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Border Patrol Seizes Humanitarian Aid Destined for Cuba*

by Brendan Coyne

*A correction was appended to this news brief after initial publication.

July 28, 2005 – Last Thursday, United States Customs and Border Patrol officers halted members of a New York City-based humanitarian group near the Mexican border and confiscated a number of computers and computer accessories destined for Cuba.

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The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Cuba Caravan was well into its 14th annual trek to deliver humanitarian aid to Cubans suffering under a US economic embargo when officers of the Border Patrol stopped them near Hidalgo, Texas, searched the vehicles and seized 43 boxes of computer equipment, according to a statement released by the organization.

Officers allowed the majority of the eleven-vehicle caravan – carrying millions of dollars worth of goods -- to cross into Mexico, reported Reverend Lucius Walker, executive director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, the parent group behind the Pastors for Peace Project, in an interview with Democracy Now!.

Lucius noted that 400 computers were seized from the Caravan in 1996. Participants held a 94-day fast and secured their release, he said.

The group is issuing a broad call for public support to force federal authorities to return the electronics and allow them to finish their quest to deliver the items to Cuban children with special needs.

In a press statement, Pastors for Peace said seven members of the caravan remained in Hidalgo to drum up support for the release of the equipment. The statement called on people to contact government officials and Congress members to express their disappointment at the Border Patrol’s actions.


Minor Change:

The US Border Patrol personnel involved in this story were officers, not agents. In the original version, those terms were used interchangably. In fact, officers work at official ports of entry while agents patrol between those points.

 | Change Posted July 29, 2005 at 09:49 AM EST

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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