MCALLEN, USA — Organizers of a humanitarian aid caravan that uses civil disobedience to challenge the US blockade and travel ban of Cuba were due to cross the US/Mexico border with nearly 100 tons of humanitarian aid on Thursday morning.
Organizers are unsure what to expect from the US border authorities given their experience crossing from Canada into the US on July 1. US border authorities initially refused to let sporting equipment through, but caravan supporters mounted a 24 hour protest and border officials relented.
“We are determined to get this aid to our brothers and sisters in Cuba. Our struggle must continue until this immoral, cruel and counterproductive US blockade of Cuba is ended,” stated Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization co-director, Father Luis Barrios.
IFCO co-director Gail Walker added, “The US blockade has cost Cuba $750 billion in medical care, education equipment and food, yet they still provide for their people and set an example for the world. Now is the time to implement a people to people foreign policy that respects Cuba’s sovereignty.”
After the border crossing, scores of caravanistas will travel through Mexico on to Cuba, without asking for a licence or permission from the US government. In Cuba caravanistas will visit hospitals, cultural centres, churches and other organizations focused on Cuba’s sustainable development efforts.
As the caravanistas are crossing the border, they will stop to recognize the ongoing treatment of Gerardo Hernández, one of the so-called “Cuban Five” held in US prisons. Hernández, who is in the appeals process of his double-life sentence, is currently being denied consular and legal visitation rights by US authorities.
This is the 20th Anniversary Friendshipment Caravan organized by IFCO/Pastors for Peace, which crisscrossed the US and Canada, stopping in nearly 100 cities. Thousands have supported the caravan along the way in support of a foreign policy based on respect and non-aggression with Cuba.
The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan is a project of the IFCO, which has been working for racial, social, and economic justice since 1967.