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    1994 Loading a truck to send on Pastors for Peace Friendshipment 3

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    2010 Canadian-American-Cuban solidarity at Blaine, WA.

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    2010 Friendshipment 21 Send-off in Seattle

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    2013 Blaine Peace Park welcome to Friendshipment 24

united casino

2010 Pastors for Peace 21st Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba

The Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee is participating in the 21st Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. Please join us!

May 27, 2010
Friendshipment 21 Description

See also the Pastors for Peace Caravan blog: www.ifconews.org/Blog-21stCaravan

Be an ambassador for a new policy towards Cuba:
Join the Pastors for Peace 21st Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba!
July 3 – August 3, 2010

Pastors for Peace has been organizing Friendshipment Caravans to Cuba since 1993.
Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee has provided local support for every one of these caravans.

IFCO Caravan

President Obama’s election brought hope for change in many aspects of US policy including the potential to end the illegal, immoral and internationally condemned economic blockade of Cuba.

A year has passed and we have seen only small steps towards a new relationship with Cuba – new regulations to allow Cuban Americans to freely visit and send money to their families, and background talks about a few issues of mutual interest such as immigration.

These are positive steps but progress has stalled and the fundamental mechanisms of the economic blockade remain in full vigor. Meanwhile in Congress there have been a number of bills introduced to end or ease aspects of the blockade, the most prominent of which is the one to end the travel ban for all US citizens. But none of these has yet come to a vote.

The blockade has been in place almost 50 years and outlasted 10 US presidents. We have to step up the pressure to ensure that it finally ends under the current president.

NOW is the time to completely end the blockade, travel ban and all the measures aimed at starving the Cuban people into submission and overthrowing their government. We intend to demonstrate that we will no longer tolerate it.

In July we will travel in school buses, trucks and cars on 14 different routes to visit more than 130 US and Canadian cities. At every stop we will educate people about the blockade while collecting building supplies and tools for hurricane reconstruction, as well as medical, educational and cultural supplies. Join the caravan as we pass through your community, to connect and stay with community activists across the country as you travel. Alternatively join us directly in Texas on July 18th.

From Texas we travel to Cuba via Mexico. We go without asking for or accepting a US government license, as a disciplined collective challenge to the blockade and travel ban, and as ambassadors for a People to People foreign policy.

We spend 9 full days in Cuba, in Havana and neighboring provinces, in fellowship with our Cuban brothers and sisters.

We attend cultural events and visit social projects such as organic farms, homes for the elderly and health centers including the internationally acclaimed Latin American School of Medicine.

We meet and learn from Cubans at every level about the problems caused by the blockade and how they have creatively responded, as well as how they are rebuilding after the three devastating hurricanes that hit the island in the fall of 2008.

People with skills in construction, organic gardening or mural painting will have the option of working alongside Cuban counterparts for a couple of days of the program.

We then return to the US via Mexico, proudly declaring our travel to Cuba and our opposition to this immoral blockade.

CARAVAN SCHEDULE
JULY 3-17, 2010
Caravan routes - educational events and aid collections in the US and Canada.
JULY 18-20
Participant Orientation in Texas.
JULY 21- 22
Border 2010crossing into Mexico travel to Tampico load material aid onto cargo ship.
JULY 23 – AUGUST 1
Fly to Havana - educational program in Cuba.
AUGUST 2
Return to Tampico - travel to Mexico/US border.
AUGUST 3
Reverse Challenge, cross back into the US.

WAYS YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
· Come as a caravanista – contact us for an application form
· Recruit other caravanistas –Distribute our brochure and get others to request an application.
· Get involved locally – help host a caravan event in your community – email us to get a local contact - if there isn't one, you or your organization can take the initiative to host the caravan!
· Collect material aid - let us know so we can send you the aid information packet.
· Make a financial donation: Checks or money orders should be made out to IFCO (write Caravan only in memo line) and mailed to our New York office. For credit card donations simply click on the Donate-now button on our website www.pastorsforpeace.org and follow the instructions, or call our office.
· Donations are tax-deductible.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee (Seattle Area coordination)
c/o Tom Warner
Tel. 206-523-1720
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IFCO/Pastors For Peace (National Caravan Coordination)
418 West 145th Street, 3-FL.
New York NY 10031
Tel. 212-926-5757
Fax 212-926-5842
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.ifconews.org

 

July 4, 2010
21st Friendshipment Caravan begins in the Pacific Northwest

*Canadian activists defy US embargo of Cuba*

On Sunday July 4, Canadian activists successfully challenged the US Government blockade against Cuba by 2010crossing the Canadian-US border carrying dozens of boxes of aid aboard a yellow school bus.

 

Before the border 2010crossing, participants met at Peace Arch Park, which straddles the US/Canadian border near Blaine, Washington. Canadians from the greater Vancouver area and nearby Saltspring Island were joined by Americans from Bellingham, Seattle, Olympia and New York City.
The approximately 100 participants began with a rally at the picnic area on the Canadian side of the border.

 

Tom Warner, a Seattle activist who has been vocally supporting the Cuban Revolution for 50 years, gave a pep talk while Tamara Hansen of Vancouver, chief organizer of the event, looked on.

caravanistas2010

 

Canadian "caravanistas" who will travel on the caravan across the US and Mexico introduced themselves.

 

This young Canadian man appeared very happy to be going on the caravan!

 

Hap Bockelie from Seattle will be one of the Americans going on the caravan.

 

A Canadian First Nations woman provided a blessing song to caravan participants.

 

Every rally needs music and dancing: the Samba du Soliel band from Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, belted out happy rhythms to energize the gathering.

 

...and (almost) everybody danced!

