On July 2, 2012, U.S. border officials near Seattle permitted a Canadian truck containing humanitarian goods destined for Cuba to pass into the U.S. The truck had been stopped a day earlier when customs officials initially denied entry into the U.S. The aid included such items as medical supplies, wheelchairs, walkers, educational supplies and sports equipment, many of which require a license under U.S. sanctions on Cuba. A similar crossing into Maine three days later was also reported. The aid is expected to reach the island by mid to late July.
After being turned away from the Peace Arch border crossing on July 1, the truck was diverted to another station and subjected to questioning and inspection. Supporters set up protests on both the sides of the border, chanting, “Let the Aid Through!” After four hours, the U.S border officials declared that no aid would cross without a bond, and under no circumstances would sporting goods be allowed entry. “We are not transporting commercial goods into the United States, this is humanitarian aid that does not require a bond,” Janine Solanki of the BC Aid Network for Cuba said at the protest.
The next day, members of the group organizing the transport, Pastors for Peace Caravan, met with border and customs officers and the truck was allowed to enter the U.S.
“Is the U.S. really threatened by soccer balls and used baseball gloves going to Cuba,” asked Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba and Caravanists? “We are taking sports equipment, medical equipment, different construction material — all things that have been donated by hospitals, doctors and people from their homes,” she added.
Similar aid caravans to Cuba from Canada have been in operation for nearly 20 years.