Sandy´s trail of death and destruction, 11/26/12 An appeal for aid, Caribbean American Children Foundation. Alberto Jones.
La senda de destrucción y muerte de Sandy, 26 de Octubre del año 2012. Un llamamiento de ayuda, Fundación Caribeña Americana de los Niños. Alberto Jones.URGENT PLEA, 6/20/12
The Caribbean American Children Foundation Newsletter #12, 4/09
AN URGENT APPEAL FOR HELP, 5/2/09, The Caribbean American Children Foundation
The African Studies Group of The African American Cultural Society and The Caribbean American Children’s Foundation Present a Symposium: Africa’s Global Experience. 2/10/07
The Caribbean American Children Foundation Newsletter #10, 10/05
Building the Adamsbrook Anglican Center for All Saint's Church, Guantanamo, Cuba, 9/05: a plea for funds, project status
All Saints Episcopal Church, Guantanamo, celebrating 100th anniversary, 10/31/05
Directed by Dr. Alberto Jones, the Caribbean American Children's Foundation (CACF), a US 501c3 organization, engages in a number of programs focused on the Caribbean, many of which deal with Cuba. Dr. Jones is also a member of the West Indian Welfare Society in the city of Guantanamo, Cuba. And of course he runs the well known Alberto Jones Column on AfroCubaWeb.Christmas donations for Guantamo and Oriente The West Indian Welfare Center: Guantanamo City, Cuba Newsletter #9, 3/05
All Saints Episcopal Church, Guantanamo, seeking help, 11/25/04
NEWSLETTER #8, 8/04
An Appeal For Help, The Caribbean American Children Foundation, 6/13/04 - appeal over.
CACF Newsletter #4, 4/03
AFRO-AMERICAN TOUR OF CUBA: Report on the Caribbean American Children's Foundation trip to Cuba, 4/00.
Dear Cuba Solidarity Groups, Friends and Members of the Caribbean American Children Foundation, Palm Coast, Florida.
For the first time since 1998, we are at risk of not being able to send our humanitarian donations to Cuba with the XXIII Pastors For Peace yearly Caravan.
Valuable medical equipment, medical supplies, material goods for the physically challenged, the elderly, and for women and children care may not make it to Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba, the regions of Cuba that need it most.
Hard times have hit home! With your help, we may still be able to cover the cost of getting it to Texas. Two weeks is not a lot of time on our side.
Help us by sending your small tax-deductible donation to:
Caribbean American Children Foundation
PO Box 353593
Palm Coast, Fl., 32135
Alberto N. Jones
|The Caribbean American Children Foundation
PO Box 353593
Palm Coast, Fl., 32135
AN URGENT APPEAL FOR HELP
Alberto N Jones
May 2, 2009
Dear Friends,For the past nineteen years, Pastors For Peace have waged a moral crusade against the 50 year, crippling US embargo imposed upon Cuba, by not requesting or accepting a Travel License from the US Treasury Department.
Yearly Caravans to Cuba have delivered tons of badly needed medicines, medical supplies for geriatric patients and the physically challenged, sports, cultural and educational resources.
Unquantifiable amounts of baby food and for pregnant women at risk, school buses, ambulances and bookmobile, all valued in hundreds of millions of dollars, are just the tip of the iceberg of this exemplary humanitarian project.Similar humanitarian drive take place every year to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Chiapas, Mexico.
Still, none of these monumental accomplishments done in silence, away from the cameras, are comparable to the tireless effort of recruiting, selecting, testing and sending qualified poor and minorities High School graduates with fully approved scholarships, to the Latin America School of Medical Sciences in Havana in exchange upon graduation, to offer their knowledge for a limited time, in medically underserved communities across the United States.
For these and so many other humanitarian projects spearheaded by Pastors For Peace, I am pleading with you for your generous support, to make this XX Caravan and hopefully the last, the Largest and Best ever!
Alberto N Jones
|The Caribbean American Children Foundation
Alberto N. Jones
Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,
It have been three years since our last Newsletter. Many thought our organization was hibernating or worse.
In past Newsletters we warned about our aging and sick staunchest supporters of our day-to-day operation, with whom we are eternally indebted. Likewise, we have failed to grow locally or enlist younger supporters.
Faced with a drastic lack of help we were forced to focus solely on our humanitarian endeavor, shelving our timely exchange.
In 2004, our humanitarian work with Cuba was severely restricted by the US Treasury Department, as we were introduced to CEPRU or the Center For Ecological Home Refuse Recycling in Guantanamo, where Irania Martinez and a handful of helpers, worked feverishly in the transformation of this potentially hazardous solid wast dump contaminating the soil, water and air with dioxins and furans from burning plastics, into an Eco-Friendly Haven.
Seeing these workers poorly clad, without personal protective gear, exposed to comuunicable diseases, lead us to immediately offer our moral and material support, consistent in work clothing, face masks, gloves, work tools, kitchen wares, showers, laundry and a classroom.
This modest support boosted their morale and expanded their activities into a goat dairy farm for hospitalized lactose intolerant children and a river bank reforestation project.
Created thirty years ago to provide wourld news 24/7, CNN decided to introduce in the year 2007, an uplifting, morale boosting, once a year program entitled HEROES.
Kristy Weeks from the St. Augustine-Baracoa Friendship Association felt CEPRU was a good candidate. Their achievements was presented to a Blue Ribbon Commission. Then the unthinkable happened, when from a pool of 7000 entries from 93 countries, CEPRU was awarded the First Prize For Defending The Planet.
CNN requested Irania's Visa which was denied by the US State Department, leading others to suggest, that I should stand in to accept this reward on her behalf and in representation of the Saint Augustine-Baracoa Friendship Assocation, The Caribbean American Children Foundation and all others who generously supported our work, making this endevor possible.
This First Ever, All Star Tribute Global Telecast took place on December 6, 2007 in a fitting celebration of selflessness, citizenship and uncommon greatness in the majestic Museum of Natural Sciences, in New York City.
But, far more important than the glamour, glitter, red carpet extravaganza or the near royalty time-managed event, which was seen by 3.5 billion viewers around the world, was the unique opportunity to share space, views and opinions with the most extraordinary people, award winners or not, interested only in the betterment of mankind.
The long and uncertain road traversed by our organization since its inception, in which skeptics or pessimists did everything possible to discourage you, our faithful and unconditional supporter from this glorious day, failed stridently, tracing the way to greater achievements.
Life have thought us, that this is just the beginning, Now more than ever, we need your moral, material and physical support.
The monument to Mariana Grajales in Guantanamo, honoring the most important woman of African ancestry and possibly of all ethnic groups in this hemisphere, need our beautification efforts.
Hundreds of tons of uncollected, hazardous solid waste in Port au Prince, desperately need their own CEPRU. We can do it!
Upcoming improved relations between the US and Cuba, may enable us to bring together our failing minority student with severe behavioral conduct with their Cuban counterparts, from whom much can be learned.
Our intractable health insurance crisis, may also find palliative measures, once travel limitations are abolished.
Life have rewarded us with an enormous responsibility towards those less fortunate, if we live up to it and believe more in ourselves.
When: Saturday, February 10, 2007,10:00 A.M. - 4:00 P.M.
Where: Florida Hospital, Education Center (Main Entrance)
60 Memorial Parkway, Palm Coast, Florida ( I-95 exit 284, go west on SR 100)
Contact: Alberto, 386 446-4921 or 386 793-5887
Lennox S. Hinds is a Professor of Law and former Chair of the Administration of Justice Program,Rutgers University. He was a Charles H. Revson Fellow, Center for Legal Education and Urban Policy, City College of New York.
