Journey to Cuba; don't let the blockade cease you

Travel to Cuba; don’t let the blockade stop you

Members in an IFCO/Pastors for Peace Friendshipment to Cuba. | IFCO/Pastors for Peace

“Where have you been this trip?”

“Cuba and México.

“Did you travel with a license from the State Department?”

“On the advice of attorneys, I decline to answer that.”

“You do know you’re not allowed to go there without a license?”

“On the advice of attorneys, I decline to answer that.”

“Did you purchase any Cuban merchandise?

“On the advice of attorneys, I decline to answer that.”

Thus we have been coached to reply any query not on the usual U.S. re-entry questionnaire, which is restricted to what international locations we visited, whether or not we’ve got farm merchandise, and such. We, the members of the U.S.-Cuba Friendshipment organized by Pastors for Peace (PfP), had simply dedicated civil disobedience, having brazenly defied a journey ban that carries the potential penalties of ten years in jail and a quarter-million-dollar tremendous, publicly refusing to use for a license, even refusing one when it was supplied in a earlier 12 months.

Thus far—and ours was the 30th Friendshipment—there have been no arrests, even in these Trump years, however we by no means know what to anticipate. For 2 years in previous many years, letters threatening fines have been despatched out, however nobody paid something. Apart from that, the worst any member ever suffered was was being taken to a different room and interrogated, informed to fill out and signal a paper itemizing seventeen questions—which the members declined to do.

One other query which was recommended that we may be requested was, “Are you with Pastors for Peace?” Properly, uh, I used to be proudly carrying my T-shirt proclaiming that I’m, however I used to be nonetheless ready to give the identical reply to that one: “On the advice of attorneys, I decline to answer that.”

Nonetheless, the reception we have been ready for was not what we acquired.

I don’t know what number of hundreds of U.S. Individuals have visited Cuba illegally, figuring out that Cuba didn’t stamp passports carried by residents of the one travel-banning nation. However that little deception is over now, as a result of our passports presently have GPS chips in them that inform Massive Brother the place we’ve been. So I put my passport into one of many machines within the airport safety room, touched the display screen to reply the few questions requested, eliminated my glasses to have the machine take my photograph, took the slip of paper that it spit out, and ready to current it to the “Border Protection” official on the finish of the lengthy labyrinthine queue.

As I snaked by means of, my thoughts alternated between working towards the road and recalling our wonderful go to to that inspiration of hope which this capitalist/imperialist nation is so decided to wipe out, so afraid to have us expertise. I remembered our personal assembly with President Miguel Díaz-Canel, our assembly three of the Cuban 5, our keep on the Martin Luther King Ecumenical Middle, my lengthy talks with our Cuban translator on the bus, the interreligious occasion we attended, our visits with each Cuban college students on the Increased Institute of Worldwide Relations and U.S. college students on the Latin American College of Medication.

I considered the love that Cubans poured out to us in all places we went, of the attractive countryside and the wondrous previous buildings within the cities we visited. I considered the illegally purchased gadgets that I had mailed residence to myself from Mexico in order that they wouldn’t be confiscated—every thing from a T-shirt celebrating the 500th anniversary (this 12 months) of the town of La Habana to magnets with images or with clay decorations. (We’re requested by PfP to not purchase rum or cigars.) I considered the books in my suitcase that I had purchased within the airport that morning to make use of up the final of my Cuban cash, books that they aren’t imagined to confiscate as a result of the First Modification acknowledges our proper to share tradition and data, mockingly exempting from the journey ban that which they’d most wish to preserve us from bringing again.

After which, lastly, I used to be as much as the place the place I might hand my incriminating slip of paper to the official.

“Where did you travel to?”

“Cuba and Mexico.

With that, he stamped my slip and handed it again, trying to the subsequent individual in line.

I walked on, my suitcase and backpack unopened, questioning if somebody would nab me and seize my backpack after I handed the stamped slip to the officers by the exit. However no. Nothing.

A mural painted on the facet of a bus donated to Cuba by IFCO/Pastors for Peace. | IFCO/Pastors for Peace

“What’s with you guys?!” I shouted silently. “Don’t you know I just broke your law?!! You’re letting me just walk out of here?”

“Well, that was anti-climactic,” I stated after I reported to the New York workplace by telephone afterwards.

However it tells us we’ve got triumphed. The very fact is that they’ve had this draconian regulation on the books for many years, however as quickly as an organized power challenges it, they begin petering out. They could or might not later ship us threatening letters, however they know there could be an rebellion in the event that they have been to truly go after us. They gained’t even harass us on the border any extra. Of the 35 of us, just one group was questioned. Briefly.

What this implies is that this: Do it! Plan now on happening the 31st Friendshipment subsequent 12 months. You’ve all the time needed to go to Cuba? Don’t go away this world with out doing it. Try the website of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO)/Pastors for Peace, the Harlem-based group that was the primary to face as much as the U.S. authorities on this matter, risking arrest.

I’ll be writing extra about this group and the Cuba go to itself, however for now, know we’re profitable, and that there’s a spot for you in all this.

Reposted by permission of the writer and LA Progressive.


Carolfrances Likins

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