US Volunteers Defy Blockade to Work in Cuba

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 31 – Twenty US masons, carpenters, plumbers and electricians recruited by the Pastors for Peace non-governmental interfaith organization are working in the western province of Pinar del Río to help rebuild a school for children with special needs, damaged by hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

For nearly two decades Pastors for Peace has defied the US blockade against Cuba that includes a travel ban on US citizens visiting the island without special government permission. The organization sends an annual summer friendship caravan to Cuba with humanitarian donations via Mexico.

Rev. Manolo de los Santos Gonzalez told Granma newspaper that the group’s experience is far different from when Pastors for Peace sent a group to help out in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

“We were expecting to find the streets covered with mud, the people dejected, but everything is organized. We’ve seen clean towns; houses and schools are being rebuilt, children are receiving classes and the health center is operating. It’s been a great surprise to see that Cuba is standing,” said Rev. Manolo de los Santos Gonzalez.