Pastors for Peace Caravan prepared to cross US border this week

Campaign News | Tuesday, 20 July 2010

On July 21, the IFCO/Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan will break the illegal and immoral US blockade of Cuba for the 21st time when they cross the border with 100 tons of humanitarian aid for the Cuban people. Caravan representatives will speak at a press conference in McAllen, at noon on July 20.

85 caravanistas from 21 different states of the US, plus Canada, Mexico, and Europe, will travel to Cuba without US government permission in an act of civil disobedience against the travel ban and economic blockade.

This year’s caravan is dedicated to the children of Cuba. “Half the world-class medicines are virtually unavailable in Cuba because of the US blockade,” said Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., executive director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. “Why should Cuban children be deprived of life-saving medicines? This is not a policy that the people of the US are fully aware of, and not one that they would approve.”

Nine brightly painted school buses and a car will be donated to Cuba, for use by hospitals, churches, and schools. The 100 tons of humanitarian aid includes educational and medical aid, hospital equipment, computers, sports equipment, and construction tools.

“Anything that Cuba has to import is harder to get and much more expensive because of the US blockade,” said Rev. Tom Smith, chair of the IFCO board of directors. “Why must the US government maintain such a mean-spirited policy toward our neighbors?”

As t??he caravanistas visited 125 cities in the US and southern Canada, they encouraged community members to call their Congressional representatives and ask them to support HR 4645, the new bill that would end the ban on travel to Cuba as well as ease restrictions on agricultural sales.

While in Cuba, caravanistas will attend the graduation ceremony at the Latin American School of Medicine, which offers full medical scholarships to students from more than 40 nations. 14 of this year’s graduates come from the US, and will return to the US to work in medically under-served communities.

Pastors for Peace is a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), a national ecumenical agency that has been working for social justice since 1967.


PRESS CONFERENCE:Tuesday, July 20, 12 noon, in the parking lot of Our Savior Lutheran Church

1105 West Fern Avenue (off N. 10th St), McAllen, TXCONTACT: IFCO/Pastors for Peace: in McAllen: Alison Bodine 303/638-9799 in New York: Lucia Bruno 212/926-5757; 347/423-4330

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