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"Peace Caravan to Cuba" Stops in New Hampshire

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July 6, 2009

CONCORD, N.H. - All aboard! Everyone is welcome on the "Peace Caravan to Cuba!" That's the message from Pastors for Peace, an interreligous group dedicated to assisting the poor. The group stops in Concord tonight before making its way to Cuba as part of a humanitarian effort. Despite the U.S. embargo, the Pastors for Peace organization has been traveling to Cuba for the past 19 years in an effort to try to end what it sees as an immoral blockade.

This year's group consists of about 100 people from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, who will bring supplies to Cubans effected by last year's destructive hurricanes, says Concord resident and Pastors for Peace member Irene Irving.

"Medical supplies, educational supplies, projectors, any audio visual equipment. Things for schools or for medical – those are the important things that they need."

The U.S. embargo on Cuba has been in place in various forms since 1960; many supporters of the embargo see it as the best way to way to pressure the Castro regime into becoming a democracy, but opponents, such as Sally Kelly, who is part of the Peace Caravan, say the embargo hurts innocent civilians.

"I think the ordinary people, the citizens of the country, they aren't able to get the medicines, the educational supplies; this embargo should be lifted."

President Obama has lifted certain travel restrictions with Cuba, but the broader U.S. trade embargo remains in place.

The Peace Caravan to Cuba will meet tonight at 7 at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Concord and will feature speakers and discussions about the group's mission, and the effects of the embargo on the citizens of Cuba. Next stop for the Caravan is Boston. Then the group departs for Cuba at the end of July.

There's more information at www.pastorsforpeace.org

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - NH