July 7, 2009 - No. 132
20th Pastors for Peace Caravan to
Cuba July 3-August 3, 2009
Hands Off Cuba! End the U.S. Blockade of
Free the Cuban Five!
• Hands Off
Cuba! End the U.S. Blockade of Cuba!
• Help Cuba Rebuild After the Hurricanes
- IFCO/Pastors for Peace
• Worldwide Demonstrations Denounce U.S.
Supreme Court Decision and Demand Freedom for the Cuban Five
• Alarcón: We Should Redouble Efforts in Favour
of the Cuban Five
• Message from
• International Committee to Free the Cuban
Five Press Statement
• Venceremos Brigade Press Statement
For Your Information
• A Brief History of the U.S./Cuba
Friendshipment Caravan Campaign - IFCO/Pastors for Peace
20th Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba
July 3-August 3, 2009
Hands Off Cuba! End the U.S. Blockade of Cuba!
From July 3 to August 3, the Interreligous Foundation
for Community Organization/Pastors for Peace is sending its 20th
Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. The Caravan is made up of ordinary
Canadians, Americans and people from other countries, bringing
humanitarian aid to Cuba in support of the Cuban people and their
Revolution. Already, various contingents
have started south on their way to Cuba through BC, Alberta,
Saskatchewan, Quebec and Ontario, collecting goods for Cuba and
mobilizing opposition to the U.S. blockade.
For six decades the U.S. has maintained a hostile policy
towards Cuba as vengence for the Cuban people's rejection of U.S.
domination, in which Cuba's revolutionaries lead by Comrade Fidel
overthrew the U.S. puppet Fulgencio Batista and chose their own
political system which enshrines the primacy
of human rights and dignity as the basis for the organization and
development of their society. This hostile policy has manifested in
open acts of aggression by the U.S. such as invasion, terrorism,
biological warfare and a nearly fifty-year blockade. The blockade has
not only prevented Cuba from receiving essential
goods, services, finances and fully participating in international
trade, but also severely restricted travel by ordinary Americans
wishing to experience Cuba and its Revolution, as well as preventing
Cuban-Americans from freely visiting family members.
The Friendshipment Caravan is an act of solidarity with
the Cuban people in direct defiance of the U.S. imperialist blockade.
It provides much needed medication, equipment, educational materials,
vehicles and more. It is a reflection of the internationalist spirit of
the Cuban Revolution which has provided
immeasurable assistance to the people's of the world. It is also a
reflection of the internationalist spirit of ordinary Canadians and Americans who do not
accept the U.S. government's destructive role in the world based on its
dictate of "might makes right" and who wish to have
principled relations of mutual benefit with Cuba
and other countries.
IFCO/Pastors for Peace points out:
"No matter how much humanitarian aid we collect, it
could never remotely assuage the damage that is being done to the Cuban
people, especially to Cuban children, by the US blockade. Rather, the
act of collecting and sending aid is combined with intentional media
and political work that educates
the public about the inhumane nature of the blockade and demonstrates
to our policymakers and legislators that there is a broad-based
international coalition of people of conscience who demand an end to
this genocidal policy."
While official exemptions are possible to circumvent the
blockade, "IFCO/Pastors for Peace does not apply for a license to
deliver humanitarian aid Cuba. The U.S. government has used the
licensing procedure to serve its own public relations purposes by
giving the impression that its helping Cuba
while giving minimal aid and NO Trade. Accepting a license would run
counter to our moral values and put us in complicity with the US
government's presumption of power to use food and medicine as tools in
its war against Cuba."
Since the first Friendshipment Caravan in 1992,
organizers and participants have dealt with not only day-to-day
difficulties to fulfill their aim, but have overcome direct attacks
from the U.S. government. Building on each experience, from the first
such caravan in 1992, each subsequent Friendshipment
has gone a step further in organizing more participants, sending more
aid or targeting a particular need identified by Cuba as most pressing
at that time. The 20th Friendshipment has been specifically
asked to prioritize construction supplies for the ongoing
reconstruction effort after the three devastating hurricanes
that hit Cuba in the fall of 2008 (see below for details).
Canadian organizers point out that, "Last
year our goal was to raise $10,000 to purchase a bus, make repairs if
needed, buy extra parts and pay for the fuel for delivery. [...] This
year our aim is to raise $15,000 Canadian. [...] We are confident, that
if we are united, we can
reach it. [...] With this caravan we hope to
continue this humanitarian support, but -- above all -- we want the
caravan to expose, break and help to end the cruel, unjust, illegal U.S.
blockade which has caused so much devastation to the Cuban revolution."
