NEW YORK - July 6 - The 35th Anniversary Contingent of the Venceremos Brigade will visit Cuba from July 4 - 19 without a U.S. Treasury Department license in order to challenge and oppose U.S. government restrictions on travel to Cuba. At 8:30 AM on July 19, the Brigade will walk together across the International Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York, to announce its return to U.S. Immigrations and Customs.
The Venceremos Brigade is an educational work project that has sent over 8,000 U.S. citizens to Cuba since 1969. It is the oldest friendship organization with Cuba in the country. This year's contingent is comprised of 81 participants from all over the United States including San Francisco, New York City, Northern New Jersey, Washington DC, Boston, Denver, Albuquerque, Seattle, Los Angeles, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Atlanta. According to a statement signed by Brigade members, "we are young and older; African-American, Latino, Asian and white; gay and straight; students from high schools and colleges; and workers and professionals."
The Brigade's statement further proclaims, "Cuba is not our enemy and we hope to develop friendships with as many Cuban people as we can during our stay. we are united in opposing the travel ban and the U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. We do not ask for a U.S. Treasury Department license to travel to Cuba to view the country, its people, its successes and its challenges with our own eyes. We believe that current U.S. policy towards Cuba is deceitful, in violation of international law, and harmful to the interests of our people and the Cuban people. And we believe, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us, that we have a moral obligation to break unjust laws." Brigadistas risk fines for breaking the travel ban.
Brigadistas will stay at a school in Santiago de Cuba where they will work side by side with the Cuban people to assist in the renovation of a local health clinics. Brigadistas will also bus across the island to Havana, where they will also work and meet with Cuban workers and students. The "Travel Challenge" is a joint effort with Pastors for Peace, whose caravan will cross the border into Texas on July 19, and a delegation from the African Awareness Association, who will join in the Challenge with us at the Canadian border on July 19. Altogether more than 200 Cuba travelers will be openly defying the Cuba travel ban on July 19.
Copies of the Venceremos Brigade Cuba Travel Challenge statement are available to the press. Members of the press are also invited to meet the Brigade as we announce our return from Cuba on July 19th at the International Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York. Interviews with local participants can be arranged prior to our departure or upon return.