He is a criminal defense and international human rights lawyer, Nelson Mandela's US attorney, counsel in the US to the Government of South Africa, the ANC and Namibia. He is the Vice President and Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.
He served for many years as Director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers of the US and Canada. Mr. Hinds has traveled, written, and lectured extensively in Africa, Europe, Asia and North America on international human rights issues and racism. Most recently he has been appointed by the UN as lead counsel of defendants accused by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He also assisted in drafting the Luanda Convention on Mercenaries in Angola in 1976.
Mr. Hinds will discuss Cuba’s contribution to the independence of Southern Africa.
Dr. Susan Greenbaum (USF) - “Role of Tampa’s Afro-Cuban community in the war of 1895.”
Maura Barrios, MA - (West Tampa Council on Arts, Cultures, History) -“Josè Marti meets Jim Crow"
Dr. Raphael Jackson (BBC) - “Philip Emeagwali: Nigerian genius behind the supercomputer.”
Dr. Alberto Jones (CACF) - “The impact of Blacks in the making of the Cuban nation” *
PO Box 353593 Palm
Coast Fl., 32135
Friends and Supporters,
On August 11, 2005,
twenty members and friends of our organization met in a festive mood at
the African American Cultural Society in Palm Coast, Florida, to
evaluate the past and plan our next steps, after 10 years of an
The initial goals
of the Caribbean American Children Foundation when it was founded in
1996, was to follow in the steps of Convivials, an organization of
eastern Caribbean immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, who attempted to
introduce conflict resolutions, reduction of prejudice and friendship
fostering activities among Afro-Americans students and those of
Caribbean ancestry, attending the public school system.
view was quickly replaced by the growing anti-Apartheid struggle in
South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe, to which we provided important
moral, material, financial and political support, until they achieved
In 1992 I returned
to Cuba after twelve years in the US and was shocked by the
devastating socio-economic crisis that afflicted that country.
Food, transportation, clothing energy or educational material was
nowhere to be found. A visit to the Pediatric Cardiology Center in Havana
transformed my life, by convincing me that something had to be done to
mitigate the human tragedy that had fallen on the entire nation.
Thanks to the
extraordinary generosity of hundreds of caring individuals and
institutions in Florida, in other states and abroad, we have been able
to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in medicine, medical
supplies, educational material, clothing, personal hygiene items, sports
equipment, cultural instruments, support a meals program for seniors and
at-risk persons at the Episcopal Church, provided hundreds of
wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and other critical equipments to the
physically challenged, restored their dignity by supporting their
reforestation project on the banks of the Guaso river and the floral
beautification of the monument of Mariana Grajales, Mother of the Cuban
Nation, all in Guantanamo.
We must rekindle
our efforts to restore the British West Indian Welfare Center to its
glorious past, when it was the centerpiece of our culture, education and
support base. Much more need to be done and we refuse to surrender!
Never before had so much been done with so little.
Still, our greatest
accomplishment is our work with the Caribbean School of Medical Sciences
in Santiago de Cuba, where approximately 2000 students from 12 African
countries and 10 Caribbean islands (600 from Haiti), are trained free of
In September 2005,
our organization, its members and our invaluable supporters rejoiced
with the rest of the world, when 1610 foreign students in Cuba received
their Medical Degree, which entitles them to offer healing and comfort
to the often ignored and forgotten.
incredible army of young men, armed with their stethoscope and love for
life, were 126 Haitian graduates, the largest group ever in its 500
years history. Making history also, was our own Cedric Edwards
from Louisiana, the first US citizen ever to graduate from a Medical
School in Cuba!
Clarence Mauge, our 2nd Vice-President had signed up for two years, he
stayed on for five. We
deeply regret his departure and we will miss his demands for perfection,
sticking to schedules and procedural rigors. Thanks Very Much
Clarence for all you've done!
Glenwood A. Charles
MD, has also departed. He provided an inmense service as Chair of
Welfare and Solidarity. Tons of medical supplies and life saving
medicine received from other healthcare providers, was a direct result
of his efforts and dedication to the wellbeing of others.
delegation of healthcare providers from Florida and a writer/researcher
from his beloved Virgin Island to Cuba, was carefully crafted by him,
which lead to a spontaneous bridge-building relation among professionals
on both sides of the pond.
admiration and respect go to Mr. Kenneth Weeks, one of our founding
members who lived through the horrors of a previous war and have since
dedicated his life to promote peace, understanding and love among men
across the globe. Whenever he is in the US, he cris-cross central
Florida collecting medical supplies, sorting, packing, turning his home
into a mini-storage and lovingly delivering these critical resources for
people he may never meet. A better world is still possible!
And to all of
those, known only to a few of us, who have graciously displayed the best
of mankind while preferring to remain anonymous, we can only say,
Thanks, Thanks very much for making this dream a reality.
But if the past ten
years of our humanitarian endeavor was hurt by inexperience,
disorganization and even fatalism by some, a partial description of our
successes can serve as an indication of what we will accomplish in the
next 10 with friends like you. Thanks
|1. Name of the project
Adamsbrooks' Anglican Center, Guantanamo, Cuba.
2. Institutions that would build it
All Saints' Church Vestry would hire a brigade for building.
3. History of the project
In the year 1896 Mariana Adams, and her husband Theodore Brooks, belonging to the Church of England in Panama who came to Cuba to railroad business, founded an orphanage and school, Brooks Collage to alleviate the sufferings of the abandoned children that strolled for the streets of Guantanamo, as a result of the concentration of Wayler and the war of Independence. In that same year they began to meet in their house a group of Christian to adore to the Anglican way.
In 1905, the bishop of the Missionary District of Cuba of the Episcopal Protestant Church of United States of America The Right Rev Albion Knight visited Guantanamo. He accepts Mariana's offer of giving by the care of this church the school-orphanage. He also decided to send a priest to assist the Anglican congregation that had been formed mainly with the members of this church that came to this country for working in the Naval Base of Guantanamo; near to this city of Guantanamo in his first visit he raised the first stone to build the temple.
Thanks to the donation of an Episcopal from Pennsylvania, they could buy the ground and built the temple. The school-orphanage was re-named All Saints. Years later in honor of Sara Ashurt, second director of the School, took this name the school and at the end of the decade of the 40, it was reconstructed, in the same place. The temple was open for the divine ministering on January 30th, 1910.
All the activities were carried out in the school which commuted through the sacristy and the yard. The Rector office of the Church, Chaplain of the School was in a school room beside the sacristy of the church.
With the nationalization of teaching in Cuba, the school was also intervened, losing the church this enclosure, so much for the education, like for the Sunday school, as well as the place of the parochial activities.
During the first years of the Cuban Revolution 1959-1974 were impossible having any repair or span constructions. First, the Cuban churches remained practically empty, since the parishioners were afraid to attend them fearing different reprisals; second, there was not any financing, so much of their members, because they didn't exist, as well from out border, because it was impossible to make it.
After the publication of the book Fidel and the religion by Frai Betto, began the government's opening and a bigger tolerance to the believers of any denomination or credo. In the 80's decade, it was stated by the Constitution of Cuba the lay state, in compensation of the atheistic state as it was written in the 1976 constitution.
The Rev. Juan Quevedo Bosch, after many frustrations, could build a toilet in the church yard on the 80s. Later, the Rev. Juan Ramón de la Paz could repair the roof of the Parochial Living room.
