In Cuba the Brigade issued a statement which in part read:
"We are united in our belief that Cuba is living proof that another world is possible and that another United States is necessary," reads the document presented at the International Press Center during a press conference in Havana on Monday.
"We know that the Bush administration, through its so-called Commission for the Transition to Democracy, also known as "Plan Bush", is increasing its efforts to undermine the Cuban government. Our responsibility is to stand up against this madness," the declaration adds.
Ricardo Alarcon, president of the Cuban parliament spoke to members of Pastors for Peace, the Venceremos Brigade other US organizations currently visiting Cuba at the auditorium of the Ministry of Informatics and Communications in Havana and thanked them for their support.
Alarcon also took the opportunity to denounce the Bush administration’s pampering of international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, while unjustly maintaining the Cuban Five in prison for working to prevent terrorist attacks against the island.
According to a communiqué from the the Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP,) nearly 1,000 activists from 30 countries will visit the island this summer.
The visitors are members of the Venceremos Brigade from the United States, the Juan Rius Rivera Brigade from Puerto Rico, the Ernesto Che Guevara Brigade from Canada and the Jose Marti Brigade from Europe.
In addition, Cuba will soon be receiving members of the first Indian organization in solidarity with the island, the Bhagat Singh Brigade, and of the Cuba-United States "Friendshipment" Caravan.
During their stay in the island, the various activists will carry out work in agriculture and will visit places of social and historical interest in central and eastern Cuba
The following is taken from the IAC website.
Venceremos Brigade Defies U.S. Travel Ban to Cuba
Sixty members of the 38th Contingent of the Venceremos Brigade are currently painting a school working side by side with Cuban students and teachers - in defiance of US restrictions on travel to the island. There are no restrictions on travel to any other country in the world.
“The U.S. is investigating Michael Moore for his travel to Cuba when he was making 'SICKO', but, in addition to our work, we’re investigating how Cuba, a developing country with few natural resources, can provide free universal health care to all its citizens,” said Ann Sparanese, a brigadista from Englewood, New Jersey. “They’ve got it, and we need it,” she added.
The group, composed of people of all ages and from many backgrounds, is also visiting the Latin American Medical School, largest in the world with 10,000 students from 29 countries – including 100 from the U.S. – all of whom receive their medical education free of charge with their commitment to work in under-served communities when they graduate.
Based at an international work camp located outside Havana, additional exchanges will include Cuban high school and university students, activists from the women’s federation and trade unions, hip hop artists and other cultural performers, leaders of the National Center for Sex Education fighting homophobia, and internationalists (Cubans who have fought against apartheid in Southern Africa or provided free health care in many countries of the world). They will also meet with relatives of the five Cubans imprisoned in the U.S. for their anti-terrorist activities in Miami.
And they will learn about Cuban efforts to deal with an on going transportation crisis and serious economic inequities. They face these and other challenges against the backdrop of the 50 year old U.S. economic blockade and the Bush ‘regime change’ maneuvers and attacks. Only yesterday, the State Department admitted it intends to violate the Migration Accord, the only agreement which exists between the two governments.
On the morning of Saturday, July 28, the 60 Venceremos Brigadistas, with a contingent of 18 activists from across the U.S. from FIST (Fight Imperialism Stand Together), will make their way on foot, with baggage and backpacks, over the one-mile length of the International Peace Bridge from Ft. Erie (Ontario) Canada, into Buffalo, N.Y declaring to U.S. Customs and Immigrations that they have visited Cuba. The crossing will take place at approximately 9:00am, after a send-off on the Canadian side at 8:00am.
On the same morning at the border of Mexico and McAllen, Texas, over 150 Pastors for Peace Friendshipment “caravanistas” will take the same stand as they make their way back to the US from their delivery of humanitarian supplies to Cuba.
Supporters will gather in Buffalo at the foot of the Peace Bridge and in adjacent Front Park as the bridge crossing begins. The will be there both to celebrate the successful challenges and to organize any defense actions that may be needed at either border crossing.
Over recent years, more than 350 travel challengers from the Venceremos Brigade and Pastors for Peace have received “Requests to Provide Information” and threats of fines from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (US Treasury Department). “The letters we have received have inspired us to return to Cuba,” says Tshaka Barrows of Oakland, California. “We learn every day in our country that if we do not exercise our rights, we will lose them!”
Travel restrictions have been in effect for 45 years, but the Bush Administration severely tightened the travel ban and stepped up enforcement and prosecution. It is even impossible for Cuban Americans to visit their families on the island except by special “license” once every three years. Most forms of educational travel have also been eliminated. The Venceremos Brigade, founded in 1969, has brought more than 10,000 people to Cuba in yearly contingents since then and has never sought “permission” (i.e. a license) to do so.
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