By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – On Tuesday, June 18, John Waller, Program Coordinator Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan, will speak during a pot luck dinner event from 6 – 9 p.m. at Church of the Open Arms, 3131 N. Pennsylvania, in Oklahoma City Sponsored by the Peace House, the event is free and open to the public.
John Waller will be with us for dinner and discuss “Cuba and the US Today: What’s going on?” said Nathaniel Batchelder, Peace House director.
Waller has coordinated over 20 annual humanitarian aid caravans to Cuba for Pastors for Peace, a ministry of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO). Based in New York, IFCO works for justice and health issues in Central America and the Caribbean.
“I traveled to Cuba with Pastors for Peace some 20 years ago,” Batchelder said. “Cuba remains one of the poorest countries in this hemisphere, but still extends universal free health care and education to all Cubans.”
For more than four decades, IFCO has assisted hundreds of community organizations and public policy groups – by providing technical assistance, training organizers, and using its global network of grassroots organizers, clergy, and other professionals to advance the struggles of oppressed people for justice and self-determination.
“Cuba’s relationship with the US changed dramatically when the US Embassy in Havana was reopened during the Obama administration,” Batchelder added. “Since then, thousands of Americans have visited Cuba, either on commercial cruises or as private citizens with legal visas.
“Now that the Trump administration has reversed some of these policies, there are political and economic issues that Mr. Waller will address in Oklahoma City,” Batchelder said.
Pastors for Peace began its humanitarian aid efforts to Central America and the Caribbean in the 1980s, when US policy supported the Nicaraguan Contras that were attempting to overthrow the Sandinista Revolution in that country. Pastors for Peace was one of the US organizations opposing that policy, and responded by sponsoring shipping containers of humanitarian aid to Nicaragua.
Since then, the organization has expanded its humanitarian aid efforts to assist the Zapitista indigenous populations in Mexico, and organize annual “Friendshipment Caravans” to Cuba from the US, according to Batchelder.
Since the founding of Pastors for Peace, thousands of people have participated in caravans, delegations and work brigades to Mexico, Central America and Cuba.
Participants are asked to bring a dish to share for the Potluck Supper at 6 p.m. The program will begin at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A session. Financial donations are welcome.
For more information, visit the Peace House website.