The Rev. Fr. Modesto Mursulí who was of Rector of 1993-1996, could repair the roof of the temple with the financial supporting of the Episcopal Dioceses of Haiti and Dominican Republic, and members of the church. Likewise it began other repairs of urgency in the church.
In 1997, Fr. Carlos M. Rivero, was given to the task of continuing Fr Mursulí, being able to put new windows, as well as grates for the whole church and the annexed living room, with or also other repairs of the temple, mainly the cracks in the walls. That same year after receiving the approval of the Office of Religious Matters of the Communist Party of Cuba in Guantanamo, he accomplished the necessary steps in Ministry of Justice of Guantanamo in order to get the permission for building the parochial Living room, with the kitchen, bathrooms and the classroom-bedrooms in the second plant. In September of the year of 1997 he received the official permission by that office.
It was on June of 1999 that works could begin, thanks to the collaboration and enthusiasm of the Mrs. Betty Zoworka former-president of the Committee of Companionship of the Episcopal Diocese of the Florida, as well the collaboration of the members from Saint Thomas' Episcopal Church, Palm Coast, Florida; and the local members.
4. Beneficiaries of the project
· Members of the Episcopal Church will have a parochial Living room for their activities;
· Children of the catechesis (Sunday School) will have classrooms for their classes;
· All the Episcopal of Cuba that will have the opportunity to carry out activities in this part of the diocese, in turn, would help to create the bases of infrastructure of the new diocese of Eastern Cuba;
· The members of other Christian denominations, will also be able to use the local for the meetings and activities in this part of the island;
· The members of the lodges Santa Catalina (Oddfellow) and The Maceos (Mechanics), and of the Caribbean British Centers that would benefit in the ministerial programs of the church; e.g. teaching of songs and traditional Episcopal hymns used by these institutions;
· Members of these institutions, as well as those of the Caribbean British Centers that they arrive to the third age, and they would have an attention through the ministries of the church; E.g. two foods without paying a month.
5. Financing of the Project
· Saint Thomas' Episcopal Church, Palm Coast, Flagler County, Florida, USA;
· The Anglican Church Saint Thomas of Catherine, Ontario, Canada, USD;
· Donation from Miss Clancy, former principal of the Episcopal School Sara Ashurt of Guantanamo, $2,000.00 USD; that is in the Treasury of the Episcopal Church of Cuba;
· For the members of the Church "All Saints" of Guantanamo;
· Free donations.
6. Cost of the project
In Guantanamo, Cuba the cost of this type of building is $200.00 for each square meter. It is impossible to make it without financing in convertible currency (USD, etc)
· Parochial living room
This would have an area of 24 m approximately x 5 m, that which would give an area of 120 m2.
The cost would be of $24,000.00.
The cost for square meters would be the same; the area is 160 m2,
· Rooms, dining-room, garage and office in the Rectory
$200 el m2
$200 el m2
$250 el m2
a.. Total cost
$104, 000.00 USD
Rvdo. Carlos M. Rivero de Feria
This is the actual Anglican Center Board (All of them are members of our church. I wrote (mechanic) for letting know you who are mechanics)
· Rector. Rev. Carlos M. Rivero
· Projects - Hector Lorenzo Knight James (Mechanic)
· community- Daisy Flora Brown (Mechanic)
· Internationals Roberto Hector Henry Knight (Mechanic)
· Missions- Gerardo Alayo Suárez (Mechanic)
· Communication- Enrique A. Muñoa Deville
· Administration- Leidy Grant (Mechanic)
· Mechanic Lodge - Milagros Grant (Mechanic)
· Vice- Rector- Roberto Claxton (Mechanic)
· British Center- Jorge A. Derrick
· Fisherman of Galilee Lodge- Evaristo Milá (Mechanic)
· Catalina Lodge (Oddfellow) - Melvina Wickham
· Haitian association- Olivia Labadi (Mechanic)
Anglican Center Up to July 31,2005
Denver (Catedral Episcopal), USA
S. Thomas' Episcopal Church, Palm Coast, Florida, USA
S. Thomas' Episcopal Church, Palm Coast, Florida
Rev. José Poch, Saint David, Holliwood, LA, USA
S. Thomas' Anglican Church, St Catherine, Canada
Rev. José Poch, Saint David, Holliwood, LA, USA
Ruby Jones, Palm Coast, Florida, USA
San James and Phillips' Church Denver
Rev. José Poch, Saint David, Holliwood, LA, USA
Rev. José Poch, Saint David, Holliwood, LA, USA
Hugo Elías y Elsa , All Saints' Episcopal Church, Miami, USA
S. Thomas' Episcopal Church, Palm Coast, Florida, USA
Caribbean American Children Foundation, Palm Coast, Florida, USA
Caribbean American Children Foundation, Palm Coast, Florida, USA
Rev. Luis León, Saint John' Episcopal Church, Washington DC, USA
American Base Chapel, Guantanamo
Hugo Elías , All Saints' Episcopal Church, Miami, USA
Rev. Mursullí, Texas, USA
Donación Cinthia Graham, New York, USA
New Orleans, USA
Miss Clancy donation
$ 11, 450.95
Cyas International Corp. Miami
Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba
Iglesia San Jorge Chaparra
$ 59, 920.00
Lic. Leidy Grant
Administration (Anglican Center)
Lic. Amanda Ayra
Tresurer (All Saints'Church)
We are now, around the 60 or 70 % of building.
September 26th, 200
|CARIBBEAN AMERICAN CHILDREN
Alberto N. Jones
Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,
We are saddened and sorry to announce, that the huge festivities that were planned for the 100th anniversary of the Episcopal Church in Guantanamo, was reduced to a large mass that was presided over by the Bishop and other dignitaries.
New travel restrictions to Cuba that were enacted by the US government on 5/04, may have discouraged many who had plans to attend.
Also, after sending out numerous pleas requesting financial help to support his event, it was very disheartening for us, to experience an absolute lack of support from former church members who were christened, married, took communion or their elders received their last rites in this house of worship.
On the other hand, I am extremely grateful and honored by a substantial support received from many who are not Cuban or of Caribbean origin, who may, or may not have been in Guantanamo or in Cuba for that matter.
The Episcopal Church is evaluating and may attempt to organize a more fitting event on November 1, 05, All Saints Day. We will keep you informed.
And now, the good news!
Since our last newsletter in August 2004, in which we decided to focus all of our efforts on the Caribbean School of Medical Sciences in Santiago de Cuba, we are pleased to inform you, that we were able to send large quantities of critical donations that have addressed our concerns.
We continue to receive increased amount of donations from educational, health institutions and individuals, who have grasped the magnitude and implications of this program, which will graduate its first 67 Haitians physicians this summer!
Since its founding in 1493, Haiti never had such a large influx of physicians, ready to begin addressing its chronic and intractable health issues, especially in rural areas. There is hope!
With your continuing support, Haiti will emerge from its ashes and join the community of healthy nations in our region.
But the good news gets even better. With less pressure on us, we were able to re-start our discussion with ACLIFIM, the Cuban Association for the Physically Challenged, about our dormant reforestation project.
In order to get this idea moving, they had to meet repeatedly with people from the Forestry, Wildlife, Environmental, Water Resources, Nursery and others.
For the past 10 years, our organization have been involved in a number of wonderful projects in Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Banes, Baragua and Havana.
Although all of these projects were very valuable and played an important role in the lives of many, by mitigating their pain, addressing their personal needs or simply by reminding them that they were not alone, none of them has the importance, long term effect and far reaching environmental impact, that this project will have on the lives of tens of thousands of human beings.
