VENCEREMOS BRIGADE BREAKS
THE BLOCKADE AGAIN!
...but Brigadistas could still face Washington's wrath...
Ninety plus members of the Venceremos Brigade, African Awareness Association, and the US Cuba-Labor Exchange marched over the International Peace Bridge from Ft. Erie, Ontario to Buffalo NY this morning, chanting "Who will break the travel ban? WE will break the travel ban! Their reentry through US Customs, in groups of 20, was met by many DHS officials, all dedicated to the important job of interrogating "unlicensed" Cuba travelers -- young and old, of many racial anhd ethnic backgrounds -- all clearly a serious threat to homeland security because of their determination to see and understand the Cuba reality for themselves. They were enthusiastically cheered by Canadian and US rallies on both sides of the Bridge.
All Brigadistas were questioned about their trip and they were required to complete two Customs forms -- one a standard reentry form, and a second three-page form designed specifically for suspected Cuba travelers, asking them to stipulate who organized their trip to Cuba, how much money they spent, on what they spent money,and other questions that travelers are not required to answer. Members of the Brigade cross out these questions, while freely admitting that yes, they had travelled to Cuba.
Although baggage was searched, no items were confiscated. Brigade members limit themselves to bringing home only informational materials -- books, music, art, posters, film, etc -- which is exempted by the embargo, whether or not you travel to Cuba with a "license".
The Venceremos Brigade believes it is the Consitutional right of every American to travel to where they please without "permission" from the US government. The Brigade also believes that the travel ban -- tightened by the Bush Administration in the face of overwhelming popular and congressional opposition with these restrictions--is part and parcel of an increasing hostile policy towards Cuba which seeks "regime change" whether or not the people of Cuba support their own government. The Brigade opposes this policy, as does the international community.
We believe that the "Travel Challenge" is not over with the successful crossing today. It is possilbe that memebers of the Brigade will receive letters from the Treasury Department threatening them with steep fines and/or other penalties.