Havana, 3 December 2021. For 30 years Pastors for Peace has brought us encouragement, letting us know that Cuba is not alone; that within the people of the United States there is sincere affection, fraternity and solidarity for us, stated Communist Party First Secretary and President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, to members of the 31st annual Caravan, begun in 1992 by Reverend Lucius Walker, with whom the Comandante en jefe shared an intimate friendship.
"Dear sisters and brothers, we are filled with enthusiasm, with joy, that you are here again; you are brothers and sisters with whom we can talk about any topic," the President insisted, conversing with the group for more than two hours, and answering questions about the Cuban and global reality.
Held in the Palace of the Revolution’s Portocarrero Hall, the meeting was attended by Political Bureau member Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Rogelio Polanco Fuentes, Party Central Committee Secretariat member and head of its Ideological Department, among other Party and government leaders.
Also leading the discussion was Gail Walker, executive director of the Interfaith Foundation for Community Organizing (IFCO), which sponsors the Friendship Caravan, and daughter of Lucius Walker, whose legacy as founder of this solidarity movement the Cuban people assume as part of our history.
On hand, as well, were Fernando González Llort, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), and Reverend Raúl Suárez, founding director of the Martin Luther King Memorial Center.
Gail Walker explained that this 31st Caravan, which arrived in Cuba November 15 and departed on the 29th, included 72 persons from the United States and Germany.
More than 60 of the participants were making their first trip with the Caravan, Gail Walker explained, adding, "This is a representation of those who oppose the blockade, of those of us who are committed to do everything in our power to put an end to it.
"Many lies are told about Cuba,” she continued, “And we are here to serve as witnesses of the truth, to continue, on our return, working to expose all the slanders that are spread about the Revolution."
Díaz-Canel shared his views on the situation Cuba has faced over the last two and a half years.
He explained how the country has successfully battled the pandemic. In spite of the blockade, with our own resources, our health personnel and scientists were able to generate Cuban protocols, medicines and vaccines that have allowed us to control the disease and its dispersion.
In this context, he stated, with the tightening of the blockade and the effects of the pandemic, the U.S. government calculated that this was the moment to deliver a devastating blow to the Revolution, but they were wrong again.
He reiterated to the visitors that the blockade is the principal obstacle to further developing our economy, to creating more wellbeing for the population, but, he said, we must advance on the basis of our own efforts, along with the encouragement, the solidarity, that groups from all over the world, like your, provide us.
The President thanked the group for the consistent solidarity of so many men and women in the U.S. Pastors for Peace, he said, are "true brothers and sisters of the Revolution and of the Cuban people."