In this issue, TML is posting information and
events concerning the Caravan plus material on the recent decision by
the U.S. Supreme Court to deny the Cuban Five a review of their case.
Help Cuba Rebuild After The Hurricanes
Three hurricanes hit Cuba in the fall of 2008. Only 7
people died thanks to the massive evacuation measures undertaken by the
Cuban authorities. But the damage to crops and buildings was enormous
-- estimated to be $10 billion, which amounts to $900 for every Cuban.
60,000 houses were destroyed and almost
half a million damaged -- that's about 20% of Cuba's entire housing
Cuba has already repaired a quarter of the damaged
homes, but it urgently needs physical resources -- tools and
construction supplies. The best thing we in the U.S. can do to assist the
reconstruction is to get the economic blockade lifted so that the Cuban
government can purchase needed supplies that
are so close at hand in the U.S. -- which is why we in IFCO/Pastors for
Peace are organizing a U.S.-Cuba Friendshipment Caravan this July to
openly challenge the blockade. But as part of the challenge we are
collecting tools and construction supplies to take with us as a
We particularly need the following construction
Plumbing: nuts, bolts, washers and all thread,
plastic pipe fittings, toilets, sinks, faucets, PVC plastic fittings,
copper fittings and valves, drains and stoppers, pipes, shower fixtures
Carpentry: nails, hammers, screws, drills,
flashing, wall anchors, saws and saw blades, banding tools, door
hanging tools, ladders, jacks, plaster, sandpaper
Electrical: any electrical wiring, fasteners,
electrical boxes and covers, electrician tools, energy efficient
lighting and bulbs, extension cords and adapters, generators, electric
line testers, electrical tape
Masonry: grouts, sealants, horizontal
reinforcing, masonry admixtures, concrete, masonry hand tools (floats,
trowels), chisels (wood and masonry)
Painting: brushes, rollers, lead-free paint,
brush extenders, paint plates
Protective Gear: dust masks, work gloves,
Cash: To send aid in an efficient way we need
groups and organizations to take on collecting the aid and raising the
cash to pay for sending it in one of our caravan school buses or trucks.
The Caravan will take in general:
buses, ambulances, trucks, pick-ups, mobile libraries (bookmobiles) --
diesel & stick shift preferred -- in good condition and with at
least several years of life left in them.
compatible computers with Pentium III or better processors, and all
computer accessories/peripherals. Must be in full working order. All
types of printers but especially Epson LX 300 and HP laser jet 1200
All types of educational materials including for writing on and with
etc (but pen, pencils, paper etc must be new/unused)
equipment/supplies/medicines: All kinds if equipment in good
working order, supplies sterile and supplies/medicines with expiry date
Feb 1, 2010 or later
and scientific textbooks and journals in Spanish or English
transportation/energy equipment: e.g. bicycles (good condition),
equipment: All kinds if in good condition.
Musical instruments especially, DJ equipment, sound equipment
Bibles must be in Spanish.
milk, infant formula, dietary supplements -- in original factory-sealed
Car mechanics tools:
Tools must be in good condition or new.
Factory new clothing in bulk quantities.
Because it is inappropriate or because Mexican customs
won't let it through, the Caravan will not take
- Anything that is not in good working order or is rusty
- Medication and medical supplies that have already expired or will
reach their expiry date before February 1, 2010
- Medication and medical supplies that have been opened
- Computers older than Pentium III (about 7 years old) or that are not
- Books, in English or Spanish, that are not medical or scientific text
- Any clothing, sheets, towels, etc. that are not enclosed in their
- Used paper
- Canned food
To participate in the work of the Caravan, visit the IFCO/Pastors
website or see the Calendar of Events for upcoming Canadian stops.
