Solidarity donations for Cuba
The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment caravan crossed the US border into Canada on November 17 with 150 tons of solidarity donations for Cuba. Nevertheless, US customs officials confiscated some of the aid. Radio Havana Cuba spoke with reporter Yolanda Fisher on assignment with the caravan.
"We started out very early, and Pastors got almost everything over. There were several little incidents where the police with the customs officials took computers away from people, they took a lot of electrical equipment. But first they let it pass by so it's very odd, people got out of their buses, they walked things over, they walked donations over and the border guards were letting it go ... But all of a sudden they said no computers can go through."
While allowing most vehicles carrying aid to go through, the police seized two vans. However, both were released after a long stand-off with members of the caravan.
The 250 participants arrived in Havana on the evening of November 19 on two charter flights out of Montreal. The donated material collected by the Friendshipment was being loaded onto a Cuban freighter due to depart for Cuba on November 21.
The caravan, sponsored by the US religious organisation Pastors for Peace, followed 18 routes in US territory for two weeks, collecting 150 tons of medicines, powdered milk, school supplies and other solidarity donations in more than 130 cities. They also held press conferences on the need to lift the US economic blockade against Cuba and urged Washington to respect the island's self-determination and sovereignty in choosing its own political system.
Before crossing the US-Canadian border, caravaners converged in Washington DC where they visited members of congress and other personalities to express their views on US-Cuba relations, and staged a rally in front of the White House to protest at the US blockade against the island.
The caravan collected donations with an estimated value of $5 million. More than 100 US and Canadian religious, trade union, political and non-governmental organisations pitched in. Caravaners joined close to 3000 delegates who came to Cuba from all continents to participate in the first World Cuba Solidarity Meeting, kicking off in Havana on November 21.
[Radio Havana via Pegasus.]