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Seattle Welcomes the 26th Pastors
for Peace Caravan to Cuba
By Azza Rojbi
On Monday June 29, the Seattle-Cuba
Friendship Committee held a send-off
event for the 26th annual Pastors for
Peace Caravan to Cuba. Supporters
of Cuba from the U.S. and Canada
gathered together in the El Centro
de la Raza for an evening of politics,
culture and delicious food.
The evening opened with a heartfelt
Latin musical performance by the duo
Laura Oviedo & Marc Smason.
Hap Bockelie, MC of the night and
organizer with the Seattle-Cuba
Friendship Committee read a letter
from Sol Bockelie, a student from
Seattle at the Latin American School
of Medicine in Cuba. Sol shared his
experience as a U.S. citizen studying
medicine for free in Cuba and spoke
of the warmth and hospitality of the
Next was guest speaker Bill Hackwell.
Bill is a known social documentary
photographer, long-time Cuba
solidarity activist and an organizer with
the International Committee for the
Freedom of the Cuban Five in the U.S.
He spoke about the importance of the
Victory of the release of the 5 Cuban
Heroes and the necessity to keep the
pressure on the U.S. government to lift
the blockade on Cuba.
Seattle based poet Jose Carrillo and
Jorge shared with the participants a
strong and powerful poem about the
missing 43 students of Ayotzinapa
and the struggle of youth in Mexico
against the corruption and suppression
of the Mexican government.
Dr. Xochitl Garcia, a recent gradu
of the Latin American School
of Medicine in Cuba shared her
experience as a doctor trained in Cuba
where she learned the importance
of putting people before profit. Dr.
Xochitl emphasized her dedication to
work with immigrants and refugees
community in need of access to
healthcare across the U.S.
Jim Page, social justice activist and folk
singer-songwriter performed beautiful
and powerful songs on his acoustic
guitar. He was followed by a talk
from Tamara Hansen, coordinator of
Vancouver Communities in Solidarity
with Cuba (VCSC). Tamara spoke
about the importance of the Pastors
for Peace Caravan to Cuba and shared
with participants a report from the
successful 2015 Canada/U.S. Border
The evening wrapped up with another
musical performance by Laura Oviedo
& Marc Smason. The Caravanistas said
goodbye to the crowd of supporters
before getting into the yellow school
bus on their tour of the United
States to challenge the immoral
and criminal US blockade on Cuba!
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