Friday, July 15, 2005

Madison Wisconsin

Sacramento


Pastors for Peace 16th Annual Friendship Caravan to Cuba
Sacramento, Sunday, July 10, 2005

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Chicago press conference posting 9&10 of 10



Chicago Bus posting 8 of 10



Chicago Bus posting 7 of 10



Chicago Bus 6 of 10



Chicago Bus 5 of 10





Chicago Bus 4 of 10

Chicago bus painting 3 of 10

Chicago bus painting image 2 of 10

Chicago

Chicago Bus painting party image 1 of 10

IFCO/Pastors for Peace 2005 Caravan to Cuba

IFCO/Pastors for Peace 2005 Caravan to Cuba

Beautiful Bus Leaves Chicago

  
The bus-painting event in Chicago yesterday was
wonderful and lots of fun. At least 20 people came
 to the Amor de Dios church in Chicago to help clean and
 paint the bus before its Monday morning departure.
 
I must say that I am very proud to ride in it. My
favorite part of the bus is a stunning portrait of
Che Guevara that someone called Roy painted
painstakingly onto the left side of the bus. Although the
caravanistas helped paint till we had to leave for
another event, I understand that several people
continued painting until two in the morning. We
would like to send thanks and lots of amor to Hector
and the rest of the bus-painting crew and we'll try
to post photos of the bus soon. Thanks also to
CubAmistad  in Bloomington, Indiana for your warm,
warm welcome. Y gracias tambien a nuestro conductor, Bob.

Chicago Bus

Chicago TV News

Aid Organization Heading to Cuba Illegally
Jul. 9, 2005
Keith McCord Reporting


Cuba was hit hard when the hurricane passed over the island yesterday. At least 10 people died, and there was lots of damage. But, help is on the way. Several volunteer organizations have organized a humanitarian drive to send supplies to Cuba. Problem is, it's illegal!

On the side of a brightly painted bus are the words "Caravan to Cuba". Inside the bus is everything from bicycles to bibles, clothing to school supplies. The group responsible is called "Pastors for Peace".

Catherine Murray, Pastors for Peace: "By the end of the route we will have collected 200-tons of aid to take to Cuba. This is very important and obviously very needed."

The bus stopped in Salt Lake tonight-- it's one of 14 different caravans which will collect supplies from 130 cities.

Catherine Murray: "And we'll be converging at the Mexican border at McAllen, Texas. By the time we're there, there will be 140 US citizens and people from seven other countries from around the world."

Then, they'll take the supplies to Cuba, which was ravaged by the hurricane. But technically, they're breaking the law. The US has had a trade embargo with Cuba in place since the 1960's. For years, the Pastors for Peace organization has openly defied the law, saying it's outdated.

Catherine Murray: "We believe that it is illegal and immoral, and we are going in open defiance of that. We'll cross the border on the 21st of July and go to Cuba with this aid in our arms."

A humanitarian effort with a definite political message attached. This is the 16th time that this group has conducted such a mission to Cuba, to challenge the embargo. Members have met resistance from US border agents during those previous trips, but in the end, the supplies always made it to Cuba.

Volunteers Pause in Davis CA on Mission to Aid Cubans

Volunteers pause in Davis on mission to aid Cubans
By Cory Golden/Enterprise staff writer

It's civil disobedience on a grand scale, for the 16th year running.

"Do not write 'Cuba' on your checks - U.S. banks have a funny thing about Cuba," explained Richard Becker while asking for donations Saturday at Davis Community Church.

He joined representatives - "caravanistas" - from two of the 14 Pastors for Peace buses of humanitarian aid bound for Cuba.

They explained their mission to a group of about 25: ending the decades-old U.S. embargo of the Communist country - "a blockade," said Becker, a program spokesman, "that we believe is illegal, unjust and immoral."

"We regard it as a policy meant to inflict pain on the Cuban people, so that they will change their government to one the United States finds acceptable," he said.

The Pastors for Peace buses will converge next week in San Antonio, Texas, then caravan south to Mexico. There, volunteer longshoremen will hoist the buses onto a ship bound for Cuba.

As always, the caravan will do so without the permission of the U.S. government.

The founder of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, which runs the program, the Rev. Lucius Walker Jr., of Brooklyn, N.Y., has declared the licensing system immoral because it endangers the lives of the Cuban people.

The estimated 200 tons of material to be taken to Cuba is intended for those with special needs, including the physically challenged and those with learning disabilities, along with computers, medicine and school supplies. The "friendshipments" will then be distributed by a committee of Cuban religious leaders.

Carol Cross, a layperson at her Redwood City Unitarian church, told those gathered on the patio said that, for her, helping Cubans is rooted in faith.
"It's the Golden Rule that all the kindergartners know: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," she said. "Jesus admonishes us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty and comfort those who are sick or in prison. And he doesn't just mean those helping those who are our friends and family."

Cross will be visiting Cuba for the 20th time. She also lived there for a time with her Cuban husband. On Saturday she quoted revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara: " 'At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love.' "

"Fidel (Castro) and the Cuban Revolution have not lost that feeling - that feeling of love," she said. "The (Cuban) government really does take care of its people. Maybe that makes them the enemy of our government, but they're not my enemy."

Asked by an audience member about democracy and dissent in Cuba, she discussed at length local government elections there and how the legislature, in turn, has repeatedly re-elected Castro.

"But can someone oppose Fidel?" the man asked."Yes," Cross said.

Speaking before the event, Cross said that she believed that the embargo will end someday because Cuba holds 11.3 million potential customers for American businesses and farms.

"If anything ends the blockade, it won't be faith-based," she said. "I would love it if that were the case - that it ended because people saw it was wrong - but, in the end, I think it will be financial pressure that will open it up."

She said the prospects for a wholesale change in U.S. policy seem unlikely under the Bush Administration, which has taken a hard line on Cuba.

In fact, she said, last year was the first in which Pastors for Peace volunteers were truly "hassled" at the border by U.S. officials.

Luggage was searched. Passports photocopied. And everything from T-shirts to a poetry book were confiscated because volunteers had, in official parlance, been "trading with the enemy."

Pablo Stansbery, who sits of DCC's Church and Society Committee, took part in the 1998 Cuba trip. His father and mother, the Rev. Leslie Stansbery and his wife Peg, have taken part in the program through their Columbus, Ohio, Presbyterian church for many years.

Stansbery said he was struck by the "amount of energy and resources our government uses to impede the process. They spend a lot of money - a lot of money - to keep people from helping those in need."

Even more, he ended his journey impressed by the Cuban people: their gratitude, their high level of education and how they make do with little.
Kit Aasture, a resident of Denmark, said she had flown to the U.S. to take part in the bus trip for the second straight year.

"I came here to defend human rights," she said. "I came here to defend the Cuban Revolution. I came here to defend each nation's right to self-determination."

- On the Net: ifconews.org
- Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net or 747-8046.
Sunday, July 10, 2005

Seattle women bound for Cuba in defiance of law

Seattle women bound for Cuba in defiance of law
Full story: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002381657_webcuba14.html

By George Estrada
Associated Press Writer

Cindy Domingo has been to Cuba a dozen times, but hopes she isn't pushing her luck too far for her 13th trip, when she'll travel without U.S government permission to protest tight new restrictions on visiting the communist country. Domingo, a longtime Seattle activist dedicated to humanitarian and feminist causes, will accompany three other Seattle-area women on the July 21 trip and expects to join hundreds of other defiant travelers in a "travel challenge."

For U.S. citizens, traveling to Cuba requires a license issued by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, a document that has recently become much more difficult to obtain. In protest, Domingo and her fellow travelers are ignoring the process.

"We want to let the U.S. government know that we have the right to travel to Cuba without their permission," said Domingo, an aide to King County Councilman Larry Gossett. "I'm uncertain what we'll face at the border. But I'm also excited to be joining hundreds of others who'll be going without licenses."

Cuba remains under a decades-long trade embargo imposed by the United States. Laws that have been in place since 1963 outlaw tourist travel, but permit limited visits to Cuba by journalists, educators, humanitarian aid workers, representatives of religious organizations, and people visiting relatives. All applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Since 2003, fewer applications have been approved, Domingo said. Many groups and individuals who have been routinely approved in the past found their applications being denied, she said. Visiting relatives have been restricted to one visit every three years, a policy spelled out in the law, but previously not enforced.

Domingo has been an active organizer for women's rights since attending the U.N. International Conference on Women in 1995. She sees Cuba as the site of great progress for women in labor, medicine and farming. She gave presentations at international conferences in Havana in the previous two years.

Diana Esperas, 33, a gardener and activist from Kirkland, will be making her first trip to Cuba with the Seattle contingent. She said the group will visit a community gardens, a maternity center, and the Che Guevara Memorial, among other places. Esperas also expressed some anxiety about traveling without a license.

"My daughter asked, 'What if you get arrested, mom?'" Esperas said. "So, yes, I'm a little nervous about it, but I feel that fighting for our rights is something that needs to be done."

The U.S. Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise wouldn't comment on a particular group or individual, but she noted that unlicensed travelers might face civil and criminal penalties.

"It is the responsibility of all U.S. persons to abide by U.S. law," Millerwise said.

Criminal penalties for violators range from 10 years in prison, $1 million in corporate fines and $250,000 in individual fines.

Cuba remains on the State Department's list of terrorism sponsors, and last month the House of Representatives voted down a proposal that would have eased trade restrictions against the island nation.

After the vote, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., denounced Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

"How can we think about easing restrictions against this monster when he continues to plunder and terrorize 11 million of our brothers and sisters? The Congress should not be making life easier for the brutal Castro regime."

Critics of American foreign policy cite the U.S. trade embargo as a primary reason for Cuba's economic problems.

The Seattle women plan to fly to Toronto, and then to Havana. On their return, they will fly back to Toronto, then cross the border Aug. 1 at Buffalo, N.Y., along with members of other activist groups, including Pastors for Peace and the Venceremos Brigade.

Domingo is one of the leaders of the U.S. Women and Cuba Collaboration, a national organization that seeks to change U.S. policy toward Cuba and promote the country as a model for women's rights and economic justice.

