PASTORS FOR CASTRO
Supposedly "religious" and "humanitarian" organizations in the US appear to be working for Castro’s tyranny in Cuba. The interreligious group Pastors for Peace has received grants from the Arca Foundation, which according to a paper by scholar Irving Louis Horowitz is a "highly pro-Castro and partisan," grant-giving agency. From 1994 to 1996, Arca Foundation awarded close to $2,000,000 for pro-Castro projects.
According to Arca Foundation annual reports, a 1993 grant for $20,000 went to "educational work related to the Pastors for Peace caravan to collect and deliver humanitarian aid to churches in Cuba." A 1994 grant for $57,000 went "to organize "friendshipments" of humanitarian aid to Cuba, and to make the American public aware of the terms of the US embargo and efforts to challenge it." A 1995 grant for $15,000 went to "respond to humanitarian needs in Cuba, and to familiarize the business community in the Twin Cities with US policy toward Cuba." And in 1996, a grant for $15,000 went to "educate religious grassroots constituencies in the United States about the humanitarian impact of the US embargo against Cuba."
Obviously, Arca and Pastors for Peace have a well-defined political agenda to defy and change US laws, and are actively part of the pro-Castro Lobby in the US. Their intent is for the US to change its policy toward Cuba without any hint of a desire for democracy for Cuba. It appears that they do not have the slightest concern for the institutional violations of human rights in Cuba. They promote the biased notion that all the problems in Cuba are caused by the US embargo and not by Castro.
The Pastors for Peace often make claim that their humanitarian cargoes of medicines, computers, school buses and other items go directly to hospitals and other such institutions. However, unmentioned is the fact that in Cuba, everything is owned by the state and Castro is the state. So, ultimately, everything ends up in Castro’s hands.
There have been reports from tourists and others in Cuba that the medicines Pastors for Peace have given "directly to hospitals" are being sold at the government’s "foreigners-only" stores. Regular Cuban citizens are not allowed to own a computer in their homes, so the computers the Pastors take there end up in Cuban government hospitals for the elite, foreigners and the patients who can pay in US dollars. There were reports from Cuba that the school buses donated were being used by Castro’s repressive police for raids to apprehend Castro’s undesirables.
So the $107,000 Arca granted to Pastors for Peace went ultimately for Castro, apparently as intended. The average Cuban citizen has not benefited from the "friendshipments." It appears that the humanitarianism or religiosity is just an excuse to hide the Pastors’ real intentions: to help Castro.
Pastors for Peace apparently couldn’t care less about the war that Castro has been waging for decades against his own people, causing the deaths of about 97,000. They don’t care about the deaths that follow his drug-trafficking and guerrillas in Central and South America, not to mention Angola and the Horn of Africa.
Recently, Pastors for Peace spoke of the sentences of the four pro-democracy activists – two of them black and one woman – who had been declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International, "Under the circumstances, we think the sentences (3 1/2-5 years) were pretty reasonable . . .."
Reasonable, to be sent to jail for the non-violent exercise of their natural born right to freedom of expression and association, a right held sacred by all Americans?
Mario, a friend of mine, said, "This is the ultimate in bad taste and it clearly shows that Pastors are not the humanitarians they claim, but just another propaganda organ of Castro’s international public relations machine. Don’t these people have anything better to do than to falsely accuse those who seek democracy and pluralism for their nation?"
On March 27, Pastors for Peace participated along with the pro-Castro Committee of Dominicanos Friends of Cuba and the infamous Venceremos Brigades in a fundraiser in New York. They featured "food, dancing, mingling, brief presentations, slide show, tabling . . .." They advertised, "Learn about Cuba and New York-based pro-Cuba efforts. Bring friends. Spread the word." The fools who fell for that event, surely learned a lot about Castro’s version of reality.
Rev. Lucius Walker, head of Pastors for Peace, participated on October 23, 1996 in a national teleconference linking 65 cities across the country by delivering a pro-Castro speech for the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Communist Party USA. Rev. Walker travels to Cuba often and is given Castro’s royal treatment in exchange for his unwavering allegiance. Rev. Walker looks the other way in relation to the absence of blacks in high-ranking positions on his comrade’s island, as well as the overwhelming black prison population in Castroland.
As Pastors for Peace, many groups are a vital part of the pro-Castro Lobby in the US. They are composed of ignorants, romantics, idealists, anti-American fanatics, die-hard socialists and communist sympathizers pretending to be humanitarians or religious people. These people dislike and distrust the US and oppose US policies toward leftist regimes. They work so hard for Castro that it makes one wonder if Castro is slipping them money under the table.
These groups are very damaging to the freedom and human rights of others, and are not as harmless as they seem. They are well organized and financed, and are associated with organizations that claim to be working for peace or humanitarian causes. For decades, these groups have been a roadblock for people working for democracy in Cuba.
These groups claim (and some members may actually believe) they are helping the "Cuban people" on the island when they are actually helping Castro and his goals. When there is a pro-Castro crusade in the media or on Capitol Hill or a demonstration against US policy toward Cuba, they are loyally there. You never see them protesting against Castro’s repression, or his crimes and violations of human rights, or demanding freedom for his political prisoners, or asking for democracy for Cuba.
As Americans, these groups have the freedom to dissent and oppose the policies of their country, to elect their representatives and to unseat them, a freedom that those groups need in order to exist. And they use and abuse that freedom to their own advantage, to advance and impose their own political agenda on others, who are not as fanatic, militant or well financed. All the while working to support a regime in Cuba that would prohibit their very existence.
They ought to stop interfering in Cuban affairs and let the Cubans solve their own problems. Their blind fanaticism helps the tyrant that Cubans have been trying to get rid of for 40 years. Every time a Cuban is executed or dies in the Florida Strait, is tortured or has his or her human rights violated, it is the indirect result of these pro-Castro groups. Is that humanitarian?
Agustín Blázquez, Producer/Director of the documentary COVERING CUBA