Returning Cuba Solidarity Activists Harassed by US Customs and Border Patrol

Orinoco Tribune, May 6, 2023 —

This year marked the largest delegation of people from the US in decades to be in Cuba for the events around the International Day of Workers. Over 350 people from the United States participated, and it was easy to see how youth made up the largest percentage, many of whom were visiting revolutionary Cuba for the first time.

On May 3, delegates began to return home, and some were harassed and detained by US Customs and Border Patrol in multiple cities. One reported that several of them traveling with the International Peoples Assembly (IPA) and the LA Hands off Cuba Committee were yanked into secondary questioning pertaining to their political motives. At least two people had their phones confiscated. At the time of writing this article, all have been released.

Imagine being harassed for being on a legal trip to the island to make friends with the Cuban people and to see for themselves the struggles that the Cuban people have had to endure while in the vice grip of a unilateral blockade that has been maintained through 13 presidents no matter which big business party was in power.

Many of us remember the battles at the borders as we fought to get symbolic aid to Cuba in defiance of the blockade on the Pastors for Peace Caravans, but this level of harassment has not been seen in years.

If the Biden administration thought that this would intimidate our growing movement in solidarity with Cuba, they are wrong. What I have seen this past week in Cuba is a government more concerned about the well-being of the next generation of US youth than the US government itself that marginalizes the young by constricting access to jobs with a living wage, that makes access to education nearly impossible without the burden of student loans that have to be carried for years, and that incarcerates them at a rate like no other country in the world.

As of now there has been no comment from the White House about the detentions, but the president of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has expressed his concern by sending out the following message on his twitter account:

“Cheer up guys, we are with you. Thank you for your courage, for supporting Cuba, and for facing the hatred of those who cannot stand the fact that the Cuban Revolution has the support of the most progressive youth in the belly of the beast. We send you a big hug.”

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