Venceremos Brigade challenges U.S. travel ban

Sixty Americans have just returned from a Venceremos Brigade trip to Cuba, challenging the U.S. ban on travel to the socialist nation. No such ban exists for travel to any other country.

The delegation of 60 included 10 members of the Young Communist League USA. Before leaving, YCL members expressed great enthusiasm about their two-week trip. Adam Tenney, YCL educational coordinator, looked forward to “a good mixture of hard work and sightseeing.”

The brigade met not only with teachers but also trade unionists, Che Guevara’s daughter and leaders of the National Center for Sex Education, fighting homophobia. They worked on painting a school and visited local cultural institutions.

In a press release, Ann Sparanese, a brigade member from Englewood, N.J., commented, “The U.S. is investigating Michael Moore for his travel to Cuba when he was making ‘Sicko,’ but, in addition to our work, we’re investigating how Cuba, a developing country with few natural resources, can provide free universal health care to all its citizens.” She added, “They’ve got it, and we need it.”

On their return home July 28, the “Travel Challengers” planned to make their way on foot, with baggage and backpacks, over the one-mile-long International Peace Bridge from Fort Erie, Canada, into Buffalo, N.Y., declaring to U.S. Customs and Immigrations that they had visited Cuba.

After an early morning send-off by supporters on the Canadian side, U.S. supporters planned to welcome the brigade home in Buffalo. “We’re going to be there with other like-minded folks to show our support for the travel challengers against this unconstitutional ban,” Libero Della Piana, New York State Communist Party chair, told the World.

U.S. restrictions on travel to Cuba have been in effect for 45 years, but the Bush administration has severely tightened them and stepped up enforcement and prosecution. It is even impossible for Cuban Americans to visit their families on the island except by special “license” once every three years.

The Venceremos Brigade, founded in 1969, has brought more than 10,000 people to Cuba in yearly contingents without U.S. government “permission.”

sdelgado @cpusa.org