 

Representatives from the Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee at the rally.

 

After the rally, volunteers loaded donations of material aid onto a yellow Canadian schoolbus that will be traveling to Cuba on the Friendship Caravan.

 

Pastors for Peace staffer Manolo de los Santos (left) and Canadian activist Axel (right), who will be driving the schoolbus across the US and Mexico, prepared to drive through the US border 2010crossing.

 

After the picnic and rally, Judy Zeh and Tom Warner head down to the US border crossing.

 

The schoolbus got in the traffic queue near the Peace Arch and headed towards the US border 2010crossing, while the support group followed on foot through the Peace Arch Park.

 

The bus passed near the Peace Arch monument.

 

Manolo de los Santos spoke with US Border Patrol officers regarding the aid being brought into the United States.

 

Canadian caravanistas who will be accompanying the bus to Cuba walk towards the US border control building.

 

Success! The bus and caravanistas having successfully crossed into the United States, the participants gathered for a group portrait.

 

Seattle Send-off Party

Join us to load material aid collected in the Seattle area onto the bus, and wish the caravanistas a happy and successful trip. Please come!
Date: Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Time: 6pm
Location: El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Avenue South, Seattle (Beacon Hill.)
Questions: Call Tom Warner at (206) 523-1720

 

July 7, 2010
21st Friendshipment Caravan Send-off event at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle.

Approximately 40 caravanistas and well-wishers gathered at El Centro de la Raza on Seattle's Beacon Hill for a potluck dinner, speeches, music, last-minute packing and loading of donated aid onto a Cuba-bound schoolbus.

Roberto Maestas, the original founder of El Centro, led the evening off by wishing the carvanistas well and reading his own poem/song about the Cuban Revolution.

Robero Maestas at send-off

 

Sandino, the Pastors for Peace designated speaker for the West Coast leg of the Friendship caravan, discussed the Cuban Revolution and explained the need for public protests of the US Government blockade.

 

Ramon, from Seattle, is currently studying medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana.

 

Rick Fellows, a long time Pastors for Peace staffer, is also an ace mechanic, bus driver, and passionate defender of the Cuban revolution.

 

Dale Rector led the group in a rousing rendition of "Guantanamera."

 

Dakadu played a march on his saxophone to send off the bus in style.

 

Then we packed a few more boxes to go on the bus to Cuba.......

 

Judy Zeh made a few last-minute additions to the inventory.....

 

...and the last boxes were loaded onto the bus.

 

To complete the event, a celebratory group photo.

 

What's Next
The Caravan bus left Seattle after the send-off party. After spending the night in Olympia, tomorrow they will begin the long drive south to the Texas-Mexico border and will plan to challenge the US blockade by 2010crossing the border into Mexico on July 21-22. They will continue on to Tampico, then fly to Cuba for a week-long program and return to the US on August 3. Let's wish them luck!
Questions: Call Tom Warner at (206) 523-1720

 

July 22, 2010
US Officials seize computers bound for Cuba

BY JACK KEATING, THE PROVINCE
JULY 21, 2010

U.S. Customs and Border Protection guards seized five computers donated by Vancouver residents that were bound for Cuba Wednesday as part of the 21st Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba.

“They confiscated five computers that had been donated by people in Vancouver,” Janine Solanki, an organizer with Vancouver Communities In Solidarity with Cuba, said from the Texas side of the U.S.-Mexico border. “I think this is just an harassment and intimidation tactic.”

Solanki, one of five Vancouver residents on the 85-person humanitarian aid caravan to break the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, said the reasoning behind the seizure was the U.S. authorities wanted to investigate whether the computers could be used for military purposes.

“These computers are Pentium 4s that are five-year-old used computers, so it’s a bit of a ridiculous charge,” said Solanki. “So they took five of them to inspect them to see if they could be used for military purposes by Cuba. That doesn’t even make sense, because they confiscated five of them and left another 55 computers with us.”

The caravan that includes 12 school buses, nine of which will be donated to Cuba, and more than 100 tons of medicines, medical supplies, computers as well as school supplies, sports equipment and construction supplies, was allowed to leave the U.S. at Pharr, Texas and enter Mexico, with the final destination Havana.

“And so this is something we have seen in past years,” said Solanki. “In 1996, they confiscated 400 computers and we actually had a 94-day hunger strike until they were released after getting international pressure on them.”

Solanki said the limited seizure was just to “annoy us and to show that they can confiscate the computers, but they didn’t confiscate them all so as to avoid a big international protest.”

The seized computers will be returned when the 85-member group returns to the U.S. through the same border 2010crossing, she said.

After more than seven hours of negotiations at the Mexican border, the humanitarian aid for Cuba was allowed into Mexico Thursday night, where the buses and the cargo will be loaded on to barges Friday that will leave Tampico bound for Cuba.

Solanki and the other volunteers will fly from Tampico to Havana Friday, where they will meet the buses and humanitarian aid upon its arrival in Havana.

Solanki said the bus from Vancouver was allowed into the U.S. at Blaine, Wash., on July 4 with the humanitarian aid for Cuba after “questioning us pretty heavily for quite a while.”

“The aim of the caravan is to break the U.S. embargo against Cuba,” said Solanki, a 23-year-old BCIT student, travelling with volunteers from Canada, the U.S., Europe and Mexico. “The Cuban aid and the U.S. citizens with the caravan are going to Cuba without a licence from the U.S. Treasury Department, so that we are openly breaking trade block and the travel ban against U.S. citizens.”

“The U.S. economic blockade is something that very much hurts the Cuban economy and therefore is harmful to the Cuban people. It is illegal under international law and must end.”

