Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Peace Arch Perspective

Click here for a short video of the Vancouver Solidarity Notes Labour Choir.

Hi friends in solidarity with Cuba,

Yesterday the West Coast contingency of the 20th Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba crossed the border from Canada into the US. At around 12 noon cars, trucks, vans and a bus full of people and humanitarian aid started to arrive on the B.C. side of the Blaine, Peace Arch border. There were people belonging to various organizations from Nanaimo, Saltspring Island, Victoria and Vancouver. Vehicles full of people also arrived on the US side of the border. They came from Bellingham, Seattle and Olympia. All 250 of us joined together on the Canadian side of the Peace Arch park.

We began by eating the food we all had brought to share with one another. Then the program started with some great performers such as Victoria folk singer Art Farquharson, the Raging Grannies from Seattle joined by grannies from Vancouver and Victoria. We also enjoyed the Vancouver Solidarity Notes Labour Choir's spectacular performance. Between the musical interludes, representatives from different organizations working in solidarity with Cuba and caravanistas from both sides of the border spoke on the value of solidarity with Cuba and reaffirming our determination to eventually bury the blockade and free the Cuban 5.

When our program at the park ended, drivers designated to take the humanitarian aid across the border returned to their vehicles and joined the border lineup. Everyone else accompanied the vehicles on foot carrying banners, signs and chanting through megaphones "Cuba si Bloqueo no!" and other slogans.

As we approached the border booth it was very obvious that there were mixed feelings among the guards about to what to do with us. Some of the guards were extremely rude and aggressive to the vehicle passengers and their supporters on foot, there were mixed messages given and orders shouted at our people. In the end the officers in the higher chain of command were very clear about what to do and that was "let them go now!".

Again this tells us that the people united will never be defeated. If we have the numbers, supporters can stand their ground and make it difficult for them to justify or implement their hateful, immoral blockades and crimes.

We heard that the prairie crossing on Sunday with humanitarian aid from Edmonton, Calgary, Regina and Winnipeg also went well. There will be another two crossings from Canada into the US next week and on July 21 all the caravanistas and the humanitarian aid will cross into Mexico where the biggest challenge of the blockade has historically occurred.

We need to keep close watch on the caravan until all the caravanistas and aid cross into Mexico.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have participated in any way toward making the start of this 20th Friendshipmant Caravan another blow against the blockade as well as showing our solidarity with Cuba.

Randy Caravaggio
Victoria Goods for Cuba