a credible and accountable government is formed in Lebanon without delay, one that is able to address the severe economic and social crises the country is facing,” the EU said in a statement.

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Boeing With 165 People On Board Safely Lands in Simferopol After Reporting Engine Problems

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Russia

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MOSCOW (Sputnik) – A Boeing aircraft with 165 people on board is preparing for an emergency landing at Simferopol airport due to technical problems with its engine, an emergency services spokesperson said.

“A Boeing is preparing for an emergency landing in Simferopol, on board of which, according to preliminary information, there are 165 passengers,” the spokesperson said.

The aircraft, which performs a flight from Yakutia to Crimea, had vibration in one of the engines, he added.

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