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Cuban Caravan

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It's not every day you see a portrait of Che Guevara in a church parking lot.

A multicolored school bus featuring a portrait of the Marxist revolutionary spent last Wednesday night parked in the lot at First Congregational Church in Midtown. Inside, it was loaded with medical supplies headed for Cuba on the 16th annual Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan.

The bus and its five passengers, who took off from Chicago earlier in the week, are part of a yearly relief effort commenting on the U.S. government's four-decade trade embargo and travel ban against Cuba. They stopped in Memphis to rest at First Congo.

"We're making a statement about how cruel the blockade is," said passenger Kathryn Hall, a midwife from Sacramento. "We have to break the law and face 10 years imprisonment and a $7,000 fine just to take a bottle of Tylenol somewhere that's just 70 miles away."

There are 14 buses on the caravan, stopping in 120 cities to pick up aid and people willing to go along for the ride. Their goal is to collectively deliver 200 tons of aid to Cuba, and that includes the weight of the buses. The buses will meet up in McAllen, Texas, and load the cargo onto freight ships. Bus passengers will then fly to Cuba to unload the supplies.

Memphis did not contribute any aid or travelers this time around, but Hall said she's grateful they were given food and a place to sleep.

"I'm hoping that one year, people in Memphis will actually see themselves as participating even more," she said. "The idea is to have more and more people go along." n

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