Pastors For What? / Fernando Dámaso

The caravans for Cuba, which are organized annually by the so-called Pastors for Peace, force one to think. In the one held this year (the 22nd), which already crossed the border between Canada and the United States, they orchestrated the usual media show with allegorical posters to the blockade (in reality an embargo) and the five heroes (in reality spies), arms raised with closed fists, combat songs and the overworked Cuban flag on their vehicles. The next border to cross — after visiting 80 North American cities on their tour, picking up unused articles — will be between the United States and Mexico, in the state of Texas, where they will repeat the show.

It seems these Pastors are more committed to propaganda than to humanitarian help for Cuba: in the end, in order to bring a few knick-knacks to Cuba, they are guaranteed, on top of the media involvement, a tourist run throughout the North American territory, a stroll through Mexico, a free trip to Cuba with all expenses paid, the welcoming by governmental organizations and coverage by the official press. What else could one ask for such a small investment?

“Aid” buses on J Street in El Vedado

If the first articles they expect to transfer to Cuba were collected in Canada (medical supplies, bicycles and wheelchairs), why not ship them directly from that country? Why face the customs transactions (surely they must be a lot less bothersome as well as cheaper, than those of Cuban customs with any simple traveler), having to employ vehicles and spend on gas and food, traveling with them throughout the North American territory? Perhaps with those savings they could have added a few more articles. It appears that the spectaclewas planned with a show at the beginning, on the Canadian border, and another at the end, on the Mexican border.

It is worthy of note, for those who are not aware, that these shipments are not made to Cuba but to the Cuban government — which would seem to be the same thing, but isn’t — which distributes them through their organizations and institutions or other affiliates, according to its specific interests. No nongovernmental agency, which doesn’t respond to its political interests, is taken into account, independently of the needs of its members: 22 times it has been repeated, so it is not a coincidence.

When committing to peace, one tries to facilitate dialogue and tolerance between the parties in conflict. During more than twenty years, these Pastors have defended their positions and have repeated the arguments and followed the orders of the Cuban government. They have never worried about the situation of any political prisoner, nor of their mothers, wives and children, and much less so, have they ever heard the opinion of those who think differently — who are as Cuban as the rest. With that lack of neutrality, it is not possible to expect one to believe that they are committed to peace.

This use of the name of Cuba for everything, when in reality the right thing to say would be Cuban government, is something that is already bothersome to many citizens. As we all know, the government does not represent nor does it substitute for all of us eleven million Cubans who live on the island, and much less, the more than two million who reside outside of it. If the Pastors, or any other organization, should want to support the government, let them do so (they are fully in their rights to do so), but let them not hide behind the name of Cuba, and much less so behind the Cubans: they should assume their decision, with all of its present and future implications. It is true that not everyone involved is like that, nor is everyone like that involved; however, without intentions of offending anyone: it seems that God created them all, and the Devil brought them together.

Translated by: Maria Montoto

July 14 2012