© Copyright (c) The Province

http://www.theprovince.com/business/officials+seize+computers+bound+Cuba+that+were+donated+Vancouver+residents/3306789/story.html

 

July 23, 2010
21st Friendshipment Caravan is on its Way to Cuba>

Pastors for Peace reports:
After a long drive from the US/Mexico border to the port of Tampico, 85 caravanistas loaded more than 100 tons of medical aid onto cargo boats before dawn. The Pastors for Peace Caravan is on the final leg of its journey to Cuba! This victory was made possible by the massive outpouring of your support.

 

August 3, 2010
21st Friendshipment Caravan Returns from Cuba

From the Pastors For Peace Website:
http://www.ifconews.org/node/915

 

MEDIA ADVISORY
August 3, 2010 -- for immediate release
CONTACT: IFCO/Pastors for Peace: On the road: Ellen Bernstein 646/319-5902, Alison Bodine 303/638-9799
in New York: Lucia Bruno 212/926-5757; 347/423-4330

 

21st PASTORS FOR PEACE FRIENDSHIPMENT SUCCESSFULLY RETURNS FROM CUBA
REV LUCIUS WALKER CHALLENGING BLOCKADE ON HIS 80TH BIRTHDAY

This afternoon the 21st US/Cuba Friendshipment Caravan organized by IFCO/Pastors for Peace successfully crossed back into the US, after a nine-day educational visit to Cuba. "This was a perfect way to celebrate the birthday of our founder and leader, Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr.," said Rev. Luis Barrios, member of the board of directors of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. "Really he is not just a leader; he is also a prophet in this struggle for peace with justice."

The caravan, made up of 85 caravanistas from the US, Canada, Europe and Mexico, traveled to Cuba without a US Treasury Department license, in a direct challenge of the US trade and travel blockade against Cuba.

In visits to 120 communities across the US and Canada, the caravan collected more than 100 tons of humanitarian aid for delivery to Cuba, including 9 school buses that will be used by Cuban churches, hospitals, and schools.

"With this caravan, we broke the blockade one more time. But the blockade still persists in full force -- and as long as it exists, we must continue to challenge it," stated Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., executive director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace. “This cruel and immoral blockade still prevents lifesaving medicines from reaching Cuban children. It blocks US citizens from being able to be good neighbors to our Cuban brothers and sisters. We call on President Obama and the Congress to do everything possible to end this cruelty against our neighbors."

Members of the caravan celebrate today's news that Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban Five who have been unjustly imprisoned in the US for more than 12 years, has been released from solitary confinement as of this morning.

Caravanistas are returning to their home communities committed to share what they learned in their time in Cuba, and to continue building support for an end to the blockade. The caravanistas leave this year's caravan with the resolve to continue organizing and committing civil disobedience until:

  • The blockade is lifted
  • The Cuban Five are freed
  • The ban on travel to Cuba is lifted
  • Cuba is taken off the US State Department's ‘terrorist list'
  • US/Cuba relations are normalized.

Pastors for Peace is a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), a national ecumenical agency which has been working for racial, social, and economic justice since 1967. Photos, video, blog, and more information are available at www.pastorsforpeace.org

 

2011 Pastors for Peace 22nd Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba

The Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee actively participated in the 22st Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. Here is our report:

May 24, 2011
Pastors for Peace Caravan 22 Announcement

Pastors for Peace invites you to participate in the 2011 Friendshipment Caravan - See Cuba for Yourself and Challenge the US Blockade! July 2 through August 1, 2011

2011 Friendshipment

This year, through an exciting educational and cultural program, IFCO/Pastors for Peace will celebrate and honor the achievements of young people in Cuba, as well as learn about their daily lives and experiences as we visit organic gardens, neighborhood projects, health centers and schools.

We will also be commemorating and lifting up the life of Rev Lucius Walker, Jr., the founding director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, who for 20 years gave prophetic and visionary leadership to our caravans to Cuba in defiance of the US blockade, and who died peacefully in September 2010.

In July 2011 our caravan will travel in school buses, trucks and cars along 12 different routes, visiting 130 US and Canadian cities. At every stop we will educate people about the blockade while collecting construction supplies and tools, medical supplies and equipment, educational and cultural supplies, to be donated to our sisters and brothers in Cuba. You can join us as we pass through your community, or you can join us when we reach the border in McAllen, TX on July 17th.

From Texas we will travel to Cuba via Mexico, without asking for or accepting a US government license, as a disciplined act of civil disobedience against the blockade and travel ban, and as ambassadors for a ‘people-to-people’ foreign policy based in mutual respect. When we return to the US, we will proudly declare our travel to Cuba and our opposition to the immoral blockade.

Join us on a voyage of friendship and discovery!

Cuba is well known for its rich culture and focus on human development – all which comes from investment in human beings. We will meet the young scientists, doctors, teachers, social workers, artists, musicians and community activists who are increasingly at the forefront of developing their own society, and participating in internationalist missions to assist the peoples of other countries.

WAYS YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

* Join the caravan as a caravanista – contact us for an application form. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

* Sponsor a young person or encourage others to apply – distribute our brochure; sponsor someone from your community.

* Get involved locally – help host a caravan event in Seattle. Contact Tom Warner at 206-523-1720.

* Collect material aid - we can send you the aid information packet.

* Make a financial donation. Donations are tax-deductible.


CARAVAN SCHEDULE

JULY 2-16
Caravan routes - educational events and aid collection - US and Canada.

JULY 17-19
Participant orientation in McAllen, Texas.

JULY 20-21
Border crossing into Mexico - travel to Tampico - load material aid onto cargo ship.

JULY 22-30
Fly to Havana - educational program in Cuba.