But just as important, will be the human component and the social transformation of men and women, physically limited, but willing to assume their social responsibility to prove their usefulness to themselves and the world.
Please help us with your unwanted garden tools, used clothing in good condition, computers, medicines and cash.
On March 15/05, the local government in Guantanamo transferred to ACLIFIM, their first 22 acres of land on the banks of the Guaso River and a 30,000 plants nursery.
Thousands of ornamental, fruit and hard wood tress will be planted in that area by supposedly, the weakest members of that society.
In order for any one of us to understand the joy, pride and commitment expressed by these individuals, we probably would need to be in their shoes. To be part of this environmental and human restoration process, is priceless.
Unfortunately in the past, some of our friends may have chosen not to be part of any of our projects, alleging religious, social, political or differing sexual preferences from most of our members.
No plausible argument, except an absolute disregard for the environmental or, for the well being of an unfortunate physically challenged fellow citizen, can possibly justify, remaining on the side lines.
If this project is successful and thousands of trees are planted with
billions of leaves absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing tons of liters
of oxygen For All,
But without you, nothing can be done. Please remember to renew your membership, join now and/or send your badly needed and greatly appreciated financial support any of your pet projects.
Can you donate 2-3 hours of physical work a month? Please let us know, and learn how much potential there is in each and everyone of us, to "Do unto Others........
MEMBERSHIP $25.00 Per Year
City ____________________________________________________State ___________
Phone _____________________________________FAX __________________________
Area of Interest __________________________________________________________
Episcopal Church Feed Program _________________________________________
Pastors For Peace Caravan _______________________________________________
Medical School __________________________________________________________
British West Indian Welfare Center, Guantanamo _______________________
Environmental Project and & Physically Challenged ____________________
November 25, 2004
In 1896, Mr. &
Mrs. Theodore Brooks, English emigrants living in Guantanamo Cuba, began
organizing Americans, emigrants from the English Speaking Caribbean
Islands and other English residents, into the nucleous of what later
became the All Saints Episcopal Church, that was founded by Bishop Albion
Knight on February 28, 1905.
For the next 60
years, this church provided the best and most comprehensive English
religious service to residents of Guantanamo. The 1960’s presented
the worst confrontation and turf battles between various religious
denominations and the Cuban government. Sabotage, invasion, a constant
fear of war and a massive emigration, led to the dissipation of most
religious institutions in the country, which were considered by the
government to be potentially subversive.
In the late 80’s
and especially after the visit of the Pope, relations between the church
and the government were delineated and a collaborative relation developed
that allowed for the normal operation of religious activities. This
opening led to an unprecedented explosion in the growth of membership in
nearly all religious denominations in Cuba.
Some of the many
religious projects and social programs with which the All Saints Episcopal
Church in Guantanamo is engaged:
In order to review,
evalutate and plot the future of our parish and commemorate the 100
birthday of our beloved Episcopal Church, we had organized an extensive
program of workshops, seminars, baptisms, clasmate and churchmembers
reunions, that were to take place in Guantanamo on February 25-27, 2005.
Many former students
of the Sarah Ashurst Anglican School and former church members living in
the United States were planning to attend.
New stringent travel
regulations to Cuba and risks of fines by the U.S. Treasury Department,
have discouraged most from attending.
Because of this
unfortunate measure, the wonderful work the church has been doing and the
critical neeed of your financial support, I am pleading with you to share
this extraordinary project with your friends and congregation. No
matter how small or large your support may be; it will be extremely useful
and greatly appreciated.
Please help us keep
alive the dreams and hopes of those less fortunate. Hopefully someday you
may be able to visit and see for yourself the fruits of your love and
giving. Thanks very much for caring.
|Dear Members, Friends and
May our first words be to express our deepest gratitude to Cuba Vive, Veterans For Peace, Saint Augustine-Baracoa Friendship Association, Let Cuba Live, The Florida Coalition For Peace And Justice, tens of other peace loving groups and individuals in our State and above all, to our faithful members, who came together in an impressive support of the well being of the Cuban people and generously donated their time and money, that enabled us to purchase Three 1992 diesel, handicap equipped school buses.
But equally outstanding was the massive support we received from the healthcare community, Kiwanis, Habitat For Humanity, cultural, sports, business and educational institutions, who generously donated dental, diagnostic, medical, sports and rehab equipment, medicines, hospital beds, computers, copiers, journals, in sum, extremely valuable life saving or pain mitigating means or for cultural and sports development, in quantities that far exceeded the capacity of our three buses.
We are moved and greatly indebted to our many friends who criss-crossed our region collecting donation, turning their homes into temporary warehouses, helped us segregate, package, label and load our buses, never accepting a Thank You, and preferring to remain anonymous. There is hope!
And to the courageous and dedicated 120 members of Pastors For Peace XV Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba, who traveled thousands of miles through hundreds of communities in the United States and Canada collecting donations, educating others about their mission, the uncertainties with the US Immigration and Customs Agents at the border crossing and the threat of fines and/or imprisonment for traveling to Cuba, to them, we extend our eternal gratitude, without whom, this effort would not have happened.
One bus went to a nursing home in Havana. The other two buses were assigned to the Provincial Handicap Association in Guantanamo with the largest volume of donations, followed by Banes and Santiago de Cuba.
But what makes this year's Caravan unique, was our focus on the future, by providing an impressive amount of educational material to the Caribbean School of Medical Sciences in Santiago de Cuba, where approximately 2000 students from 11 African countries and 9 Caribbean islands are trained as physicians, free of charge. Haiti has the largest representation with slightly over 500 students.
Although there is a plan to register 100 Haitian students per year for the next 20 years; in order to understand the significance of this project, suffice to say, that if all of the Haitian students that are presently enrolled in this program would successfully complete their studies, this would represent a 25% increase in Haiti's physician pool, while expanding their professional services to the countryside, for the first time ever.
Haiti, which holds the worst health statistics in this hemisphere with 160/1000 infant mortality rate, is anticipated it can be reduced to 25 by the year 2010. A host of other transmissible, organic and environmental diseases that have been raging unbridled for ages, are slowly being reined-in by the 500 strong Cuban Medical Brigade, that provides its service free of charge to the population and to the nation.
Because of these powerful reasons, the economical crisis that Cuba is enduring, its negative impact on the spartan living conditions of these students and our limited financial resources, have forced us to concentrate our energies on this, our most important and critical area of interest.
As a direct result of all of the above, the final stage of remodeling the Episcopal Church and the elderly Feed Program, the construction of the roof and other areas of the British West Indian Welfare Center and the environmental project of hardwood and fruit trees reforestation of the river banks in Guantanamo, are now on hold.
I hope the description of some areas in which we have failed to fulfill our commitments, may not be sufficient reasons to disappoint anyone. Rather, we must all be extremely happy, pleased with our enormous success. With your help, commitment, dedication and love, we have achieved far more than we could ever dream about.
Still, there is much, much more to be done. As it has been in the past, I am once again asking for your steadfast and generous financial support of any of the "Pet" projects outlined on your Membership Form.
Furthermore, with our US Treasury and Commerce Department Licenses, we no longer have to wait until next summer to restore the mobility of someone devoid of it. Now, we can and we will legally ship all needed wheelchairs, crutches, walkers and every other item we can get our hands on, that will make their lives worth living.
Please help us with any "usable" handicap equipment in your possession or help us with your Tax Deductible donation to defray the shipping cost of another 40 foot container for Guantanamo/Banes in the month of November-December 2004.
