HAVANA – Members of the U.S.-based Christian ministry group Pastors for Peace, which calls for the lifting of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, arrived in Havana to deliver 100 tons of humanitarian aid to children on the island.
Rev. Lucius Walker, the group’s executive director and spokesman, told reporters that no obstacles can get in the way of the so-called Friendshipment Caravan, which in this year’s 21st edition was made up of 85 people from 28 U.S. states, as well as activists from Mexico, Canada and Europe.
He said this year’s caravan members “had difficulty crossing the border in Canada,” but added that they are “very proud.”
The reverend said support from several countries eventually enabled them to arrive on the island via Mexico with a cargo of donations collected in 125 U.S. and Canadian cities.
Walker said the group has dedicated this year’s caravan to Cuban children and hailed the priority given to young people’s wellbeing on the island.
“This is perhaps the only country in the world without destitute children, where 100 percent of children go to school ... (providing them) with a quality education and health system is a top priority and that’s another example for the world,” he added.
The 100 tons of donated goods include medical and educational supplies, equipment for hospitals, sporting goods and construction material, as well as 55 computers.
As they do every year, the activists took their caravan to Cuba in defiance of U.S. law, which with few exceptions prohibits American citizens from traveling to the Caribbean nation.
The group says its trips are part of a civil disobedience campaign to protest the 48-year-old U.S. embargo on the communist-ruled island.
Another member of Pastors for Peace, Rev. Luis Barrios, said that being a part of the caravan “is an honor but also a moral obligation before God” because the group considers the embargo to be “immoral and illegal.”
Pastors for Peace has been involved in social activism for more than 40 years and has made trips to Cuba to deliver humanitarian aid since 1992 without asking permission from the U.S. Treasury Department.
The caravan was received at Havana’s Jose Marti Airport by the head of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party’s Religious Affairs Office, Caridad Diego, and the president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship, Kenia Serrano.