JULY 31
Return to Tampico - travel to Mexico/US border.

AUG 1
Reverse Challenge; cross back into the US and return to Seattle by about August 4.


CONTACT INFORMATION

Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee (Seattle-area coordination)
Tom Warner - Tel. 206-523-1720 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Judy Zeh - Tel. 206-523-1720 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jim McMahan - Tel. 206-218-4417 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Monica Zepeda - Tel. 206-362-7524 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IFCO/Pastors For Peace (National Caravan Coordination)
418 West 145th Street, 3-FL.
New York NY 10031
Tel. 212-926-5757
Fax 212-926-5842
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.ifconews.org

 

June 23, 2011
Seattle-Cuba Caravan 22 Welcome

Dear Cuba supporter,
We are now organizing for the Pastors for Peace 22nd Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. It’s coming to Seattle in July. Can you help us?
Although President Obama has moved to make it somewhat easier for college students, churches, and folks with families in Cuba to go there, there are still restrictions that make it difficult to send aid or to travel to Cuba. A really successful Friendshipment this year may convince a reluctant Congress and President that there is strong grass-roots sentiment to end the blockade and travel ban. How you can help:

  • Travel to Cuba on the Caravan. The US government doesn’t want you to go to Cuba. We say go and see for yourself. This year the Caravan leaves Seattle July 5 and returns to the US August 1. For more information about the Caravan or to request an application form, go to www.ifconews.org/CubaCaravan (or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).
  • Donate construction supplies and tools (still needed for hurricane reconstruction), medical supplies and equipment, and/or educational and cultural supplies. Over the past years, we in Seattle have sent tons of supplies, and with your help we can do so again.
  • Attend the Packing Party June 30, 4pm – 9pm at El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Ave South, Seattle (Beacon Hill). We will be packing and labeling the Seattle donations to be sent to Cuba.
  • Celebrate the border crossing July 3 at Peace Arch Park, Blaine. Canadians will be crossing into the US carrying aid to go on the Caravan. You are invited to ride up to the border with us, where we will welcome the Canadians across the border and have a picnic and rally, then load their donations on the schoolbus we’ll ride from Seattle to the border and back. This is an all-day event. Call us for details.
  • Come to the send-off potluck July 5, 6pm in the cafeteria at El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Ave South, Seattle (Beacon Hill). We do this every year for the Friendshipment Caravans, and it is always a festive and meaningful event.
  • Make a financial contribution to help us send the donated supplies on the Caravan. The high price of diesel fuel right now makes this particularly important. Use the handy donation slip included in this mailing!

With your help, we here in Seattle can again support the Friendshipment Caravan as we have in the past. The need this year is particularly great. Thank you very much!

In solidarity,
Tom Warner - Tel. 206-523-1720 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Judy Zeh - Tel. 206-523-1720 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jim McMahan - Tel. 206-218-4417 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Monica Zepeda - Tel. 206-362-7524 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

June 23, 2011
Caravan Send-off Invitation

Please come to the 2011 Friendshipment Caravan Send-off!
Join us at El Centro de la Raza on Seattle's Beacon Hill for a potluck dinner, speeches, music, and last-minute packing of donated aid which we will load onto a Cuba-bound schoolbus.
Date: July 5, 2011
Time: 6:00pm
Location: El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Ave South, Seattle, WA
Food: potluck
Entertainment: songs by the Raging Grannies
Program: (in addition to Caravan speaker): remarks from past and current Caravanistas

Directions
From I-5, take West Seattle Bridge/Columbian Way exit,
Exit via the Columbian Way ramp,
Turn onto Columbian Way South,
Turn left onto South Spokane St,
Turn left onto Beacon Ave South,
Turn right onto S Lander Street,
Turn left onto 16th Ave South. You're there!

Questions
Please call or e-mail:
Tom Warner - Tel. 206-523-1720 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Judy Zeh - Tel. 206-523-1720 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jim McMahan - Tel. 206-218-4417 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Monica Zepeda - Tel. 206-362-7524 - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

July 3 & 5, 2011
Border Crossing & Seattle Send-off

July 3, 2011: Canadian Border Crossing
On Sunday July 3, Cuba-supporters from Seattle drove north to the Blaine border crossing to offer support to Canadian "blockade busters." The Canadians planned to cross into the United States carrying humanitarian aid destined for Cuba, in defiance of the US Government blockade.
American customs officers tried to stop the Canadians' aid by demanding money to guarantee that the aid (which Customs claimed was a commercial shipment) would go all the way through the U.S. and into Mexico. In response, the enthusiastic Canadian contingent chanted and waved signs demanding that the aid be released.
Meanwhile, someone contacted Pastors for Peace (parent organization of the Friendshipment Caravan) in New York; Pastors then called their attorney who found something to tell Customs that convinced them they could not stop humanitarian aid, which this was, and the Canadian donations were allowed to enter the US after several hours of delay. Whew!

2011 Peace Arch protest

July 5, 2011: Seattle Send-off
By contrast, the 5 July sendoff at Seattle's El Centro de la Raza went very smoothly. The Raging Grannies sang, the folks going on the Caravan and others spoke, there was lots of good food, and 22 boxes and bundles of aid (mostly tools and construction supplies) were loaded onto a yellow school bus, which then headed to Olympia on the first leg of its journey towards the Mexican border enroute to Cuba.

Best of luck, 2011 Friendshipment Caravan!

 

August 1, 2011
Successful Caravan Return

After 10 days in Cuba, the Friendshipment Caravan successfully returned to the US.

 

Pastors for Peace Friendshipment 23 Caravan to Cuba

The Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee was one of the local sponsors of the 2012 Pastors for Peace 23nd Friendshipment Caravan.

