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3rd Wednesday of each month
Note: Usually we meet in Brunswick, but ocassionally at other locations around the state, so contact us just to be sure.
mail (at) letcubalive.org
Let Cuba Live
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During the winter of 1992 I traveled to Cuba with the first Pastors for Peace US/Cuba Friendshipment. At that time Cuba was in the middle of what Fidel called "a special period in a time of peace" - an extended time of economic hardship and shortages brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union and intensified by the US blockade.
At night, looking out across Havana from the hotel where we were staying, you could count all the moving vehicles on one hand, and those few cars and trucks traveled about with only one headlight. The other one had been removed and safely stored away should the first one fail. Food distribution centers could only obtain a few random items each week. Most of the time these places were closed and the shelves were empty. When a shipment of plantains or a truckload of mangos came in from the countryside, the lines would stretch for blocks.
We soon learned that the reason Cubans were able to cope, survive, and even find time to have some fun was that they had developed the most interactive and mutually supportive society in the hemisphere. Their government-run distribution system was committed to seeing that available food supplies were distributed equally. During these difficult years there was hunger and belt tightening, but no one starved. The Cubans were able to manage a situation that would have brought about civil strife elsewhere.
Our delegation was unable to travel very far beyond Havana because of transport and fuel shortages, but we were able to met hundreds of people as we visited the city's schools, hospitals, factories, and collectives. When we talked to people in the streets and at their places of work, everyone, young and old, wanted to express their gratitude. They appreciated the pickup truckloads of wheelchairs and old bicycles we brought with us, from towns and cities throughout the US, but the main reason they extended thanks was for the long, hot afternoon we spent on the US / Mexico border at the Laredo, Texas checkpoint, for it was there we readied ourselves to challenge the blockade by carrying armloads of supplies and rolling wheelchairs stacked with aid through police lines and across the border into Mexico, employing tatics of peaceful civil disobedience if necessary. Late that afternoon we succeeded - we broke the US blockade of Cuba.
The Cubans wanted to thank us, not so much for the sorely needed materials we brought but for what they considered an act of brotherhood and international solidarity.
They wanted to thank us for letting people both in Cuba and around the world know that the blockade was a creation of the US government and was not supported by most people in the US.
For our part, the act of civil disobedience we participated in provided a way for us to begin to right what we considered a very basic wrong and to address the hardship and suffering caused by a blockade that our government imposed and enforced with our tax dollars.
This draconian policy was crafted to create maximum suffering by causing shortages of food and medicine. The architects of the blockade and the hostile legislation that enhanced it, such as the Torricelli and the Helms-Burton Acts, attempted to foster a climate of political instability that would cause Cubans to rise up and overthrow their revolutionary leaders.
Every year since 1992 Let Cuba Live has worked with Pastors for Peace and other Cuba solidarity groups around the country to bring an end to the blockade and to dispel much of the myth and misinformation people in the US have been subjected to by sharing what we have learned about the reality of Cuba.
Let Cuba Live has sent people and humanitarian aid on all of the 20 Friendshipments that followed the initial one I participated in in 1992. None of this could have been done without your support.
This year we have three exceptional people who plan to travel cross country from Maine to Texas with the Friendshipment Caravan to challenge the blockade at the Mexican border, then continue to Tampico, Mexico. There the truckloads of hospital and school supplies and construction equipment, along with school buses and ambulances, will be transferred to a Cuban freighter. The Mainers and the rest of the delegation will then board a plane and fly to the island for a 10-day program.
Let Cuba Live has been working with a Portland-based donation service that can provide us with high-quality used medical equipment. We would like to be able to haul as much of this badly needed equipment as possible from Maine all the way to the dock in Tampico. Transportation expenses are going to be high . . . so . . . once again we're asking for your help.
In return, to show our appreciation, all our donors are invited to be guests of honor at our US / Cuba Friendshipment Report Back - an evening of Cuban food and music featuring a panel discussion. The members of the Maine delegation will share details about their trip and provide us with the very latest information direct from Cuba.
For Let Cuba Live ... Gracias!
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