This trip to Cuba will be the 15th for Jan Strout, 57, of Seattle, one of the co-founders of the group.

"I'm a bit nervous," Strout said. "My mother is more nervous because she's worried that her daughter might be prosecuted by our government. But I'm very excited to be part of a growing movement. It's very exciting to do something for the things you believe in -- democracy and freedom."

Bush "Generous Offer" A Joke


Albor Ruiz
New York Daily News - http://www.nydailynews.com

Bush's 'generous' offer is a joke

Thursday, July 14th, 2005

They must have meant it as a joke. Otherwise, how can you explain the White House's "generous" offer to hurricane-ravaged Cuba of $50,000 worth of disaster relief? But it wasn't funny at all.

That is, after Hurricane Dennis killed 16 people and caused $1.4 billion in property damage in the Caribbean nation with a population of 11 million, the President of the richest country in the world "generously" offered to donate - listen to this - $50,000, not enough money even for the down payment on a so-so Brooklyn condo.

Funny, these people are not. Although it would certainly be laughable if, as has been reported, the administration's sensibilities were offended by Fidel Castro's rejection of the U.S. "help" on Cuban national TV.

"Cuba declined the offer and it is said that Washington 'felt hurt' by the Cuban rejection of such a ridiculous offer," Max Lesnick, a Cuban-American Miami radio journalist, commented on Tuesday. "You can arrive at your own conclusions."

For the people of Cuba, the impact of Dennis was no joke: 16 dead, 150,000 homes and buildings damaged or destroyed, and more than $1.4 billion in material destruction and climbing. Cuba needs serious help.

And were it not for the absurdly cruel restrictions imposed by President Bush last year, thousands of Cuban-Americans, desperate to help their families and friends in need on the island, would already be doing so.

Which is why Rep. José E. Serrano (D-Bronx) introduced a congressional resolution on Tuesday asking the President to "temporarily suspend restrictions on remittances, gift parcels, and family travel to Cuba to allow Cuban-Americans to assist their relatives in Cuba in the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis."

Current restrictions limit family visits to the island to once every three years. Also, Cuban-Americans can only send $300 in remittances per quarter to "immediate" family members - no aunts, uncles or cousins. Even shipments of food, clothing and medical supplies are severely restricted.

Which means that even in this time of overwhelming need, it is a crime for Cuban-Americans to help their own families in Cuba. A really sick joke.
The desire to help friends and family is so powerful that Cuban-American individuals and groups of different political positions are united in asking for the lifting of the restrictions.

One of those organizations is the militantly anti-Castro Christian Democratic Party of Cuba, based in Miami.

"The national secretariat of the party, in an emergency session held on July 11, decided to adopt this policy [to ask for a suspension of sanctions]" read a press release signed by its president, Marcelino Miyares, a veteran of the Bay of Pigs.
Serrano, in his resolution, asks the President to "put politics aside and temporarily relax the Cuba restriction that are preventing Cuban-Americans from helping their families on the island."

Let's not forget that this matter, urgent as it is, comes up only because the U.S policy towards Cuba is not only inhumane but conterproductive.

A whole new, rational approach to relations between the two countries is urgently needed, based on dialogue, open travel and increased trade.

In the meantime, allowing Cuban-Americans to exercise their right to solidarity is no laughing matter and demands the administration's immediate attention.
No one should doubt that once restrictions are lifted, Cuban-Americans, worried as they are about their loved ones on the island, will take care of them.

And the President will be able to save the $50,000 he so "generously" offered to the hurricane-ravaged people of Cuba.

loading up the van


is loads of work ... Posted by Picasa

Columbia, Missouri


a huge event, collected lots of aid: computers, bicycles, sewing machines - and packed it all in the Bob super especial luxo-cruiser van Posted by Picasa

embargo law-breakers


at large in St. Louis, Missouri Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Chicago Caravan in Memphis, TN

Thanks to leaving early from Carbondale, IL, Allison's navigating skills, and Bob's driving, we've arrived half an hour before our event, and we finally have some down time.  I've been amazed by the warmth and trust of our hosts.  Ann in Bloomington and Margie in Carbondale have been amazing... when Allison and I realized we had left our cell phone at Ann's house after having driven half an hour down an interstate, Ann drove down to meet us and drop it off.  Everyone we've been meeting has been incredibly hospitable, welcoming, and supportive.  Yesterday we met a musician who, for the past few years, has been recording indigenous music from around the world, raising money from the cds he has sold.  He handed Kathryn (our route speaker) an envelope with over $1300, to be donated specifically to the Cuba Caravan.  Now that we have reached the south, I am beginning to feel that McAllen, Mexico, and Cuba are becoming more of a reality, rather than locations on an itinerary.  I look forward to meeting the other caravanistas and forging our way past the border.
 
-Jen

Lucius Walker and Emily Thomas in Brooklyn

Carlito and the New York Ramon Bus

KSL-TV Utah

American Groups Tries to Send Aid to Cuba KSL-TV, UT - Jul 9, 2005 When available, the raw script from this video story is presented below. Please note that these scripts come directly from our TV ...

Roanokers Contribute Items to Cuba-Bound Peace Caravan

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Roanokers contribute items to Cuba-bound peace caravan
By Joshua Garner 981-3340

The 16th annual Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan rolled into Roanoke on Monday to collect humanitarian aid for Cuba.
Nine people, mostly teenagers, arrived in a school bus decked out in colorful graffiti at the Unitarian Church on Brandon Avenue and Grandin Road.
The passengers were guests of the Roanoke Friends Meeting, who sponsored a potluck dinner and program. About 40 Roanoke area residents attended the program designed to collect items for Cuba.
The caravan's volunteers will stay overnight in the homes of local Quakers before heading back on the road. Pastors for Peace aims to provide humanitarian aid for the people of Cuba, who they say have paid an unfair consequence because of U.S. foreign policy.
"It feels really neat to be a part of such a large effort," said Angie Martin, a member of the Roanoke Friend's Meeting's Clerk Committee.
Martin said this year's theme is "children with special needs." The committee collected 20 boxes worth of medicine, children's wheelchairs, and crutches from the Roanoke area.
There are 14 caravans collecting humanitarian aid from 150 communities throughout the U.S. and Canada as part of Pastors for Peace. Caravan volunteers will end their two-week trip through the states July 16 as they converge on the U.S.-Mexico boarder in McAllen, Texas.
While the material collected will be shipped on a freighter from Mexico, caravan volunteers will fly from Mexico to Cuba to help distribute the material. A 45-year-old United States embargo against Cuba prevents American citizens from traveling directly to Cuba; it also prevents humanitarian aid from being sent.
"It hurts the people rather than the government," Martin said.
The caravan began in Boston, where it headed south to Pittsburgh and swept through West Virginia before coming to Roanoke.
"It's always a rewarding experience to come to these communities," said the Rev. Thomas Smith of Pittsburg. Smith, who led the caravan through Virginia, has been a part of the Pastors for Peace program for five years. He said apart from collecting items, he is trying to raise awareness about the U.S. embargo on Cuba, which he calls immoral.
"We should have the right to travel to Cuba unrestricted," he said. "We feel the Cuban people are being hurt by the embargo."(C)2005 The Roanoke Times

Next Stop, Cuba Channel 23, Rockford, IL

Next Stop, Cuba
Rockford, IL
Channel 23 News


Since 1961, the United States has imposed an embargo against Americans who want to trade with, travel to, or invest in the nation of Cuba.
But for the past 16 years, one group has been working to change that policy. Monday, the “Pastors for Peace” caravan arrived in Rockford. Caravans are making stops in 120 cities across the nation, collecting supplies for Cuban residents. The group plans to collect 120 tons of aid that will be taken through Mexico, and then placed on a ferry to Havana.
They have not sought permission from the United States government and are symbolically breaking the blockade, showing their opposition to the American embargo.

Danish Activists Raise Money for Caravan Bus

Here a little story from Denmark about the Caravan bus, that is now leaving Chicago to be part of the 16th. Friendshipment Caravan.

For some years we have developed a "sister city-realtionship" with the municipality of Cotorro - a suburb close to Havana. The Danish-Cuban Friendship Association has supported a daycare-center, the Casa de Cultura, the polyclinico and the psychiatric hospital in Cotorro.... with money, hospital-equipment, medicine, paedacogical material, renovation of buildings after hurricane etc.Groups from Denmark have visited Cotorro on several occations and a close realtion of friendship has developed, which among other things has allowed many Danish visitors to get a first-hand impression about democracy in Cuba - Peoples Power - as it works and about social and cultural achievements in an ordinary Cuban municipality. Some Danish educators, nurses and doctor have worked (practiced as part of their education) in daycare-centers and in the polyclinic).

As a consequence of this cooperation we get a number of ideas about things that could be very useful for people in Cotorro, and little by little we try to find ways to supply the municipality with some of these things. During a visit to the psychiatric hospital it became clear, that it would be wonderful and useful for this hospital to have a bus at their disposal. To bring the patients out - to the beach, to visit museums and galleries, to make all kind of excursions. That would add to the quality of life and probably to the quality of the treatment.The hospital once had a bus, but it is completely broken down, so how could we get a "new" bus for them?

Well after participating in the 15th US-Cuba Friendshipment-Caravan the solution was obvious:Let us raise money to buy a bus - use it as part of the next caravan and deliver it to the psychiatric hospital in Cotorro.

