Cuba Study Group of Santa Cruz

The Cuba Study Group works with other organizations to advocate for an end to the U.S. blockade of Cuba and to promote the free exchange of ideas with the Cuban people. We sponsor educational events to learn about Cuban history, culture and social programs. We advocate normalization of US/Cuba relations and respect for Cuban sovereignty.

We sponsor educational events such as lectures and films and music events. Many of the people in this group have been to Cuba and are glad to share information with people who want to travel to Cuba. We have an email list to inform people of coming events.

For more information contact Takashi Yogi 831-475-2715
or email

Click here to return to Takashi Yogi's home page

What's New


Cruzin' Cuba Film and Lecture Series

The Cuba Study Group sponsors a monthly event on the third Thursday.

The next event is a lecture by noted scholar Isaac Saney, who is on the faculty of Dalhousie University in Hallifax and has written a book Cuba, A Revolution in Motion.

Thursday April 21, 2005, 7:00 pm. Santa Cruz Live Oak Grange, 1900 17th Ave.

Suggested donation $5.

Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba

The Cuba Study Group is sponsoring the caravan that will be passing through Santa Cruz Cruz. We will be raising funds and collecting materials to send to Cuba. There will be a yard sale at the Live Oak Grange, April 30. Call 475-2715 to donate items or to help.



Let Cuba Live - End the Embargo

Did You Know?...

* The United States is the only country in the world that prohibits trade
with Cuba.

* All other countries are prevented from freely trading with Cuba by U.S.
sanctions. For example, the U.S. restricts ships from our ports that have
delivered goods to Cuba, reduces aid to countries by the amount of their
Cuban sugar imports, bans exports of foreign-made products to Cuba if they
contain U.S.-origin components, prohibits subsidiaries of U.S.
from trading with Cuba, and sues executives of foreign firms that invest in
properties once owned by U.S. companies.

*The UN General Assembly has voted every year since 1992 to condemn the
embargo for violating the trading sovereignty of other countries. In 1999,
the vote was 157 to 2, with only Israel supporting the U.S. position.

* While citizens of other countries can travel freely to Cuba, U.S.
are threatened with prison terms and fines by our own government for
this freedom (specifically, for spending money in Cuba).

* Despite three decades of embargo, the Cuban Revolution between 1959 and
mid-1990's increased life expectancy from 55 to 76 years and decreased
mortality from 60 per 1,000 live births to 9.4 -- roughly half the rate of
Washington, D.C.! Illiteracy was reduced in just one year (1961) from 25 to
3.1%. In the past decade, however, loss of Soviet bloc trade combined with
extreme tightening of the embargo threatens those gains and causes great
suffering for the average Cuban.

* The American Association for World Health reported in 1997 that the
has severely impacted Cuban health since passage of the Torricelli Act in
1992. New provisions restricted Cuban access to less than 50% of medicines
available on the world market and increased shipping costs to obtain
medicines from more distant countries by $8.7 million. Effects of the
stringent new rules included a 33% drop in daily caloric intake, a 1993
neuropathy epidemic that temporarily blinded 50,000 Cubans, nutritional
deficits in pregnant women, and an increase in mortality rates from heart

* The embargo is opposed by a widely diverse group of individuals and
organizations, including the Organization of American States, the European
Union, the Pope, the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the
editorial boards of numerous newspapers.

* Although support for the embargo has been bipartisan, Congressional
opposition is beginning to mount. In 1999, a bill allowing trade in food
medicine attracted a significant number of supporters, including local
Representative Farr and Senators Boxer and Feinstein, before being killed
committee. However, bills to completely lift the embargo, normalize
and restore our right to free travel languished.

* You can make a difference! Huge problems can make us feel powerless, but
there are many things you can do -- big and small, public and private -- to
oppose this inhumane policy.

