[Nasional-e] Fw: Seized Maine Medical Supplies Released by US Customs!

Ambon nasional-e@polarhome.com
Fri Dec 6 00:12:10 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "IFCO/Pastors for Peace" <ifco@igc.org>
To: <Recipient list suppressed>
Sent: Thursday, December 05, 2002 5:12 PM
Subject: Seized Maine Medical Supplies Released by US Customs!

>         Please Circulate
>                                     PRESS
> RELEASE                        12/3/02
>                   Medical Supplies Released by US Customs!!
>                     Let Cuba Live Intends to Reship to Cuba !!
>      During the early hours of  Tuesday, December 3,  three pick up trucks
> driven by members of the Maine based Cuba solidarity group Let Cuba Live
> left  the midcoast area and  headed north to Coburn Gore on the Maine /
> Canada border.
>     The members who participated in the trip were Tom Whitney and Robert
> Kolker  from South Paris, Peter Robbins from Sedgwick, and Steve Burke
> Warren.
>     The small caravan retrieved a significant portion of the medical
> supplies that were seized by US Customs during the second of two direct
> challenges that the group mounted against  the US blockade of Cuba that
> occurred on August 18, 2001. The first  challenge took place on July
> 2.  Medical equipment seized during this action still remains in the
> possession of US Customs.
>     On both occasions the group steadfastly refused to apply for a license
> to ship humanitarian aid to Cuba via Canada.  Let Cuba Live will not
> with  the terms and conditions of a blockade that the group believes
> creates suffering and hardship for the Cuban people.  The group also feels
> the the blockade is  immoral and, under international law, illegal.
>     During both shipments when US Custom officials attempted to prevent
> bearing caravans from continuing on to Canada, activists left their
> vehicles and physically carried boxes of supplies and medical equipment
> across the border and delivered it into the arms of members of Canadian
> support groups who were waiting on the other side. Roughly half of the aid
> from both of these shipments was carried piece by piece across the border
> in this fashion and is in Cuba today.
>     The release of aid seized on the second shipment occurred after months
> of negotiation between the attorney for Let Cuba Live, Phil Worden of
> Northeast Harbor,  and officials from The Office of Foreign Assets Control
> and US Customs.  Essentially, the government  agreed to release the aid
> Let Cuba Live agreed not to attempt to  move the aid across the border
> Canada at this time. In addition, Let Cuba Live has agreed to forfeit the
> aid seized on the first shipment.  Custom officials had
> these  materials  stored in a warehouse in New York state where they
> subsequently ran up storage fees of over $8000.00. Since the group was
> unwilling and unable to pay a fee for services they did not contract
> for,  they felt their only option was to sign off on the seized aid from
> the first shipment to regain the aid that was seized on the second
>     "This is really a shame" said Tom Whitney a member of Let Cuba Live
> a pediatrician, "they will probably dispose of the remaining aid by
> it in a landfill somewhere, there was a lot of used but serviceable
> equipment in that shipment  like newborn monitoring stations,  that could
> be saving lives in Cuba today"
>     Let Cuba Live is still determined that the medical supplies will be
> delivered to Cuba without applying for the license  that is required under
> the terms of the blockade.
>        At a recent Let Cuba Live  meeting  Judy Robbins of Sedgwick
> summarized the groups position,  "From the beginning of this effort Let
> Cuba Live has stated its intention to deliver the humanitarian donations
> from the good people of Maine to Cuba, where each and every piece of
> medical aid is valued and put to its best use. Let Cuba Live continues to
> oppose the U.S. blockade against Cuba and to work for normalized relations
> between the two countries."
>       Let Cuba Live  has contacted a New York based organization called
> Pastors for Peace that it has enjoyed a working relationship with for many
> years.  Pastors for Peace has  a national support base and has been
> successfully sending humanitarian aid to Cuba since 1992, in direct
> defiance of the US blockade.
>     Pastors for Peace ships their aid by truck caravan into Mexico or
> Canada and then to Cuba. It has been a challenging and
> confrontational  task at times. In 1996, the Reverend Lucius Walker, the
> organizations director,  and several supporters engaged in a 94 day "Fast
> for Life" in front of the US Capitol in order to win the release of over
> 400 computers that were seized by Customs. The computers finely reached
> their intended destination and are now  being used by  InfoMed,  the Cuban
> medical information network.
>     Let Cuba Live will turn the aid that was seized at Coburn Gore over to
> Pastors for Peace. The aid will be incorporated into the 14th US / Cuba
> Friendshipment Caravan.  Members of Let Cuba Live will join the
> Friendshipment and accompany the aid to McAllen, Texas. In July  the
> Caravan will, once again,  attempt to clear US Customs with their cargo
> enter Mexico.  If they are successful, the caravan will proceed to
> Mexico where the shipment that will include school buses,  ambulances and
> tons of  school and medical supplies will be loaded on a Cuban freighter.
>     The "caravanistas"  or drivers will board a plane and fly to the
> to participate in a 10 day tour that will help them to gain a better
> understanding of the countries  culture and institutions.
>      Congressman John Baldacci has, on several occasions, expressed his
> support for the work of Let Cuba Live and the aid shipments  to Cuba. In
> interview with the Portland Press Herald in July 2001, Baldacci said"I
> don't like to see people suffering. It's in our own hemisphere, not
> around the world."
> For more information call Steve Burke - 207-273-3247
> IFCO/Pastors for Peace
> 402 W 145th Street, New York City, NY 10031
> 212-926-5757; fax: 212-926-5842; email: ifco@igc.org;
>   web: http://www.ifconews.org