In Canada, contributions
can be sent to:
The Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund
56 Riverwood Terrace
Bolton, ON L7E 1S4
Contributions for this campaign must be clearly labeled that they are
to go towards "Caravan to Cuba" in the memo line. People who require a
tax receipt must request one and include their full name, address and
Worldwide Demonstrations Denounce
U.S. Supreme Court Decision and
Demand Freedom for the Cuban Five
Montreal, June 11,
On June 15, the U.S. Supreme Court declined a request
to review the case of the Cuban Five, in spite of an unprecedented
number of amicus curiae (friends of the court) submissions
parliamentarians from around the world and internationally-known
Following the negative decision, activists around
the world took immediate action organizing demonstrations and other
actions calling on President Barack Obama to correct this injustice and
Free the Five Now! Actions took place in Havana, Cuba, in Montreal and Vancouver,
throughout the United States in Atlanta, San Diego and San
Francisco as well as Venezuela, Germany, Lebanon, New Zealand
and elsewhere. Many actions
were also organized prior to the June 15 ruling to reiterate to the
court the international demand to free the Cuban Five. TML is posting
below photos from these actions.
Havana, Cuba, June 18, 2009: Cuban
youth rally at the flag memorial to Cuban victims of terrorism outside
the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Right: President of the Cuban Parliament
Ricardo Alarcón attends the
San Francisco; San Diego, United States
Akwar, Lebanon; Wellington, New Zealand
Alarcón: We Should Redouble Efforts
in Favour of the Cuban Five
Following the June 15 refusal of the U.S. Supreme Court
to review the case of the Cuban Five, President of the Cuban Parliament
Ricardo Alarcón said it is time to redouble efforts in demanding the
release of five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, who remain unjustly
imprisoned in the United States.
"Today is a day of shame and anger. Shame for those who
believe in the justice of the U.S. system, and
anger for the thousands around the world who asked the U.S. Supreme
Court to review the case," Alarcón said. He pointed out that people in
the United States do not have the right
to appeal to the Supreme Court and that this body only accepts
reviewing 1-2 percent of such requests.
that the U.S. Supreme Court had never before received a request for a
review supported by 10 Nobel Prize laureates, full
Parliaments (Mexico and Panama), European and world parliamentarians,
as well as by the main associations of jurists of the world and the
States and the former UN Human Rights Commission.
"The judges chose to do what the Obama administration
requested them to do: refusing to review the case of the Five. That is
why it is a day of shame and anger," Alarcón stressed.
The President of the Cuban Parliament pointed out that
"the best answer to this decision is to multiply our demands to the
U.S. Government and its President, Barack Obama, so that they do what
they have to do and that is simply to release these five men who should
have never been imprisoned."
Alarcón insisted that this should be the decision of the
U.S. President "if we are to believe that there is any change and
renovation in the rhetoric of the current White House incumbent."
In a June 17 interview with U.S. radio program
Democracy Now!, Alarcón elaborated on the significance of the court's
refusal. Posted below are excerpts from the interview, conducted by Amy
Ricardo Alarcón: Well, good morning,
Amy and Juan and everybody listening there.
I would say that it is a very sad decision that was
taken, if you remember that, at the request of the U.S. administration,
that in May, well after the new administration had assumed office, it
urged the Supreme Court to deny review.
I would like to also clarify one point. It is said
that they were accused or found guilty of spying, seeking information
on military installations and all that. But let's remember that what we
were appealing or trying to review at the Supreme Court was the
decision that had been affirmed by the Court
of Appeals of the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, September 2008. That was a
negative decision, unfair, because it didn't end the whole process.
But it also had some positive facts. In that
determination, the Court of Appeals said five times that nothing
involving the national security of the U.S. was involved in this case,
that they didn't gather or transmit secret information affecting U.S.
national security. That is why the Court of Appeals decided
to vacate the sentences of three of them and order a resentencing
process, which is now probably the next step in this slow, long case.
But that means that after ten years of discussions and appeals and so
on, that a lower court, the Atlanta court, unanimously recognized what
we had been saying all along,
that they were not doing anything against the U.S., that their only
role was to penetrate terrorist groups that had been operating for many
years from Miami against Cuba.
And there is much evidence to [support]
that. I don't need to go through all the facts that you know very well.
Mr. Luis Posada Carriles is still moving freely, at large, in the U.S.
territory. He has not been extradited to Venezuela, where he was tried
for the destruction -- the first case
in history -- of a civil airplane in mid-air. And he has not been
prosecuted for that, for that crime in the U.S. [...]
The persons who tried to learn about Mr. Posada Carriles and others
like him, their plans against Cuba, they are in prison. And Mr. Posada,
Mr. Bosch and many others are enjoying
the good life in America.
That was a very sad conclusion in the legal sphere that
sent a very negative message to the Cuban people and to many peoples
around the world. [...]
Amy Goodman: [...] I wanted to ask
you more broadly about U.S.-Cuba relations under President Obama.
