Sixty-five friends of Cuba from Olympia, Seattle and
Bellingham, WA, along with supporters from Vancouver and Victoria,
BC, stood fast with two pickups and a car filled with humanitarian
aide for the embargoed Caribbean nation. U.S. border police and
customs agents granted unusually smooth passage for the vehicles,
drivers and donations after a cursory review of the contents of
a half-dozen boxes.
Customs agents spent more time trying to decided if
oranges from California in possession of a Canadian could reenter
the States, leading to brief chants of "repatriate the oranges!"
An agricultural inspection officer denied entry of the oranges, but
let a Canadian returning north keep them. An unusual decision,
considering most plant items are confiscated and destroyed.
The border known as Peace Arch is among the most
heavily crossed in the world. During the long hot wait to enter the
U.S., vehicles loaded with Cuba supplies received honks and raised
fists of support from impatient drivers entering the U.S. and Canada.
They were responding to banners and placards on aide vehicles
reading "Goods for Cuba," "U.S. Hands Off Cuba," "Free the 5 Cuban
Heroes in U.S. Jails," and "Impeach the War Criminals in
Among the 65 blockade busters were Cubans from
Canada and the U.S., Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Chileans, students, many
elders, feminists and activists from a broad spectrum of social
justice and anti-war movements.
Bellingham friends of Cuba hosted a welcoming picnic
prior to the crossing. Members of Raging Grannies from Seattle,
Vancouver and Bellingham performed rousing original protest songs
to which all chimed in.
Internet journalist and moderator of "CubaNews" list
Walter Lippmann, a Caravanista from Los Angeles, detailed the new
extreme measures implemented on June 16 by the U.S. Office of Foreign
Assets Control (OFAC). He explained how the new OFAC clamp down was
hatched by a secretive group known as the "Commission for
Assistance to a Free Cuba" comprised of anti-Cuba Cuban Americans and
other rightwing elements from the Bush administration. Their plan is
to affect a "regime change" on the island -- the same language
Bush use to justify his war against the Iraqi people. Their
method: limit family visits by Cuban Americans to the island to once
every three years and channel tens-of-millions of dollars into Miami-based
terrorist groups -- the latter, the same dinky club responsible for
Bush's dubious election "win" in the year 2000.
Other speakers included Rick Fellows of Olympia
representing Pastors for Peace, Alfred Dale, a Caravanista from
Washington State, Randy Caravaggio of Victoria Goods for Cuba, Nino
Pagliccia of the Canadian Network on Cuba, and Leonardo Hechavarria
representing the Havana-based Cuban Movement for Peace and People's
This small but vital victory achieved today by a
brave and defiant group of internationalists was eluded to just before
the crossing by Hechavarria of the Cuban Movement for Peace:
"Defending my country, as you do today and in the coming period, emboldens
others to follow your example of coordinated resistance. This is the
only way that real change has ever happened."
Hechavarria punctuated his remarks with "All power
to the Caravanistas," a necessary condition as these bold
North American blockade resistors traverse the United States
collecting more members and donations and attempt to exit it with their aide
into Mexico to Cuba in July.