by Adam Ritscher
This summer marked the 19th annual Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. Organized by Pastors for Peace, and supported by a wide range of progressive organizations and activists, the caravan deliberately breaks the U.S. blockade against Cuba, delivering medicine, computers and other humanitarian supplies. This year the caravan consisted on 5 different routes, winding across Canada and the United States. It hit 125 difference cities and towns along the way, gathering supplies and spreading the message about the injustice of the blockade.
Activists from Duluth, MN have been involved in the Cuba caravans since the very first one back in 1991. This year’s theme of the caravan was hip-hop and Cuba, so when the caravan reached Duluth on June 17, we greeted it with a teach-in and hip-hop concert featuring the local band Crew Jones. 140 people participated in the event – about 70 folks participated in the teach-in, and a different, much younger crowd, enjoyed the fundraising concert. In addition to the $2000 we raised to send local peace activist David Moulton on the caravan, we also raised several hundred dollars for the caravan, and collected boxes of medicines and other supplies. The event received significant local press coverage.
This year’s caravan proved to be another successful one. While the caravan was stopped briefly at the U.S.-Mexico border, and initially authorities were refusing to allow the computers the caravan was delivering through, they eventually relented and the caravanistas triumphantly walked across the border, computers in hand.
Back in Duluth we welcomed home our caravanista back with a report back event on August 18 that drew 40 people. In addition to hearing about this year’s, and past year’s caravans, the enthusiastic crowd discussed other ways that we can advance Cuba solidarity in the Northland. As a result, Duluth’s new Twin Ports Cuba Solidarity Committee is planning a series of new projects – from a monthly discussion group on Cuba to a teach-in on the Cuban 5 to happen during Sept. 12 – Oct. 8. Sept. 12 – Oct. 8 has been set as an international month of action on behalf of the 5 Cubans locked up in the U.S. for trying to monitor the terrorist activities of anti-Cuba groups in Miami. We hope you’ll join us that month in raising our voices to demand freedom for the Cuban 5, and an end to U.S. harassment of Cuba.