Speaking at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago April,
Obama called for a, quote, "new beginning with Cuba" and raised hopes
for a thaw in U.S.-Cuba
"President Barack Obama: There's been several remarks
directed at the issue of the relationship between the United States and
Cuba, so let me address this. The United States seeks a new beginning
with Cuba. I know that there is a longer -- I know there's a longer
journey that must be traveled to overcome
decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a
new day. I've already changed a Cuba policy that I believe has failed
to advance liberty or opportunity for the Cuban people. We will now
allow Cuban Americans to visit the islands whenever they choose and
provide resources to their families,
the same way that so many people in my country send money back to their
families in your countries to pay for everyday needs.
"Over the past two years, I've indicated, and I repeat
today, that I'm prepared to have my administration engage with the
Cuban government on a wide range of issues, from drugs, migration and
economic issues, to human rights, free speech and democratic reform.
Now, let me be clear, I'm not interested
in talking just for the sake of talking. But I do believe that we can
move U.S.-Cuban relations in a new direction."
AG: That was President Obama at the
Summit of the Americas. Ricardo Alarcón, you're president of the Cuban
National Assembly. Your response?
RA: Well, it's very important not to
speak just for the sake of speaking. The proof of the pudding is the
He didn't mention, by the way, among the list of issues
that may be addressed in this process, terrorism. And more or less at
the same time he was saying that in Trinidad and Tobago, he was urging
the U.S. Supreme Court not to consider, not to review, the case of
the five. He can prove that he
doesn't have only words, but deeds, by exercising his authority. He can
and should drop immediately the charges brought against the five.
Atlanta already recognized that they were not entertaining any
And the other important charge, the one referring to an
alleged murder attempt by Gerardo Hernandez, was also recognized by the
U.S. administration in a written -- in a document, unprecedented in
American history, according to them, that they didn't have any
evidence, that they couldn't demonstrate
that charge, and asked the court that said this years ago, in 2001,
even to drop that charge. And what is it? The President could use those
legal arguments, let's say, to exercise justice. He can put in jail
Posada Carriles and the terrorists and free those who opposed their
actions. That would be a very concrete, simple
step to demonstrate that what is coming from the White House are not
By the way, the only concrete thing that he promised was
to eliminate the restrictions for traveling by Cuban Americans. But if
you go now, Amy, to the U.S. official sources, you can visit in their
website, you will see that the regulations are still as they were
before. Then they haven't yet taken the
necessary step. They talk about that, but still, the regulations, if
you read them as they are now, today are exactly as they were before.
AG: Ricardo Alarcón, the question of
this couple, Walter Myers and his wife, Gwendolyn, the former State
Department analyst and his wife, being charged with spying for the
Cuban government. They've pled not guilty to conspiracy and being
agents of a foreign government and
wire fraud. Your response?
RA: Well, I know only what has been
published in the press, and I read the indictment. It's interesting. In
the indictment, they only mention one thing: what an FBI agent said
that they told him. Apart from that, that this couple had a shortwave
radio -- I imagine that they are not
the only Americans that have such a thing -- and that they came to Cuba
on one occasion. And also, in the media, it is mentioned, a private
diary of the lady, in which she expressed certain sentiments about Cuba
that are not only her sentiment. Many people also love Cuba and respect
Apart from that, the real question, to me, is why, if
they had known about those alleged activities for a number of years,
they chose to publicize that precisely on the eve of the moment that
the Supreme Court was going to deny the review of the Cuban Five case,
as it was requested by the same administration
that now is accusing this couple in New York[...]
Message from René Gonzalez
Dear compatriots; Friends from the world;
Once again the judicial mask of the most hypocritical
society that has ever existed falls down exposing the true face of U.S.
imperialism and insulting the world conscience with a cynical message:
Their own laws will not prevent them from securing the impunity of
their own terrorists.
It has not been difficult to understand the
meaning of the term change in the jargon of the U.S. establishment --
at least when it refers to Cuba. The web of crimes, genocide, arrogance
and meanness that has shaped the psyche of this empire will not be
disentangled by the election of a new charismatic
president timely drawn out of a still oppressed segment of the American
people. To us, the Five, who for over a decade have been treated with
despicable viciousness and cowardice, it is but the reiteration of an
already familiar moral: It does not matter how low our captors have
fallen, they can always prove their
infinite capacity to fall even lower.
