On Sunday July 17th, 39 U.S. citizens coming from 7 states, 25 of whom reside in the New York and New Jersey area, will participate in the Venceremos Brigade and will publicly engage in civil disobedience by defying the U.S. government’s travel restrictions on Cuba by traveling to the Caribbean island without a license.


For 8 years, the Venceremos Brigade, an education project, which has sent over 9,000 U.S. citizens to Cuba for the past 42 years, has organized a public “Travel Challenge” to the island as a way to pressure the U.S. government to lift the embargo and work to rectify U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba. Brigade members, known as “brigadistas,” come from all over the U.S. and are diverse in race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, occupation, and political affiliation. Brigadistas will bring material aid to the island, volunteer on civic projects and engage in discourse with people from the various sectors of Cuban society.


Though the U.S. government only allows licensed travel to Cuba, brigadistas are proudly going without permission in solidarity with the Cuban people and in condemnation of a U.S. policy towards Cuba that is unpopular with Americans, Cuban-Americans and the international community.


While the Travel Challenge has triggered threats of fines from the U.S. Treasury Department as well as F.B.I. harassment, the Venceremos Brigade asserts they have the constitutional right to freedom of association and can travel anywhere, including Cuba. They argue that instead of sending FBI agents to the homes of Americans, who want to see Cuba for themselves, the U.S. government should lift the embargo and work to rectify its foreign policy towards Cuba. 


In January, the Obama Administration expanded travel and remittances to Cuba, a decision supported nationally by educational and cultural institutions, as well as by Cuban-Americans across the country.  This action has resulted in a backlash spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican) of South Florida, who sponsored an amendment, approved by the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, which would undo President Obama’s expansion and would reinforce the strict travel restrictions in place under former President George W. Bush.


With the limited travel openings under attack, the Venceremos Brigade’s trip to Cuba takes on a greater political significance, as brigadistas will return to the U.S. with a clear mission of educating people about the travel ban, the embargo, and how they can help defeat the Diaz-Balart Amendment.


The Pastors for Peace Caravan, an interfaith group traveling to Cuba and returning to the U.S. via Mexico, will be engaging in civil disobedience along with the Venceremos Brigade.


Brigadistas are available for interviews before their departure on Sunday July 17th and on their return Monday August 1st, when they will be entering the U.S. through the International Peace Bridge in Buffalo, N.Y., and holding demonstrations on both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the border.


The Venceremos Brigade

Ansonia Station

P.O. Box 230527

New York, New York 10023

Website: www.VenceremosBrigade.net


Contact: Benjamin Ramos, 718-601-4751



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