Pastors for Peace caravan to Cuba

Campaign News | Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Full details

Dear friends,

On behalf of our board, staff and the national network of IFCO/Pastors for

Peace in the United States, I want to extend our warmest solidarity

greetings. I am writing to put out a special call -- to ask for your

participation in our 15th US/Cuba Friendshipment caravan, which will travel

to Cuba in July 2004.

US-Cuba relations stand at a crucial and potentially dangerous moment. On

the one hand the Bush administration has labelled Cuba as a 'rogue state',

with all that implies for potential military action -- and is seeking to

tighten the blockade, particularly in relation to travel to Cuba by US

citizens. Yet the US Congress is moving in the opposite direction as a

majority slowly builds for a partial or even total lifting of the blockade.

2004 is presidential election year in the US and, with Bush counting on the

Miami- Cuban vote to secure Florida, we can be certain that the issue of

Cuba will feature prominently in the Bush re-election strategy. Our caravan

this summer can play a vital role in publicly highlighting and challenging

the inhumanity and ludicrousness of US policy, thus providing vital

information and encouragement for the growing opposition 'within the belly

of the beast' to Bush's intentions.

As in previous years the caravan will take much needed humanitarian aid --

such as medicines, computers and school supplies -- to Cuba without

applying to the US government for a license. However this year we are

giving special emphasis to the issue of travel to Cuba by US citizens. In

conjunction with other US organizations, including the Venceremos Brigade

and the African Awareness Association, we will be asserting our right to

travel to Cuba without asking for permission from the US Department of

Treasury. We will also be undertaking a 'Reverse Challenge' -- bringing

back into the US a cargo of symbolic aid from Cuba. This will build on

similar successful initiatives in the last 3 years, which have helped spark

a national debate about the benefits that trading with Cuba could offer to

the US people.

We know that you, our compañero/as, can travel and send solidarity direct

to Cuba without breaking your nation's laws. We know how much our friends

in Cuba value your support and your consistent good work. We also know that

your testimony, your perspectives about Cuba, can have a special impact

here in the US. Our people need to learn from you about how many friends

Cuba has in the world and how isolated internationally is Bush's policy.

Through caravan press conferences, rallies, educational events, and

meetings with Congressional and local officials, your testimony and support

will help us to break through the disinformation about Cuba which remains

so pervasive in the US and which has helped to keep the blockade in place

for so long.

Past caravans have benefited enormously from the involvement of members of

the solidarity campaigns in countries such as the Bahamas, Britain,

Denmark, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, in

addition to our ongoing relationships with organizations in Canada and

Mexico. This year we hope to see the largest and most varied international

presence ever. We know already that a group from the solidarity movement in

Denmark is committed to joining us.

We hope that you will consider joining us this summer by sending delegates

from your organization to join us. We also ask you to consider sending

symbolic aid with our caravan, or even to sponsor a caravan vehicle -- an

ambulance or schoolbus, for example -- which would travel along one of the

caravan's US routes as a vivid symbol of international solidarity, and

which then would be donated in Cuba. In past years the British campaign has

sponsored ambulances and Germany's Cuba Si contributed towards the cost of

a 53ft semi-trailer.

The schedule of the 15th Friendshipment caravan is as follows:

June 20 : Educational presentations and aid collections throughout the US

and Canada

- July 3

July 4-8: Participant orientation in Texas. Border crossing into Mexico

Travel to Tampico, Mexico and load material aid onto cargo ship

July 9-17: Fly to Havana for Caravan educational program in Cuba.

July 18: Return to Tampico, Mexico and travel to Mexico/US border

July 19: Reverse challenge; cross the Mexican border into the US,

delivering aid from the Cuban people to the people of the US

International participants can join a caravan route at any point up to the

start of the participant orientation on July 4th, but we want to encourage

your maximum possible involvement in the educational work in the US. We

also recognize that some of you may prefer to fly back to your countries

direct from Cuba.

If you have questions or suggestions about the caravan, or if you would

like to receive an application or more information, you can contact John

Waller at our New York office (; 212-926-5757).

We greatly value the contributions of all of you who have joined us on past

caravans, and we look forward to working with new friends as well.

We ask you to help us break the back of the brutal US blockade against Cuba.

We ask you to help us to continue to educate the US public, and to build

advocacy for normalized US relations with Cuba.

We look forward to future opportunities to work with you.

For peace with justice,

(Rev.) Lucius Walker, Jr.

and the staff of IFCO/Pastors for Peace

"Let us not love in word: but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:18

IFCO/Pastors for Peace

402 W 145th Street, New York, NY 10031

212-926-5757; fax: 212-926-5842; web:

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