What’s really going on with the U.S. and Cuba?
Longtime Pastors for Peace program coordinator John Waller will be in OKC Tuesday, June 18 to offer insight into the long-complicated relationship during a special event at Church of the Open Arms UCC, 3131 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
Waller has helped coordinate 20 annual humanitarian aid caravans to Cuba for the New York-based organization that works for justice and health issues in Central America and the Caribbean.
His 7 p.m. address – Cuba and the U.S. Today – will highlight an evening that begins with an optional potluck dinner at 6 p.m. The event is scheduled just four days before the group’s 30thFriendship Caravan to Cuba, a two-week trip that includes stops in Havana and in neighboring Cienfuego province.
Waller is widely regarded as an expert on Cuba’s politics, history, and public services.
According to the IFCO Pastors for Peace website, the caravan will “explore how the Cuban people are moving forward in healthcare, organic farming, and sustainable tourism; the diversity of religious expression in Cuba; and Cuba’s efforts to tackle legacies of racism, sexism, homophobia and more.”
The OKC event is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by the Peace House.
“I traveled to Cuba with Pastors for Peace some 20 years ago,” said Peace House Director Nathaniel Batchelder. “Cuba remains one of the poorest countries in this hemisphere, but still extends universal free health care and education to all Cubans.”
Cuba’s relationship with the U.S. changed dramatically when the U.S. Embassy in Havana was reopened during the Obama Administration. Since then, thousands of Americans have visited Cuba, either on commercial cruises or as private citizens with legal visas.
Now that the Trump Administration has reversed some of these policies, Batchelder said, there are political and economic issues Waller will address in OKC.
Pastors for Peace began its humanitarian aid efforts to Central America and the Caribbean in the 1980s, when U.S. policy supported the Nicaraguan Contras that were attempting to overthrow the Sandinista Revolution in that country. Pastors for Peace was one of the U.S. organizations opposing that policy, and responded by sponsoring shipping containers of humanitarian aid to Nicaragua.
Since then, P4P has expanded its humanitarian aid efforts to assist the Zapitista indigenous populations in Mexico, and organize annual “Friendshipment Caravans” to Cuba from the U.S. These have become coordinated caravans from the east and west coasts, and central United States, taking people, vehicles and loads of aid through Mexico to be shipped to Cuba.
For more information on Tuesday’s event, visit PeaceHouseOK.orgor call 405.524.5577. Plenty of free parking is available and Church of the Open Arms is wheelchair accessible.