For our families and for us any time is already too late
to do us justice; and the same is true of the decimated native peoples;
of the countries whose territories have been usurped; of the millions
of human beings burned to death by incendiary bombs, vanished by
accomplices to dictatorships, tortured
under the advice of Yankee officers or massacred around the world by
corporate appetite. It is much too late to do justice to the thousands
of victims of terrorism against Cuba, the same terrorism whose
prevention is our unforgivable crime.
We, the Five, can be considered fortunate in comparison
with those millions of victims; innocent children of all ages; people
of every race and creed who under all kinds of ordinary circumstances
have become collateral damage; human beings deprived of the basic right
to life in the safety of their homes,
with their families, who have been suddenly and unexpectedly removed
from their daily lives.
We are five soldiers proudly and consciously occupying
our trench, who have decided to rise for something rather than to fall
for nothing. We are the living mirror of the moral values of a people
where the enemy -- helpless and full of rage -- can see its own lack of
values, its spiritual poverty, its frail
image and all its evils. We are five Cuban revolutionaries the enemy
will never subdue, an enemy that will live every day of its life with
the humiliation of not understanding why.
To the peoples of the world, the shamelessness of this
process is but the repetition of an old lesson: We are facing an empire
that will not stop before any crime if it believes it can get away with
it. No ethical consideration or universal outcry will make it stop but
the price imposed by resistance.
To the Cuban people, the real target of this act of
vengeance, it becomes another reason to be united, to not believe in
appearances, to always expect the worst from the aggressor, and to
never cease in the construction of a society where the hypocrisy,
revanchism, indignity, deceit and cowardice that
fostered a process like ours are never taken for human virtues, as it
is the case in the neighboring empire.
That will be the only measure of justice worthy of all
Ever Onward to Victory!
International Committee to Free the
Cuban Five Statement
The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will not
review the case of the five Cuban patriots. This decision prevents our
five brothers, unjustly incarcerated for more than 10 years for
monitoring terrorist organizations based in Miami, from having even the
possibility of a fair and impartial trial outside of
The same justice system that is rejecting the
possibility of reviewing the case of our five brothers, has granted the
defense team of international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles a further
year of grace to enable it to better prepare its case. This is the same
system that has left unpunished dozens of criminal
organizations based in Miami. The same system that has failed to
investigate a single claim brought against those perpetrating attempts
on the lives of our peoples.
It is the same system that has ignored the ruling of the
UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, which declared the
imprisonment of the Five arbitrary and illegal. With this decision, the
court is making a mockery not only of their defense lawyers' appeal,
but also the universal demand of 10 Nobel
Prize winners, dozens of jurists, and parliamentarians and
organizations from all over the world who expressed in 12 "Friends of
the Court" documents the need to review a case plagued with violations
since the very moment the Five were arrested.
It comes as no surprise to us from a system that allowed
the legalization of the most atrocious torture and which accepts with
impunity the fact that, while five innocent men are unjustly
imprisoned, criminals like Posada, Bosch, Basulto and Frómeta -- among
many others -- freely walk the streets of
This day will remain marked on our calendars as a day of
shame for the U.S. judicial system and of the Obama government's
failure to act in the face of terrorist groups that are holding justice
It also will be marked as the beginning of the new
resistance that from this moment will make itself felt throughout the
world until we achieve the freedom of Gerardo, Ramón, René, Antonio and
We will no longer wait to hold an International
Solidarity Event marking another year of their arrest. It will be
expressed in the thousands of ways in which we the peoples know how to
transform pain and indignation into struggle, on the streets outside
U.S. embassies, in the universities, in Parliaments,
in churches, with our modest resources and modest means, but with all
the strength that truth and the right give us.
Because we are convinced that, as Gerardo said on
hearing the news, "as long as there is even one person fighting on the
outside, we will continue resisting until justice is done."
This International Solidarity Event to Free the Five
begins today and will be extended every day of our lives until they
return home free to their homeland.
We call on our friends in the world to more than ever
demand of the Obama government that it end this colossal injustice and
order the immediate liberation of the Five.
Venceremos Brigade Statement
The Veneceremos Brigade is outraged -- but not surprised --
by the Supreme Court's decision refusing to hear the case of the Cuban
5, five Cubans sent to Miami to monitor terrorist plots against Cuba.
It is our own legal system which has exposed itself --
yet again. After decades of taking no action against the plotters and
planners, the assassins and bombers in Miami, it is no surprise that
the 'highest court in the land' refuses to even listen to the cries for
justice from these Cuban patriots.
