Pastors for Peace Demands Devolution of Occupied Cuban Territory

The members of the Pastors for Peace Caravan on Saturday demanded the devolution of the territory illegally occupied for more than a century by the Guantanamo Naval Base in eastern Cuba.

Gail Walker, the daughter of Reverend Lucius Walker, who was the founder and leader of this friendly initiative until his death in 2010, noted that the occupation of that territory by the Government of the United States is an insult to Cuba's sovereignty, and assured that they will continue to demand the return of that area to its legitimate owners. On Saturday morning, the caravan members were welcomed by the residents and top leaders of Caimanera, on the border with the military enclave, which was turned into a prison camp. In the town, they witnessed the achievements made after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.

All 26 caravan members, who come from ten countries, visited the Frank País salt works, one of the largest in the country, and watched the documentary 'Todo Guantánamo Es Nuestro' (All Guantanamo Is Ours), which was shot by the Colombian moviemaker Hernando Calvo Ospina and deals about the local people's sentiments on the presence of the US military base.

For three days, Pastors for Peace has toured places of historic and socio-economic interests in Guantanamo province, shared experiences at the Jagüey La Esperanza community project, led by Argeo Martinez, and visited the neighborhood of Pastorita, the capital city and the General Staff of the Antonio Maceo Order Border Brigade.

After several days in Cuba's easternmost province, the visitors will leave for Holguin on Sunday, according to the official agenda.

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Pastors for Peace launches campaign across the U.S. in support of Cuba

Washington, June 26 (RHC)-- The U.S. organization Pastors for Peace, a special ministry of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), has launched a ten-day caravan of vehicles, traveling across the U.S., as a prelude to its already traditional "Friendshipment Caravan" to Cuba in July, started in 1992 by the late U.S. Reverend Lucius Walker. 

The caravan across 40 U.S. cities began over the weekend with public events in Seattle, Washington, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with IFCO representatives speaking about the U.S. blockade of Cuba and what needs to be done to achieve truly normal relations between Havana and Washington. 

Addressing those present at the Bolivarian Hall of the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington D.C., Bill Hackwell, a U.S. activist with Pastors for Peace, said that besides bringing much-needed humanitarian aid to the Cuban people, the caravans travel through US cities to raise awareness about the effects of the US blockade policy. 

“The caravans serve as an alternative people-to-people foreign policy, aimed at supporting the Cuban people's self-determination and the country's efforts toward sustainable development.” 

He said this year's 29th Caravan to Cuba focuses on the travel restrictions under Washington's nearly six decade-old blockade policy.  He noted that U.S. citizens are today still forbidden from traveling to Cuba as tourists.  And Bill Hackwell recalled that in order to travel to Cuba, U.S. citizens need permission, a license, from the U.S. government. 

Although in his final years, former President Barack Obama made licenses very easy to get, as well as taking some steps to reduce the underlying U.S. economic blockade of Cuba, President Trump has adopted a very hostile stance towards Cuba, partially reversing Obama’s actions, and reduced the possibilities for individual-licensed travel.

Since 1992, Pastors for Peace has taken 28 Caravans of people to Cuba without a license as a conscious act of civil disobedience.   Hackwell said some 40 people plan to travel to Cuba with the Caravan from July 16th through the 31st. During their stay, the caravanistas will have a packed agenda of activities, primarily in the eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo.

Before its arrival in Cuba, the caravan has planned activities through July 1st in 40 different U.S. cities, including Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania; Portland, Oregon; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Albany, New York; Los Angeles, California; Chicago, Illinois, and in Atlanta, Georgia.

Edited by Pavel Jacomino

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'Pastors for Peace' Solidarity Caravan Arrives in Cuba from US

"Pastors for Peace has always embraced the commitment of Cuban leaders to put the welfare of their people first," Gail Walker, the director of the organization said.

The 48th contingent of the United States-Cuba Friendship Caravan, organized by Pastors for Peace, arrived in Havana yesterday to deliver a symbolic donation of important drugs and medical supplies, as well as demand the end of the “economic, political, and cultural embargo.”

RELATED: Cuba's Havana to Honor Nelson Mandela on His Birthday

The group traveled through 50 cities in the United States to do solidarity work and speak on the realities of the ongoing embargo, promoting the normalization of relations between the two countries.

The most recent caravan has traveled in the context of a renewed wave of U.S. aggression toward Cuba, as the new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has rolled back several gains made in recent years toward normalization, and has heightened anti-Cuba rhetoric.

On Friday the visiting group, mostly from the United States, is paying tribute in Havana to the founder of Pastors for Peace, Reverend Lucius Walker. Reverend Walker, who died in 2010 is considered by many in both Cuba and in the United States to be a tireless fighter in defense of Cuba's revolution and against U.S. aggression.

His daughter, Gail Walker, is currently the director of the organization, and carries forward its original vision.

“Inside the United States, a campaign still persists whose purpose is to undermine Cuba and its revolutionary principles. Pastors for Peace has always embraced the commitment of Cuban leaders to put the welfare of their people first. That’s why we continue … calling upon the U. S. government to end its efforts towards regime change," she said in an interview with Cuba Debate.

Walker founded the organization as a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, and was inspired by what he saw as anti-imperialist struggles in Latin America. The project focused on solidarity efforts with Cuba beginning in 1992, sending regular caravans to the Island.

