Sunday, February 27, 2011

Friends Beyond Borders
How Cuba Caravans are Making a Difference
and How Colorado Springs is Helping

Last July folks from Colorado bought a school bus, filled it with humanitarian aid, and joined the Pastors for Peace Cuba Caravan to Cuba. Our bus was one of twelve vehicles that carried over a hundred tons of aid to our poor but friendly neighbors who live on the emerald island. A hundred people spent nine days in Cuba meeting and making friends as an act of solidarity with disadvantaged Cubans and a protest against an unjust trade and travel blockade that the U.S. government has had in place against Cuba for fifty years. Our bus is now being used by the Julio Diaz Orthopedic Hospital in Havana. The ages of the caravanistas range from children and youth to eighty+plus year-olds and come from all faiths and walks of life. They travel without the required license as a peaceful protest against an unjust law. They share the common dream of a Cuba/U.S. neighborhood of peace and prosperity. There have been 21 such caravans over the years. The 22nd one will travel to Cuba in July of this year.
Ever since 1959 when Fidel Castro led the revolution, America has been obsessed with Cuba. Cubans are now a major ethnic group in Florida and the exiled community is so powerful that every U.S. president has been pressured by its interests. Two Cuban-Americans who serve on the House Foreign Relations Committee are now in a position to block legislation to lift the embargo. While representatives from both political parties continue to call for the repeal of this ineffective and unjust law, the Obama administration has moved ahead to make it possible for Cuban-Americans to travel freely and to send money to their impoverished family who still live in Cuba. And travel rights for educational and religious organizations have been restored. Travel agencies report that there is a surge of people waiting to travel when all restrictions are lifted and business groups are preparing for greater trade opportunities. Cuba's own economic reform is now allowing some Cubans to open their own business. And while political oppression still exists, most observers are urging the U.S. to use diplomatic and political channels to influence positive change. The embargo only hurts the poor.
As long as the embargo exists in any form Pastors for Peace will continue to advocate repeal and will travel to Cuba with people and aid to help our neighbors. There will be a caravan again this summer. Caravanistas representing Pastors for Peace will be hosted at an event in Colorado Springs on July 12th. Details will be posted later on this blog. To find out how you can be a part of the continuing effort to make “Friends Beyond Borders,” access or email Max Hale at

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