These men had not only collected evidence of plots
against their own homeland but had also uncovered plans to bomb
airplanes headed for Cuba -- including the flights from Miami. This
evidence was turned over to the FBI. But instead of rounding up the
plotters, they arrested the men who had exposed
Despite multiple legal infractions, dozens of amicus
curiae briefs -- including 10 authored by Noble Prize winners in
addition to jurists and parliamentarians, condemnation by the UN Human
Rights Commission, and widespread pressure from the international
community, the Cuban Five
remain incarcerated without the right to a fair trial.
They deserved a fair trial and did not get it. Now they
deserve their immediate freedom to return to their wives, children, and
families after ten years of arbitrary and cruel imprisonment.
In the eyes of much of the world, our legal 'justice'
system stands for Abu Graib, Guantanamo, indefinite detention, and
torture. Yet the United States dares to speak to Cuba about political
prisoners, a politicized justice system, and most importantly --
and justice! -- when Gerardo, Ramón, René,
Antonio and Fernando remain incarcerated for protecting Cubans and
Americans against terrorism organized in the U.S.!
How does the Obama administration expect to turn a new
page with Cuba and Latin America when it's Justice Department
encouraged the Supreme Court to deny a hearing for the 5, who came here
because of our country's history of sponsoring and supporting violence
against the people of Cuba and
Latin America? That history's legacy can be found in South Florida,
where violent right-wing Cuban-American groups operate freely. That is
where the Cuban Five were sent and this is where they were denied
Cuba has declared over and over again that it holds no
animosity against the American people and is willing to normalize
relations with the U.S. government. Cuba's only prerequisite: mutual
respect for each country's sovereignty. President Obama holds that the
Cuban people's freedom is a prerequisite
and now he has an opportunity to do just that by freeing the Cuban 5
The Supreme Court has failed to act. We demand that
President Obama immediately pardon the Cuban 5!
For Your Information
A Brief History of the U.S./Cuba
With each Friendshipment caravan, with each successive
effort to challenge the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, the U.S.
government has been compelled to back down, to relent, to soften its
enforcement of the blockade. As this chronology demonstrates, active
nonviolence has been a winning strategy:
The First Friendshipment Caravan
Traveled in November 1992. 100 caravanistas carried 15
tons of simple humanitarian aid -- powdered milk, medicines, Bibles,
bicycles, and school supplies. The US government had never before seen
a direct grassroots challenge to the blockade, and they responded
with force. CNN cameras filmed US Treasury officers assaulting a
Catholic priest who was carrying Bibles to take to Cuba. Our emergency
response network, and the CNN coverage, prompted thousands of calls to
Washington from around the US; the caravan was allowed to cross.
Friendshipment II (summer 1993)
Had 300 participants -- 65 of them Cuban Americans --
and 100 tons of aid -- including medicines, school buses, computers,
medical equipment, and other items deliberately chosen to challenge the
blockade. US Treasury officials seized a little yellow schoolbus
at the Laredo border, saying that "Fidel Castro might take a liking to
it and use it as a military vehicle." The 13 caravanistas who were on
board the bus when it was seized decided to stay on the bus and to fast
until it was released. Their hunger strike lasted 23 days, during which
time an international campaign of
pressure on Washington was mounted by our emergency response network.
Demonstrations were held in 20 cities, thousands of calls and faxes
went to Washington, and a solidarity fast was held in front of the US
Interests Section in Havana. Active nonviolence won the day; the
intense pressure mounted by our network
eventually caused the US government to relent. The Little Yellow School
Bus has been serving the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Martin Luther
King Center in Havana since 1993.
Friendshipments III, IV, and V
Each were intended to intensify the challenge in a new
way. Each of these caravans brought some new item of technology -- a
satellite dish, solar panels, etc. -- to further challenge the
blockade, along with hundreds of tons of aid and hundreds of drivers.
