Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The New York Caravan: A Rolling Revolution

We have once again successfully crossed the border and broken the immoral and illegal US blockade against Cuba. Our spirits were high as we entered Texas from México, since this served as a mark of our victory. On the 28th of July, we reached McAllen, Texas, where the caravan parted ways and we began our journeys home. Saying goodbye to people that have become friends and family is never easy, but we did so knowing that there is much work to be done back home and that we all have a commitment to do that work.

There are 15 of us on the East Coast, New York, bus. We have been in the US for 2 days now and in these 2 days there has been much reflection on the bus. As soon as we got off the airplane in México we noticed huge billboard advertisements, promoting consumerism. This was an immediate slap in the face for us and we realized that we were no longer in the midst of community, rather in the belly of the beast where we’d be expected to fend for ourselves and care solely about personal gain. Again, we realized that the work we must do is much more serious and even more necessary than we had previously conceived. Due to this, there are many mixed feelings on the bus. We are all aware of the necessary work and we are currently at a processing stage. Some of us are excited about the work, others nervous about what this year has in store and what this work will mean for our lives, but overall work is on all of our minds which is ultimately the most important. We rapidly approach our destination, currently being in Atlanta and expecting to reach New York this Wednesday, August 1, 2007. And so, the true struggle begins; the struggle of work and progress towards education in the United States, the journey towards changing the things we must in order to create a better world and in turn end the blockade.

We learned many things during our stay in Cuba. The most prominent thing, however, or the thing that was always present was a feeling of great love. Wherever we traveled in Cuba there was community, which was a huge contrast to the individualistic lifestyles we had been used to seeing in the US. Though Cuba still has many problems, the Cuban people are working hard and collectively towards victory. The Cuban people are constantly working to change the things they want to see different. This, among other things, is an example of what people of the US, Canada and Mexico can learn from; collective work to change injustice. This is the solidarity the IFCO/Pastors for Peace caravan expresses, the solidarity with our brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. There was an outstanding concern about the wellbeing of others that was strange and beautiful to those of us that have not been accustomed to it. One of the most powerful things was seeing the process of universal healthcare and education in practice. We had the opportunity to attend the third graduation ceremony of the Latin American School of Medicine, which was the first graduating class of more than one US student. On our bus we now have a medical student that has been studying in the Latin American School of Medicine for a year and a half, and is visiting home during her vacation. Cuba has taught us that a better world is not only possible, but it is in existence. Now that we are aware of this reality, our pressing challenge is working towards making that better world a reality in the US.

We have returned with more than just a good impression and a good tan. This caravan has reminded us of the words of our brother and compañero César Chávez who said “I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the stronger act of manliness [and womanliness], is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice. Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or the weak.” Because we are not weak and we do not let the government intimidate us. This is the reason why we made a decision that we are not going to be silence. And more important, in our struggle against the USA blockage against Cuba, like César Chávez we are going to tell Washington in particular and the world in general: “non violence is hard. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.” We know how to work hard, we know how to sacrifice and we have already won. ¡Sí se puede! We must take this on. Cuba has given us a responsibility to defend and to be in solidarity with the alternative of another world that the Cuban Revolution presented to us. This among other things means to pressure and lobby our Congress to eliminate the travel ban, it means to actively work to create links between communities, and it means to break the information blockade by writing and talking more about Cuba and its example.

Many of us wanted to stay in Cuba but the Cuban people would remind us many times again and in various forms that they needed us in the United States working throughout the year to end the blockade. We have returned from Cuba, many of us feel physically tired but full of a spiritual energy inspired by the possibility of another world. We have come to realize that another purpose of this caravan was to be able to learn from Cuba’s heroic resistance and that we in the United States have a lot of work to do in order to avoid more aggressions against Cuba.. Throughout the caravan we asked ourselves, “Where are our brothers and sisters and how do we truly show our love for them?” Now it becomes more relevant to ask the question after traveling to Cuba. To answer this question means to actively work to end the blockade. In opening their hospitals, schools, homes, and hearts to us, the Cuban people are expecting us to take these examples to our communities. These experiences have to become more than just memories and actually serve as models of change.

18th IFCO/Pastors for Peace Cuba Caravan
Back to Work Blog
Reporting from the road: Manolo Enrique de los Santos (guerillerourbano@yahoo.com) & Kaila Paulino (paulinokaila@hotmail.com)
July 30, 2007


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