Thursday, June 23, 2011

Corvallis councilor will travel with Pastors for Peace to Cuba

BY NANCY RASKAUSKAS
CORVALLIS GAZETTE-TIMES
Posted: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 11:24 pm

The Pastors for Peace annual aid caravan to Cuba will stop in Corvallis on July 6.


Corvallis City Councilor Mike Beilstein and Ed Hemmingson of Albany will join the caravan as it travels through Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas collecting donated medical and educational materials.

Since 1992, Pastors for Peace has sent at least one aid caravan to Cuba each year. This year 140 cities will hold events hosting the caravan.

The 14 routes of the caravan will converge in McAllen, Texas, and take the aid across the border into Mexico. Donations will be loaded on ships for transport to Cuba and participants will fly to Havana for a week of programs hosted by the Cuban Council of Churches and the Martin Luther King Peace Center.

The caravan this year is collecting small garden and construction tools in support of the economic reforms in Cuba that encourage small-scale agricultural entrepreneurship.

Beilstein, on his sixth trip to Cuba with Pastors for Peace, said, “I have promised to make the trip each year, if I am able, as long as the U.S.-imposed trade and travel ban is in effect.”

Technically, because of the length of his absence, the other Corvallis city councilors could declare the Ward 5 seat absent and move to refill it — although past councils never have taken that step.

The Obama administration has loosened restrictions, allowing freer travel for Cuban-Americans visiting relatives, yet it still is an illegal journey for most Americans.

The Corvallis Chapter of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism will host a free Cuban-style meal at noon July 6 at Westminster House, 101 N.W. 23rd St.

Presentations at the lunch will include an update on the progress of Corvallis resident Eduardo Jose Cervantes, in his third year at the Latin American School of Medicine in Havana, and political/economic changes in Cuba under the Raul Castro administration.

The lunch is free, but donations to Pastors for Peace will be accepted. Guests are encouraged to RSVP to juarod@comcast.net.

Information about the caravan is available at www.ifconews.org.

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JG: As a former Oregonian, I am very proud of the state. Way to go Beavers!

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