CARAVAN TO CUBA RETURNS TO THE US; CONFRONTS US TRAVEL BAN. MEETS WITH ELIÁN GONZÁLEZ, MAKES APPEAL TO FREE THE CUBAN FIVE
CARAVAN TO CUBA RETURNS TO THE US;
CONFRONTS US TRAVEL BAN OF CUBA
CARAVAN MEETS WITH ELIÁN GONZÁLEZ,
MAKES APPEAL TO FREE THE CUBAN FIVE
McAllen, TX -- Members of the 20th anniversary Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba crossed back into the US the evening of July 31st after a month long journey through six provinces in Canada, 47 US states, Mexico and three provinces in Cuba.
As part of the Return Challenge, caravan members marched from Reynosa into McAllen, joined by local Mexican Cuba solidarity organizations, chanting "Cuba sí! Bloqueo no! " and "We've been to Cuba and we want you to know it!" as they entered US Customs, openly declaring their refusal to seek or accept a license from the US government to travel or bring aid to Cuba.
US border authorities demanded the caravanistas provide extensive information about their travel to Cuba, but in a united front, caravanistas refused to comply. "This kind of tactic of forcing people who travel to Cuba to "name names" is pure McCartheyism," said Lisa Valenti, who has participated in all 23 caravans.
"The US government subjects no other country in the world to such draconian travel restrictions. Why? What is the threat of a small island neighbor 90 miles away that offers free health care to the world?" added IFCO Co-Director Gail Walker.
"I'm a Vietnam Vet. I fought for this country. How can the US government tell me not to go to Cuba?" said Bill Hill, a veteran driver of the caravan.
Caravan members returned to the US after delivering nearly 100 tons of precious aid to Cuba and were victorious in getting US border authorities to return six computers retained at their border crossing on the 19th.
In Cuba the group met with Cuban faith, arts and community leaders throughout the island and visited hospitals and other institutions affected by the US blockade. Members also met with Elian Gonzalez and his father, who made a special appeal to free the Five Cubans imprisoned in the US for their anti-terrorist activities.
IFCO Co-Director Father Luis Barrios declared the group's continued solidarity with Cuba, "We will not rest until the Cuban Five are free and with their families in Cuba and until the immoral, genocidal US blockade is ended, once and for all."
The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan is a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), which has been working for racial, social, and economic justice since 1967.