Today, for the 47th time since 1969, the Venceremos Brigade leaves the United States for Cuba. This group of US citizens, embarking on their 14th Travel Challenge, is taking a public stand against the policies of blockade and restricted travel that the US government has maintained against Cuba and against its own people since 1962.
The 47th Contingent of the Venceremos Brigade will return to the US via Canada on August 8 and be met by members of the 27th Friendshipment Caravan of Pastors for Peace, an interfaith group that will have also traveled to Cuba in defiance of the travel restrictions and returned to the U.S. via Mexico.
At their joint rally in Buffalo on August 8, members and supporters of the Venceremos Brigade and Pastors for Peace will reaffirm their commitment to defending Cuba’s national sovereignty and right to self-determination through continued civil disobedience until the blockade and travel ban are lifted, the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay is closed and the illegally occupied land is returned to Cuba, and the US government ceases funding for regime change programs in Cuba.
The VB has won great victories in recent years. While the liberation of the Cuban 5 and the policy changes and bilateral negotiations that are already underway do indeed make this a time for celebration, it is critical today more than ever that all those in favor of real normalization of relations between the US and Cuba unite and are persistent in advocating for an end to the aggressive policies that curtail our rights and seek to restrain Cuba’s ability to develop independently. As the energy around movement building in the US surges for racial, economic, and social justice, we must look to Cuba as a role model. Cuba has shown us that another world is possible. In the words of the late Reverend Lucius Walker, founder of IFCO/Pastors for Peace: “We act not just in defiance of our government, but in obedience to our conscience.”