April 25, 2012
Friendshipment 23 Announcement

20th Anniversary caravan

IFCO/Pastors for Peace has announced the 23rd Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. This caravan celebrates the 20th anniversary of the first Friendshipment.

In July 2012 the caravan will travel in school buses, trucks and cars along 12 different routes, visiting 130 US and Canadian cities. At every stop we will educate people about the blockade while collecting construction supplies and tools, medical supplies and equipment, educational and cultural supplies, to be donated to our sisters and brothers in Cuba. You can join us as we pass through your community, or you can join us when we reach the border in McAllen, TX on July 15th.

From Texas we will travel to Cuba via Mexico, without asking for or accepting a US government license, as a disciplined act of civil disobedience against the blockade and travel ban, and as ambassadors for a ‘people-to-people’ foreign policy based in mutual respect. When we return to the US, we will proudly declare our travel to Cuba and our opposition to the immoral blockade.
Please join us!

 

CONTACT INFORMATION
Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee (Seattle Area coordination)
c/o Judy Zeh
Tel. 206-523-1720
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IFCO/Pastors For Peace (National Caravan Coordination)
418 West 145th Street, 3-FL.
New York NY 10031
Tel. 212-926-5757
Fax 212-926-5842
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.ifconews.org

 

June 30, 2012
Friendshipment Upcoming Events

There are three major Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee events in the next several days. Please join us for

1) Packing Party: Saturday June 30 from noon to 6pm at El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Avenue S, Seattle (Beacon Hill). We will be packing, labeling, and manifesting the material aid (lots of tools and construction supplies!) for the Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. Look for us in the hallway near the dining room on the ground floor.

2) Border Crossing: Join us on the Friendshipment bus for the trip to Peace Arch Park at the Canadian border. Come to the Warner house, 8923 2nd Ave NE, Seattle, phone 206-523-1720, Sunday July 1 at 9am. The bus will pick us up there. If you plan to come, give me a call at the above phone number and let me know so I can give you a call if I learn that the pickup time has been changed. There will be a potluck picnic at noon at the border with the Canadians, but what is really important is to have a good crowd there to support the right of the Canadians to bring aid to Cuba across the US border. Last year US officials tried to stop the aid, but an emergency media campaign, legal challenge, and extended demonstrations on both sides of the border forced them to allow it through so it could be loaded on the bus.

3) Send-off potluck in the dining room at El Centro de la Raza, Monday July 2 at 6pm. We will probably start loading our aid onto the Friendshipment bus around 5pm. There will be good music (Irthlingz, members of Sin Fronteras and of the Seattle Peace Chorus, and more) as well as good food. We will remember three good friends of Cuba who died in the last couple of years (Tom Warner, Roberto Maestas, and Reverend Lucius Walker). We will hear from Tamara Hansen, a young leader in the Cuba Solidarity movement in Canada. Tamara is< a high school teacher in Vancouver BC and a researcher and writer on Cuba who has travelled to Cuba many times.

Hope to see you at some or all of these events!

In solidarity,
Judy Zeh, Secretary
206-523-1720
Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee
(a Task Force of the Church Council of Greater Seattle)

 

July 1, 2012
Border Crossing at Blaine Peace Arch Park

On July 1, the Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee went north to Peace Arch Park at the U.S.-Canadian border to welcome Canadians and their material aid going on the Friendshipment caravan to Cuba. There was a good turnout of both Americans and Canadians but the U.S. Customs Service decided not to let all of the Canadian aid pass through the border. The U.S. Government apparently thinks baseball mitts, basketballs, and volleyballs are some sort of threat since those were the items they refused to let through. Maybe they are right, since Cuban sports teams are very good!

In response the Canadian caravanistas occupied the border overnight while those on the U.S. side returned to Seattle to repair a bus malfunction so the bus could go on the caravan. The Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee contacted Congressman Jim McDermott, and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to ask for their assistance in getting the aid through.

The Canadians pitched tents Sunday night (July 1) to occupy the border, and by Monday morning the crowd was larger than it had been on Sunday and included lots of Canadian media. American activists returned and joined them. They chanted across the highway to each other:

Canadians: "The US stopped our aid to Cuba!"
Americans: "Shame, shame, shame!"
Canadians: "Cuba si!"
Americans: "Bloqueo no!"

Friendshipment 21

At that point the U.S. Customs Service decided they had better let all the aid (including the baseball mitts and soccer balls they had been objecting to) through. Sometimes the good guys win.

Friendshipment 21

 

July 2, 2012
Seattle Friendshipment Sendoff

The Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee will hold its 2012 Friendshipment Caravan Sendoff on July 2, 2012.
Please join us!

Friendshipment Sendoff

 

July 31, 2012
Friendshipment Caravan Returns to US

Friendshipment 23 returns to the US;
Confronts us travel ban of Cuba;
Caravan meets with Elián González;
Makes appeal to free the Cuban Five.

Elian and Lillian

US border authorities demanded the caravanistas provide extensive information about their travel to Cuba, but in a united front, caravanistas refused to comply. "This kind of tactic of forcing people who travel to Cuba to "name names" is pure McCartheyism," said Lisa Valenti, who has participated in all 23 caravans.

"The US government subjects no other country in the world to such draconian travel restrictions. Why? What is the threat of a small island neighbor 90 miles away that offers free health care to the world?" added IFCO Co-Director Gail Walker.

"I'm a Vietnam Vet. I fought for this country. How can the US government tell me not to go to Cuba?" said Bill Hill, a veteran driver of the caravan.