We asked the Danish police for a permission to make a lottery with the aim of raising money for a bus to a psychiatric hospital. You can get such a permission if the police considers the purpose to be an honest social or cultural aim. We got the permission.We printed 5000 numbered lottery-notes. Sold them for 10 Danish kroner each (that is a bit less than 2 dollars).To motivate buyers the first-price was a visit to Cuba for 2 persons. Airtickets and a cheap hotel and our help to create the program they wanted in Cuba... if the winner wanted, also a visit to the psychiatric hospital, to where the bus is going. A travel-agency sponsored the airtickets and got an advertisement on the lottery-note. Additionally there were some 30 prizes: books, cigars, Cuban rum, t-shirts...The Danish-Cuban Friendship-association has approximately 700 individual member. We asked them to buy the lottery-notes and to help sell lottery-notes to family, friends, workmates, fellow students etc. And many responded positively. In October-November all 5000 lottery-notes were sold, the money for the bus was raised and on top of that some 2000-3000 people in Denmark (that is one out of every 2000 Danes) had one or more lottery-notes in their hand with information about the lottery, about the friendship-association, the bus, Pastors for Peace, the psychiatric hospital and Cuba. All very short but anyway an appeal for solidarity and friendship, that reached a number of people - also a number of new people, who had not before considered solidarity with Cuba.


Now the bus is bought and on the road - on its way from Chicago to people in Cuba who need the bus and need and deserve our friendship and solidarity.Sending the bus to Cotorro as part of the US-Cuba Friendship Caravan is a special satisfaction.

Sending the bus to Cotorro as part of the US-Cuba Friendship Caravan is a special satisfaction.

We feel happy and proud to be part of this Friendshipment-Caravan, which is one of the most outstanding and efficient acts of solidarity with Cuba in the hole world. Also this year Danish people are on the Caravan. One, Kit Aastrup, is on a route on the westcoast and two, Britt Dahl Andersen and her son Hans Martin Dahl Andersen, on a route from New York. They will contribute to the work of the caravan and display the fact that Denmark and the world opposes the USA blockade of Cuba, opposes the hostility and threats of war.We demand peace and friendship and Denmark will follow this years caravan - inclusive of the border crossing, and be on the alert. We say to the US-authorities: Hands off the caravan, hands off the Danish bus!
Dear caravanistas and activists in IFCO/Pastors for Peace -
receive all our best wishes"

Last year was the 3rd time Danish people took part in the Caravan. Every time it has been a wonderfull excperience. A unique possibility to meet the US-people and discover the huge difference between the White-House- Pentagon-, Hollywood-USA which are presented to us over and over again, and that good-hearted and consious people inhabit the USA from north to south - from east to west.We feel happy and proud to be part of this Friendshipmen-Caravan, which is one of the most outstanding and efficient acts of solidarity with Cuba in the whole world.Also this year Danish people are on the Caravan. One, Kit Aastrup, is on a route on the westcoast and two, Britt Dahl Andersen and her son Hans Martin Dahl Andersen, on a route from New York. They will contribute to the work of the caravan and display the fact that Denmark and the world opposes the USA blockade of Cuba, opposes the hostility and threats of war.We demand peace and friendship and Denmark will follow this years caravan - inclusive of the border crossing, and be on the alert. We say to the US-authorities: Hands off the caravan, hands off the Danish bus!


Dear caravanistas and activist in IFCO/Pastors for Peace -
receive all our best wishes

Sven-Erik Simonsen,
chairman of the Danish-Cuban Friendship-association.

Carta de Gerardo Hernandez p.1

This is the original
letter in Spanish
from Gerardo
Hernandez, one
of the Cuban Five.
The English
translation is
posted earlier
in this blog.
Click on the
image to
enlarge it.








Aqui tenemos la carta original en Espanol de Gerardo Hernandez. Toque la imagen para verla mas grande.

Carta de Gerardo Hernandez p.2

Carta de Antonio

This is the
original
letter from
Antonio
Guerrero,
one of the
Cuban Five,
in Spanish.
The English
translation is
posted earlier
in this blog.
Click on the
image to see
it larger.






Aqui tenemos la carta original en espanol de
Antonio Guerrero. Toque la imagen para
verla mas grande.

Ellen Bernstein Report on Hurricane Dennis in Havana

I was visiting Havana with a Congressional delegation when Dennis arrived. On Friday morning we were visiting the new University of Information Sciences (UCI), where 3000 students are learning software development (and where 3000 Venezuelans and other Latin Americans will live this summer while they receive free eye surgery in Cuba!) when the winds and a really hard rain started to kick up. We went back to the city to finish our afternoon meetings, and it was clear that the city was battening down the hatches -- boarding up and taping windows, taking down signs and loose objects, and otherwise getting ready. We watched President Castro on live TV, an early edition of the nightly Round Table; he sat in the TV studio with Randy the moderator, and talked with the meteorologist on screen, and took live phone calls from people in the different provinces that were getting hit by the first blasts of the hurricane. Dennis hovered over Cabo Cruz, the little point in Granma province, for some hours; when the storm departed, about 90% of the housing in Pilon and Niquero (towns of about 10,000 population) had been flattened. Then we watched as the storm did a slow roll all across the southern coast of Cuba, moving from east to west, its winds and rains doing damage all along the coast. Fidel was hearing reports from the community leaders who'd been organizing the massive evacuations to keep residents safe -- and he congratulated them on their good work, and told them they would not be lacking for support and resources for the rebuilding process. And he also was hearing reports of fatalities: there were four reported early in the day -- already more than had died in Charley and Ivan combined last year. The grief in his face and the tenderness in his tone were very moving to observe: it was such a difficult and painful moment for Cuba...

Just as the storm was making landfall over Cienfuegos province, we were told to come down from the high floors of the place where we were staying -- everyone above the 4th floor was evacuated downward -- so we stayed in the hotel lobby awaiting news, from about 8:30pm until 1:15am. The power was turned off except for emergency lights; so we sat in semi-darkness and waited for news, talking with the hotel staff who were listening to small radios and giving us updates. Until the very last moment it was not clear if the storm's trajectory would take it right over the city of Havana -- which would have done horrible damage to the nation's most populated city and its famous ancient buildings. At the last minute the eye stayed just a bit to the east, crossing the island from Cienfuegos to Havana province, passing near Guanabo, doing great damage to rural housing and agricultural crops.

The storm, when it passed over Havana, was only a category II, but the wind was so strong that it blew my hair back -- from behind doors that were closed and boarded up! Broken branches littered the streets the next day and the pounding rains continued.

But when the storm made landfall in Cienfuegos it was a category IV -- and, even having been on the island, I can barely imagine how intense a hit that must have been.

One of the hardest and saddest things about this hurricane was that, in just the last couple of months, our friends in Cuba were finally experiencing a but of relief: some new trade agreements had been signed, some new products were coming into the markets, the peso was getting stronger, and people were breathing a little bit easier, thinking that finally they might have a little less stress in their daily lives. Then came Dennis, and -- WHAM!

As you can seem Cuba needs our solidarity and support more than ever!


Ellen

Hurricane Dennis

Hurricane Dennis: 16 Deaths and $1.4 Billion Loss in Cuba
Havana, July 12 (RHC)--

Hurricane Dennis caused 16 deaths and 1.4 billion dollars in its passage across Cuba, said Cuban President Fidel Castro.During a televised round table discussion Monday evening, which lasted until early morning hours on Tuesday, Fidel Castro explained that 13 deaths occurred in eastern Granma province, two in Santiago de Cuba and another in central Sancti Spiritus. AIN News Agency reports that after expressing sorry for the loss of human lives, President Castro said that one and a half million citizens were evacuated and that if Dennis had directly hit Havana,the damage would have accounted for more than three billion dollars.The leader of the Cuban Revolution said that more than 120,000 houses were affected - including 15,000 which totally collapsed and 25,000 partially damaged. Another 24,000 homes remained completely roofless and 60,000 sustained damage to their roofs.The hurricane totally wiped out 100 hectares of crops, while 11,000 hectares planted with banana were lost and almost the entire citrus fruit harvest in central Matanzas perished. More than seven tons of mango fruit were also destroyed. Fidel said that over 73,000 birds died, with severe damage sustained by the ecological system, particularly in Central Cienfuegos and eastern Granma province. As for the electric system Fidel Castro reiterated that it remained split into two parts after the 36 power towers were knocked out of service; this did not allow energy transmission from the east to the west of the island. Other infrastructure damage was also reported, said the Cuban leader, who noted that 21 municipalities continue to lack electricity. That lack of electricity translates into a reduced water supply in many localities, he said while noting that the hurricane downed five television towers and three radio broadcast towers affecting the reception of medium wave radio stations. Fidel Castro said that 21 hotels were severely damaged, but that 90 percent of the Varadero tourist resort is ready to offer services. Roads, railroads were severely damaged as well as 160 health facilities and 96 sports centers and 69 cultural institutions.President Castro added that nearly 300,000 tons of foods in stock were damaged by Dennis.The Cuban President said that recovery actions are taking place throughout the island with more than 700 electric workers and he assured that all roofs for homes will be guaranteed.As a positive aspect of hurricane Dennis, Fidel said that the total water capacity of reservoirs grew by 55 percent, with the highest indicators in central Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus provinces, as well as in the eastern territories of Granma and Santiago de Cuba.

Report from Washington, D.C.- New York Route


We were warmly recieved in D.C. with Alvin "Skipper" and his family as our
host. After driving for several hours it was a nice place to eat (which we
did), and immerse ourselves in his lovely home and inspiring and expressive
photographs and paintings from Cuba.

"Caravanistas are 21st century abolitionists in the tradition of Frederick
Douglass, bringing together blacks, whites, hispanics and young people to
express their feeling of solidarity with a country of color that just
demands freedom" - "Skipper" from Washington, D.C. (our host)

from the fine and lovely city of St. Louis, Missouri


enjoying a potluck dinner with our friends at the Center for Theology and Social Analysis Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Message from the Cuban Five: Antonio Guerrero

Dear participants of the Pastors for Peace Caravan:

Sisters and brothers,

Once again,there is a challenge to injust U.S. government laws that target the people of Cuba. This challenge is not only a wonderful solidarity gesture-- bringing aid for projects that are so vital to the well-being of our people, but also a demonstration that the brotherhood between our peoples will be a dream that some day we will achieve and will show that the policy of hostility toward Cuba is not the true feeling of the U.S. people.

Once again you will be in my beloved homeland in this month of July and you will be able to appreciate the joy of an entire people in the celebration of the glorious July 26th. This year will be the 52nd anniversary of the heroic action that marked the beginning of our definitive war of independence.

