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Bush Administration Compelled to "Unseize" Pastors for Peace Aid for Cuba

by Shane Gasteyer Saturday, May. 27, 2006 at 8:19 AM
shane@igc.org 212-926-5757

Ten months after seizing 45 boxes of computers and supplies destined for disabled Cuban children, US Customs officials in Hidalgo TX are returning the aid to IFCO/Pastors for Peace, after the faith based group threatened a Federal lawsuit.

Press Release from Pastors for Peace……… Press Release from Pastors for Peace

Thursday, May 25, 2006 Contact: Rev Lucius Walker (646) 319-5904 (in Texas)

Bill Hill (520) 405-3292 (in Texas)

Shane Gasteyer (212) 926-5757 (in New York)




Bush Administration Compelled to "Unseize" Pastors for Peace Aid for Cuba

Threat of Federal Suit Forces Washington's Hand:



Ten months after seizing 45 boxes of computers and supplies destined for disabled Cuban children, US Customs officials in Hidalgo TX are returning the aid to IFCO/Pastors for Peace, after the faith based group threatened a Federal lawsuit.

Reverend Lucius Walker will be holding a Press Conference in Hidalgo TX at 11am on Friday 26th May with a Pastors for Peace school bus and the returned computers. The bus will be parked behind the Whataburger restaurant on 824 S. International Blvd close to the Hidalgo border bridge

Pastors for Peace conducted a tenacious campaign to win the release of the donated computers and computer accessories that were seized from their humanitarian aid caravan in July 2005 by US Customs agents, acting on the orders of the US Commerce Department.



"They could not defend their actions," said Rev. Lucius Walker, Executive Director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), the parent organization of Pastors for Peace.



" The Bush administration's Cuba strategy is bankrupt and based on a repugnant policy to create hardship for the Cuban people” said Walker . “This is indeed a peoples' victory. We refused to buckle under. We refused to just go away."



International outrage followed the US seizure. Both the Danish and Swedish Cuba Friendship Associations sent computers to the Cuban schoolchildren to replace the ones that were seized. Around the US, thousands of phone calls were directed to the Treasury and Commerce Departments, and weekly vigils were held in Washington D.C. and other cities.



After consultation with IFCO's church partners in Cuba , Pastors for Peace has decided to donate the released computers to the New Orleans Survivors' Council. According to the People's Organizing Committee (POC), the computers will be used at the Martin Luther King, Jr. School and the Sanchez Community Center and Library, which are being reopened in New Orleans' lower ninth ward.



Organizers in New Orleans remember well Cuba 's offer of 1600 doctors to assist victims of the hurricane. They also remember that the US government ignored the offer despite the criminal neglect of the US government that followed the storm. Pastors for Peace delivered 80 tons of urgently needed aid to the Gulf Coast after Katrina hit.



On June 17th the 17th Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan will launch its journey from Canada, stopping in 120 US cities before converging in McAllen, Texas on July 2nd. Hundreds of tons of humanitarian aid will be collected in the US for delivery to Cuba via Mexico .

Fr. Luis Barrios, board member of IFCO/Pastors for Peace, said, "The Bible teaches us to practice social holiness. Justice, in all its dimensions, is the biggest expression of this holiness. Our work in support of the Cuban people is our way of responding to God's command, and of demonstrating the social and political dimensions of our spirituality."



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