June 10, 2010

Support the Pastors for Peace Aid Caravan to Cuba

by the Cuba Solidarity Committee

As world attention focuses on the devastating blockade of Gaza, it's a good time to remember another economic war closer to home.

For 50 years, the US government has banned travel, trade and donations to Cuba. The policy has caused massive shortages of medicine and other goods across the island and an information black-out for people of both countries.

This summer, volunteers with the NY-based Pastors for Peace will defy the blockade by openly and nonviolently delivering material aid to Cuba.

First they'll travel across North America to collect donations and educate folks about the human cost of this conflict. Making a gift of material aid is a great way to be part of this historic campaign, even if you can't travel to Cuba. As luck has it, the Midwest arm of the caravan is launching from right here in the Twin Ports on July 6th.

NAWC's Cuba Solidarity Committee has already reserved space for donations from our community -- now we need your help to fill it! We're especially looking for materials to help rebuild some 500,000 Cuban homes damaged by hurricanes in 2008. You can make an individual donation, or consider reaching out to your faith community, co-workers or social club. People like to help, and an aid drive is a great way to grow the movement. Several local people have been to Cuba and would be happy to speak to interested groups.

Donations must be NEW or IN EXCELLENT CONDITION and are due by July 4th (so we have time to properly pack and label the boxes). You can either call Joel (218-340-4356) to arrange a pick up or leave donations at Peace Church (1111 N 11th Ave E, Duluth) or the Duluth Labor Temple (2002 London Rd, avenue entrance). Below is a list of some of the items the caravan needs (a longer list can be found here).

We're also looking for financial contributions to cover shipping costs (about $20 per computer-size box -- NAWC has fronted $200 so far) Make checks out to NAWC with "Cuba" in the memo and mail them to:

Northland Anti-War Coalition
PO Box 16853
Duluth, MN 55816

If everyone pitches in a little, we can make a meaningful gift to the people of Cuba and send a strong message to our members of Congress that it's time to make peace with our neighbor.

We're particularly looking for the following building supplies:

--PLUMBING: nuts, bolts, washers and all thread, plastic pipe fittings, toilets, sinks, faucets, PVC plastic fittings, copper fittings and valves, drains and stoppers, pipes, shower fixtures
--CARPENTRY: nails, hammers, screws, drills, flashing, wall anchors, saws and saw blades, banding tools, door hanging tools, ladders, jacks, plaster, sandpaper
--ELECTRICAL: any electrical wiring, fasteners, electrical boxes and covers, electrician tools, solar panels, energy efficient lighting and bulbs, extension cords and adapters, generators, electric line testers, electrical tape, solar panels and equipment
--MASONRY: grouts, sealants, horizontal reinforcing, masonry admixtures, masonry hand tools (floats, trowels), chisels (wood and masonry)
--PAINTING: brushes, rollers, lead-free paint, brush extenders, paint plates
--PROTECTIVE GEAR: dust masks, work gloves, protective eyeglasses

Who gets the donations?
A non-governmental Ecumenical Distribution Committee made up of Cuban religious leaders will receive and distribute the aid to a variety of Cuban organizations and institutions serving the Cuban people on the basis of need.

Is delivery guaranteed?
No. The US government strictly prohibits trade, travel and donations to Cuba. There is always a chance that US authorities will confiscate the aid before it reaches Cuba. But they seem to realize that Pastors for Peace is on the right side of history, because almost all of the aid from 20 previous caravans has made it through to Cuba!

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