Pastors for Peace caravan to Cuba
Campaign News | Tuesday, 10 February 2004
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
- 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 (email@example.com; 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: http://www.ifconews.org