What You Can Do --  Ideas and Resources:

Educate Yourself
Following are some good books and periodicals. Pass on what you've learned
talk to a friend, write a letter to the editor, contact your

*Perspectives on Cuba and Its People by Theodore Braun. 1999. National
Council of Churches, Friendship Press: New York. Includes an extensive list
of books, videos, films, and Cuba-related organizations.

* Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History by Jane Franklin.
Melbourne: Ocean Press.

* The Greening of the Revolution by Peter Rosset and Medea Benjamin. 1997.
Melbourne: Ocean Press.

* Cuba Update, published periodically by the Center for Cuban Studies, 124
23 St., New York, NY 10011. Tel.: 212-242-0559. Website:
* Food First News & Views. Quarterly newsletter. 398 60th St., Oakland, CA

Make A Donation
Support organizations that provide humanitarian aid to Cuba.

* Buy solidarity coffee from the Thanksgiving Coffee Company that sells
organic coffee
that is fair-traded and shade-grown.  Fifteen cents for each pack goes to
Global Exchange to
sponsor educational and cultural exchanges with Cuba.  Phone 800-648-6491
to order direct, or order through the Cuba Study Group of Santa Cruz
831-475-2715 or email  Price is $10 for 12 ounces, specify
light or dark roast, beans or ground, regular or decaf.  The Cuba Study Group uses the
profits to support the US-Cuba Sister Cities Association and other groups
working with Cuba.

* Pastors for Peace Friendshipments carry humanitarian aid to Cuba in
defiance of the embargo. IFCO-Interreligious Foundation for Community
Organization, 402 W. 145 St., NYC 10031. Tel: 212-926-5757. Website:

* USA-Cuba InfoMed sends donations of used computers for use by the Cuban
medical system. P.O. Box 450, Santa Clara, CA 95052. Tel: 408-243-4359.

Experience Cultural Exchange
Interest in Cuban culture, especially music, has intensified since release
the wonderful Buena Vista Social Club CD and film. Friendship between
challenges an inhumane government policy that depends on ignorance.

* Attend a performance: Cuban musicians regularly appear in Santa Cruz

Pressure Your Public Officials
Urge them to take a leadership role in ending the embargo.

Rep. Sam Farr: 1221 Longworth House Office Bldg., Washington DC 20510. Tel.
202-225-2861. e-mail:

Sen. Barbara Boxer: 112 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington DC 20510. Tel.
202-224-3553. e-mail:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: 331 Hart Senate Office Bldg., Washington DC 20510.
Tel. 202-224-3553. e-mail:

President George W. Bush, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington DC 20510. Tel:
202-456-1111. e-mail:

Go See For Yourself
There are exemptions to the travel ban, for example, professional research
trips, or travel hosted by Cuban institutions or third countries. In other
cases, organizations or individuals have decided to directly challenge the

* The Center for Cuban Studies arranges legal trips for students and
professionals. See contact information above for Cuba Update.

* Global Exchange sponsors a large number of Reality Tours. 2017 Mission
#303, San Francisco, CA 94110. Tel. 415-255-7296. Website:

* The Venceremos Brigade has been sending volunteers to work in Cuban
agriculture and construction for more than 30 years.  PO Box 7071, Oakland,
CA 94601,

Join An Organization
Take the next step and work with others committed to ending the embargo.

US-Cuba Sister Cities Association
320 Lowenhill Street
Pittsburg, PA  15216

Cuba Study Group of Santa Cruz
Call 831-475-2715 for information.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) meets monthly.
Branches in Santa Cruz, Pajaro and on the UCSC campus. Tel: 459-8078.

Message on a Havana billboard: "200 million children in the
world sleep in the streets today. Not one of them is Cuban."


Cuba is Not a Threat to the U.S. 
by Ellen Farmer   
Santa Cruz Sentinel,  Dec 12, 1999

A recent gallup poll shows that over 70% of U.S. citizens want normalized
diplomatic relations with Cuba. Rational people in this country don't see
the point in continuing a 40-year strategy that hasn't worked.

