photo by Gerry Bill: Caravanistas sorting, labelling, listing aid prior to departure to Cuba.
August 3, 2010 -- for immediate release
CONTACT: IFCO/Pastors for Peace: Ellen Bernstein 646/319-5902; Alison Bodine 303/638-9799
in New York: Lucia Bruno 212/926-5757; 347/423-4330
21st PASTORS FOR PEACE FRIENDSHIPMENT SUCCESSFULLY RETURNS FROM CUBA
REV LUCIUS WALKER CHALLENGING BLOCKADE ON HIS 80TH BIRTHDAY
This afternoon the 21st US/Cuba Friendshipment Caravan organized by IFCO/Pastors for Peace successfully crossed back into the US, after a nine-day educational visit to Cuba. "This was a perfect way to celebrate the birthday of our founder and leader, Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr.," said Rev. Luis Barrios, member of the board of directors of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. "Really he is not just a leader; he is also a prophet in this struggle for peace with justice."
The caravan, made up of 85 caravanistas from the US, Canada, Europe and Mexico, traveled to Cuba without a US Treasury Department license, in a direct challenge of the US trade and travel blockade against Cuba.
In visits to 120 communities across the US and Canada, the caravan collected more than 100 tons of humanitarian aid for delivery to Cuba, including 9 school buses that will be used by Cuban churches, hospitals, and schools.
"With this caravan, we broke the blockade one more time. But the blockade still persists in full force -- and as long as it exists, we must continue to challenge it," stated Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., executive director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. “This cruel and immoral blockade still prevents lifesaving medicines from reaching Cuban children. It blocks US citizens from being able to be good neighbors to our Cuban brothers and sisters. We call on President Obama and the Congress to do everything possible to end this cruelty against our neighbors."
Members of the caravan celebrate today's news that Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban Five who have been unjustly imprisoned in the US for more than 12 years, has been released from solitary confinement as of this morning.
Caravanistas are now returning to their home communities committed to share what they learned in their time in Cuba, and to continue building support for an end to the blockade. The caravanistas leave this year's caravan with the resolve to continue organizing and committing civil disobedience until:
◍ the blockade is lifted
◍ the Cuban Five are freed
◍ the ban on travel to Cuba is lifted
◍ Cuba is taken off the US State Department's ‘terrorist list'
◍ US/Cuba relations are normalized.
Pastors for Peace is a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), a national ecumenical agency which has been working for racial, social, and economic justice since 1967. Photos, video, blog, and more information are available at