The assault on the Moncada barracks and the Bayamo was never a defeat, despite the bloody tyranny which assassinated so many courageous Cuban youth. From the blood that was shed, new and stronger cries for liberty arose and the number of youth ready to offer their lives for the just cause of the Revolution grew overwhemingly. These young people, under the guidance of Fidel, did not allow Jose Marti, the Apostol of our independence to die on the centennial of his birth. Later on with the Granma, in the Sierra and on the First of January they made Marti's aspirations of justice and independence a reality.

For those of you who have been to Cuba, and for those of you making your first trip, you will be able to see this country with its happy pioneers, with its enthusiastic workers and with its hospitals open to everyone. You can see people from the CDRs full of joy in every task they have been assigned, elderly people in centers where they practice sports and laugh. In summary, you can see a people happy with its Revolution and a people that are in Revolution and know how to defend it. And there, you will be able to feel, dear friends, of that people and part of that revolution.

We know that the 16th caravan has five buses (or guaguas, as we Cubans said) that are a solidarity symbol for us and that represent the battle that we all carry out for justice and dignity. We know that we will be together with you (although not physically) in the many activities and above all in the spirit of friendship, brotherhood and peace.

In each prison we will be thinking of you on every day of your long journey, with a feeling full of infinite admiration and appreciation. We wish you well. Let joy, strength and optimism be with you-- things that are so important for victory. You are the example that the ideas of Marti are still alive more than ever. As he said "Is not possible to do big things without great friends" and with you, the Cuban Revolution has done great things, and with women and men like you we will be able to build the better world that we know is possible.

LONG LIVE THE FRIENDSHIP AND PEACE! LONG LIVE JULY 26!!

HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE

A great embrace from the Five

Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez

Message from the Cuban Five: Gerardo Hernandez

Dear brothers and sisters:

On one occasion more than 10 years ago, I was at a bus stop on Ruta 100, close to the Avenida 51 of Marianao, in Havana. (I am not sure how many of you have been at a bus stop in Havana, but I can assure you that they are not as lifeless as the ones here). I was sharing the mid-day sun with a great number of people, when someone shouted: "Look, the Pastors for Peace "guagua!"

And indeed coming up Ruta 100, full of children was one of these yellow guaguas with a truck face Cubans had only seen in movies at the time.

Time has passed and Pastors has brought a number of other guaguas to Cuba, so I imagine it must be a somewhat common scene in the streets of the island. Soon the buses of this caravan will also be full of children, or of other people who will benefit from its service. And all the articles you donated by brothers and sisters of this country will get to Cuban hands.

When history is finally written on the relations between our peoples, it must include a special chapter dedicated to the sacrifice and courage of the caravanistas, and thousands of Pastors for Peace volunteers, because you have achieved a victory for love by standing in solidarity every year, confronting the hypocrisy and hate of those intending to isolate Cuba.

We Cubans know it very well, and will always thank you. Your anti-terrorist compañeros in U.S. prisons have learned of the five guguas in the Caravan with our five faces and names, a gesture of solidarity with our struggle for peace and justice, a gesture that touches us deeply and for which we profoundly thank our dear friend Rev. Lucius Walker and all of you, our brothers and sisters of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. We wish you well, and we ask that in addition to your solidarity cargo, take to the Cuban people the love of the Five.

Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Please receive our gratitude and embrace from: Fernando, Antonio, Ramon, Rene and Gerardo

Federal Prison of Victorville, California, July 5, 2005

Rock Falls, Illinois


a nice turnout from our friends in Wesley United Methodist, and desserts galore to boot! Posted by Picasa

Rockford Part 2


the caravan t-shirts getting their shot at fame and fortune. Posted by Picasa

coverage on WIFR Channel 23 (CBS affiliate):
http://www.wifr.com/home/headlines/1682827.html

Next Stop, Cuba
Rockford - 23 News

Since 1961, the United States has imposed an embargo against Americans who want to trade with, travel to, or invest in the nation of Cuba.

But for the past 16 years, one group has been working to change that policy. Monday, the “Pastors for Peace” caravan arrived in Rockford. Caravans are making stops in 120 cities across the nation, collecting supplies for Cuban residents. The group plans to collect 120 tons of aid that will be taken through Mexico, and then placed on a ferry to Havana.

They have not sought permission from the United States government and are symbolically breaking the blockade, showing their opposition to the American embargo.

famous in Rockford Illinois


we had a great news event in Rockford, (set up by our friends in the Peace and Justice Action Committee) - interviews with three television stations, and lots of questions bout the caravans and our work! Posted by Picasa

Beautiful bus leaves Chicago, Illinois

The bus-painting event in Chicago yesterday was wonderful and lots of fun. At least 20 people came to the Amor de Dios church in Chicago to help clean and paint the bus before its Monday morning departure. I must say that I am very proud to ride in it. My favorite part of the bus is a stunning portrait of Che Guevara that someone called Roy painted painstakingly onto the left side of the bus. Although the caravanistas helped paint till we had to leave for another event, I understand that several people continued painting until two in the morning. We would like to send thanks and lots of amor to Hector Duarte and the rest of the bus-painting crew and we'll try to post photos of the bus soon. Thanks also to CubAmistad in Bloomington, Indiana for your warm, warm welcome. Y gracias tambien a nuestro conductor, Bob.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Route E

Mark (Portland, OR) and I (Taleigh, NYC) set off on the midwest tour of the Cuba Caravan on July 5th, meeting up in Spokane, Washington before heading east into the heartland; so far visiting Helena & Bozeman, Montana, the Black Hills of South Dakota and Omaha, Nebraska. We're currently en route to Kansas, then Oklahoma & Texas.
As organizers from coastal cities, Mark and I have greatly enjoyed seeking out the relevance of international issues and people-to-people foreign policy with folks from the midwest whose perspective aren't always included in our dialogues. Given the devastating nature of free trade agreements on family farms, heightened immigration of undocumented migrant farm labor, a history of smuggling Central American refugees to Canada to escape the US supported death squads, and the rising number of youth recruited to militarily defend US imperialist expansion, midwesterners are anything but isolated. Even as they organize against local white hate groups and environmental degradation, they continue to organize against the war in Iraq, the ominous Patriot Acts and the invasion of federal Homeland Security oversite into local law enforcement. You can imagine our conversations have gone in many unexpected directions.
The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, Washington boasted a great turn-out-- four times as many as attended last year. Mark shared his experience as a Cuba & Chiapas caravanista and an organizer with PCASC, the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee & the local Bill of Rights Defense Committee.
Helena, MT was next, where the Helena Peace Seekers set up a display at the Alive at Five town party at their Pioneer Heritage Park. We were able to outreach to locals all afternoon, then tagteamed the after-partiers at a local pub-- talking up Cuba till way past bedtime.
The Gallatin Human Rights Task Force and the Bozeman Peace Seekers hosted a "Tango & Potluck" picnic in Bogert Grove Pavilion. A multi-generational gathering discussed local issues of organic farming in context of trading with Cuba, and hope to fundraise to send a representative to Cuba for the 4th Hemispheric Encounter on Free Trade in January, 2006 or the 17th Cuba Caravan next summer.
In the Black Hills of South Dakota, we had the chance to meet with youth from a local summer camp who come from all across the country to work on environmental issues in a hands-on way. Contextualizing US foreign policy in Cuba and Latin America with these dynamic and intelligent youth was great fun, and many expressed interest in supporting future caravans and investing in a more just US foreign policy.
Rolling into Omaha, Nebraska, Mark's home town, we were warmly welcomed by a group of forty Nebraskans for Peace at the United Methodist Church. The delicious potluck was accompanied by a local musician who offered a benefit concert to anyone who would donate $200 to the caravan, an offer that was quickly and generously taken advantage of. Omaha topped the midwestern generosity competition, raising almost a thousand dollars for our Cuban brothers and sisters.
Midwestern hospitality and generosity exceeds its reputation. Those of you who fear straying far from the coasts would do well to experience these genuine and inspirational people. And the big-sky country geography ain't bad either. (No comment on the heat.)
hasta la victoria siempre
Taleigh & Mark


"In times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
George Orwell

Terror is terror, whether it's in London or Cuba

Here is an excellent opinion piece frrom the Miami Herald. These are excellent talking points for those of you on the road!
[note: this article did not appear in the spanish-language el nuevo herald]

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/columnists/12097044.htm

Posted on Sun, Jul. 10, 2005

Miami Herald

In My Opinion Terror is terror, whether it's in London or Cuba

JIM DeFEDE
jdefede@herald.com

Bodies were still being pulled from the wreckage Thursday when U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen issued a statement condemning what she called the ''barbaric'' terrorist attack in London.

''The targeting of innocent lives is insidious and shows the utter disrespect that perpetrators of terror have for humanity,'' the Miami Republican declared. ``Those who committed this callous act must know that our determination to neutralize terrorism is unshaken and that we will not yield in the face of such perfidy.''

Strong words.

But where was the congresswoman's outrage when she came to the defense of Luis Posada Carriles, a man who bragged about masterminding a series of hotel bombings in Havana that killed an Italian tourist? A man suspected of blowing up a Cuban airliner?

Where was her desire to ''neutralize terrorism'' when she pleaded two years ago with the president of Panama to release Pedro Remón, Guillermo Novo and Gaspar Jiménez?

Those men, along with Posada, were convicted in Panama of endangering public safety, a charge stemming from an alleged plot to blow up a university center where Fidel Castro was scheduled to visit.

Ros-Lehtinen, along with fellow Reps. Lincoln and Mario Díaz-Balart, quietly wrote to Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso asking that she pardon the four men. And in one of her last acts before leaving office, Moscoso did just that.

Ros-Lehtinen and the Díaz-Balarts defended the letter, which The Herald recently uncovered in Panama, saying the four men were being held "under questionable legal and procedural circumstances."

Ros-Lehtinen is currently vying to become the next chair of the House International Relations Committee, which would make her one of the leading voices in Congress on matters of foreign policy and the worldwide fight against terrorism.