Besides, it's completely inhumane.The U.S. government's embargo on food,
medicine, and any commerce with Cuba has no support in the United Nations.
Only Israel consistently votes with the U.S. to maintain what in Cuba is
called el bloqueo -- the blockade.

When I first heard about the child who was found off the coast of Florida
on Thanksgiving Day, I knew this incident would illustrate everything
that's wrong with U.S.-Cuba relations. Our hearts go out to this
who lost his mother and nearly drowned.

And I have been appalled but not surprised at the lengths adults have gone
to on both sides of the water to make political headway out of this
situation. It doesn't take a child psychologist to name it: child abuse.

Here is a word you are not hearing on CNN: Embargo. Also, One of the
on board  was the captain of the boat and the "coyote" who took money from
the others (around $1,000 each) for their 90-mile trip to freedom. Does
this not consitute murder? Why is this not being investigated or
publicized? If it's one of the survivors, the way I heard the story, there
is definitely a coverup.

The reason Fidel Castro says the responsibility lies with the U.S.
government is that the blockade creates poverty and desperation. Also,
Radio Marti, run by the CIA and paid for annually with millions of our tax
dollars, broadcasts messages to Cubans daily enticing them to come to the
land of milk and honey where they will immediately be welcomed with a job
and a car. In Havana, if your rations run out before the end of the month
and you can't feed your children, this idea begins to sound reasonable.
in the U.S., know it's a lie.

Last year when I visited Cuba, I saw firsthand what it means to be highly
educated, healthy and strong, and unable to acquire food for the family. A
cardiologist who invited us to dinner earns $20 a month. Without knowing
it, the four of us probably ate a good portion of his months' rations. But
you know what? His neighbors will help him. In its own struggling way,
is edging toward an economy more like Canadian socialism and less like
communism. As a sovereign nation, they deserve our respect as they create
viable economy.

Cuba is not a threat. Cuba has no nuclear weapons. Cuba can't possibly
hurt the U.S. in terms of eonomic competition or endanger U.S. citizens
in any way. We must educate ourselves and stop perpetuating laws that are
aggressive acts of war. Most of Cuba's 11 million inhabitants were born
after 1959 and need to build for the future.

Patch Adams, who is leading a delegation of U.S. medical workers to Cuba
this week says:

"Visiting Cuba's Health Care System was like seeing my dream realized on a
nationwide basis. There are many things our society can learn from Cubans.
The strongest is their vital sense of community."

What can the people of Santa Cruz do to solve this dilemma? Work the
democratic process, pressure our representatives to take a leadership
and get involved in the National Network on Cuba. Over 60 organizations
nationwide, from religious councils to Global Exchange, to WILPF, to a
large group of "silent majority" Cuban Americans, say "Let Cuba Live!"

The eloquent 34-year old Cuban Foreign Minister, Felipe Perez Roque, who
addressed several hundred supporters Friday night in Seattle as the WTO
sessions were crumbling, spoke of Cuba's greatest contribution to the
modern world -- dignity. What other small country has been able to put
people first, erase illiteracy in every race and class, and create a
medical system with one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world?
Yes, they are hungry, and they have a lot to learn about commerce, but
what they've done.

And that's precisely why Cuba remains a threat to the U.S. No one is
homeless, not a single child has to worry about violence in schools.
They're doing it better than we are, and our government doesn't want us to
find out. No wonder there's a travel ban! But I urge you -- go to Cuba if
you can. And before you get there, work hard right here at home to end
unjust embargo. Only the U.S. can end the embargo -- that's the "us" in
U.S., folks.

