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Group of Americans who defied ban on travel to Cuba returned to US

  • 28-Jul-10 09:10
  • Cuba
  • Business Week Travel

A group of twenty-nine Americans who decided to travel to Cuba against the rules of the current US embargo which bans US travellers from freely visiting the island, returned to America on Monday after being escorted across the Peace Bridge by a police.

Group of Americans who defied ban on travel to Cuba returned to US

Twenty-nine Americans from the Venceremos Brigade defied the US embargo which bans travel to Cuba for American travellers, and entered the Caribbean island earlier this month.

The US travellers spent two weeks in Cuba before returning to American soil after clearing an inspection by Customs and Border Protection. The group walked from Canada across the Peace Bridge in to Buffalo, U.S, where they were inspected and then escorted the rest of the way by a Buffalo police officer.

Upon their return, the American group were chanting for an end to the ban which has stopped travel to Cuba for U.S citizens for nearly 50 years.

According to a Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson, Kevin Corsaro, no members of the group were detained and would not be unless any invalid travel documents or illegal imports were found.

When the travellers returned they were instructed to complete questionnaires at customs, but many of the group said they left blank anything that might be considered illegal, such as any purchases made in Cuba.

The nationwide organisation, Venceremos Brigade, has been sending groups of travellers to Cuba for the past 41 years to show their support in lifting the ban on travel to Cuba and trading between the two countries.

Ann Sparanese, a member of the Venceremos Brigade, held a placard demanding the right to free travel while she waited for the group's arrival.

"We don't even have to change our signs. We can have the same signs for 50 years," she said. "But we're not going to give up. The policy will end. It has to end, it's so insane."

Last year, President Barack Obama softened the embargo to allow American residents to take Cuba holidays to visit relatives who lived there. However, U.S travellers without family members on the island are still prohibited to freely travel to Cuba.

Last month, the House Agriculture Committee voted to lift the ban to make it easier to sell American agriculture exports but President Obama has stated that he will not support the lifting of the ban until the communist Cuban government improves human rights and political freedom in the country.

One of the members of the Venceremos Brigade, Liz Afton from New York, who returned with the group on Monday spoke of the time in Cuba and said that they were warmly received by local Cubans.

"People were able to make a distinction between us as individuals and the actions of our government," she said.

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