Eight separate caravans are crisscrossing the U.S. in buses, carrying medical and schools supplies bound for Cuba. Gail Walker is with the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, which has sponsored the trips since 1992. They make stops along the way to share what they've learned about the communist island nation. Walker's caravan is in Jackson, where she talked about the Cuban Blockade.
"The blockade really puts impediments on Cuba, in the area of trade, travel, the ability to really not only to receive certain goods and services but also to export certain goods and services," said Walker.
Walker explained the blockade keeps Cuba from receiving medical equipment with any parts in it, that were made in the U.S.; the country can't buy computers or software from America; and travel is limited. Rims Barber, a local minister, has visited Cuba three times and found the people to be kind and resilient. He says it's really a socialist country, where the focus is on expanding education and healthcare. Barber believes Mississippi could grow it's economy by trading with Cuba and wants Congress to lift the blockade.
"Absolutely. We would have a good economic impact for agriculture and other sectors with restoring relations with Cuba," said Barber.
President John F. Kennedy put the measure in place in 1962, to keep the Soviet Union from storing nuclear weapons on the island, which is 90 miles south of Florida. Critics says Cuba has a history of human rights violations and the blockade should remain intact. President Obama has resumed talks with the country and announced both nations will reopen their embassies later this month.