Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Humanitarian caravan defies U.S. embargo of Cuba

Tomorrow, more than 100 US, Canadian and European citizens will cross the US border into Mexico on route to Cuba where they will deliver 100 tons of humanitarian aid--in defiance of the US trade and travel blockade.

"Love is our License," says the group, as nothing they carry is sanctioned by the U.S. government. 
One of several buses to be donated to Cuba.
They transport everything from computers to pencils, from hammers to plumbing pipes, from medications to portable solar panels. The Caravan, after traversing the US on 13 different routes visiting 130 US and Canadian cities, today is loading donated aid items into trucks and buses in McAllen, Texas, in preparation for the July 20th border challenge.

Today all the aid and 14 brightly painted vehicles, including school buses to be donated to Cuba, are on display in McAllen, Texas.  Representatives of Pastors for Peace, caravan sponsor, explain why caravan participants are committing this act of civil disobedience and what participants will experience in Cuba. The caravan does not request a license to travel to Cuba.

The US government requirement of a license to travel to Cuba “restricts our ability to act as friends and neighbors with the people of Cuba. This violates our freedom of religious expression, political thought, association and travel. We seek to end these licenses – LOVE is our license,” according to IFCO board president Rev. Thomas E. Smith.

“The inhumane and indefensible US blockade against Cuba targets everyone in Cuba, from cancer patients who cannot obtain live-saving medications, to children whose schools have a shortage of pencils” stated IFCO's acting co-director Ellen Bernstein.  

“The effects of this cruel blockade are not only felt in Cuba, but also here in the US:  In a time when jobs and the economy are key, we are losing out on opportunities to trade with our neighbors only 90 miles away.”

Caravan participants will see Cuba for themselves, participating in an educational and cultural-sharing program that will focus on the achievements of Cuba's young people. The daily lives and experiences of Cuban youth will highlight the program, which also includes visits to organic gardens, health centers, urban and rural communities and schools. The caravan will also attend the graduation of 20 more US students from the Latin American School of Medicine, Cuba's full-scholarship program to train doctors for under-served communities.

This year's caravan travels as a tribute to the life and spirit of Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., founding director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, who for 20 years gave prophetic and visionary leadership to the organization's caravans to Cuba in defiance of the US blockade. Rev. Walker died peacefully in September 2010.

Pastors for Peace is a project of IFCO which has worked for racial, social, and economic justice since 1967.
For more about events and route stops, updates and photos from the road visit the website.  
You can also follow the caravan on Facebook .

Nancy Kohn explains the group's motivations in her own words:

1 comment:

Suzassippi said...

We had the opportunity to host PfP many times when I was living in Texas. I met the most amazing people over the years.