Caravan members returned to the US after delivering nearly 100 tons of precious aid to Cuba and were victorious in getting US border authorities to return six computers retained at their border crossing on the 19th.

In Cuba the group met with Cuban faith, arts and community leaders throughout the island and visited hospitals and other institutions affected by the US blockade. Members also met with Elian Gonzalez and his father, who made a special appeal to free the Five Cubans imprisoned in the US for their anti-terrorist activities.

IFCO Co-Director Father Luis Barrios declared the group's continued solidarity with Cuba, "We will not rest until the Cuban Five are free and with their families in Cuba and until the immoral, genocidal US blockade is ended, once and for all."

The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan is a project of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), which has been working for racial, social, and economic justice since 1967.

 

The Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee enthusiastically participated in the 2013 Pastors for Peace 24th Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba.

 

June 18, 2013: Pastors for Peace Friendshipment 24 Announcement

See Cuba for Yourself and Challenge the US Blockade!

Caravan crossing

Join the Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee in welcoming the 24th Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee has similarly hosted every IFCO/Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan since 1991.

Beginning on July 8, 2013, the caravan of activists will originate at various points in the United States and Canada. Traveling in school buses, trucks and cars along 12 different routes, they will visit 130 US and Canadian cities. They will stop to educate people about the blockade while collecting construction supplies and tools, medical supplies and equipment, educational and cultural supplies, to be donated to our sisters and brothers in Cuba. Participants can join in Seattle or when the caravan reaches the border in McAllen, TX on July 15th. The caravan will then cross the border and travel to Cuba via Mexico, without asking for or accepting a US government license, as a disciplined act of civil disobedience against the blockade and travel ban, and as ambassadors for a ‘people-to-people’ foreign policy based in mutual respect.

The Caravan will be welcomed in Santiago de Cuba. Work side by side with our Cuban friends to help rebuild parts of the city devastated by Hurricane Sandy! Attend one of our solidarity events during Caravan Week July 8-15 in a city near you and then travel with the caravan to Cuba from July 16–30!
Cuba is well known for its rich culture and focus on human development – all
which comes from investment in human beings. While in Cuba you will meet the
young scientists, doctors, teachers, social workers, artists, musicians and
community activists who are increasingly at the forefront of developing their own
society, and participating in internationalist missions to assist the peoples of other
countries.
Take part in an exciting educational and cultural program in Cuba; join us on a
voyage of friendship and discovery!

See Cuba for Yourself and Challenge the US Blockade
APPLY NOW!
Join the caravan as a caravanista – contact us for an application form.
Seattle contact: Judy Zeh Tel. 206-523-1720 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pastors for Peace (NYC): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

June 24, 2013: Seattle/Cuba Friendshipment 24 Welcome

Dear Cuba supporter,

We are now organizing for the Pastors for Peace 24th Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. It’s coming to Seattle during Caravan Week, July 8-15. Can you help us? Although President Obama has made it somewhat easier for some folks (e.g. those with families in Cuba) to go to Cuba, there are still restrictions that make it difficult to travel there or to send aid. A really successful Friendshipment this year may convince a reluctant Congress and President that there is strong grass-roots sentiment to end the blockade and travel ban.

How you can help:
· Make a financial contribution to help us support this year’s Pastors for Peace challenge to the blockade and travel ban. Use the handy donation slip included in this mailing! For more information about Pastors for Peace, go to www.ifconews.org/CubaCaravan.
· Come to the send-off potluck July 12, 6pm-9pm in the Dining Room (Room 107) at El Centro de la Raza, 2524 16th Ave South, Seattle (Beacon Hill). We do this every year for the Friendshipment Caravans, and it is always a festive and meaningful event. This year there will be music and song by Jacqui Larrainzar and members of the Seattle Peace Chorus, spoken word and percussion by Michael Hureaux, a short keynote address focused on Assata Shakur by Dr. Angela Gilliam, and a special reading from Assata’s autobiography by Jose Carillo and Payvand Pejvack. For more information on why we are focusing on Assata, see the attached flyer.

The Pastors for Peace Caravan this year has a new look. Instead of riding on school buses and other vehicles carrying tons of material aid through the United States and across the Mexican border, this year’s Caravanistas will fly from “Hub Cities” throughout the United States to Mexico City. From there they will travel to Santiago de Cuba, one of the cities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. From July 19 to July 29, they will work side by side with Cuban partners to reconstruct homes and buildings destroyed by the hurricane. This hybrid caravan/re-construction brigade was agreed by IFCO and its Cuban partners to be more helpful to Cuba this year than a shipment of tons of material aid. Seattle is a Hub City.

Because the Caravanistas can only carry a small quantity of material aid in their backpacks and suitcases, there is a targeted short list of the aid sought. It includes hand tools the Caravanistas will use and then leave in Cuba and a few medical supplies (thermometers, blood pressure machines, insulin syringes, colostomy bags and tubes, catheters, adult diapers, and stethoscopes). The Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee is not actively collecting these items, but if you have any of them (unused and in good condition) you are welcome to bring them to the July 12 potluck. We will make sure they get to Cuba.

With your help, we here in Seattle can again support the Friendshipment Caravan as we have in the past. Contact us if you have questions. Thank you very much!