Friendshipment VI (1996)
Was supposed to be a simple "mini-caravan" to deliver a
shipment of 400 donated medical computers -- 286s and XTs, nearly
obsolete by U.S. standards. These computers were to serve as
communications terminals for an island-wide medical information
would make it possible for Cuban doctors to locate scarce medicines and
have access to consultation and treatment data. The U.S. government, in
its most brutal confrontation to date, attacked the caravan and seized
all the computers. In response, and in the name of reconciliation and
peace, five caravan participants
consecrated a "Fast for Life" on February 21, 1996. They fasted for 32
days in a tent on the San Diego border where the computers had been
seized. Then they moved their fast to Washington, DC and pitched their
tent across the street from the U.S. Capitol. As the Fast continued,
the campaign for the release of
the computers reached unprecedented levels. International organizations
from Europe, Africa, and Latin America pledged that they would send a
total of 1400 computers, in solidarity with Cuba and with the Fast for
Life. As pressure from our national network mounted, 70 members of
Congress joined the effort and
actively advocated for the release of the computers. The Treasury
Secretary and the National Security Adviser received so many phone
calls from our supporters that they had to change their phone numbers.
White House staffers indicated that, at the height of the campaign, the
White House was receiving a phone
call every four minutes demanding that the computers be released and
sent to Cuba. On Day 94 of the Fast, the U.S. Treasury Department
released the computers to the General Board of Church and Society of
the United Methodist Church. They were delivered to Cuba in September
1996, and now make up 40%
of the INFOMED network, where they provide life-giving medical
information for Cuban doctors.
Was dedicated to the children of Cuba, and delivered 500
tons of aid -- including a mobile library equipped with a Pentium
computer, a pediatric ambulance, four school buses, and other
sophisticated medical and educational aid. In San Diego, the caravan's
was ambushed and attacked by a band of right-wing Cuban American
terrorists; but the Treasury Department relented and allowed the whole
shipment to cross without a license.
Friendshipment VIII (July 1998)
This caravan was dedicated to the children and elders of
Cuba. One hundred and sixty five volunteers from across the U.S.,
Canada, Mexico and six European countries participated in this caravan.
The aid delivered included three bookmobiles, two ambulances, five
school buses, Pentium computers, pediatric and geriatric medicines, and
raw materials that will enable Cuba to manufacture $385,000 worth of
Friendshipment IX (July 1999)
In honor of Cuba's unrelenting commitment to provide
free health services for the poorest people of the world, our ninth
caravan was dedicated to Cuba's doctors and nurses. We delivered
millions of dollars' worth of sophisticated medical aid and equipment;
visited the brand-new Latin American Medical School, where Cuba was
just beginning to train young doctors for the nations devastated by
Hurricanes Mitch and Georges.
Friendshipment X (July 2000)
Dedicated to Cuba's students and athletes, the caravan
delivered educational aid and sports equipment in addition to valuable
hospital equipment, an ambulance, and several school buses.
Participants included the Lost Coast Pirates, a California baseball
team of 10-
to 12-year-old boys who played a three-game series with kids in Cuba.
Friendshipment XI (November 2000)
Members of our eleventh caravan participated in Cuba's
Second World Solidarity Conference, and in a bicycle trip to western
Cuba. In honor of Cuba's innovations in alternative energy, we
delivered solar panels and equipment which will provide electricity for
two rural schools in the mountains of Pinar del Rio.
Friendshipment XII (July 2001)
Celebrating Cuba's innovations in alternative energy and
transportation, 95 caravan participants delivered 80 tons of aid --
including a 53-foot trailer packed with medical supplies and a
bikemobile fully equipped for repairing bicycles. And for the first
time ever, this
caravan included a "reverse challenge" in which Cuban-made products
were brought back to the US to be given to community-based groups.
Packages of BioRat, a biological rodenticide developed in Cuba and
successfully used in Cuba, China and Bolivia, were retained by US
Customs and IFCO/Pastors for Peace
continues to fight for the release of the product. In the meanwhile,
Cuban-made solar equipment will be used to electrify a Native American
reservation in California.
Friendshipment XIII (July 2002)
This caravan celebrated Cuba's achievements in health
and healing for its people and the peoples of the world. We once again
visited the Latin American School of Medical Sciences, this time to
meet the dozens of U.S. students, recruited by IFCO, who are studying
on full Cuban scholarships to serve as doctors in medically
under-served areas of the U.S. The caravan also met with family members
of the five Cuban heroes who are wrongly imprisoned in US jails for
defending their homeland against Miami- based terrorist groups. A
further reverse challenge successfully brought
back to the US a donation of Cuban coffee, honey and bee pollen.
Friendshipment XIV (July 2003)
125 caravanistas traveled to Santiago de Cuba to
celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the revolution, as
part of a joint travel challenge with the Venceremos Brigade. The
caravan delivered 80 tons of aid in support of Cuba's comprehensive
to care for the elders of Cuba. For the third year running Cuban
products were brought back to the US.
