Monday, July 9, 2007

New England

Monday, July 2, 2007
Portsmouth Herald, N.H.

In defense of Cuba
In Kittery, caravan picks up donations for seniors

Volunteer bus driver Bill Hill, left, of Tuscon, Ariz., helps the Rev. Luis Barrio, center, load up their bus with supplies for Cuba. The men are part of the 18th Caravan for Peace, which started in New York City and headed for Cuba.
By Susan Nolan

KITTERY, Maine — An organization engaged in civil disobedience stopped in town Sunday afternoon to pick up medical supplies for Cuba and to talk about the "immorality" of the United States' embargo on Cuba.

"That's the main point," said retired Dr. Tom Whitney of South Paris, Maine. "Civil disobedience. It's purposeful," he said.

The group refuses to get a license from the United States government to ship this humanitarian aid to Cuba.

"We refuse to do so because we want to have no complicity whatsoever with an economic blockade, which we see as immoral, illegal and cruel," he said.

So the group brings its humanitarian aid across the border to Mexico each year and ships it to Cuba from there.

Yesterday's group at "The Place" on Government Street in Kittery was part of the 18th Pastor's for Peace Friendshipment Caravan, a group that canvasses the country for medical and other supplies for Cubans. The bus that came to Kittery is among a dozen or so currently making their way across the United States to Mexico.

Michael Murray of Cape Neddick said it's the second year he has invited the caravan to Kittery. "This year's theme is nursing homes," said Murray. Among donations to the Cubans from locals were walkers and adult diapers.

Carolyn Cooper of Dover first got involved in the program thorough her church, Rye Congregational. Cooper took a church trip with Friendship Force International, a nonprofit international cultural exchange organization which seeks to personal friendships "across the barriers that separate people."

Cooper said it opened her eyes to the plight of Cuban people, who are unable to get certain medical supplies because of the 45-year-old U.S. embargo on that country.
After returning from her initial trip to Cuba, Cooper joined forces with Pastors for Peace in order to bring help to the people she met in Cuba.

And while Pastors for Peace, a part of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, has a political message, Cooper said her humanitarian aid to Cuba is not about politics.

"To me, it's a people-to-people movement," said Cooper.

And it's not about pastors, either. The Rev. Luis Barrios, an Episcopal priest from New York who is leading the caravan to Cuba, said he was one of only three pastors in the group of 165 that went to Cuba last year.

Cuba has free medical care for all of its citizens, as well as free eduction, said Barrios.
After the nuclear accident at the nuclear plant Chernobyl, Russia, in 1986, the United states took in 65 Russians and gave them medical treatment.

"Cuba took 5,000," said Barrios, "and offered them free medical treatment for life."


At July 10, 2007 at 6:08 PM , Blogger Helen said...

Hi Rod and all,
Hoping you're having a great time on the road.
Let us know whether you'r keeping cool (ha!)

At July 11, 2007 at 9:34 PM , Blogger armene said...

don't forget to call your mother! I hope you are well and you are working hard. Talk to you soon!
Take care and I love you!


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