Canadian Humanitarian Aid for Cuba Blocked at Peace Arch Crossing Print

Humanitarian aid for Cuba denied entry into the US! Protesters occupy lot directly in front of US border, vowing not to leave until aid let through!

by BC Aid Network to Cuba & Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC)

On Sunday July 1st, US customs stopped a truck full of humanitarian aid destined for Cuba. This shipment of aid is part of the 23rd Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba, and includes items such as medical supplies like wheelchairs, educational supplies and sports equipment which were collected from various cities and communities throughout British Columbia, Canada.

The truck of aid was stopped at the West Coast Peace Arch Border Crossing and diverted to the commercial Pacific Truck Border Crossing with the excuse that the Caravanistas were transporting commercial goods and needed to purchase a bond to enter the US.

This same scenario played out at last year's border crossing, which ended in victory for the caravan as humanitarian aid is exempt from having to purchase a bond.

This shipment of aid is part of the 23rd Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba, and includes items such as medical supplies like wheelchairs, educational supplies and sports equipment which were collected from various cities and communities throughout British Columbia, Canada.

The truck of aid was stopped at the West Coast Peace Arch Border Crossing and diverted to the commercial Pacific Truck Border Crossing with the excuse that the caravanistas were transporting commercial goods and needed to purchase a bond to enter the US. This same scenario played out at last year's border crossing, which ended in victory for the caravan as humanitarian aid is exempt from having to purchase a bond.

At the commercial crossing, supporters set up protests on both the US and Canadian sides of the border with Cuban flags, banners and spirited chants of "Lift the blockade on Cuba Now!" and "Let the Aid Through!" The truck of aid was immediately pulled aside for secondary questioning and inspection. After over four hours of protest during the inspection, they declared that no aid would cross without a bond, and under no circumstances would sporting goods be allowed entry. "Is the US really threatened by soccer balls and used baseball gloves going to Cuba via the US?" asked Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba and caravanists, from the US side of the protest.

The truck was escorted back to the Canada side of the border and parked directly in front of the US border, along with an encampment of activists, caravanistas and supporters. They have vowed to occupy this space, 24 hours a day, until the aid is let through without any condition.

"This is yet another blatant example of how the Obama administration continues to tighten the over 50 year old criminal blockade instead of seeking to normalize relations with Cuba." said Bill Hackwell, caravan route speaker and organizer with the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.

Press contacts:

Janine Solanki - Contact on Canada side - 778-881-6156
Tamara Hansen - Contact on US side - 778-882-5223
Bill Hackwell - Caravan route speaker from Oakland, US. On Canada side - 415-269-7917