Description: The United States has had a contentious relationship with Cuba for nearly half a century. With the recent change of political powers from Fidel Castro to his brother, Raul, and new leadership in the White House next year, many American activists see this as an opportunity to improve relations with the communist state. A group of pro-Cuba activists are blogging about why U.S. policies towards Cuba should change as they travel to the country.
Tools Being Used: Blogs
What Are They Doing: The 19th annual US-Cuba Friendshipment Caravan, comprised of 100 Pastors For Peace volunteers, have been traveling across North America for the last month, educating the public about what they say are the detrimental effects of U.S. policies on Cuban society. Specifically the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act prohibits foreign companies that trade with the U.S. from also trading with Cuba. The law also prevents travel to Cuba by American citizens and imposes limits on how many times Cubans living in America can travel to their homeland to visit family. In 1996, the U.S. government enacted a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a fine for violators of the embargo.
They are using their blog as a travel journal, publishing photos and stories from their trip.
“This caravan is the true face of the US people,” said Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., executive director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace in a statement. “The immoral and ignorant policy of the US government toward Cuba represents the power of a mean-spirited minority. This caravan embodies the true inner feelings of the US majority. We will keep challenging this unjust blockade until our government rescinds this inhuman policy that causes our neighbors so much suffering.”
Yesterday the caravan converged in McAllen, TX, and plans to cross the Texas border into Reynosa, Mexico early on Thursday, July 3. From there they will commit the act of civil disobedience by flying into Havana, Cuba. While there, the caravan plans to give out donated aid to the needy and interact with Cuban civil society activists on a “people to people” mission.
Lisa Valanti, founder of the U.S.-Cuba Sister Cities Association, has been traveling with the caravan every year since its inception without accepting a license from the U.S. Treasury Department.
“Most Americans favor ending this embargo,” she said in a interview the Boston-based Bay State Banner. “What kind of people are we if we don’t demand this?”