          Tuning with the Enemy:  Cuba
          by Takashi Yogi

              I was attempting to find the cause of a wobbly hammer
          in a piano in Cuba.  Students at the music school watched
          intently while we gringos resurrected some battered
          Russian pianos.  We came from Michigan, Vermont, Iowa,
          Oregon, California, New York, France; sixteen piano
          technicians against hundreds of piano relics.  Then I
          found the problem.  There in the wooden hinge of the piano
          hammer were two termites having dinner.
              I knew from the start that this trip was crazy.  I met
          the leader of the project, Ben Treuhaft, when he passed
          through Santa Cruz to raise funds for Send a Piana to
          Havana.  He's the son of author Jessica Mitford, and the
          fearless revolutionary spirit has been inherited.  He has
          been taking pianos to Cuba since 1995 in defiance of the
          US embargo of Cuba.  He got permission from the US
          Commerce Department to send pianos with the restriction
          that they not be used for "human rights abuse or torture".
          But the Treasury Department threatened to fine him $1.3
          million for trading with the enemy.  Ben's work sounded
          interesting, so I volunteered to add my modest piano
          repair skills to the brigade in late February.  That is
          how I spent 10 days of my vacation time, paying over a
          thousand dollars to work hard in a country with marginal
          food, no toilet seats, and horrible pianos.
              What I learned from this experience is the absurdity
          of the forty-year US embargo of Cuba.  The Cubans are
          struggling to get by with relics that predate the 1959
          revolution.  Cuba is a living museum of American cars from
          the fifties, kept running with determination and baling
          wire.  Their pianos also are the same vintage, except for
          hundreds of cheap Russian pianos.  But even those imports
          ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.  I
          saw many talented children valiantly struggling to
          practice on broken, out-of-tune pianos.  Food is scarce,
          especially in Havana, where ration stores have meager
          supplies.  Medicine is also scarce.  Buildings are
          crumbling for lack of materials.  But the Cubans are
          patient and determined.  The embargo hurts the Cubans, but
          it will not bring Castro down; if anything it supports him
          by allowing him to blame the US for all the privation.
              The US embargo keeps other countries from trading
          freely with Cuba.  For example, an Italian ship docking in
          Cuba cannot dock in the US for six months.  The last UN
          vote on the embargo had only the US and Israel voting for
          it.  But the US bullies all countries to conform, making
          it difficult and expensive for Cuba to obtain supplies
          such as pianos and piano parts.  So almost all the pianos
          in Cuba are falling apart or being eaten by voracious
          termites.  We helped a bit by bringing 50 donated pianos,
          parts and tools, and by conducting classes for Cuban piano
          tuners. But the only real way to beat the termites is to
          end the embargo.

              The Cubans have overcome the material limitations to
          create some remarkable social programs.  I saw extensive
          music education programs not only in Havana, but in the
          rural areas.  Any child can get free piano lessons, or
          violin lessons, or ballet classes.  Literacy is about 96%.
          We saw one school that offered a complete acrobatics
          program.  Cuba provides free medical care for everyone.
          Infant mortality is lower than in Washington D.C.  I
          didn't see anyone homeless.  We visited a large
          psychiatric facility that provides excellent therapy
          programs including painting, pottery, weaving, dance,
          sports, and music.  We enjoyed a performance by the
          residents' band and chorus.  The Cubans have even turned the 
          shortages of the embargo into benefits.  The lack of petroleum 
          has forced a massive conversion to organic agriculture and 
          alternative transportation.  There are many bicycles and horse 
          carts, and the buses are always crowded.  But there are no
          traffic jams in Havana (2 million),  and the air is clear.
              The embargo works both ways.  It keeps us from getting
          Cuban music and culture.  The music of the Buena Vista
          Social Club is an example of what we might be missing by
          erecting barriers.  We are also missing valuable ideas
          about education, health, and agriculture.  Cuba conducts
          advanced medical research and has developed some new
          vaccines.  We could also be selling food and goods (lots
          of toilet seats) to Cuba and enjoying its fine beaches.
              Cuba poses no military threat to the US.  Perhaps what
          our government fears is that Americans will peek over the
          wall and see what a poor but dedicated country can
          accomplish when it values the welfare of its people,
          especially children, more than military might.  I hope
          that music can help to breach the wall.  As in ancient
          Jericho, when the people blow the trumpets, the walls will
          come tumbling down.

Click here to return to Cuba Home Page


03-19-05 by Takashi Yogi