Pastors for Peace roll through Santa Barbara in colorful hand-painted bus.

On their trek across the United States, members of the project Pastors for Peace made a stop at Trinity Episcopal Church to speak about their journey and its purpose. About 50 people gathered on Saturday afternoon, July 11, to learn about or support the Caravan to Cuba.

The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization formed Pastors for Peace, according to its literature, in order to create opportunities for concerned United States citizens to demonstrate and enact an alternative foreign policy based on justice and mutual respect.

There have been more that 50 Pastors for Peace caravans, traveling to Mexico, Central America, and Cuba. Motivation for the Cuba caravan is rooted in what participants consider an unjust and immoral U.S. foreign policy. The “caravanistas” who visited Santa Barbara were traveling along one of 14 planned routes, all entailing a one- to two-week drive through Canada and the United States, with stops for public outreach events in many cities. Travelers from the various routes gather at the Texas/Mexico border. After a three-day orientation there, they head to Cuba without U.S. government license to do so, as a conscious act of civil disobedience and as a challenge to the government’s blockade of Cuba.

During their eight to 10 days in Cuba, the caravanistas deliver medical, construction, and educational supplies and equipment. Another important purpose of the trip is to meet Cubans and learn about their lives, and how they have been affected by the U.S. government’s policies. Once back in the United States, the caravanistas make efforts to share their experiences, educating fellow citizens about issues in the country they visited.

The journey is long and can be a struggle, but those who participate do so because they feel very strongly against U.S. policies toward Cuba. “It’s long past time to end this ridiculous aggressive policy toward Cuba,” said route speaker Sandino Gomez. “Cuba wants to be our friend and the United States government won’t let them.”

Caravanistas need not be pastors. The organization welcomes anybody to participate who supports Pastors for Peace’s aims and methods, and who can find the time and resources. They encourage involvement regardless of age, faith, gender, race, or sexual orientation. Any help is appreciated, but the Pastors for Peace project aims for “solidarity, not charity.”

For more information about Pastors for Peace or upcoming caravans contact Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization.


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