Sunday, July 5, 2009

Cuba Caravan 09 - Day One, Crossing the Canada/USA Border

there seemed to be some disagreement, at the border, among the authorities. the guy we usually deal with was rumoured to have retired, but he was there and greeted randy by name. told him which lane to take so we could be processed quickly and on our way. then the confusion began. some of the very stern and way too authoritarian immigration officials were determined that they were going to search our vehicles, a pickup truck, a van, and another smaller truck pulling a trailer with kid's bikes. a senior official emerged from the building, i guess at the same time that i was inside the building being 'processed' (which consisted of handing my passport over, watching a man write an a inside a circle on a big orange sticky that he inserted into my passport and returned to me), and told the younger power hungry guys that there would be no searching of our vehicles. apparently it was a bit of a power struggle, but the older man asserted himself and we all won. i caught a ride in the van, and we proceeded to the american part of the peace arch park and met our supporters who had walked across without having to show identification. no doubt the canada/usa shared peace arch park is heavily surveilled, though. but no worries, we activists are used to that.

who knows what goes on behind the scenes. maybe barack obama himself told stephen harper just to let it go. they certainly don't need the press. and there certainly wasn't any present, save myself and perhaps some other oft-ignored indy types.

one can only imagine what might happen if a significant number of people were to actually witness the wonderful community of solidarity that the 48 year old usa imposed economic blockade has nurtured. generations of individuals, from all sorts of backgrounds and socio-economic standings and ethnic diversities, have joined forces, peacefully and non-violently, to show that we the people really do care when a small island nation is denied its autonomy and its right to evolve in a different way.

if they had been there today they'd have been greeted with a flurry of coloured banners, songsters, speechifers, friends, relations, food and music. they'd have seen the back third of a big old schoolbus filled with aid including bandages and other medical supplies, telephones, crayons, televisions, guitars, cables for electronic appliances, and even an accordian. and that's just from one canadian collection.

lisa, the pastors for peace representative who flew to vancouver from pittsburgh to join the rocky mountain route, says she heard from one other canadian border crossing - montreal, yesterday. apparently it was one of the easiest they've ever accomplished, and she was sure to add, when i asked her whether she's heard about the other crossings, that she's never seen the sort of in-fighting she witnessed today at the peace arch.

i'm contented, relieved, delighted, exhuberant to be on the road again on this, my second friendshipment caravan to cuba. i'm melancholy, the clearcuts, in the hills alongside i5, are more disgusting than ever.

earlier in the day, we sailed across the ocean blue accompanied by the ever-entertaining art farquharson (photo) who, never one to let a firing from bc ferries (for a poster he pinned up of president and ceo david hahn with a 'pie this guy' joke) sway him from an opportunity to sing labour songs alongside his union comrades.