In solidarity,
Judy Zeh, Secretary of the Committee (206) 523-1720 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Monica Zepeda, Treasurer (206) 362-7524 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Hap Bockelie, Caravan Event Organizer (206) 965-0756 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Jim McMahan, Material Aid Coordinator (206) 218-4417 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

July 12, 2013: Seattle Caravan Send-Off and Salute to our sister Assata Shakur

poster

Yesterday (July 12, 2013) the Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee held a Send-Off Event for the 24th Annual Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba. The event was held at El Centro de la Raza on Beacon Hill. Kudos to Hap Bockelie for organizing and MC'ing this great Send-Off/Salute!

event

Dr. Angela Gilliam gave the keynote address concerning the plight of Assata Shakur, an African-American activist who was controversially convicted of several crimes in the United States in 1977. Later, after escaping from prison, she fled the U.S. and has been living in Cuba as a political refugee since 1984.

angela

Jacque Larrainzar gave a rousing performance of music and poetry.

jacqu

Alison Bodine (middle) and two other Canadian activists provided an update on the Pastors for Peace Caravan and on the Cuban 5 political prisoners.

alison

The Seattle Peace Chorus sang rousing songs.

Seattle Peace Chorus

Jose Carrillo and Michele Storms gave a special salute to our sister Assata Shakur with music and readings.

Jose & Michele

Long-time Seattle activists Dorli Rainey, Judy Zeh and Melody Roberts.

dorli-judy-melody

Vancouver Committee in Solidarity with Cuba and Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee join in solidarity!

Vancouver & Seattle

For more info. On Cuba solidarity in the Seattle area, call Judy at (206) 523-7140.

 

July 15, 2013: Friendshipment 24 Border Crossing

July 14, 2013: Canadian and American solidarity activists met at Peace Arch Park for the 24th Pastors for Peace Caravan Border-Crossing Event

Peace Arch Park straddles the International Boundary between the United States and Canada, near the American city of Blaine, Washington and the Canadian city of White Rock, British Columbia.

Peace Arch Park

The sign says "Welcome to the UNITED STATES of AMERICA".

Welcome sign

Participants met at the Canadian side of Peace Arch Park to greet each other and share a sunny potluck picnic.

picnic

Tamara Hansen of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba MC'd the program.

Tamara Hansen

Alison and Azza of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba provided an overview of the Caravan and summary of the Cuban Five case.

Alison and Azza

Judy Zeh of the Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee offered a greeting from the Seattle contingent.

judy Zeh

The three Canadian Caravanistas - Aaron, Tamara and Thomas - who were preparing to carry "illegal" humanitarian aid to the U.S. side of the border.

Aaron, Tamara and Thomas

Caravanista Thomas poses with the humanitarian aid which they will attempt to carry into the United States and then on to Cuba.

FREE THE CUBAN 5 NOW!

Joose Justis thoroughly entertained the crowd with his political raps.

Joose Justis

Rejean of Victoria played lively political folk music.

Rejean

Bailarenas danced to the music.

Bailarenas

After the program, the group began walking towards the official border crossing a few hundred yards to the south

Staring to the border

FREE THE CUBAN FIVE NOW!

FREE THE CUBAN 5 NOW!

PASTORS FOR PEACE CARAVAN TO CUBA SAYS: LIFT THE U.S. BLOCKADE OF CUBA NOW!

Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba says:

LET CUBA LIVE! LIFT THE BLOCKADE NOW!

LET CUBA LIVE! LIFT THE BLOCKADE NOW!

The group talked to queued motorists while walking towards the border.

Talking to queued motorists

Janine explained to waiting motorists the meaning of the border protest.

Meaning

The group approached the U.S. Land Port of Entry office at the border.

Approaching the U.S. Land Port of Entry office

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers greeted the caravanistas: "Who's in charge here!?"
(they've obviously never worked with North American solidarity activists before; nobody is "in charge".)

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers

"You people need to leave here and move back to the park."

You people need to leave here

The three caravanistas moved on to the U.S. Land Port of Entry office to be processed for crossing the border. There, they informed Customs officers that they were carrying "illegal" humanitarian aid supplies destined for Cuba. Customs officers thoroughly inspected their bags: "They opened every plastic bag and unzipped every zipper."

The three caravanistas moved on

While waiting for the three caravanistas to pass through, the support group moved safely back to Peace Arch Park and offered their loud and enthusiastic support.

Support group

Let Us Help CUBA

Let Us Help CUBA

Obama End The Blockade

HEY OBAMA: LET CUBA LIVE!!

HEY OBAMA: LET CUBA LIVE!! END THE BLOCKADE!!

HEY OBAMA: LET CUBA LIVE!!

LIFT THE BLOCKADE ON CUBA

LIFT THE BLOCKADE ON CUBA

The victorious caravanistas waved after successfully passing through the Land Port of Entry office and being admitted to the U.S.

Victorious caravanistas waved

Soon, they arrived at the parking lot on the U.S. side of Peace Arch Park.

three border-crossers arrived

Everybody celebrated the successful border crossing. The U.S. Government blockade of Cuba has been breached again!

Everybody celebrated

For more information on the 24th Pastors for Peace Caravan and local support activities:
Pastors for Peace: www.ifconews.org or 212-926-5757
Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee: www.seattlecuba.org or Judy at 206-523-7140
Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba: www.vancubasolidarity.com or 778-882-5223

 

July 17, 2013: Friendshipment 24 Vancouver Reports

Our friends at Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba have posted pictures and reports on the recent public events surrounding Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan 24, here:

Back-to-Back Victories Against the U.S. Blockade on Cuba

VCSC

 

August 1, 2013: Friendshipment 24 Caravanistas in Santiago Returning August 1

Caravanistas in Santiago
Returning Thursday, Aug 1 --
Calling our Emergency Response Network: Please stand by to help if needed
 
On Thursday, Aug 1, the Caravanistas will be returning to the United States. As you know, they have traveled without a US-government issued license -- an act of civil disobedience to challenge the US government's restrictions on freedom of travel for US citizens. This explanation tells more about our principled challenge, in English or in Spanish.
 
