By Jeffrey Blackwell | Democrat and Chronicle
Volunteers from the Rochester Committee on Latin America loaded a truck Thursday with medical supplies bound for Cuba, with the hope it will elude the U.S. embargo against the communist country and someday arrive at its destination.
It was headed to join a caravan of trucks from across the United States jammed with medicine and medical supplies on its way to the Mexican border, to the port of Tapioca, and then by ship to Cuba.
“The emphasis of this shipment is on elder care,’’ said Henrietta Levine, a member of the volunteer organization. “We have collected money to buy medicine that’s needed by older people. The United States produces any number of drugs, but many of the drugs we manufacture are not available to the Cuban people.’’
The truck was also filled with prosthetic limbs, crutches, bicycles and computers. If the shipment is allowed to cross the border, the supplies will be distributed to hospitals, doctors and medical centers in the country. Local volunteers raised more than $2,000 for medicine.
“What we are doing is very important in terms of helping people, but I think more important is the challenge that we’re making to the United States government that this is an illegal and immoral action to maintain this 42-year embargo against a country like Cuba that is no challenge, no threat to us,” Levine said.
Because of the embargo against Cuba, the effort to transport goods to the communist country is illegal. No one from Rochester is taking the trip. Those who do could face jail and a stiff fine.
However, this is the 14th shipment of goods, and the previous 13 were allowed to pass after protests from organizers. One protest included a 96-day hunger strike.
Dr. Peter Mott of Rochester took the trip six years ago. At that time the supplies were shipped through Canada.
“The passage may be more difficult this year,” Mott said. “The administration in Washington may be more difficult to convince.”