Cuba receives some aid from U.S. in spite of embargo

A bus full of medical and school supplies headed to Cuba will depart from Miami at noon Monday, continuing its decades-long battle against the U.S.-imposed embargo on the island nation.

Officials of Pastors for Peace, the ecumenical agency that delivers humanitarian aid to Latin America, say they hope President Barack Obama will lift the embargo and fulfill his promise to improve U.S.-Cuba relations.

The organization runs a caravan that includes dozens of buses and trucks that travel across the United States each year to pick up supplies. Each year since 1989, the convoy crosses the U.S.-Mexico border, and loads the goods onto a Cuban government freighter to be distributed in Cuba.

This violates federal law – which could mean 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for each person who takes part in the convoy – but they do it anyway. So far, the U.S. government has not stood in their way.

This does not concern Dr. Alberto Jones, a Cuban who arrived in Miami during the Mariel boatlift and has been involved with the convoys each year since 1999.

"I'm not afraid to go to jail," he said Sunday night at Ham & Eggery restaurant in North Miami Beach, where the truck is parked.

Jones' activities mirror those of a growing number of Cuban Americans who question the embargo, which was imposed almost 50 years ago to apply economic pressure on the Cuban dictatorship in the hope of speeding its downfall.

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