Friendshipment XV (July 2004)
In spite of increased travel restrictions to Cuba by the
Bush administration and under the threat of being fined, the 125
members of the 15th Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba successfully carried
126 tons of humanitarian aid to Cuba calling for REGIME CHANGE
AT HOME NOT IN CUBA!!!
Friendshipment XVI (July 2005)
This caravan, with 145 caravanistas, included 5 donated
school buses that were decorated in honor of the 5 Cuban heroes who are
still unjustly imprisoned in US jails for defending their homeland
against Miami-based terrorist groups. The caravan also honored Cuba's
commitment to caring for all of its people including those with special
needs, and delivered 140 tons of aid despite the US Customs seizing 45
boxes of computer equipment destined for children with learning
difficulties. IFCO/Pastors for Peace campaigned successfully for the
ultimate release of the seized computers.
Friendshipment XVII (July 2006)
This caravan was dedicated to Cuban children with
special needs and the aid delivered included most of the computers
destined for them that had been denied passage by US customs the year
before. Despite heightened threats of fines from the Bush
100 caravanistas traveled to Cuba, where they were joined by members of
the Venceremos Brigade and US-Cuba Labor Exchange for the fourth
successful joint travel challenge.
Friendshipment XVIII (July 2007)
135 caravanistas traveled to Cuba in celebration of
Cuba's elders. Participants were honored to attend the graduation
ceremony for over 1500 students of the Latin American School of Medical
Sciences, including 8 graduating US students. This caravan also saw
a hiphop without borders exchange with 8 young US hiphop artists
handing over turntables and keyboards to their Cuban equivalents.
Friendshipment XIX (July 2008)
This caravan included the second hip-hop exchange and 5
donated school buses that were decorated in honor of the 5 Cuban heroes
who are still unjustly imprisoned in US jails for defending their
homeland against Miami-based terrorist groups. US customs seized
32 boxes of computer equipment, but when these were released on the
return of the caravan to the US, caravanistas immediately carried all
the boxes back into Mexico for onward transportation to Cuba.
Calendar of Events
Monthly Picket for
the Cuban Five
Thursday, July 9 -- 4:00-5:00 pm
U.S. Consulate1075 W. Pender St, downtown Vancouver
Organized by: Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver
Picket for the Cuban
Thursday, July 9 --
Consulate (St-Alexandre and Rene Levesque)
Organized by: Table de
concertation et de solidarité Québec-Cuba
“Cuba Buy a Bus
Café” in Support of Pastors for Peace
20th Caravan to Cuba
Tuesday, July 7 --
Don Heights Unitarian Congregation, 18 Wynford Drive #102
Meet Cuba’s new Consul General to Toronto Jorge Soberón. Live music,
Canada-Cuba Frienship Association-Toronto, Ann 416-461-8800
IFCO Pastors for Peace 20th Friendshipment Cuba
Wednesday, July 8
Community Dinner -- 6:00pm
Please contact us directly (firstname.lastname@example.org)
in knowing the location of this dinner and to RSVP.
Panel Speakers -- 7:30pm
The Factory, 126 James Street North, First Floor (betweenYork Blvd. and
$5 Suggested Donation -- Join Us! Everyone Welcome!
Organized by: Hamilton
Friendship Association with Cuba,
Community Dinner with IFCO/Pastors for Peace
Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba is excited to
invite healthcare professionals,
progressive religious institutions, local activists and all individuals
interested in this work to join us for a community dinner with the
IFCO/Pastors for Peace on Wednesday, July 8 at 6:00pm. This dinner is
an opportunity to discuss directly with them about their
important work. Please contact us directly (email@example.com) if you
are interested in knowing the location of this dinner and to RSVP.
Evening Program -- Panel Speakers
We welcome the participation of the Hamilton community
in our evening program for the Cuba Caravan. This program will feature
presentations by Pastors for Peace representative, Reverend Tom Smith
and a report back by members of the Hamilton Friendship Association
with Cuba delegation to Cuba in May
2009. The delegation attended an international youth conference on
the Five Cuban Heroes and has participated in various other events.
We welcome any donations from the community to be sent
along with the Cuba Caravan. If you would like to make a donation,
whether monetary or otherwise, please email us directly
(firstname.lastname@example.org). See above for items needed for this year's
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