Pastors for Peace, a strategic ally in the struggle to end the criminal U.S. blockade of Cuba, is under fierce attack by the Internal Revenue Service, which is trying to revoke their tax exempt, not-for-profit status. The initiative to build a future for the poor and disadvantaged based on solidarity, peace and cooperation between peoples is in jeopardy.
The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, Inc. (IFCO/Pastors for Peace) is a membership corporation chartered by the New York State Department of State/Division of Corporations. It is not an action organization that attempts to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities or engage in electoral campaigns for political purposes.
IFCO reviews and responds to requests for grants from local organizations involved in community organization and development. Its international work includes sponsoring U.S. students who apply to the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) in Havana for careers in medicine. It also arranges numerous Friendshipment caravans to deliver items to Cuba such as computers, school and medical supplies and equipment, blankets, and office furniture, as part of a humanitarian and educational program, developed according to the original purpose stated in the group’s application on file, September 1967, with New York State.
IFCO personnel do not receive kickbacks or benefit from “its earnings” as a 501©(3) corporation. Through innuendo, the IRS alleges that diversion of charitable assets may have occurred thereby resulting in conflict of interest and potential injury to unknown individuals. Presumption of guilt does not justify using undemocratic methods to undermine solidarity with Cuba. Cuba does not support state terrorism, and U.S. blockade policy is not in the public interest of U.S. society.
Programs and activities expressing the freedom of religious, faith-based individuals unconcerned with political ideology to act on their beliefs is part of the American tradition. IRS “Information Document Requests” (IDR) served on IFCO/Pastors for Peace may not be legally binding if they contravene constitutionally protected activity concerning education, social interchange and improvement of relations or violate areas such as separation of church and state.
The IRS five-part report on the matter is a continuation of the same Cold War mentality characterized by anti-communist content that has isolated U.S. policy from world opinion. It seeks to divide and confuse the U.S. movement in solidarity with Cuba. At a time when the European Union is considering the re-establishment of bilateral relations with Cuba, it behooves us to close ranks around IFCO. Here are a few things you can do to help. An injury to one is an injury to all.
Photo: IFCO/Pastors for Peace Facebook page