But what moral authority can she bring to such a post when she helps individuals who many consider to be terrorists themselves? Remón, for example, pleaded guilty in 1986 of trying to blow up the Cuban Mission in New York.

Novo, a member of the violent anti-Castro group Omega 7, was convicted in the 1976 bombing murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier. The verdict was overturned on appeal.

Jiménez and another man served six years in prison after they tried to kidnap a Cuban diplomat in Mexico and killed his bodyguard instead. Federal prosecutors also indicted him for placing a bomb in the car of radio commentator Emilio Milián, who lost both his legs in the blast. A new U.S. attorney quashed the indictment, citing problems with a witness.

And finally, there is Posada.

How is placing bombs in hotels and restaurants in Havana any different from placing bombs on trains and buses in London?

Posada -- who denies blowing up the Cubana jetliner -- bragged to the press about the Havana hotel bombings.

When his bragging caused problems for his supporters in Miami, he recanted. Today he won't discuss the bombings.

I wanted to talk with Ros-Lehtinen. Friday morning I called her press secretary and explained precisely what I was working on. He said he would get back to me, but I never heard from him or the congresswoman, despite subsequent calls.

Ros-Lehtinen's efforts on behalf of these four men shouldn't have surprised anyone. When she first ran for Congress, she came to the aid of another Cuban militant, Orlando Bosch, and it helped her get elected.

But what wins elections in some parts of Miami will likely smack of hypocrisy elsewhere.

Either you believe that terrorism is barbaric or you don't. Either you believe those who commit such acts disrespect humanity or you don't.

The nobility of your cause cannot be a justification for terror, because every terrorist believes that what he is doing is right.

Which is why the only way to fight terrorism is to condemn it in all its forms and not just when it is politically convenient.

Pastors Group Embarks on Pro-Cuba Caravan Across US

July 5, 2004

Havana, July 4 (AIN) The US Pastors for Peace organization has set off on a procession across North America to protest Washington's more than 45-year economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba.

This year's cavalcade constitutes the 16th occasion in which organization has staged such a protest caravan through Canada and the US, reported the Granma newspaper Monday.

During their tour, the organization's members aim to collect 80 tons of humanitarian aid, particularly medical equipment, school items and computers, which will be donated to Cuba - without a license required by the US Treasury - in defiance of Washington's blockade of the island.

The caravan set out on Friday from the Canadian city of Victoria. It will travel through 8 US states over the next 16 days and visit more than 130 US cities and communities, meeting with people and holding chats and lectures on the Cuban reality.

The protest procession will include rallies and other actions directed

This year's Pastor for Peace Friendshipment is rallying 125 "caravanistas" from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Britain, Germany, the United States, Denmark, Mexico, and will include Cuban-Americans - a quality which gives the protest action an international character.

Activists are expected to reach the Mexican border on July 21 and will travel to Cuba on July 23 by plane.

Pastors for Peace is an ecumenical effort established in 1992 by the Inter-religious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO). It has taken 2,500 tons of humanitarian aid to Cuba since 1992.

Group readies bus for peace caravan to Cuba

July 5, 2005

Group readies bus for peace caravan to Cuba

By AMY HAMBLIN

Sentinel Correspondent

A member of the Young People's Socialist League at 15, Bill Burtch jokes that socialism has never scared him.

It's part of the reason he can't see the logic in the four-decade trade embargo and travel ban against Cuba. To send a message to our government, the 85-year-old will travel with the 16th Pastors for Peace Caravan to the island to deliver humanitarian aid.

This year several Santa Cruz groups raised funds and purchased one of the 14 buses headed to Cuba. The bus will leave July 11 with five Santa Cruz and three Redwood City residents on board. It will pick up a few other "caravanistas" in Southern California before joining the other buses at the Texas-Mexican border.

But before it heads out, the bus will make stops around the county so volunteers can distribute leaflets about their trip. The bus will visit Watsonville on Saturday and be parked along Pacific Avenue on Friday and Sunday. Speakers will talk about their trip experiences at Abbott Square at 1 p.m. July 10.

The buses loaded with humanitarian aid will be shipped to Cuba by boat from Mexico, while the caravanistas fly there for a 10-day stay. The 100-plus group will visit churches, schools, unions and pharmaceutical companies to get a glimpse of how Cubans live.

Burtch said though Cuba has suffered from the blockade, the country still is doing better than most Americans think.

"The mark of any government is how it takes care of the people who can't take care of themselves," Burtch said. "Cuba could show our government a lot."

According to Burtch, the travel ban is "strictly a question of political parties trying to win votes in Florida," where many anti-Castro Cubans have fled.

Burtch risks a $5,000 fine by traveling to the country without a license, which can't be issued to tourists. Licenses can only be obtained by government officials, academics, journalists or those with family members living there. No caravanista has been fined yet but about 90 Homeland Security officers greeted the group when they returned last year.

This hasn't deterred any of the local groups involved. The Cuba Study Group, Three Americas, Live Oak Grange and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom helped raise

funds to purchase a $7,000 school bus from the Petaluma School District. The bus features a wheelchair lift, which Burtch said is particularly needed there.

The bus will be full of donated used bikes, toothbrushes and school supplies.

Nancy Abbey, who went on the last two caravans, helped coordinate some of the fund-raisers, which netted $6,300 from a dinner and two yard sales. Abbey won't be making the trip this year but she said she still wanted to help overcome what she dubs a "bad neighbor policy."

In place of the veteran caravanista will be newcomers Jonathan Alcantar of Watsonville and Jeneé Sallee of Santa Cruz. John and Betty Devalcourt of Santa Cruz also will travel with the Santa Cruz bus to the Mexican border.

Caravanistas are expected to pay their own expenses for the trip. Graduating from UC Santa Cruz in March, Sallee said she has struggled to scrape together the money by working two jobs.

But she doesn't doubt the experience will be worth it.

"It's a worthwhile way to see the country and take a political stance," said Sallee, 23, who double majored in environmental studies and politics.

Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel.

press report from Coburn Gore, Maine

COBURN GORE, MAINE – A cross-border effort of Canadian and U.S. Cuba Solidarity groups succeeded today in bringing humanitarian aid destined for Cuba into the United States kicking off the east coast route of the 16th Pastors for Peace US-Cuba Friendshipment. In the early afternoon on Saturday, July 2, 20 members of Caravane d'Amitie Quebec-Cuba and Associacion Quebecoise des Amis de Cuba arrived on the Canadian side of the Coburn Gore crossing and waved across the border to a group from Let Cuba Live Committee of Maine. Freedom for the Five banners and Cuban flags were hoisted on both sides, as US Customs authorities lined up in the roadway to oversee the meeting of the two countries.

Customs officials, joined by US Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents, were anticipating the crossing and stood in the road to meet the representatives from Let Cuba Live. Peter and Judy Robbins introduced themselves and explained the purpose of the event, "We are here to receive humanitarian aid for Cuba that will travel with the Pastors for Peace Friendship Caravan. We do this every year and we have met some of you before," said Judy Robbins, referring to aid caravans that have crossed into and out of the US at Coburn Gore for the past six years, sometimes without incident, but twice resulting in the seizing of many truckloads of aid for Cuba by the US government. After determining that the spokesperson for the crossing would be Sean O'Donoghue of the Caravane d'Amitie, Customs requested that Let Cuba Live wait outside the inspection area.

Joining the Let Cuba Live delegation was a caravanista from Nova Scotia, Charles Haynes, who had traveled to Maine, then made the lengthy drive back up to the Canadian border to participate in supporting the crossing. "Although I am a Canadian citizen and can travel freely to Cuba and often do, I am joining the Pastors for Peace caravan as a way to challenge the blockade," said Haynes, an artist who is making a video documentary that he hopes will be produced in Canada when he returns. As they waited, the group was approached by a local business owner, who welcomed them back, saying she had watched the crossings here on many occasions and eagerly supported the efforts. "Sanctions on travel and trade with Cuba are wrong and people have got to speak up to the Bush administration," she declared.

The Quebec solidarity vehicles came through the checkpoint one by one after a lengthy process in which each box was opened and inspected. At one point a family of travelers from Australia coming through the border was asked by US Customs "Are you with them?" When the family said "No, but who are they," the official replied "It's the Pastors for Peace." The driver then said "Well, good for them!" and was passed through with a disapproving look.

The US and Quebec delegations loaded the aid onto US vehicles after a brief but cheerful welcoming. Greetings were exchanged, and interviews conducted. "Buena suerte! See you next year!" The Caravan went on its way to Boston.

For information contact: Peter Robbins, Let Cuba Live Committee, 207-326-4405

Nouveau départ pour la caravane Québec-Cuba

Mise à jour le samedi 2 juillet 2005 à 14 h 46

Un groupe de Québécois a quitté Montréal samedi matin en direction des États-Unis avec des dons pour Cuba.

La Caravane d'amitié Québec-Cuba veut ainsi soutenir la caravane des Pasteurs pour la paix qui, depuis 16 ans, défie le blocus américain contre Cuba et envoie du matériel,notamment médical, dans l'île communiste.

Après la traversée du poste frontalier de Colburn Gore, dans le Maine, les Québécois devraient remettre les dons amassés à leurs collègues américains. Ces derniers prendront ensuite la route du Mexique, d'où ils enverront leur matériel par bateau.

Au-delà de son caractère humanitaire, le geste se veut également politique, car les traversées de matériel aux douanes américaines violent la politique américaine vis-à-vis Cuba.

Dans le passé, des dons ont été saisis par les agents de douanes américains à quelques reprises.


caravan news accounts

7-5-2005

Peace caravan will challenge U.S. blockade of Cuba

PORTSMOUTH - On Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba will make a stop in the city.

Miguel Hammond, who has been on several caravans and has Cuban-American roots, will speak to the work of Pastors For Peace. Local activist Michael Murray will briefly discuss his recent trip to Cuba with Witness for Peace.

Seacoast Peace Response is sponsoring this event at the Unitarian-Universalist (South) Church, 292 State St.

