June 18, 2013: Pastors for Peace Friendshipment 24 Announcement

See Cuba for Yourself and Challenge the US Blockade!

See Cuba for yourself


The Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee has hosted every IFCO/Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba since 1992. This year we're welcoming the 24th Friendshipment Caravan.
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' oreign 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 to 30!
Cuba is well known for its rich culture and focus on human development for all which comes from investment in human beings. While in Cuba you will meet theyoung 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
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.
Join the caravan as a caravanista / contact us for an application form.

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
Monica Zepeda, Treasurer
Hap Bockelie, Caravan Event Organizer
Jim McMahan, Material Aid Coordinator

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



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.


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.


Jacque Larrainzar gave a rousing performance of music and poetry.


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


The Seattle Peace Chorus sang rousing solidarity 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.


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, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

July 14, 2013: Friendshipment 24 Border Crossing

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.


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

Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee Secretary Judy Zeh 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.


Joose Justis entertained the crowd with his political raps.

Joose Justis

Rejean of Victoria played lively political folk music.


Participants danced to the music.


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

Staring to the border




Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba says:



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.


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






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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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



July 29, 2013: Report from Cuba

Thanks to your support, 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.

August 1, 2013: Friendshipment 24 Caravanistas in Santiago, Returning August 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.
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.
We still need your help! US authorities may still try to harass caravanistas on their return. You can help....If necessary, we'll send you phone numbers to call, and messages to deliver. Thank you for being alert and ready to respond.<
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

Returned safely

...and just in time to celebrate the 25th birthday of Pastors for Peace on August 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.

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.


For more information contact Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.