The caravanistas, ranging in age from 8 to 86, and include Irish, British, German, and Canadian citizens as well as US citizens; exemplify a proud tradition. "As an American,” states the Rev. Thomas E. Smith “I'm always eager to remind Americans of their constitutional rights and of the commitment to the principles of freedom and justice”.
Smith, a Baptist minister from Pittsburgh, insists that his government has used the Cuban Revolution as an excuse to violate the themes of his country's own Revolution. Smith is no stranger to the resistance struggle having been involved with IFCO since his seminary days in the late 1970s, when the organization was fighting the Ku Klux Klan in the Carolinas.
Cuba Five to the fore
On arrival in Cuba contingent leader, Rev. Lucius Walker Jr., himself a victim of US terrorism reiterated the caravanistas support for the five imprisoned Cuban anti- terror fighters which matches the support from a summit of Latin American and Caribbean Parliamentarians meeting in Panama. A statement, issued by the legislators condemned the arbitrary nature of the legal process against the five ‘virtual hostages’.
Participants at the Panama gathering announced several actions to promote the case of the Cuban Five and to confront the US government’s campaign to distort the facts surrounding the case. The statement also notes that the US courts and government are guilty of violating the most elemental rights of the Cuban Five by convicting them of charges that were never proven and then imposing totally disproportionate sentences.
In Cuba the fourth meeting of the Assembly of the Caribbean Peoples has also thrown its weight behind the campaign. The gathering, comprising social and political organizations, farmers, trade unions, workers, women, students, young people, artists, intellectuals, as well as environmental, community, solidarity, and non-governmental organizations from 20 countries in the region, also called for the cessation of the unilateral and arbitrary measures, against Cuba, describing the blockade as a violation of international rights and the UN Charter.
Leonard Weinglass on the Cuban Five