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Announcement :: Peace & War

Pastors for Peace Takes Protest on the Road

A STATEMENT FROM IFCO/PASTORS FOR PEACE:
We are announcing a new phase in our strategy to win the release of the humanitarian aid that was seized from our sixteenth Pastors for Peace caravan to Cuba on July 21, 2005. After several weeks in Hidalgo, Texas, we are adding a new component, and will take our protest on the road, to visit a series of US cities and build additional support for this campaign.

On Thursday July 21st, US Customs and Border Protection officers, acting on instructions from the US Department of Commerce, seized 43 boxes of computer equipment – toner, cables, calculators, modems, keyboards, 2 printers, and a dozen computers, intended for use by Cuban children with special needs - from our Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. Despite an extended search of the almost 140 tons of humanitarian aid, most of the 11-vehicle/150 member caravan crossed the border and went on to Cuba. However 7 members stayed behind at the US/Mexican border in Hidalgo, Texas to begin the campaign to secure the release of the seized aid, as well as the free passage to Cuba of all the other computers that we chose to leave behind rather than have them also seized.

In these past few weeks, we have established a strong presence in the McAllen/Hidalgo area. We have made many friends in area churches and community groups, and have been greatly nurtured by their support. We have received extensive local press coverage. Just about everyone here knows who we are and why we are in town. But it is very clear to us that the decision to free the computers and send them on to Cuba is not going to be made here in Hidalgo. We were told that the order to seize the computers was given from a very high level of government, as high as the White House. So one of our first stops, as we take our protest on the road, will be Mr. Bush’s backyard.

We will be using the next weeks to do intensive work to deepen and broaden our national base of support, to visit many of the cities which hosted the caravan on its way to Cuba, to do more media outreach, and to develop new educational materials about the mean-spirited nature of US/Cuba policy. As frustrated as we are about the seizure of the aid, we know that we have been given an important opportunity to further educate the US people about the immorality, illegal and brutality of US policy toward Cuba.

Our first steps will be to travel north from Hidalgo and visit a number of cities in Texas where the Pastors for Peace caravan made stops on its way down to Cuba. We plan to visit Alice, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, Houston and other cities. And we are especially looking forward to visiting the ‘summer White House’ at Crawford, Texas. And then our journey will continue, with stops in many cities around the US, until we reach Washington, DC. And we will stay as long as necessary to win the right to send this aid to Cuba.

The US government is biding its time on this issue. They want to stall because they think that the US people will forget or lose interest. We intend to keep this issue very much alive. We know that power never concedes without a struggle; we intend to keep the pressure on until the aid for Cuba is released.

A continuing presence will be maintained in Hidalgo while the caravan is on the road. Local supporters from the US and Mexico will maintain the weekly vigils on the Hidalgo/Reynosa International Bridge, every Wednesday, 6:00-8:00pm.

cucaravan (at) igc.org tel 212-926-5757

Keep making calls to the offices in Washington which will be involved in making the decision to release the computers:

Jayson Ahern, Assistant Commissioner of Customs: 202/344-1620

Cuba Desk, State Department: 202/647-9273

Michael Turner, Director of Export Enforcement, Commerce Department: 202/482-1208, ext. 3
Contribute Cash. We are involved in a major campaign and our funds are limited. The expenses are considerable and immediate, the need is both urgent and ongoing. Please
- send cash/check donations made out to IFCO at IFCO, 402 W. 145th Street, NY, NY 10031.
- or make an immediate payment by credit card by calling our office on 212-926-5757
Because IFCO has 501(c)(3) tax status, your donation is deductible to the fullest extent provided by law.
 
 


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