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WEST ADAMS : Group to Aid Cuba Despite Embargo

March 06, 1994|ERIN J. AUBRY

Members of Pediatricians and Parents for Peace announced plans last week to deliver an ambulance and $100,000 worth of medical supplies to children in Cuba, defying the U.S. trade embargo.

At a press conference at Holman United Methodist Church, eight members of the local nonprofit group, including radio personality Casey Kasem and Holman pastor James Lawson, spoke out against the embargo. The group announced plans to travel through the Southwest and then to Tantampico, Mexico, where they will board planes for Cuba on Friday.

Although they will be committing an act of civil disobedience, pediatrician Hesham Ragab said that denying basic medical supplies to children and potentially contributing to the spread of disease is a far greater crime.

"We've had standoffs at the border, but that hasn't prevented the supplies from getting through," said Ragab, who founded the 250-member group a year ago. "We need to make as many trips as possible."

The group, along with the Minneapolis-based Pastors for Peace, operates 12 caravans nationwide to get medical supplies and other humanitarian aid into Cuba.

The current West Coast caravan originated in Canada 1 1/2 weeks ago, gaining more supplies and people as it stopped at various sites, including Los Angeles. Ragab said that the group will move next through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas before loading the supplies onto a freighter in Mexico. The group plans to arrive in Cuba on Friday, the same day as the supplies.

Lawson, who acts as an adviser to the organization, said Pediatricians and Parents for Peace is "quite a remarkable group. What they do is a kind of symbolic action that demonstrates to people the need to get involved in changing public policies. (The U.S. embargo) is hurting kids, and it doesn't matter if it's in Cuba or here, it's got to change."

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