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See Cuba for yourself and challenge the U.S. blockade

July 3, 2011

The Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba will stop in Berkeley on Tuesday, July 5, 6-9 p.m., at the Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita

by the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) Pastors for Peace

The Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba is on the road! We invite you to join with us in building our 22nd Friendshipment Caravan – and to join us on our blockade-busting journey!

A great outpouring of love from around the world followed the death a few months ago of Rev. Lucius Walker. He was described in one tribute as “our beloved, heroic, prophetic leader.”
This year, in the U.S. and in Cuba, we will commemorate and lift up the life’s work of Rev. Lucius Walker Jr., the founding director of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, who passed away six months ago. Lucius’ history as a leader in countless struggles for civil and human rights, racial, social and economic justice is exemplary; and for 20 years he gave prophetic and visionary leadership to our work in solidarity with Cuba and in defiance of the U.S. blockade. With this caravan, we will humbly walk along the path where he led us, and we will pay loving tribute to him.

Join us in taking forward his struggle to completely end the immoral U.S. blockade against Cuba.

You have probably heard that President Obama recently eased some restrictions on travel to Cuba. The new regulations make it easier for U.S. colleges to get licenses to send students to Cuba and for religious entities to get licenses to visit sister congregations.

This is undoubtedly a small step forward in U.S.-Cuba relations; and it highlights the president’s considerable powers to improve those relations without having to get the approval of Congress. But we know that this is nowhere near enough!

Years ago, President Clinton took similar steps to permit more licensed travel. In 2004, George W. Bush undid all of that; and Obama’s recent measures only take us back to where we were pre-Bush.

We keep hearing Lucius’ voice reminding us that our goal is not just to make it easier for a few more groups to get licenses to travel to Cuba.

We want to see a complete end to the travel ban that prevents U.S. citizens from freely traveling to Cuba, as we can to any other country in the world.

Our even larger goal is to work for a complete end to the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba – a blockade that punishes the Cuban people every day and that is being implemented just as harshly under President Obama as it was under President Bush.

Our caravan will travel in school buses, trucks and cars along 12 different routes, visiting 130 U.S. and Canadian cities. At every stop we will educate people about the blockade while collecting construction supplies and tools, medical supplies and equipment, and educational and cultural supplies to be donated to our sisters and brothers in Cuba.

Some of the caravanistas in the 19th Friendshipment Caravan in 2008 pose with their Peace Bus.
You can join the caravan when a caravan vehicle comes through your city during the first half of July, or join us at the orientation in Texas on July 17 as we prepare to cross the U.S. border.

From Texas we will travel to Cuba via Mexico, without asking for or accepting a U.S. 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 U.S., we will proudly declare our travel to Cuba and our opposition to the immoral blockade.

So in July of this year we will once again be visiting Cuba with our hearts full of solidarity and our schoolbuses full of humanitarian aid for Cuba – WITHOUT REQUESTING A U.S. GOVERNMENT LICENSE – as a means of directly challenging and bringing public attention to the travel ban and blockade.

We ask you to join us in this challenge by joining the 22nd Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba or by becoming one of the thousands of people who work with us to:

  • organize local public outreach events for the caravan across the U.S. and Canada,
  • collect the humanitarian aid that we will deliver in July and
  • raise funds to help support the project.

In Cuba, the caravanistas will have an exciting educational and cultural program, which will focus on the achievements of young people in Cuba. We will celebrate Cuban youth and learn about their daily lives and experiences as we visit organic gardens, neighborhood projects, health centers and schools.

To obtain a caravan application form or to volunteer to help with caravan work, write to us at or telephone our national office (212) 926-5757.

More information about the caravan, including this year’s brochure in English and Spanish, is available at You can make a donation to support the organizing of the caravan by clicking on the Donate Now button on our website. You can also read more and see short video clips at and

Caravan dates

July 2-16 Caravan routes through U.S. and Canadian cities

July 17-19 Orientation program in McAllen, Texas

July 20-21 Border Crossing into Mexico and travel to Tampico

July 22 Travel to Cuba

July 22-30 Cuba program

July 31 Fly to Tampico and travel back to border

Aug. 1 Reverse challenge: crossing into Texas

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

Rev. Walker and Fidel Castro in a recent photo. Cubans recognize Rev. Walker as a great friend of Cuba.
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 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 – we can send you the aid information packet.

Make a financial donation. Donations are tax-deductible. Checks or money orders should be made out to IFCO (write “Caravan” only in the memo line) and mailed to our New York office: IFCO, 418 W 145th St., New York, NY 10031. For credit card donations, simply click on the Donate Now button on our website,, and follow the instructions, or call our office at (212) 926-5757.

The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) Pastors for Peace is an ecumenical agency whose mission is to help forward the struggles of oppressed peoples for justice and self-determination. In addition to the Friendshipment Caravans and many other projects, IFCO administers and coordinates scholarships to the Latin American School of Medicine (LASM), in Havana, Cuba, for a six-year, world-class medical education available for free to U.S. students from poor communities of color who cannot afford to attend medical school in the U.S. and who pledge to return to serve their communities. Learn more at For a map and schedule of all the stops on the current Friendshipment Caravan route, click here.


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