This is the Pastors for Peace 16th Nonviolent Challenge to the U.S. Blockade of Cuba. Hundreds of Pastors for Peace volunteers from the United States and seven foreign countries will challenge the U.S. blockade and travel restrictions against Cuba at the U.S.-Mexico border on July 21. They expect to collect 200 tons of humanitarian aid during a two-week caravan across the United States before going to Cuba.

"As people of faith and conscience, it is our duty to resist and condemn this cruel U.S. policy," said the Rev. Lucius Walker Jr., executive director and founder of Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, a 36-year old ecumenical agency. "IFCO/Pastors for Peace rejects this licensing system as both immoral and illegal.

"It is immoral because it endangers the lives of millions of Cubans and inflicts suffering on innocent children, as well as adults. It is illegal under international law because it uses medicine and food as weapons of war to force another nation to change its government," Walker said. "Licensing is also unconstitutional because it requires people of faith to submit their acts of conscience and friendship to government licensing, in violation of our right to freedom of religious expression, political thought, association and travel."

The caravan will traverse 14 routes across the country and stop in all 48 mainland states. Along the way, the caravan will be hosted in 130 communities. This year, members of those communities have collected aid for Cubans with special needs. Since 1992, Pastors for Peace has used hunger strikes and mass mobilizations to successfully challenge U.S. government attempts to confiscate vehicles and humanitarian aid bound for Cuba, according to a press release from the group. The ecumenical initiative is a project of IFCO, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, and has delivered more than 2,350 tons of urgently needed assistance to the Cuban people without seeking a U.S. Treasury license.

Financial donations for the caravan will be accepted.

For more information, contact Amy Antonucci at amyla44@juno.com or 750-7506. For more information on this event, upcoming events and Seacoast Peace Response, visit www.seacoastpeaceresponse.org.

This page has been printed from the following URL:

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/07042005/news/51017.htm

NewKerala, India : 'Friendship Caravan' protests US blockade of Cuba

World News Posted on 04 July, 2005

'Friendship Caravan' protests US blockade of Cuba

Washington: The 16th US-Cuba Friendship Caravan is winding its way through American cities to protest Washington's more than 40-year-old economic blockade against Havana, reports the Prensa Latina news agency.

Organised by the Pastors for Peace, the 16-day march began July 1 from Victoria, Canada. The caravan travelling on 14 different routes will cover 48 states and 130 cities in the US where participants will interact with people and collect donations, organisers said.

Caravan leader Reverend Lucius Walker said the US blockade against Cuba was illegal and immoral.

"It is immoral because it endangers the Cuban peopleґs well-being and makes innocent children and adults suffer. It is illegal because it is used as a sanction to force a nation to change its government," he said.

According to the Pastors for Peace, the US embargo has caused a shortage of food, medicine and other imports supplies in Cuba.

In defiance of the US trade laws, Pastors for Peace has collected medical supplies, toys, school items and other humanitarian aid and transported it in a caravan to Cuba for the last 16 years. They have handed over about 2,500 tonnes of aid to that country.

Lectures and demonstrations will be held in places through which the caravan passes. At least 125 people from Canada, Ireland , Scotland, England, Germany, Denmark, Mexico and also Cuban-Americans are participating.

The US embargo was imposed on Cuba after President Fidel Castro defeated a 1961 CIA-backed assault at the Bay of Pigs, a bay on the southern coast of Cuba.

IANS

Friendship Caravan to Cuba will be in Bozeman
Friday, July 01, 2005

Local news in brief

The 16th Friendship Caravan to Cuba will be in Bozeman Thursday, July 7, to collect materials for Cuba and give a presentation of the purpose of the mission.

The Gallatin Human Rights Task Force and the Bozeman Peace Seekers are sponsoring a potluck at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7, at Bogert Grove Pavilion.

The caravan is sponsored by Pastors for Peace and the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization. The caravan traveling 14 different routes across the U.S., will converge in McAllen, Texas, and protest U.S. policy toward Cuba, particularly restriction on travel and trade, before crossing the U.S. border. Bozeman is one of the 130 communities hosting the caravan as they cross the country.

The public is invited to the potluck to support this effort to protest the blockade and help the people of Cuba. Bring contributions of medical supplies, computer materials and humanitarian aid. For information contact Charles Caughlan at 388-1007.


16th Pastors for Peace Caravan on its Way to Cuba

Washington, Jul 4 (Prensa Latina) The 16th Cuba Friendship Caravan, organized by Pastors for Peace, is already on its way through Canadian and American roads and cities collecting donations and protesting against Washington´s more than 40 year economic blockade against the island.

The 16-day march, begun on Friday in Victoria , Canada, includes 14 routes to cover 48 states, 130 cities and communities in the US where participants will meet by hundreds of people, organizers said.

Gatherings, lectures and demonstrations will be staged in all areas in support of the Caravan and to protest the White House blockade against the Island.

At least 125 people from Canada, Ireland , Scotland, England, Germany, Denmark, Mexico and also Cuban-Americans will take part in this international Caravan in rejection of Washington´s Cuba policy.

Activists will arrive to the US border with Mexico on July 21 and fligh to Cuba on July 23.

During their route, activists will collect 80 tons worth of aid including medical equipment, school items and computers.

Circumventing US Treasury Department laws, Pastors for Peace have handed over to Cuba about 2,500 tons of solidarity aid for the Cuban people since 1992 to protest the US blockade against the Island, termed illegal and immoral by Caravan leader Reverend Lucius Walker.

"It is immoral because it endangers the Cuban people's wellbeing and makes innocent children and adults suffer", he said.

It is illegal because it is used as a sanction to force a nation to change its government, he added.

Music lives beneath the radar

MICHAEL PAUL WILLIAMS
POINT OF VIEW

Jul 1, 2005

Michael's column appears Mon. and Fri. Contact him at (804)649-6815 or mwilliams @timesdispatch.com

Using his saxophone and a video camera as tools, J. Plunky Branch hopes to erect a 90-mile bridge from the United States to Cuba.

The Richmond-based jazz musician produced and directed "Under the Radar: A Survey of Afro-Cuban Music," a documentary that won the 2005 Indepen- dent Black Film Festival Audience Award in Atlanta this spring.

The Richmond Jazz Society and Branch will show excerpts of the film July 12 at the Hyperlink Café, 814 W. Grace St. (For more information, go to www.underthe radarfilms.org.)

The 86-minute DVD and three musical compilation CDs are the result of several trips Branch made to the island during the spring of 2001 in collaboration with executive producer Alvin "Skipper" Bailey of Pastors for Peace, a ministry that delivers humanitarian aid to Latin America and the Caribbean while seeking to end the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba.

Originally, Bailey wanted to make a movie about the harsh effects of the blockade on the Cuban people. He asked Branch to accompany him to record music for the film's soundtrack.

But when those plans fell through, they scoured the island for talent. Branch's son, hip-hop producer and videographer Jamiah "Sir Fire" Branch, brought his recording equipment to the island, to the delight of the rappers there.

"When Jamiah showed up, it was like he was Puff Daddy or something," Branch said.

Branch took the recordings back home and mixed and mastered them before returning to the island. The Cuban musicians were so delighted with the quality of the recordings from the first trip that they led the American trio to more performers of rumba, timba, salsa and other Cuban music.

Branch was equally thrilled at what he saw and heard. "Cuban musicians as a group are some of the best musicians I've encountered in the world, anywhere," he said.

While music here is a pastime, in Cuba it is a vital economic resource. "It's like the lifeblood of that culture," Branch said.

The documentary is a valentine to that music. But its political overtones, while not pounded into our ears like congas, are evident.

"My film, first and foremost, is not a political document. But you can't talk about Cuba today and divorce yourself from the politics. Going to Cuba in and of itself is a political act," said Branch, who had to get there by way of Montreal and Jamaica.

As if on cue, the House voted yesterday against permitting Cuban-Americans to visit their families in Cuba more frequently and for retaining the trade embargo, according to The Associated Press.

Branch said the embargo has done little to foment opposition to Cuban leader Fidel Castro, but has done wonders to poison Cuban attitudes about America. "People are not blaming Castro. They see the U.S. as declaring war on them," Branch said.

He hopes his film can promote understanding of the island, its people, the shared history of black people on the U.S. mainland and Cuba and the impact of U.S. policies on ordinary Cubans.

"For black people, the music is one of the most effective ways to study our history, whether you're taking about Mississippi or you're talking about Havana," Branch said.

"What the situation in Cuba needs most is for people to know about it," he said. "I'm just saying, here's the situation as it is. Now let's be informed and make a choice."

Contact Michael Paul Williams at (804) 649-6815 or mwilliams@timesdispatch.com

European and L.A. Volunteers Coming to Cuba

By Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver

Havana, Jun 22 (AIN) Members of international volunteer brigades from Europe and Latin America will arrive in Cuba this summer in a show of support for the Cuban people and Revolution at a time of growing US hostility towards the island.

The Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP) hosts the brigade programs on the island.

The first group expected is a 300 member European Brigade from 23 nations including Spain, Norway, Italy, Switzerland, Ukraine , Russia and Denmark.

These volunteers will remain in Cuba from June 27 to July 17, working on farms located in Havana's municipality of Caimito. They will also visit places of interest in the city of Havana, and the western provinces of Pinar del Rio and Matanzas.

Other brigades traveling to the island during the second half of July are the Juan Rius Rivera Brigade of Puerto Rico, and the 36th Venceremos Brigade from the US. At the same time, the 16th US-Cuba Friendship Caravan led by Pastors for Peace will be visiting the island.

With their action, the activists from both the US and Puerto Rico will demonstrate their rejection to the economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the White House against Cuba, including travel restrictions to the island that were reinforced last year.

The 13th Che Guevara Solidarity Delegation from Canada will be in Cuba from July 31 to August 21, along with the 12th Latin American Brigade made up of more than 350 members.

Caravan challenging Cuba blockade to stop in town

Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Pastors for Peace volunteers of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) are conducting the 16th annual Friendshipment Caravan, to send humanitarian aid to Cuba.

