First Large US Delegation to Visit Cuba Since Opening of Relations

CODEPINK Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 27, 2015

Contact:
Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK Co-founder, Medea@codepink.org, (415) 235-6517
Alli McCracken, CODEPINK National Coordinator, Alli@codepink.org, 860 575 5692

“To Cuba With Love”- 150 people traveling February 8-15

Washington, DC –– The activist group CODEPINK will be hosting a “super delegation” of 150 people to Cuba to mark the recent thawing in US-Cuba relations, particularly the easing of travel restrictions. Timed for Valentine’s Day, the “To Cuba With Love” delegation will include some of our nation's most dynamic activists, including leaders from the peace and justice movements, and the environmental, healthcare and LGBTQ communities, and representatives from Ferguson, Missouri, working on police accountability. Instead of traveling under the onerous license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control, they will now be traveling under a general educational license.

The delegation, led by CODEPINK co-founders Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin, will have high-level meetings with government officials, visit members of the Cuban 5 who were recently released from US prison, talk to doctors who combat Ebola in Africa, meet with entrepreneurs about the new business possibilities, and interact with local people about cultural, economic, environmental, educational, agricultural and health care issues.

Numerous delegates have been involved with Cuban/U.S. issues for years—lobbying, protesting, advocating for the closure of Guantanamo Bay prison, setting up sister cities and committing civil disobedience by openly challenging the travel restrictions. Some, including CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin, had their passports taken away and their bank accounts frozen for their activities. “It’s so exciting that after 50 years, the US government is finally beginning to lift the ridiculous restrictions on our right to visit our Cuban neighbors,” said Benjamin. “We look forward to the day when all restrictions are lifted.”

“I’m jumping on this opportunity to reach out to the Cuban people during this ‘great thaw.’ I’m anxious to exchange ideas with Cubans on issues critical to both our societies, like environmental sustainability, reducing poverty, combating racism,” said Kymone Freeman of the police accountability activist group #DCFerguson. “We have a lot to learn from each other,” he added.

The group will be having a press conference in Miami before they depart (details TBA) as well as a press conference in Havana upon arrival. Upon return to the United States, activists will push for further openings, including putting pressure on the Obama administration to remove Cuba from the US terrorist list (Cuba is one of only four nations the US accuses of supporting acts of international terrorism).

More information about the trip can be found at www.codepink.org/cuba.

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