Thanks Very Much for believing in us and for sharing this incredible journey!
Alberto N. Jones
$25.00 Per Year/Per Person
2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 (Please Circle)
PET PROJECT YOU MAY WISH TO PATRONIZE
Feed Program $ __________ Education Program $ _______________________
Alberto N. Jones
PO Box 353593
Palm Coast, Fl., 32135
On Monday July 19, 120 members of Pastors For Peace from the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan, crossed the international bridge in Hidalgo, Texas into the United States, after successfully delivering 120 tons of humanitarian aid to Cuba, despite threats of severe fines and/or imprisonment by the US Treasury Department.
The Caribbean American Children Foundation, Veterans For Peace, Cuba Vive, Let Cuba Live and tens of other peace loving organizations in the State of Florida who are committed to bring down walls of fear and build bridges of love and respect with our neighbors, wish to express their heartfelt gratitude to the healthcare community, charitable groups and caring individuals, who opened their hearts and donated generously to this cause, making the XV Friendshipment Caravan the largest ever!
With your help, we purchased three large handicap equipped school buses, which were loaded to capacity with medicine, sports, cultural, senior, handicap and medical supplies. One bus was donated to a nursing home in Havana and the two others, went to the mentally and physically challenged association in Guantanamo.
But our greatest achievement was being able to send tens of computers, printers, copiers, medical books, journals, laboratory equipment, clothing, personal hygiene, reagents, projectors, cartridges etc., to the Caribbean School of Medical Sciences in Santiago de Cuba, where over 2200 students from Africa and the Caribbean, - especially Haiti with over 500 - are trained as physicians, free of charge.
But, the severe financial crisis that Cuba is enduring has had a negative impact on the spartan living conditions of these students, who urgently needs all of our moral and material support and encouragement. In order for us to clearly understand the importance of this project, suffice to say that if those Haitian students that are presently enrolled would successfully graduate, that would mean a 25% increase in Haiti's present physician pool. Together, we will not need to re-invent the wheel to start reversing some of the intractable ills and ignorance that pretend to devour the soul of our communities. Please help us continue to support and expand this magnificent education program. Thousands of healthcare professionals are needed around the world to confront our most basic healthcare needs, not to mention the AIDS pandemia that threatens the life of millions in Africa and Asia.
|Palm Coast Florida, June
Different groups in North/Central Florida, who have demonstrated an absolute respect for Cuba's Independence and Sovereignty and have always provided their moral and material support to its people, have purchased this year three 1992 diesel school buses. One of them will be going to a nursing home in Havana and the two others will be donated to the Provincial Handicap Association in Guantanamo.
Tens of thousands of dollars of medicine, surgical material, educational, cultural, sports, handicap and senior supplies have been generously donated by individuals and humanitarian institutions in our State.
Today, when the pain and suffering of our people are threatening to be increased, we are asking you for your monetary contribution (no matter how small), that will assist us in defraying the transportation costs of these valuable, life saving resources that will be going to Cuba as of June 26, 2004.
No social, philosophical, racial, religious or sexual difference, should prove sufficiently divisive in these crucial moments of our convulsive history, to allow us to ignore the serious dangers that looms high over our country or the imperative need to mitigate the anxiety of our children.
Cuba, its people, its culture and history will live forever!
Please accept our profound gratitude for your contribution.
Alberto N. Jones
|Palm Coast Florida, 10 de
Junio del 2004
Estimado Senor (a),
Los diferentes grupos de la region norte/centro del estado de la Florida, que durante anos han mostrado un absoluto respeto por la soberania e independencia de Cuba y brindado su apoyo moral y material a nuestro pueblo, adquirieron este ano tres omnibus escolares diesel del ano '92. Uno de ellos esta destinado para un hogar de ancianos en la Habana y los otros dos, para la asociacion de impedidos fisicos de la Provincia de Guantanamo.
Tenemos en nuestro poder, decenas de miles de dolares en medicinas, material quirurgico, educacional, cultural, deportivo, discapacitados y para la tercera edad, que fueron donados generosamente por personas y organizaciones beneficas de nuestro estado.
Hoy, cuando las penurias y el sufrimiento de nuestro pueblo amenaza con ser incrementado, recavamos de usted su contribucion monetaria (no importa la cuantia), que nos permitiria sufragar el costo de transportacion de estos valiosos medios de vida hacia Cuba, a partir del dia 26 de Junio del 2004.
Ninguna diferencia social, filosofica, racial, religiosa o sexual, podria ser capaz en estos momentos cruciales de nuestra convulsa historia, de llevarnos a ignorar los graves peligros que se ciernen sobre nuestra nacion o la imperiosa necesidad de mitigar la angustia de sus hijos.
Cuba, su pueblo, su cultura e historia viviran para siempre!
Le rogamos acepte nuestra profunda gratitud por su contribucion.
Alberto N. Jones
CARIBBEAN AMERICAN CHILDREN FOUNDATION
January 21, 2004
It is with great pleasure that the Caribbean American Children Foundation invites you to the III Conference The Nation and Emigration, that has been convened by the Government of Cuba, and will be held in Havana on May 21-23, 2004.
All Cubans residing abroad and especially their descendents are encouraged to participate. The only precondition is your love for your country, its freedom and sovereignty. Attendance to this event will be by invitation only, issued by the Conference Organizing Committee.
This unique gathering of approximately 800 Cubans from all walks of life from around the world, will provide an open and respectful environment for a fruitful exchange of views on our past history, regulatory constraints on travel issues and the future shape of our country. We owe it to ourselves and to our children, to contribute our expertise in molding the nation that Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo and thousands of others, struggled and died for.
No ideological, racial, social or religious difference, should prove sufficiently strong to keep us apart in these trying times, plagued by fear and uncertainties.
Whatever your decision maybe, we shall bear the moral responsibility of being part of or not, of this decisive development of our convulsive history. Time is of essence! Send your personal information and/or suggestions you would like included in the agenda to us or:
Consulate, Cuban Interest Section
Alberto N. Jones
|URGENT PLEA - November 12, 2001
On November 4th, 2001, Hurricane Michelle barreled through Cuba with winds of 135 mph, destroying over a 1000 schools, tens of thousands of homes and crippling the water, power and telephone infrastructure. A 200 mile wide swath of orange groves, sugar cane plantation and daily food staples have been devastated.
Over 700,000 people had to be evacuated, which limited the death toll to five. Five million people living in the disaster zone, are now facing incredible hardship and the prospect of hunger and disease.
As it has been in the past, the Caribbean American Children Foundation is asking its members, friends, supporters and caring members of our communities to extend a helping hand and join with us in this humanitarian endevor, determined to mitigate the suffering of the victims of what is rapidly becoming the largest natural disaster to befall that country in half a century. We can be reached at PO Box 353593, Palm Coast, Fl., 32135 or at (386) 446 2444.
Sadly, not even the magnitude of this human catastrophy has been sufficient to instill some decency into the rabid, fossilized Cuban-American anti-Cuba philosophy, who are now desperately searching for ways to turn this tragedy into an instrument of destabilization.
Worst yet, and acting as a resonance box for numerous ultra right wing Cuban-American groups in south Florida, the US Department of State has shamefully denied a request of the Cuban Government to purchase emergency quantities of Medicines, Medical Supplies and Food in its nearest market.
What consequences will this unspeakable disregard for human value have on the lives of children, women and the elderly, may never be known. What I do know, is that this is the worst example of human decency, solidarity and principles, especially now, when the world needs it most.