They have consistently defied the travel ban on U.S. citizens to perform their work.

When Walker died, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, ran an announcement declaring “we do not want to think of a world without Lucius Walker.”

His final resting place is in Havana, and he is honored by a plaque at the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Tribune across from the U.S. Embassy in Havana.

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Reverend Lucius Walker remembered in Cuba

Five years have passed since Lucius Walker’s death and Cuba still recalls the message released by Pastors for Peace: “With an incommensurable sadness we make public that our beloved leader Reverend Lucius Walker has died this morning”.

He died in New York at the age of 80. He was close friend of the Cuban Revolution and its legendary leader Fidel Castro.

He will be always remembered among Cubans, as well as his leadership in every solidarity caravan that he organized to help this island.

A pastor coherent with good things, paramount activist against the U.S. blockade. He traveled all North America gathering donations, describing Cuba’s reality and facing Washington’s ban to visit Cuba.

Lucius was born on August 3rd, 1930. He was also a tireless fighter for the freedom of the Cuban Five incarcerated in the U.S.

He was one of the founders of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), created in 1967. From 1973-1978 he was Associate General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.

Pastors for Peace organizes US-Cuba Friendshipment Caravans and they have broken the U.S. blockade regulations systematically to bring Cuban people computers, buses, and medicines.

Reverend Lucius Walker’s ashes will rest in Havana according to his last will. They will be found at the Martin Luther King Memorial.

Cubasi Translation Staff

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Caravan to Cuba report from July 15 event (+Photos)

Fresno Center for Nonviolence - Fresno, California

Our Center hosted this year’s Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba on Tuesday, July 15th.  The venue was at the house and garden called Dakota EcoGarden Project.  Those visiting for the first time met the residents living there;  some in the house itself and others in the large backyard.  There is one eco shelter (a prototype for others to come) and several tents on platforms.

always wonderful to share food with caring people.  And more reports from past caravanistas.  Lastly, we heard from Manola De Los Santos, the route speaker.  Manola is originally from Dominican Republic and is now a theology student living in Cuba.  He spoke eloquently but also urgently about Cuba and what the 52 year old embargo is still doing to the people of that small island.  He spoke of their wonderfully trained doctors who go all over the world helping in countries experiencing environmental disasters or in poverty stricken areas with little access to medical care.    Not known by many is the fact that Cuba provides to students all over the world, including the U.S., a free medical education in their Latin American School of Medicine.


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A Great Victory: Peace Caravan to Cuba Enters US from Canada

Over 90 supporters gathered at Peace Arch Park today, Sunday July 6, to send off the 25th Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba. Supporters came from across British Columbia and Washington State to make sure all of the humanitarian aid collected in British Columbia would make it across the border and on its way to Cuba.After a picnic and cultural/political program that we will report more about soon, the truck and car full of about $10,000 worth of humanitarian aid, including walkers, wheelchairs, medical supplies, sports equipment, school supplies and tools made their first attempt to cross over the border in the afternoon. With all of the caravan supporters chanting against the blockade of Cuba, holding signs, waving flags and handing out leaflets to those waiting in traffic, the ‎US border crossing was alive with the dynamic campaign demanding an end to the US government’s illegal and immoral blockade against Cuba.

The signs were held high, the voices and chanting were loud

However, even with this sign of strength the Peace Arch Border officials turned the aid away, in other words rejected the aid, claiming it was “of a commercial quantity” ‎and thus needed to go through the Commercial/Truck Crossing. Caravan supporters were resolute so the protest moved about 5 km down the road to the Commercial/Truck Crossing, where again the signs were held high, the voices and chanting were loud and the truck and car made their second attempt to cross the border with the humanitarian aid destined for Cuba.

The vehicles were x-rayed and many questions were asked, but after some delays the US border officials had no choice, first, because they could not find any legal justification and second, because it was clear that they were under the tremendous pressure of the loud protest at the border. Activists who were driving the aid across the border reported from within the inspection building that the border guards were intensely monitoring the protesters on their closed-circuit security TV. It was clear from this that the protest had become a big concern for them. Our militant and determined voices could be heard from blocks away, as well as many cars honking in support as they crossed through the border. It was only after 7 hours of chanting and protest that the US border guards finally were forced to relent and allow all of the aid into the US so it can travel with the Caravan on its way to Cuba! This victory brought back the feeling of two years ago, when
the same border agency refused to let the humanitarian aid pass, but after 24 hours of protest were forced to let it through.

The caravan will pass through the US/Mexico border on July 23

This was a great victory that has set the tone for the rest of the Caravan which will face another test on its way to Cuba when it passes through the US/Mexico border on July 23.

We must be alert and ready to defend this Caravan and its precious cargo for Cuba: Caravanistas who will travel from the US in defiance of the US government travel ban and humanitarian aid which the US government tries to blockade from Cuba.

Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) would like to thank everyone who supported the Caravan to Cuba at the border today, especially our co-organizers of the Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee and our dynamic guest speaker, Manolo De Los Santos, who travelled from New York City to speak on behalf of IFCO/Pastors for Peace!
Photos from today’s victory are now on our website and twitter, we will be posting a full report from the day soon!

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