Friday, May 13, 2011

Hannah's poem

My granddaughter, Hannah, gave me permission to share this with you.  I think it's pretty good.

Emotion in Text

Crying is italicized.
Laughter is bold.
Normal speech is auto-corrected.
Anger is two sizes larger.
Fear is a size smaller.
Demanding is underlined.
Snobbery uses correct grammar.
Goofy uses a different font all together.
Life is a combo platter of emotions. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lucius Walker and Cuba Friendshipment Caravan

The Rev. Lucius Walker, a Baptist minister, was the guiding star of Pastors for Peace Cuba Friendshipment Caravan. He died of a heart attack last September but his spirit lives on through the Caravans that continue to travel to Cuba without the required license to protest the US blockade of Cuba. The Caravans take tons of humanitarian aid and expose the caravanistas to the human side of Cuba. Walker once said, ''The Bible says feed the hungry, clothe the poor, it doesn't say to starve the Communists.'
In 1988, Lucius was on a fact-finding trip in Nicaragua where rebels were battling the American-backed government. Their riverboat was attacked by government soldiers and he was wounded. His first thought, he said, was that he was hit by a bullet paid for by his own country. He called his second thought a prophetic vision: he would form an organization of pastors to fight, or at least clean up after, what he called American imperialism.
That organization, Pastors for Peace, has now sent hundreds of tons of aid, including medical gear and roofing material, to Latin American countries. Of its 40 missions so far, 21 have been to Cuba, which under a 1963 law is off-limits to American trade.
When Granma, the Communist Party newspaper in Cuba, announced his death, it said Cubans ''don't want to even think of a world without Lucius Walker.''
I met Lucius in 2007 when I traveled with the Caravan to Cuba. I invited him to Colorado Springs where he met with folks who were supporting efforts to lift the embargo. Loring Wirbel interviewed him in this video.
In 2007, under the leadership of Rev. Faye Gallegos, Christ Congregational UCC, Pueblo, initiated efforts that resulted in over $50,000 worth of humanitarian aid which was loaded on one of the Caravan's buses bound for Cuba. Since then we have bought and equipped three buses, one of which was mostly paid for by First Congregational Church, Colorado Springs, and sent them to Cuba. The latest one, shown here, is now being used by an orthopedic hospital in Havana.
In these pictures you see the caravanistas being briefed by Rev Walker as they prepare to cross the border back into the US after a tiring but exciting trip. Having defied the embargo/blockade we would soon face US Customs officials and possible penalties. As it happened, we returned to the US without incident. You also see one of the caravanistas making friends with one of the Cuban children. The embargo still exists but the hope is that, one day, Americans and Cubans will be able to travel legally to visit one another as friends beyond borders.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Cuba Today
In 1960 I met a fishing boat captain who had, that day, brought 40 people out of Cuba shortly after the Revolucion. He invited me to go with him to Cuba the next day to get more refugees. I declined but the notion of visiting Cuba one day was conceived. Forty years later I went as a tourist on a nine-day bicycle trip through the province of Pinar del Rio. The Russians were gone, times were hard, and the misguided U.S. trade and travel embargo remained in place. Seven years later I traveled to the island nation with a US/Cuba Friendshipment Caravan of Pastors for Peace. We took tons of humanitarian aid and traveled without the required license in protest of the unjust US embargo. We went as friends to make friends. Pastors for Peace has made 21 such trips and hundreds of friendships have been forged as a result, but the US-imposed blockade is still in place.
For good and/or ill, Cuba has been ruled since by the Communist Party. The people have enjoyed a certain level of health and security but have remained poor. Today, Cuba is changing. Julia Sweig, Senior Fellow on Latin America is with the Council on Foreign Relations. She gives her insights in this short video.
The larger issues, of course, include the health and welfare of our neighbors to the south and a hopeful healthy relationships between our two governments. But I also take it personally. Over eight hundred years ago, the Magna Carta gave my ancestors the right to travel freely to any place in the world. I should have the same right from my government today. Cuba is changing. Our government must do the same. My two trips to Cuba were transforming. As citizens we should have the right to travel freely and legally and make friends beyond borders. Pastors for Peace will be making its 22nd Friendshipment Caravan this July on our behalf. Check out the link on this blog.