Protesters challenge a bond request that delayed humanitarian supplies destined for Cuba from crossing into the U.S. at the Pacific Highway border Sunday.

Rocky start on long journey into Cuba

Some 70 placard-carrying people protested on both sides of the truck crossing Sunday, after a Pastors for Peace Caravan heading to Cuba ran into a seven-hour glitch at the U.S. border.

Some 70 placard-carrying people protested on both sides of the truck crossing as a 22nd annual Pastors for Peace Caravan heading from Vancouver to Cuba ran into a seven-hour glitch at the U.S. border last weekend.

A van containing tools and medical, educational and sports supplies – part of the ecumenical agency’s annual challenge of the more than 50-year U.S. blockade of Cuba – was held up by border guards from just after noon until 7:30 p.m. Sunday, according to Janine Solanki, one of seven volunteers accompanying the supplies on a route that passes through the U.S. and Mexico before sailing from Tampico to Cuba.

The impasse was only cleared by a legal representative for the organization, she said Monday, in a phone interview from Washington State where the caravan is continuing on its journey.

For Solanki, a Vancouver resident who grew up in Cloverdale, this is her second trip with one of the Pastors for Peace Caravans – but she said it was the first time in some 17 years the project has been held up crossing from Canada into the U.S.

“This is humanitarian aid, but they were saying the supplies were commercial goods, and that we had to buy an $800 bond (to ensure the goods didn’t stay in the U.S.).”

“We protested it because not only is it not legal, but when it happened before, the second year the caravan came down from Canada, they didn’t return the bond.”

Solanki said the crowd of protesters was easy to raise, as supporters had gathered on both sides of the border at Peace Arch Park July 3 before the crossing was attempted.

“Usually, they just pass us through,” she said, adding the van originally attempted to cross the border at Peace Arch Park but was directed by U.S. authorities to the truck crossing.

The caravan from Vancouver is one of 13 Pastors for Peace routes to Cuba being travelled this year, Solanki said, with events planned in some 130 U.S. cities to raise the profile for Pastors for Peace projects, such as encouraging students to attend an international medical school in Cuba.

Usually, more trouble is expected when crossing into Mexico.

“They’ve confiscated computers, even a yellow school bus that was being donated to Cuba.”

Volunteer Alicia Jrapko, a U.S. citizen who lives in Oakland, Calif., was one of two people in the van when it was held up at the border.

“The humanitarian supplies are a gesture to the Cuban people – they wouldn’t solve any problems in Cuba, but they are a challenge to the blockade,” she said.

She said she and a companion were asked to leave the van while it was X-rayed, and a U.S. representative insisted a bond would have to be purchased for the goods.

“Eventually, our lawyer called the man’s supervisor and pointed out a bond is not required for humanitarian aid,” she said. “I think it helped that we had people with placards on both sides of the border. They don’t seem to like that.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

White Rock neighbours to host second-annual ‘Feast for Friends’

Victoria Terrace residents to raise money for food bank

Sold-out in Surrey: the ‘Second Coming of Delamont’s ‘God is a Scottish Drag Queen’

‘The title tends to scare a few people away,’ Victoria-based performer says of his hit show

Task force brainstorms on support for Semiahmoo homeless community

Community service providers gather to discuss options for housing, income safety and more

Two people reportedly sent to hospital after two-vehicle collision in Surrey

Collision happened on the 16500-block of 64 Avenue

Surrey brothers win trip to review Mexico resort

Shaynen and Brennen Singh featured in latest Sunwing commercial

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

VIDEO: Vancouver Giants head coach records 200th win with 3-2 victory in Kelowna

Michal Kvasnica and David Tendeck named stars of the game

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

Man clings to roof of car driving along busy road in Maple Ridge

The man was also seen jumping on the vehicle

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Most Read

l -->