The caravan will traverse 14 routes across the nations, stopping in all 48 mainland states to collect computers, medicines, medical supplies and school buses to be shipped to Cuba.

The Rev. Thomas Smith, president of the board of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, stated, "Our nonviolent caravan of peace-loving individuals is a challenge to [the U.S.] violation of our rights to express our faith and to travel to Cuba."

The caravan will stop in Montclair on Wednesday, July 6, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Unitarian Church of Montclair, 67 Church St.

'Friendship Caravan' protests US blockade of Cuba

Washington , July 4: The 16th US-Cuba Friendship Caravan is winding its way through American cities to protest Washington's more than 40-year-old economic blockade against Havana, reports the Prensa Latina news agency.

Organised by the Pastors for Peace, the 16-day march began July 1 from Victoria, Canada. The caravan travelling on 14 different routes will cover 48 states and 130 cities in the US where participants will interact with people and collect donations, organisers said. Caravan leader Reverend Lucius Walker said the US blockade against Cuba was illegal and immoral.

"It is immoral because it endangers the Cuban people´s well-being and makes innocent children and adults suffer. It is illegal because it is used as a sanction to force a nation to change its government," he said.

According to the Pastors for Peace, the US embargo has caused a shortage of food, medicine and other imports supplies in Cuba.

In defiance of the US trade laws, Pastors for Peace has collected medical supplies, toys, school items and other humanitarian aid and transported it in a caravan to Cuba for the last 16 years. They have handed over about 2,500 tonnes of aid to that country.

Lectures and demonstrations will be held in places through which the caravan passes. At least 125 people from Canada, Ireland , Scotland, England, Germany, Denmark, Mexico and also Cuban-Americans are participating.

The US embargo was imposed on Cuba after President Fidel Castro defeated a 1961 CIA-backed assault at the Bay of Pigs, a bay on the southern coast of Cuba.

Pastors for Peace defy Cuba blockade

The Pastors for Peace organization is on the march against the blockade policy imposed by the US government against Cuba, Prensa Latina reports.

This is the 16th time that the Pastors have travelled to Mexico from Canada and throughout the United States against a measure that, in addition to being unconstitutional, is also described by them as immoral and illegal.

The caravan began last Friday in Victoria, Canada and includes 14 routes passing through 48 US states in 16 days, covering more than 130 cities and communities where they will be received by hundreds of people, its organizers affirmed.

The challenge is made up of 125 caravanistas from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, Germany, Denmark, Mexico, and Cuban-Americans, which gives an international character to the display of repudiation of the US policy toward the island.

The activists are set to reach the US border with Mexico on July 21 and will fly to Cuba on the 23.

On its tour the caravan is to collect close to 80 tons of aid in the form of medical equipment, school materials, computers and other items.

Since 1992, Pastors for Peace, an ecumenical project attached to the Inter-religious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), has handed over close to 2,500 tons of solidarity aid for the Cuban people without a Treasury Department license.

The Bush administration has cut back on nearly all the people-to-people exchanges with Cuba and is utilizing the pretext of "homeland security" to investigate those suspected of having travelled to the island.

The Reverend Lucius Walker stated in a communiqué that IFCO/Pastors for Peace rejects this immoral and illegal blockade system.

"It is immoral, because it is endangering the well-being of Cubans and inflicting unnecessary suffering on innocent children, as well as adults," he maintains. "It is also illegal under international law," he added, "because it is utilizing a sanction only allowed against an enemy in stated times of war in order to force another nation to change its government.

16th Pastors for Peace Caravan on its Way to Cuba

Washington, Jul 3 (Prensa Latina) The 16th Cuba Friendship Caravan, organized by Pastors for Peace, is already on its way through Canadian and American roads and cities collecting donations and protesting against Washington's more than 40 year economic blockade against the island.

The 16-day march, begun on Friday in Victoria , Canada, includes 14 routes to cover 48 states, 130 cities and communities in the US where participants will meet by hundreds of people, organizers said.

Gatherings, lectures and demonstrations will be staged in all areas in support of the Caravan and to protest the White House blockade against the Island.

At least 125 people from Canada, Ireland, Scotland , England, Germany, Denmark, Mexico and also Cuban-Americans will take part in this international Caravan in rejection of Washington's Cuba policy.

Activists will arrive to the US border with Mexico on July 21 and flight to Cuba on July 23.

During their route, activists will collect 80 tons worth of aid including medical equipment, school items and computers.

Circumventing US Treasury Department laws, Pastors for Peace have handed over to Cuba about 2,500 tons of solidarity aid for the Cuban people since 1992 to protest the US blockade against the Island, termed illegal and immoral by Caravan leader Reverend Lucius Walker.

"It is immoral because it endangers the Cuban people's wellbeing and makes innocent children and adults suffer", he said.

It is illegal because it is used as a sanction to force a nation to change its government, he added.

Residents join Cuba caravan

BY KEVIN KALHOEFER

THE OLYMPIAN

Rick Fellows expects to be in Cuba later this month, along with four other people who left Olympia on Tuesday.

In the next two weeks, the caravan will travel to Seattle, Portland, Boise and Salt Lake City before converging with the other caravans at McAllen, Texas, on July 17.

Along the way they will pick up volunteers, collect donated items and speak at churches of varying denominations as part of a nationwide project coordinated by the nonprofit organization Pastors for Peace. Six caravans spread across the United States will travel through 130 cities and 48 states.

The group hopes to aid Cubans by providing medicine, medical equipment, computers and bicycles.

Fellows, an Olympia resident and mechanic, has participated in 15 similar excursions to Cuba and will be the project's principle mechanic.

He will remain in Olympia to provide on-call mechanical consultation to other caravans and sort and load repair equipment until he meets the caravans in McAllen.

In Texas, experienced participants will brief newcomers on the entry process to Cuba. Then they will travel to Tampico, Mexico, where they will load the collected items onto ships and then fly to Cuba.

The collected goods will be distributed with the help of an ecumenical distribution committee, Fellows said.

Catherine Murphy, a participant from San Francisco, said she hopes the trip will "illustrate the reality of the embargo" the United States has imposed on Cuba.

"How can we be involved in a true democratic process if we can't even go there and see things for ourselves?" she said.

Under the Helms-Burton Act, people who travel to Cuba without government permission can be fined or imprisoned.

That hasn't happened during past excursions by Pastors for Peace, though a few participants have been arrested and injured by border patrol, according to Bill Hill, the excursion's organizer and a Vietnam veteran.

Genevieve Mutschler, a Canadian nurse, said she may never achieve her goal of living and working in the United States because of the actions she'll take with the group, yet she was willing to risk it all to help Cubans in need.

Those who want to participate in the caravan trip and trip to Cuba are required to fill out applications with Pastors for Peace. Hill said they expect 140 people to participate.

He will remain in Olympia to provide on-call mechanical consultation to other caravans and sort and load repair equipment until he meets the caravans in McAllen. In Texas, experienced participants will brief newcomers on the entry process to Cuba. Then they will travel to Tampico, Mexico, where they will load the collected items onto ships and then fly to Cuba.

The collected goods will be distributed with the help of an ecumenical distribution committee, Fellows said.

Catherine Murphy, a participant from San Francisco, said she hopes the trip will "illustrate the reality of the embargo" the United States has imposed on Cuba.

"How can we be involved in a true democratic process if we can't even go there and see things for ourselves?" she said.

Under the Helms-Burton Act, people who travel to Cuba without government permission can be fined or imprisoned.

That hasn't happened during past excursions by Pastors for Peace, though a few participants have been arrested and injured by border patrol, according to Bill Hill, the excursion's organizer and a Vietnam veteran.

Genevieve Mutschler, a Canadian nurse, said she may never achieve her goal of living and working in the United States because of the actions she'll take with the group, yet she was willing to risk it all to help Cubans in need.

Those who want to participate in the caravan trip and trip to Cuba are required to fill out applications with Pastors for Peace. Hill said they expect 140 people to participate.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Pastors for Peace speak out against blockade of Cuba

By PAT McGOWAN

Democrat Staff Writer

PORTSMOUTH — Local peace activists heard an unfamiliar side of the American trade blockade of Cuba Tuesday evening, when a member of Pastors For Peace, an organization challenging the blockade, discussed his recent visits to Cuba.

Cuban-American Miguel Hammond said the Pastors For Peace program has openly violated the U.S. blockade of Cuba for the past 16 years, bringing medical aid, bicycles, shoes, and other items into the country.

"I think that the U.S. is scared of Cuba's ideological model that money does not come before people," said Hammond, speaking to a crowd of roughly 20 at the South Church. "(Cuba) is really a model for what a civil society should be. Cuba is an ideal experiment."

For the past 16 years, hundreds of Pastors for Peace volunteers from the U.S. and seven foreign countries have challenged the blockade, traveling to Cuba from the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pastors for Peace expect to collect 200 tons of humanitarian aid during a two-week caravan across the U.S. before taking a Cuban freighter to Cuba on July 21.

Hammond, who began participating in the Pastors for Peace program in 2000, said a ship that docks at Cuba cannot dock within the U.S. for six months. He also said it has become increasingly difficult for humanitarian organizations to visit the island.

However, Hammond, a New York native, said that after several visits to the island he believes the Cuban government is beginning to grow its economy, despite the U.S. blockade, by fostering tourism and diversifying their exports.

"They are stirring up their economy on a world scale and are not waiting for our blockade to end," he said. "Cubans have a lot to offer us — not only Cuban medicine, but Cuban culture. They do not want to see this blockade continue any more than we do."

Seacoast Peace Response sponsored the event.

Dave Queley, of Kittery, Maine, attended the event because he is interested in what is happening in Cuba.

"I was in Cuba once, at Guantanamo Bay," Queley said. "You wonder what the hassle is. They (Cuba) don't seem to be much of a threat. Why can't we be civil?"

Lisa Horowitz, of Eliot, Maine, attends many events that Seacoast Peace Response sponsors.

"I am concerned where we are in the world," she said.

Steve Drozell/Staff photographer Michael Murray, of Seacoast Peace Response, spoke Tuesday evening at the South Church in Portsmouth about his recent trip to Cuba. He and others gathered at the church to discuss the current U.S. trade blockade.