Who will our children grow up to be proud of after such soul-less decision?
Please help. Let's prove once again that everything is not lost!
Alberto N. Jones
On November 23rd 1945, in the small town of Guantanamo, eastern Cuba, in the presence of the British Consul for what was then Oriente Province, a visionary group of emigrants from various English-speaking Caribbean territories founded the British West Indian Welfare Center. Still functioning to this day as a non-governmental organization, the Center has a clear and specific mandate:
- to preserve and develop British West Indian cultural heritage;
- to provide legal assistance to the British West Indian community;
- to create a strong social and welfare program;
- to identify, organize and link with other British West Indian communities.
For the past fifty years, the Center has lived up to its charter. Hundreds of men and women in Cuba and abroad, are living monuments to its cornerstone teachings, values and principles. Over the years, they have visited families, cared for the sick and needy, buried the dead. Today, the Center is one of the most vibrant community-based organizations in Guantanamo, with membership standing at some 600. Descendants of the community have attained high levels of education and professional training, though less so in the arts and cultural fields than in other areas. Nonetheless, the Center's cultural activities have expanded in scope, depth and diversity; and a serious effort is underway to document and preserve all aspects of what was for many a painful history.
A recently revived English-language school has produced its first graduates. Center physicians, dentists and nurses offer health care services free of charge for members and also dispense medicine free of charge, when available.
The current crisis has severely curtailed these and other Center activities, including West Indian sport, cooking and cultural events. One paramount concern of the Center is its increasing inability to meet the most basic needs of a growing number of illness-prone, high-risk senior citizens, many over 90 years of age. 42 of the original emigrants are still alive!!
Other national and ethnic groupings in Cuba -- Spaniards, Arabs, Jews, Chinese -- have established solidarity life-lines with their co-nationals and co-ethnics. Black West Indians do not have and desperately need a similar life -line.
This is something we can and must develop! For US $12 a year (less than 5 cents a day), you can become an Honorary member of the British West Indian Welfare Center in Guantanamo, Cuba. Help provide food, medicine and clothing for a man, woman or child, who may well be related to your own forebears of the Middle Passage and beyond. You can also donate items from computer equipment to publications; participate in seminars or joint research programs, or sponsor sports, cultural and religious exchange.
How? Just fill out the form below and send your check or money order for $12 to the Caribbean American Children Foundation: PO Box 353593, Palm Coast, FL 32135.
In these critical times, your support can be decisive. Re-establishing our links and reaffirming our common culture, is presently our most urgent priority.
We thank you very much!
Alberto N Jones
Phone: ( ) ____________
Address: ___________________________________ City: _______________
State: _____________________________________ Zip: _________________
For US $12 a year (less than 5 cents a day), you can become an Honorary member of the British West Indian Welfare Center in Guantanamo, Cuba. Help provide food, medicine and clothing for a man, woman or child, who may well be related to your own forebears of the Middle Passage and beyond. You can also donate items from computer equipment to publications; participate in seminars or joint research programs, or sponsor sports, cultural and religious exchange.
How? Just fill out the form above and send your check or money order for $12 to the Caribbean American Children Foundation: PO Box 353593, Palm Coast, FL 32135. Any questions? Email albertoj_AT_afrocubaweb.com [replace _AT_ with @]
|CACF NEWSLETTER Number 4, 4/3/01
Dear members, Supporters and Friends,
We must begin by extending our sincere apology to everyone, for our inability to keep you regularly informed of our plans and activities. A severe shortage of members at the base level capable of assisting in our day to day
activities, contributed in part this result.
For that reason, it was determined that some structural changes were necessary. Suggested changes were mailed out to the membership and approved. Ballots were prepared and election took place on 1/15/01. Twenty three
members responded positively with two minor suggestions that may be incorporated in the future. Our new structure is as follows:
Alberto N. Jones President
Dr. Clara Sotelo 1st Vice President Development
Mr. Clarence Mauge 2nd Vice President Management
Mrs. Silvia Jones Treasurer
Mrs. Gertrude Blackwell Financial secretary
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - Secretary
Mr. Robert Brooks Socio/Historic/Education
Mrs. Jeroline McCarthy Public Relations
Mr. William Robinson Sports/Recreation
Dr. Glenwood Charles Welfare/Solidarity
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Mr. Roland Roebuck
Mrs. Edith Bush
Mr. Arnett Greene
Mr. Charles Wallace
Our present membership stands at 35. Eleven new members are a direct result of having traveled to Cuba with us or because of the achievements of these trips. Some previous members have not renewed their membership, probably because the ballot mailing went out, while their year 2000 membership was still in full force.
Male 22 Female 13
New York 4
Washington DC 1
Palm Coast 12
New Smyrna Beach 1
Holly Hill 1
Daytona Beach 2
South Daytona 1
Ormond Beach 1
West Palm Beach 1
Orange Park 1
We anticipate that through membership renewal and others that have indicated their interest to be part of our organization, but have yet to done so formally, we may arrive at a membership of 50, allowing us to expand into new geographical regions and to widen our ethnic and social diversity. To all of you who have trusted and continue to trust and support our efforts, we thank you very much.
Since our last Newsletter in the month of May, our organization have been extremely involved in a variety of activities. During the month of June a great effort was made to solicit, collect, package and donate Medical Supplies, School Supplies, Personal Hygiene and Handicapped equipment to Pastors For Peace X Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba, with a street value of approximately $80,000.00 For the first time, Pastors for Peace organized a second Caravan in a year. Although time was very limited, we were able to donate similar type of material goods with an approximate street value of $10,000.00
What made the 11th Caravan in the month of November so significant, is that we were able to secure a "Third Party Shipment", which allowed us to target our donations to the Caribbean Medical School in Santiago de Cuba and the school for the Mentally Retarded in Guantanamo.
During the month of September, we were invited to speak about our organization and the work of Pastors for Peace to 40-45 members of the Palm Coast Rotary Chapter. Our presentation was well taken and a small cash
donation was made towards Pastors for Peace.
Our second trip to Cuba during the month of October was a difficult one. Many people who intended to travel with us, had to cancel in the last minute, because of work commitments, or the duration and timing of the trip.
Finally, we were able to assemble a group of 5 women and 7 men, coming out of New Jersey, Georgia, New York, Maryland and four Florida counties.
Our itinerary mimicked our previous trip. Because this one was 2 days longer, it enabled us to add to the previous visits, a one day stop in historic Bayamo, where the Cuban Flag was designed, the National Anthem was composed and that city was burnt down, rather than allowing it to fall in the hands of the Spanish
A one day visit to the ancient city of Trinidad, the third village that was founded in the New World, with its narrow cobbled streets, colonial houses and beautiful cathedral, was a treat to most. Because our driver was a native/resident of the beautiful port/city of Cienfuegos, approximately 60 miles away, we were invited to have a brief tour of his hometown, which everyone enjoyed very much. The rest of our tour followed our previous trip.
New personal and professional relations were created. Post cards, e-mails, letters, pictures and gifts parcels are flowing in both directions.
During the month of January, Dr Glenwood Charles and myself, were honored to talk to a large gathering of the Putnam County Rotary Club about our trip to Cuba. The reception was phenomenal, followed by an intense Q&A. Some members qualified this as the best Rotary meeting in a long time.
On January 24th, we held our first post-electoral meeting with 10 members in attendance. The agenda covered opening statement, a summary of the past, present and future of the CACF, installations of new officers, By Laws
review, future programs, trips, grants and achievements.
