Pastors for Peace members threatened with heavy fines for traveling to Cuba
BY JAVIER RODRIGUEZ—Granma International
THE leader of the organization Pastors for Peace, Lucius Walker, affirmed this Thursday that his group’s solidarity with Cuba was never stronger, as is its determination to confront the anti-Cuban measures of the U.S. administration.
Walker arrived in Cuba on Thursday, accompanied by 15 young people from the United States who are studying at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM), two days before the first U.S. students graduate from that institution.
In his statement, he emphasized that the pastors reject any possibility of stopping their solidarity caravans to Cuba because of sanctions from Washington, and he rejected the pressures brought to bear during the recent trip by the 16th Friendshipment Caravan.
Part of the 140 tons of aid brought by the caravan, which arrived in Havana in July, was confiscated by the U.S. immigration and Department of Commerce authorities as part of the intensification of their actions against the group.
“It is a decision by the highest U.S. government authorities to try to limit our activities, which is why they ordered that department to confiscate the computers that we were bringing for handicapped children,” he emphasized.
Walker explained the decision of going to Washington with the campaign to demand the computers’ return, given that the activists are convinced that that is where the final decision on the affair will be made.
The campaign would also enable them to demand freedom for the five anti-terrorist Cubans imprisoned in the United States and to continue calling for the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela, he explained.
He also revealed that, since returning to their country, those who participated in this year’s Caravan have been harassed by the U.S. government.
First they received a 14-point questionnaire regarding their activities in Cuba, which they refused to answer, and now they are receiving letters from the Treasury Department asking them to provide the names of people they spoke with in Cuba.
Walker emphasized that legal advice is being provided to those caravan members, given that they have constitutional rights that should protect them from such pressures, in spite of the threat of possible fines of up to $1 million for having traveled to Cuba.
“The struggle continues, the government will continue its attempts to intimidate us, but those of us who have solidarity will take, step by step, the necessary decisions,” he concluded.
In his conversation with the media, Walker was accompanied by another leader of Pastors for Peace, Helen Bernstein; Sergio Corrieri, president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, and Javier Dominguez, director of ICAP North America department.