WHY CUBA?

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Cuban worker at an agropónico, organic agriculture cooperative. Image by Leni Reeves from the 2009 Caravan to Cuba.

By Leni Reeves

Find out for yourself.

The Caravan will be in Fresno on Tuesday, April 25. We will share accurate and up-to-date information about Cuba, U.S.-Cuba relations, and what needs to be done to create truly normal relations of civilized coexistence between our two countries, and will also visit local offices of Congressional representatives to advocate in support of bills to change aspects of Cuba policy.

Pastors for Peace Caravan Fresno Event: Tuesday, April 25 at 6:30 PM. Wesley United Methodist Church, 1343 E. Barstow (between First & Cedar) Come hear Manolo De Los Santos who works in the Pastors for Peace program, coordinating solidarity, community organizing, and political education projects in Haiti, Cuba, and Central America. In the last decade, he has co-led numerous delegations and caravans to Cuba in civil disobedience of the U.S. blockade. Manolo lives in Cuba where he is finishing his dissertation at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas… There will be live music and a potluck supper. It’s free and open to the public. For more information contact Leni V. Reeves: lenivreeves@gmail.com or Gerry Bill: gerry.bill@gmail.com

Horse-drawn bus in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba. Image by Leni Reeves.

Then in July, there will be an unlicensed Pastors for Peace Travel Challenge to Cuba. It will be the 26th caravan. We will fly into and out of Santa Clara in the center of Cuba where we will visit the Che Guevara memorial during the 50th anniversary of his death in Bolivia. We will then travel by bus to the Eastern provinces of Guantánamo and Santiago. We will visit, from the outside, the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay, and the neighboring Cuban town of Caimanera to learn about the impact the base has on that community. In Santiago, the cradle of the revolution, we will visit the cemetery where Fidel Castro’s ashes were recently interred.

We go to Cuba as a conscious act of civil disobedience in the spirit of the U.S. civil rights movement. We will be committing the civil offense of unlicensed travel to Cuba. Deadline to apply: May 1, 2017. Application forms and more information are available from friendshipmentcaravan@ifconews.org

Nurse at Ciro Garcia Hospital, where a Caravanista was treated (for free) in 2011. Image by Leni Reeves.

What is special about Cuba?

Cuba is sustainable.

Cuba has worked out transportation and agriculture alternative methods to reduce their petroleum consumption. Cuba has shown that the population won’t explode if you reduce infant mortality and prevent disease, even without any coercive population control measures. All that is needed is to educate and empower women. Cuba is not maximizing corporate profits and earnings for the wealthy at the expense of everyone else and of the environment as the U.S. and other countries in the global market dominated by the U.S. are doing. They have envisioned a more just society and are doing their best to carry this out, with obvious imperfections and in spite of obstacles, by far the largest of which is the U.S. economic blockade of the country.

Cuba honors the “social commitment” – the idea that a country should make the well-being of its people the first priority. It is a small third world nation with many problems… but with some startling 1st world statistics having to do with education (99 percent literacy; free education at all levels) and health care (universal access to free healthcare; infant mortality lower than that in the U.S.) There are no working children in Cuba–no child labor at all. There is essentially no homelessness there.

The 2012 Caravan met with Cuban veterans, compañeros of Che Guevara. Image by Leni Reeves.

Cuba is internationalist.

Cuba’s medical cooperation has been present in 117 countries with more than 160,000 professionals, over the last 55 years. Cuba educates doctors from other countries, including the U.S., to return to their own countries and give care to poor communities. Cubans also staff literacy and cultural programs in many countries. They believe that solidarity means sharing what you have, not what’s left over.

There’s more.

Come and see for yourself.

*****

Leni Villagomez Reeves, M.D. is a local physician and activist who has traveled to Cuba 20 times, once with a license. She believes that, the more you learn, the more you realize you still don’t know about the subtle, nuanced, rapidly evolving, and somewhat miraculous Cuban reality and revolution. Contact me at lenivreeves@gmail.com. For Caravan to Cuba info email friendshipmentcaravan@ifconews.org