As they return to the US, they are vulnerable. Please give them the same back-up support that caravanistas in the past have received. Stay tuned. We'll be sending information out by email. We'll be posting information on our facebook page and tweeting you.
 
If necessary, we'll send you phone numbers to call, and messages to deliver. Thank you for being alert and ready to respond.




 
We still need your help! US authorities may still try to harass caravanistas on their return. You can help....
 
Continue to check our website for the latest update!
 
July 29, 2013
 
Thanks to your support, Chris, the Caravanistas are in Santiago de Cuba -- having an event filled time.
 
We're grateful to the Lutheran, Episcopal and Pentacostal churches in Santiago for providing the food and sleeping space that the caravanistas need. On Sunday, Fr. Barrios, IFCO Co-Director preached at the Episcopal Church and Rev. Tom Smith, IFCO Board President, preached at one of the Pentecostal churches there.
 
On July 26, Caravan participants gathered at 5:30 a.m. at the Moncada Barracks (now a school) to take part in the 60th anniversary celebration of the attack on the barracks which began the Cuban Revolution. The celebration began at the same early hour that the original attack began!
 
Caravanistas also have visited the Santa Grito neighborhood, which was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. They also spent time helping with repairs -- and assessing what further help we can give. We'll let you know as plans develop. We also learned how Cuba civil defense prepares for hurricanes, to prevent damage and loss of life.
 
The photo below was taken just after the hurricane, and we'll be sharing photos showing our Caravanistas hard at work helping with the ongoing repair.
 

What You Can Do:

1. Forward this to your friends so they can "opt-in" to the IFCO/p4p emergency response network. We want to alert you if there is any trouble with the return crossing on August 1st.
 
2. Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/pastorsforpeace or follow us on Twitter @cubacaravan. Facebook has more photos and up-to-the-minute news, and we'll "tweet" you as things happen.
 
3. Donate to IFCO so we can continue the caravans and the Medical School Scholarship program.
 
 

 

 

August 3, 2013: Friendshipment 24 The Caravanistas Have All Returned Safely

 
The Caravanistas have all returned safely
and just in time to celebrate the 25th birthday of
Pastors for Peace on Aug 2

August second, twenty-five years ago, on a beautiful sunny afternoon along the Rio Escondido in central Nicaragua the tranquility was broken when US-supported contra forces brutally attacked a passenger ferry carrying 200 civilians. An IFCO study-delegation led by our founding director Rev. Lucius Walker and his daughter Gail was on that ferry in route to the capital city of Managua. That single event changed the lives of all of us at IFCO. Lucius was one of dozens wounded and in response announced the formation of our special Pastors for Peace project to offer an alternative foreign policy through the delivery of humanitarian aid to Latin America and the Caribbean.
 
Today, twenty-five years later IFCO continues to organize creative activities based in non-violent resistance under the banner of our Pastors for Peace project to galvanize direct hands-on solidarity with the victims of US foreign policy. We remain committed to our work to reflect the true spirit of the vast majority of people living in the United States who desire to live in harmony with our neighbors.
 
Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr., founder of IFCO as he was arrested during one of the early carvans. During the second, he led a 23 day hunger strike in Laredo, TX. And suceeded in bringing a little yellow school bus to Cuba.

 
A group of Caravanistas return late night on Aug 1 -- after passing through US Customs at the airport. Their empty suitcases formerly contained medical aid for the people of Santiago, Cuba.

Fifty-four US caravanistas returned home through airports in 13 cities. When they proudly said they had gone to Cuba without a license, some were stopped, questioned, their bags searched, and/or they were detained for a period of time. Ultimately, everyone was released, sometimes after a lecture or a warning. Our response was the same as it has been for 25 years:
Love is our License.


 
Last Sunday's church services at the Episcopal Church where Fr. Luis Barrios, IFCO Co-Director, preached.
 
We want to thank the Episcopal, Lutheran and Pentecostal church communities in Santiago for their warm welcome and gracious hosting.
 

 

We'll be sharing more photos and stories. Check our website for the latest update!
(and, Caravanistas, if you have photos to add to the collection, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to us!)
 
 

 
One of the Caravanistas swings a pick to dig a hole -- beginning construction for new buildings to replace hurricane damaged Santiago. We worked some, and made plans to be back later in the fall to help more.
 
If you want information about the fall construction delegation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
Young people may not speak the same language, but music is universal.
 
 
 

 
Rev. Walker and his dauhter Gail -- now IFCO's Co-Director.
 

 
 
One of the dozens of school busses that Pastors for Peace has brought to Cuba during the past 25 years. This one is serving a church in Santiago, Cuba -- and for the past week, Caravanistas as well.
 

 
A visit to a Community Center in the neighborhood of Santa Grito. We visited a church-based community development project there.
 

 
How You Can Help!
 
Like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/pastorsforpeace or follow us on Twitter @cubacaravan. Facebook has more photos and up-to-the-minute news, and we'll "tweet" you as things happen.
 
Donate to IFCO so we can continue to help Santiago, and continue the Medical School Scholarship program.
 

 

October 12, 2013: Friendshipment 24 Report-back and Potluck

Save the date: October 12, 2013

The Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee invites you to hear reports by Canadians who went to Cuba on the Pastors for Peace Caravan this summer!

Music by Jim Page!

at a potluck on SATURDAY 12 OCTOBER 2013 from 5:00 to 8:00 PM

in the cafeteria at EL CENTRO DE LA RAZA, 2524 16th Avenue South, Seattle

FREE! Vegetarian and non-vegetarian food options!

More info: Judy Zeh (206) 523-1720

 

Caravanistas