July 6, 2005

Ashlanders heading to Cuba

By Robert Plain

Ashland Daily Tidings

Since 1959, the United States has imposed a trade embargo against Cuba, its socialist neighbor just 90 miles south of Florida. Instituted as a ploy to economically punish the country's communist government, which took power after an internal revolution that same year, this means, in part, that Cuban-made products are not supposed to enter this country and American-made goods are not supposed to go to Cuba.

But later this month, several Ashlanders will be traveling to the oft-villified island nation led by Fidel Castro to try to change all that.

Jane Palmieri, a junior at Southern Oregon University, will join the Pastors for Peace caravan, a secular mission that will stop in over 100 American cities picking up volunteers and educating Americans about the conditions in Cuba, before bringing more than 130 U.S. citizens to the island nation for the dual purposes of aid and diplomacy.

While they may not be able to convince Congress that it's time to abandon the embargo, they will, at the very least, be able to bring some much-needed supplies to the Cuban people, who Palmieri said enjoy one of the world's great agricultural models — but lack much of the common medical supplies and everyday items that we in America tend to take for granted.

"I think the embargo should be lifted," Palmieri said. "It's intended to affect the government but it actually affects the people. There are 11 million Cubans who don't have access to the food and medicine they need. They can't obtain these items because so many of them have U.S. financial ties."

Pastors for Peace, she said, brings many of these supplies directly to the Cuban people. Palmieri said they will bring crutches, eye glasses, toys and educational supplies. She said she will personally bring things like vitamins, aspirin and other non-prescription medicines.

As a nursing student who is considering medical school in Havana, the capital city of Cuba, she said there is great irony to the fact that Cuba has one of the world's great health-care systems, boasting a doctor for every 121 citizens, but doesn't have the means to provide simple products like Tylenol and elastic bandages. In the United States, there are 370 doctors for every citizen, according to the Consumer Health Journal.

"There are all these interesting things a socialist government can offer its people, like universal health care and education," she said. "But there is all this negative propaganda from our government. I don't really know which to believe so I want to go see for myself."

Mary Ann Jones, who is going on her second trip to Cuba, said the American propaganda may stem from a fear that Americans may covet much of the social services that Cubans enjoy.

"I feel one reason our government doesn't want us to see what is going on in Cuba is if we know that such a poor country can provide these things for its people, why can't that richest nation in the world," she said. "Americans may well ask why our priorities don't better reflect the needs of the people."

Jones said the objective of the trip is two-fold. On one level the impetus is to provide direct aid to the people of Cuba.

"We're showing Cubans that a large number of Americans have very friendly feelings for them."

On another level, the trip is a way to flout the embargo and make a political point.

"It's a statement saying we don't recognize the right of our government to tell us we can't travel to another country," she said. "[The United States] is supposed to be the land of the free."

Also from Ashland attending the trip are Brad Jones, Mary Ann's son, who is going for his fourth trip. Suzia Aufderheide, an Ashland activist, is bringing her twin sons Ian and Colin Riversong as a high school graduation present.

For more information on the trip, Pastors for Peace, or Cuba in general, there will be a potluck celebration on Thursday night at 6 at the First Presbyterian Church on Siskiyou Boulevard. Those interested in attending are encouraged to bring supplies for the trip, a donation or even just a dish.

Richard Becker, from the international Action Center in San Francisco, will be giving a talk on Cuban relations at 7:30.

Staff writer Robert Plain can be reached at 482-3456 x 3040 or bplain@dailytidings.com.

Chicago Women Defy US Government's Cuba Blockade

By IFCO

Related stories: Cuba solidarity

7-08-05, 8:50 am

Participants argue that blockade is immoral, inhumane and deeply harmful to Cuban people

CHICAGO – On July 11, nineteen-year-old Chicagoan Jennifer Suh and Trinidadian citizen Allison St. Brice, Suh's 20-year-old Amherst College classmate, will board a yellow school bus on a mission to deliver humanitarian aid to Cuba – a criminal act under current US law. The two are participants in the 16th Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan, a project of IFCO – the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization. The women will join over 150 caravanistas from the US, Canada, Mexico, and seven European countries to challenge the US embargo on Cuba.

Because the caravan participants are traveling without a US Treasury license, all risk fines and imprisonment.

Last week, Congress rejected legislation to ease trade and travel restrictions that have persisted for over 40 years – restrictions that faith-based groups argue are immoral, inhumane and deeply harmful to Cuban residents. Caravan supporters argue the US government's position stands in stark contrast to that of the international community; last year, the United Nations voted overwhelmingly for the removal of these restrictions for the 13th year in a row. Decorated Cuban-American war veteran Sgt. Carlos Lazo is among those raising concerns about travel restrictions to the island, which have prevented him from visiting his sick son in Cuba.

Since 1992, IFCO / Pastors for Peace has delivered more than 2,350 tons of humanitarian aid to the Cuban people without seeking a US Treasury license, arguing that license requirements violate constitutional rights to freedom of religious expression, political thought, association and travel. This year's Friendshipment Caravan buses will pass along 14 routes through 48 states and 130 host communities before the caravan converges in McAllen, Texas on July 17. Once in Texas, volunteers will organize 200 tons of humanitarian aid – including medical supplies, school buses, computers and educational materials -- that will be transported across the US-Mexico border and shipped to Cuba. At many stops, the caravan will collect aid donated by people who support a new US-Cuba policy based on respect and non-aggression.

The Chicago bus is donated by caravan veterans from Denmark and named for one of the 'Cuban Five,' Cuban nationals incarcerated in US prisons for espionage. The five maintain that they were trying to protect their homeland from terrorist groups based in the US, in a case that is attracting increased international attention. Three events on Sunday, July 9 are being held in the run-up to the caravan's Monday departure: Kathryn Hall, public health worker and caravan volunteer, will participate in a report from 11:45 to 2 p.m. in McDonough Hall of the Gleeson Building in Oak Park, at 1101 Columbian Ave.; a bus painting event from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Amor De Dios Church at 2356 S. Sawyer in Chicago; and a Friendshipment Caravan party at Danny's Bar at 1951 W. Dickens from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Hurricane Dennis

Locals fear for loved ones in Cuba

As Dennis pounds the island, Cuban-Americans in the Tampa Bay area watch and worry.

By Times Staff Writers Times Wires

Published July 9, 2005

Powerful Hurricane Dennis roared across Cuba on Friday, causing at least 10 deaths and promising more destruction in its wake.

"It's arrived, with all its diabolical force," President Fidel Castro said on state television Friday. Dennis, which also killed five people in Haiti, slammed the eastern province of Granma and made landfall about 1 p.m. near the port city of Cienfuegos, before moving on to pummel Havana.

Tropical storm force winds buffeted the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay in southeastern Cuba, doing minor damage, including knocking down a life guard tower on a beach used by military personnel.

Cuban-Americans in the Tampa Bay area with loved ones on the island nation stayed glued to crackling radio reports and news programs in Spanish on Friday as Dennis pummeled the island.

Al Arteaga, 83, of Town 'N Country was tuned to 640 AM, which picks up Radio Progreso straight from Havana. He propped his radio on the window sill of his bedroom to get the best reception.

Arteaga's 93-year-old sister lives in a nursing home in Havana. He switched back and forth between television news reports and the Cuban radio station. Arteaga, who has organized aid for Cuba in the past through Pastors for Peace, thought his sister had been evacuated inland as in past hurricanes. He was awaiting word from other relatives.

Aside from hundreds of thousands of people evacuated, Arteaga was keeping tabs on the agriculture.

"I don't know how many thousands and thousands of pigs and cows that are being relocated," he said.

Henry Mendoza, 43, whose father was a former political prisoner in Cuba, also was feeling fortunate for Cuba's reputation for hurricane preparedness.

Still, Mendoza, whose parents are visiting other relatives in Havana, struggled to stay positive as news reports trickled in about the eye of the hurricane passing over Cuba's capital.

"I'm praying to God and hoping that everything is going to be (okay)," said Mendoza, who lives in Apollo Beach.

His wife, whose parents live in Havana, was at home, glued to Bay News 9 en Espanol. The couple plans to stick to plans to visit Cuba on July 20.

"If we need to help move trees or whatever to help the people, we'll do whatever is necessary," he said. "It has nothing to do with politics. It's about humanity."

Times staff writers Saundra Amrhein and Brian White and researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report, which used information from Times wire services and the Orlando Sentinel.

Aid Organization Heading to Cuba Illegally

Jul. 9, 2005

Keith McCord Reporting

Cuba was hit hard when the hurricane passed over the island yesterday. At least 10 people died, and there was lots of damage. But, help is on the way. Several volunteer organizations have organized a humanitarian drive to send supplies to Cuba. Problem is, it's illegal!

On the side of a brightly painted bus are the words "Caravan to Cuba". Inside the bus is everything from bicycles to bibles, clothing to school supplies. The group responsible is called "Pastors for Peace".
Catherine Murray, Pastors for Peace: "By the end of the route we will have collected 200-tons of aid to take to Cuba. This is very important and obviously very needed."

The bus stopped in Salt Lake tonight-- it's one of 14 different caravans which will collect supplies from 130 cities.

Catherine Murray: "And we'll be converging at the Mexican border at McAllen, Texas. By the time we're there, there will be 140 US citizens and people from seven other countries from around the world."

Then, they'll take the supplies to Cuba, which was ravaged by the hurricane. But technically, they're breaking the law. The US has had a trade embargo with Cuba in place since the 1960's. For years, the Pastors for Peace organization has openly defied the law, saying it's outdated.

Catherine Murray: "We believe that it is illegal and immoral, and we are going in open defiance of that. We'll cross the border on the 21st of July and go to Cuba with this aid in our arms."

A humanitarian effort with a definite political message attached. This is the 16th time that this group has conducted such a mission to Cuba, to challenge the embargo. Members have met resistance from US border agents during those previous trips, but in the end, the supplies always made it to Cuba.