U.S. Cuba: Defeating the Blockade

John Daniel

FOR OVER THIRTY years, the United States government has attempted to isolate the Cuban revolution. This summer U.S. citizens successfully confronted Washington’s hostile position towards Cuba, by organizing a massive grassroots educational and material aid campaign that struck at the heart of the illegal trade embargo and travel ban.

Organized nationally by Pastors for Peace and locally by an estimated ten thousand U.S. citizens in hundreds of cities, the second U.S.-Cuba Friendshipment successfully delivered 100 tons of material aid to Cuba in direct violation of the ban.

Three hundred drivers in ninety-two vehicles started out in July along ten separate routes to deliver the humanitarian aid. They visited scores of cities along the way and spoke to tens of thousands of people through fundraising events, interviews in local newspapers, TV stations and radio talk shows. This represented the largest U.S. campaign ever held to end the blockade and isolation of Cuba.

At the beginning of July, U.S. Treasury officials swore they would detain the caravan as it attempted to cross into Mexico at Laredo, but on July 29, when the drivers rolled up to the border, U.S. officais backed down. All but one little yellow school bus was allowed to cross.

U.S. Customs officials pitifully argued that the school bus might be used for military purposes or torture,” and promptly towed the bus to an impound lot with thirteen people aboard, who immediately decided to go on a hunger strike to force the release of the bus. After over three weeks of U.S.-imposed torture on the thirteen, who were forced to endure 105-degree heat in the middle of an asphalt parking lot, once again the government officials were forced to back down and allow the little yellow school bus to continue on its way.

The Friendshipment was met by “Va Por Cuba,” the Mexican organization for ending the blockade, and thousands of people lined the road to Tampico where the supplies were loaded aboard a Cuban freighter. The Friendshipment drivers then flew to Havana to accompany the material aid as it was delivered to churches throughout Cuba.

What forced the U.S. government to back down and allow the Friendshipment to continue, and what also forced the release of the bus, was the courage of the participants and the thousands of calls and letters and dozens of protests in their support. It seems that the only way Washington can continue its campaign of terror against the Cuban people is through hoodwinking the U.S. population; whenever people hear the truth and start to mobilize the government begins to lose its hold.

This is the simple, powerful message of the Friendshipment, the lesson we must all learn if we are to end the illegal and immoral U.S. blockade of Cuba.

To contact Pastors for Peace, write to 331 Seventeenth Avenue SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414, or call 612-378-0062.

November-December 1993, ATC 47