Saturday, September 30, 2017

Gail Walker: Continuing a Legacy of Solidarity
Pastors for Peace Caravans, agreed to be interviewed by Granma International on the seventh anniversary of the death of Lucius Walker, and the 50th anniversary of this organization

Jeiddy Martínez Armas |
September 22, 2017 10:09:44

Gail Walker, executive director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization/Pastors for Peace, is inspired by the legacy of her father Lucius to continue the solidarity work of this ecumenical organization. Photo: Twitter

It is difficult to find the words to describe Gail Walker, an example of the pursuit of justice and fraternity, who has followed the tireless example of her father Lucius, a great friend of Cuba.

Recently, during a brief visit to Havana, the executive director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), which organizes the annual Pastors for Peace Caravans, agreed to be interviewed by Granma International on the seventh anniversary of the death of Lucius Walker, and the 50th anniversary of this organization.

Gail spoke of building bridges of solidarity across the 90 miles separating Cuba from the United States, which today are stronger than ever.

What challenges have you faced since the inauguration of President Donald Trump?

Every day is a challenge with Trump in the White House, not only due to the fact that we work in solidarity with Cuba, but given the actions that he is taking against women, Blacks and immigrants. It is a constant challenge for all those who fight for justice. It is more important now than ever to be able to sustain our struggle.

What alternatives have you sought to continue building bridges between the two countries?

We continue to ensure that people are aware that the blockade remains in place. Despite what was achieved during the Barack Obama administration, the blockade continues and we continue to organize these trips as a way to express our opposition.

What prompted this visit in particular?

This was a very short and difficult visit due to Hurricane Irma, but the purpose was to mark the anniversary of my father’s death, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of IFCO, and to pay a visit to the students of the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).

How has Lucius Walker’s legacy of solidarity with Cuba been continued?

By continuing to organize the caravans and giving people the opportunity to come from the United States to see Cuba with their own eyes; continuing to educate the U.S. people about the Cuban reality; organizing opportunities to speak and digitally publishing letters every week related to Cuba and, of course, continuing to support the scholarship program offered by ELAM.

How are the material resources you donate to our country collected?

They are donations from people in a personal capacity, from churches or community organizations such as hospitals, schools, which work in solidarity with Cuba; they send the articles and we try to bring them here.

We could not have done this work without the network of people we have who support us throughout the United States and in other countries like Mexico, Germany, Canada. In Europe too, for example in Belgium, there is a solidarity program with Cuba. It is an opportunity we have to sustain an exchange between the U.S. solidarity efforts and those underway in different parts of this continent.

Have you been fined for your work?

We have not been fined, we have simply had conflicts with the Treasury Department because of the work we do with Cuba. We continue the solidarity efforts because we know that they are of great importance.

What inspires you to continue your work in spite of the difficulties?

I have followed the example of my mom and dad. My mother was a community nurse who worked in the neighborhood. My father was Lucius Walker, who worked hard in the community in the United States and also in other countries, including of course Cuba. So, being born in the midst of that kind of energy helps make you stronger and motivate you to continue your work. A small example is when you look around and see so many young people who are going to become doctors and who could never have done so in the United States, and who are going to return to their poor communities, above all to Black communities. I am enriched just by having that experience form part of my life.

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