The Feeding Program that was established in the month of May, 2000 between the British West Indian welfare Center and the Episcopal Church in Guantanamo and our organization, geared to provide two (2) hot meals per month for the elderly and those at risk, had to be stopped in the month of July, for lack of funds.
Most members in attendance expressed their outrage, that this humanitarian low cost project of only $12.00 per year/per person, demanded it be re-established. Donations of $12.00 sponsoring an elderly are starting to come in. One very generous member sponsored 10 elderly and another sponsored 8 elderly. Cash covering the cost of two months were sent at the beginning of February. to the Episcopal Church in Guantanamo. Once the system in
Guantanamo is consolidated, we are hoping to extend this help to the community of Banes. With your help, we may never have to stop this program again.
On Saturday February 6th, I was a guest of Mrs. Edith C. Bush, Executive Director of the Martin L. King Jr., Coordinating Committee in West Palm Beach. Mrs. Bush as all great hostess, provided for us a first class
lodging, a tour to the impressive Martin Luther King Jr., Memorial, that after 20 years of hard work, has been erected on the Intercoastal Waterway. None of us should drive through West Palm Beach, without stopping by and admiring a genuine expression of respect to one of our great leader and a clear example of what we may be able to accomplish, when we are serious about it.
This memorable day ended with a Candlelight Worship Service at the Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church. A beautiful program with a moving invocation by elder Brown, a sermon by Reverend Jefferson and the Musical
Praise, should be followed by my speech honoring Dr. Martin L. King Jr., in which, half way through, my emotions took over and a knot in my throat, brought my words to an abrupt and embarrassing end.
10 beautiful children backpacks, loaded with school supplies and personal goods, were donated for the children of Banes, Cuba.
Our US Treasury License to travel to Cuba was renewed in the month of December and we are now actively working on the logistics and itinerary of our next trip in the month of May or June. A second trip may be arranged for the month of August. If you, or someone you know may be interested in being part of this experience, please let us know.
The Florida Council on Humanities and the Florida Center for Teachers, USF, St Petersburg, organized a conference "Crossing Boundaries" on February 8-11 2001. On Saturday 11th, I was one of the panelist on "Race, Class and Identity, moderated by Maura Barrios, Assist Prof. of the Latin American Studies Program, USF Tampa. Approximately 40 teachers from over 35 counties in the state of Florida, regarded our presentation of enlightening and useful in understanding the racial dynamics in our state/country.
A recent agreement have been reached between the US Congressional Black Caucus and the Government of Cuba by which, Cuba have offered 250 scholarships per year to equal amount of low income, Afro American High School graduates, who may be willing to offer their services in underserved areas in the United States. Pastors For Peace have asked us to share this information with Social Groups, Religious Congregations and Educational Facilities, in order to reach all potential candidates. You can help!
We applied for a mini-grant through a National Non-Profit Organization, interested in bringing Afro-Cuban personnel involved in Cultural, Educational, Social or the Health Field. Unfortunately our request was
denied. We will continue to pursue other leads.
In order to consolidate our common culture, we have shown and will continue to present Films, Documentary, Music or Speakers, which may help each of us strengthen and highlight our cultural similarities.
Albeit slowly, our new structure is coming into place and we are confident that we will soon experience that necessary forward leap, that our peoples deserves. We need your help and commitment, now more than ever.
Our work and efforts challenges or compete against no one or no other organization. We are desirous to work with and complement every activity of any other organization geared towards the wellbeing of our society. Great
challenges lies ahead, but we are now more aware, better prepared and more capable of fulfilling our goals.
We should not be afraid of making mistakes. We must be afraid of our inertia or complacency!
Alberto Jones, DVM
|Palm Coast, November 1999
Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,
In just a few weeks, our organization will be celebrating its First Legally Established Anniversary! So much have been accomplished in such a short period of time, that we tend to believe we are much older.
But our success has been possible, only because of the extraordinary moral and material support from each and all of you. We are indebted to all, for your vision, dedication, input and suggestions. Next year promises greater success.
Shortly, we will be celebrating Christmas and New Years, the most joyous season of the year, which brings us closer to family, friends, the needy and the ill. In fulfilling one of the core principles of our organization, last year we were able to deliver 67 Gift Parcels to members of the British West Indian Welfare Center in Guantanamo, Cuba, among them 39 of the original emigrants, two of whom are over 100 years old, a few in their 90's and most others in their 80's.
This year, we would like to reach many more in dire need in Guantanamo and extend a loving hand to others in Banes and Santiago de Cuba.
We are aware that many, many more will not hear from us, but we are trying. Once again we are asking for your support. Whatever you can afford will be greatly appreciated. Together, we can minimize the pain, suffering and despair.
THANKS VERY MUCH, MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Alberto N Jones, DVM-EH
For the past 18 months, our association had tried repeatedly to obtain a Treasury Department License to legally travel to Cuba. This coveted document was issued to us in November 1999. On April 28, 2000, a group of 12 Afro-Americans pioneers from Palm Coast, 3 from New York and 3 from Baltimore, led by the Afro-American Cultural Association and the Caribbean American Children Foundation, started out on a historic visit with our brothers and sisters in Cuba, hoping to meet, learn and evaluate the status of emigrants and descendants from the English and French speaking Caribbean Islands living in Cuba.
At 10 PM on Thursday April 27, our group of 13 persons departed by motor coach from K-Mart parking lot to Miami International Airport. Joyous, albeit moderately tense, not knowing exactly what to expect, we arrived at the airport counter approximately at 5:15 AM. A host of legal documents were filed, our luggage were checked in and we departed without any incident shortly after 10:00 AM, arriving at Holguin International Airport at 11.50 AM
In order to achieve our goals, we traveled by motor coach approximately 900 miles, met with hundreds of people on the streets and homes, visited museums, churches, monuments, cultural groups, historical sites, schools, healthcare facility, Afro-Cuban religion and a university. Due to a lack of time, the runaway slave monument was not visited. Our program began in the sugar plantation community of Banes with a 15 minutes welcome by the Anglo Caribbean Association at the local C ultural center, followed by a brief visit to the archeological museum. A group of first graders in their uniforms, met us with a poem at the entrance of our neighborhood.
From there we were joined by neighbors who introduced themselves, shared stories and walked with us to the lot that was occupied by Marcus Garvey's Liberty Hall. We then went to Dr Thelma's house, where a succulent lunch was prepared and served in the backyard under a variety of tropical trees, in a stunning family reunion-type environment. A variety of home made deserts and strong bitter Cuban coffee, ended this anti-weight loss experience.
We then visited the nearby primary Frank Pais school, followed by a beautiful teenager fashion show and an incredible cultural presentation of music, dance and an Afro-Cuban religious demo. The following day we traveled to Guantanamo, making a brief stop at General Calixto Garcia Square in Holguin, arriving in Guantanamo at 6:00 PM and later attending a 9:00 PM mass at the 100 year old All Saints Episcopal Church.
The following morning, our friendship with the British West Indian Welfare Center was sealed with the planting of tree. A brief city tour enabled us a glimpse of the May Day parade and later, a visit to the Psychopedagogic Center for Mental Retardation, where after touring this health facility, we were treated to an awesome cultural performance by the children. After lunch we visited the Haitian Cultural Center and was presented with a unique drumming and dance festival. At 8:00 PM we were officially received by the executive committee and members of the British West Indian Welfare Center. The Jaguey cultural group performance delighted everyone and was followed by an intense exchange of views and dancing among visitors and community members.
