Pastors for Peace caravan to Cuba crosses the border: a near-total victory?

July 24, 2005

The fight for computers for Cuban children continues at the Hidalgo/Reynosa border

Pastors for Peace claimed a huge victory today as a tired but excited group of 130 US citizens crossed the US/Mexico border just before daybreak with almost all of the 140 tons of humanitarian aid en route to Cuba and collected by the Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Cuba Caravan. Their struggle to send on the computers, which have been blocked by US authorities, is building momentum.

The caravan is composed of seven brightly painted yellow school buses, two box trucks, and several smaller vehicles, all of them loaded with humanitarian aid for Cuba. Yesterday, more than 40 US Customs officers, acting on the instructions of Commerce Department officials, detained the Caravan at the border and began to search their vehicle one item at a time. In an exhaustive 6-hour search of the first two yellow school buses. Officials confiscated all of the computers and computer equipment available­ - 11 computers, three monitors, two printers, two scanners, and a variety of computer parts and accessories. Officials then threatened to tow the remaining vehicles carrying the rest of the aid. Meanwhile, members of the Caravan walked aid across the border and demonstrated beside the marooned buses.

Our caravans have delivered nearly 2500 tons of aid to Cuba since 1992, all of it without asking permission of the US government. But this year something changed: We have heard that government officials at the highest level made a special determination that this year our Pastors for Peace caravan would not pass,? said Rev. Walker. ?Wešve already proved them wrong: 95% of our caravan has already crossed into Mexico and is headed toward Cuba. Now wešre determined to get our computers to Cuba as well.

When those first computers were seized, we decided not to give up any more of our precious cargo. We regrouped at a location two blocks away from the border crossing,? said Rev. Walker. "There we decided that the best strategy was to send most of the caravan ahead with all the non-contested aid. So we unloaded and reloaded our vehicles, and everything but the computers passed through the Customs checkpoint between 3:00 and 6:00am. Just one bus stayed behind, with all our computers on board; and a few of us remain here in Texas to continue the fight for the computers."

"Our extraordinary group of committed and hard-working volunteers worked through the night to make sure that our caravan of urgently needed medical supplies and hurricane relief makes it to Cuba on time," said Rev. Lucius Walker, executive director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. "More than ever we are committed to making sure that all the supplies donated by generous US citizens will get to the Cuban people."

The campaign to free the computers has received tremendous support from Capitol Hill and from members of the Pastors for Peace grassroots network nationwide, who are calling on the Commerce Department to demand the release of the Pastors for Peace computers for Cuba and an end to the inhumane blockade.

Latest News on the Caravan
Latest Up-to-date news on the Caravan to Cuba...
11am, Saturday, july 23, 2005

(you can look here for fotos) http://www.indybay.org/news/2005/07/1755105.php

Cuba Caravan arrives to Tampico, Mexico safely, with aid en route to Cuba Fight for Computers continues in the US

An excited but exhausted Caravan arrived to Tampico, Mexico this morning in time to make their flight to Cuba. Meanwhile a group of Caravanistas not planning to travel on to Cuba is readying to load the nearly 140 Tons of humanitarian aid on to a cargo ship heading to Cuba.

The Caravan had finally rolled out of the border town, Reynosa, around 1pm yesterday, after long hours at the Mexican customs office. Caravanistas were forced to have their passports copied by the Mexican officials, which is far from ordinary. The director of the office, Justo Ayala, said that it was rutine for large groups, but Caravanistas said that it has never been the case before.

With 90% of the humanitarian aid in Mexico and soon to be headed off to Cuba, the struggle now turns to Hidalgo, Texas, where a small group of Caravanistas has begun an international campaign to free the computers confiscated by the Department of Commerce, and force the Government to allow the all of the computers to head on to the Cuban children they are destined for.

 WE NEED YOU TO ADD YOUR VOICE TO THIS CAMPAIGN AND MAKE THESE CALLS:

Call Capitol Hill and let your senators and rep know that the Pastors for Peace computers must be freed to go to Cuba. Ask them to call the Commerce Department to urge/demand that the computers be released. (Congressional switchboard: 202/225-3121).

Call Mr. Turner, Director of Enforcement at the Commerce Department (202/482-5036), and demand that the computers be allowed to go to Cuba.

Mobilize every network and organization you know; ask them to make these same calls, and publicize this story! posted by caravanista

 

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