HAVANA – The activist group Pastors for Peace said Tuesday in Havana that, despite the progress achieved in a year of diplomatic relations between Cuban and the U.S., “much remains to be done” as long as the embargo on the island continues.
“We’re excited that there is some improvement in relations with Cuba... that restrictions on travel are more flexible, but we’re aware that only those in a few categories can travel freely to Cuba,” group leader Gail Walker told EFE.
The director, daughter of the late Rev. Lucius Walker, founder of the project to get around the U.S. economic embargo and bring donations to the island, said they are “very happy” to see the attempts by certain members of Congress to change some of the restrictions on trade with Cuba.
Once a year since 1992, a Pastors for Peace Caravan has brought humanitarian aid and medicines to the island without seeking either authorization or permission from U.S. authorities.
“We believe the lawmakers were taking a positive step, though it hasn’t been a success. There’s still a lot to do. We have to pressure Congress to make sure this passes,” Walker said after a press conference in which the 41 participants in the 27th U.S.-Cuba Friendshipment Caravan took part.
The 29 Americans, nine Mexicans, two Germans and a Swedish citizen making up the Pastors for Peace Caravan arrived Monday in Havana via Mexico after giving conferences and talks in more than 40 U.S. cities.
For Walker, leader of the Inter-religious Foundation for Community Organization, the best way to help has been “putting a face on opposition to the embargo” and continuing to demand an end to what they call “an anti-Christian and anti-humanitarian policy.”
Faced with the imminent election of a new U.S. president, Walker was cautious and said “we’ll have to see” if their work toward complete normalization of relations with the Caribbean country will be affected by results at the polls.
“We’re not sure if there will be a President Trump or a President Clinton – I think we’ll have challenges either way. Nonetheless, Hillary seems more willing to ease the restrictions, though in some areas she has been intransigent. So we’ll really have to wait and see,” Walker said.