At 9:00 AM the following day, a wreath was laid at the monument to Mariana Grajales, the Afro Cuban unofficial mother of the Cuban nation, followed by a visit to the overlook of the US Naval Base in Guantanamo, from where we departed to Santiago de Cuba. That evening we had a brief encounter with prominent intellectuals of African ancestry.
The following morning began with a visit to the Jose Marti Mausoleum and a walk through the aisles of the Generals of the war of Independence, in the Santa Efigenia Cemetery and a summary of their lives achievements. We then proceeded to visit Major General Antonio Maceo's home and his huge monument in the city main square. Later that morning, we honored a personal invitation from Eduardo Rivero Walker, General and Artistic Director of the Caribbean Dance Theater, to view the group rehearsal at the Heredia Theater. Nothing could have prepared us for the highly trained, stunning performance and exquisite artistic display of this group. In the afternoon, we visited "La Granjita Siboney", where the 26 of July movement began, followed by a visit to San Juan Hills and the Peace Tree, that honors the US military, fallen in the Spanish-American War of 1898.
On Thursday morning we visited the Caribbean School of Medicine, where we received a thorough explanation of the school's objectives and goals. We later met with approximately 20 of the 180 Haitians Medical Students, who provided a detailed version of the school, methodology, success and shortcomings, from a student point of view. This visit may well be the most uplifting and moving experience of our trip, as we were able to visualize a Haiti in the near future, equipped with the necessary personnel and the know-how, capable of dealing with its chronic and intractable health care problems.
A strong sense of support on our part permeated this meeting, for which, most of us promised to do everything we can, to provide this university with the moral and material means that may be required, to produce the best trained and most qualified physicians in this hemisphere. We then traveled to the shrine of the Virgin of Charity and the Runaway Slave Museum, which we could not visit because of the lack of time. We then traveled to Santa Clara, 350 miles away.
The following leg of our journey from Santiago de Cuba to Santa Clara, turned out to be much longer than anticipated, because the 70 year old Central Highway and the 25 year old National expressway, are both in urgent need of repairs. This adverse factor provided us with much extra time to reflect on the past days, to exchange points view and to really grasp the everyday struggle of the average Cuban as we drove through numerous cities, townships and the countryside.
Of the many aspects of the Cuban society that we perceived to impact most adversely the average citizen in the eastern part of the country, was the near crisis state of the public transportation system. Makeshift overloaded buses, trucks, tractors, bicycles, motorcycles, horse driven carts, anything moving in the direction of the needy, was welcome to go from point A to B.
But for most of us, accustomed to travel tens of miles comfortably in a short time, looking at these groups of people -elderly, children, pregnant women, sick-, by the side of the highway waiting for hours, frequently exposed to the natural environment, was heart wrenching.
The positive side of this human tragedy, was to experience how it brought out the best in everyone in that society. Every vehicle going by, stopped and picked up as many stranded people as they possibly could. It was very refreshing for us to see, how young girls would flag down vehicles, get on board with strangers, convinced they would not be harmed.
After six days of intense activities, we were now in position of comparing notes, reviewing our findings with our pre-trip information or mindset, originating from years of distortions and misinformation about what Cuba really was. So far, no one was detained, followed or felt threatened. The scary, dull, police state environment, turned out to be a very open, smiling, easily approachable group of people, surrounded by music everywhere. Most found pen-pals.
Of all the experiences we have had so far, four of them have left an indelible imprint in our minds, to which, most of us have decided not to limit ourselves to report these experiences, but to actively contribute to shape their future.
- The Psychopedagogic school for mental retardation in Guantanamo, in which an impeccable care is provided by the institution to these unfortunate children, but whose efforts is severely curtailed by the lack of rehab equipment, wheel chairs, educational material, etc., hampering the development and future independence of these children.
- The Home-Museum of Major General Antonio Maceo, the most outstanding son of Africa in Cuba's 500 plus years, and whose powerful political thinking, military achievements and supporting documents, are in urgent need of modern preservation technique.
- The Caribbean Dance Theater, is a highly trained, exquisitely presented contemporary dance group, whose performance is a vivid example of the abilities of our people with a well earned recognition in Spain, France, Belize, Mexico, Colombia and La Habana.
- The Caribbean medical School with 180 Haitians students enrolled in first year and a similar amount in pre med courses, presented us with a novel and moving concept for dealing with Haiti intractable health care system, by educating these youths Free Of Charge, in exchange for them returning to their communities upon graduation and providing health care services for a minimum of 5 years.
En route to Santa Clara, we drove through Baire where the war of Independence began in 1895 and through Bayamo, where the Cuban Flag was designed, and the National Anthem was written. The inhabitants burned down the city, rather than allow it to fall in the hands of the Spanish occupying forces. We then drove through the Rice paddy in Vado del Yeso, stopping for lunch in Victoria de las Tunas. One more stop for refueling in Camaguey and another in Placetas, preceded out mid night arrival in Santa Clara, where we were expected upon by a couple employees of the Motel Los Caneyes with a late night snack.
The following morning my roommate complained of being stung on his foot by a scorpion, he was seen by the on site doctor, reassured of no further concern and given an antihistaminic cream. After breakfast, we visited the Che Mausoleum, the Armored Train Museum and the Electrodomestic Appliance Factory. We then headed for Havana, where we arrived in the early evening hours. Because of the two consecutive hectic days, we agreed to a free evening to rest and recuperate.
On Saturday morning we learned, many decided the day before after dinner, to hit the road and stroll around the area until after midnight. We then boarded our motor coach and drove through the Hospitals area, the Havana University and made a stop at Revolution Square for pictures. We visited the Hotel Nacional site of the historic events in 1933 and the Monument of the USS Maine. We made a short visit to the Fraternity Park, the Capitolio or old Congress, and the museum in the late Presidential Palace. Next we visited the 500 year old Morro Castle, the Christ of Havana and the Black Madonna Church in Regla, which included crossing the bay twice on the mini-ferry.
Later that evening we visited the Africa House, which unbeknown to us, is undergoing a major renovation, which severely limited the exhibit we had access to.
On Sunday morning we took a bus tour through areas of El Vedado and Miramar. We visited the Hemingway Marina and some Biological Research Centers from the outside, that were scheduled to be visited on Monday. An attempt to visit China Town had to be scrapped because of a large street fair taking place there.
Close to noon, we went to the Friendship House for lunch. Three members of the Anglo Caribbean Association of Havana came by to express their welcome and gratitude for our visit while regretting we could not meet with them for lack of time. A lively and interesting exchange among each of us expressing their personal views, opinion and assessment of this historic visit, concluded on a very positive note with some healthy suggestions for the future, of a trip that most of us thought would never happen.
Faith, Persistence and hard work, had made possible what for many was an impossible dream.
In closing, we wish to express our deepest gratitude to so many anonymous people, without whom, this could not have happen or the outcome could have been very different. To our Tour Guide Aguedo Martinez, our careful and professional driver Juanito, who took us safely through the most trying and difficult roads, to all of the members of the different emigrants groups, the performers in the different cultural activities, the employees in the hospitality industry and every one, who one way or another, contributed to make this a very memorable and indelible part of our lives.
But maybe the most important result of this visit is, as it was when Jamaican nationalist Marcus Garvey created many chapters of Liberty Halls in Cuba, we hope our visit may once again signal a ray of hope for our brothers and sisters in Cuba and instill in all of us a firm commitment that they are not alone or forgotten.
If not we, who? If not now, when?
Alberto N Jones
[This trip will be repeated as the Second Afro-American Tour of Cuba, 10/5 - 10/17/00
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