Youth Delegation to Cuba Detained on Return to US

The People’s Forum — a participating organization in the trip — said travelers were held and questioned for hours at airports and phones were wrongfully seized and searched by custom officials.

International arrival area at Miami International Airport, January 2018. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Glenn Fawcett/U.S. Government)

By Peoples Dispatch

On Wednesday, several members of various organizations in the U.S., who had traveled to Cuba as part of an international youth delegation, were detained and harassed by U.S. authorities during their return to the country.

The People’s Forum, one of the organizations that participated in the 10-day solidarity brigade organized by the International Peoples’ Assembly, condemned the harassment faced by delegation members at U.S. airports.

“URGENT! Today multiple members of our youth delegation to Cuba were detained and held for hours by the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol after returning. Despite having traveled legally, we’ve been harassed and held in Secondary Questioning on arrival at the Miami International Airport and the Newark Liberty International Airport,” wrote the People’s Forum. 

It said that the mobile phones of several delegates were wrongfully searched and seized by the CBP officials.

[Related: JOHN KIRIAKOU: Know Your Rights. Don’t Talk to Cops at the Airport]

“This outrageous behavior seeks to intimidate us and criminalize our right to travel and exchange. We demand the release of our remaining comrades! We will not be moved! Our commitment to end the U.S. Blockade of Cuba will only grow,” the Forum emphasized.

The 150-person delegation to Cuba. (Zoe Alexandra/Peoples Dispatch)

Manolo De Los Santos, co-executive director of The People’s Forum and an organizer of the delegation, also condemned these actions. “Over 150 youth travel to Cuba to learn and are welcomed back in the U.S. with detention, political questioning and the seizing of phones. Which country is the police state?” questioned De Los Santos.

Upon learning about the harassment, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel expressed Cuba’s solidarity with the members of the U.S. delegation.

“Cheer up guys, We’re with you. Thank you for your courage, for supporting Cuba and for facing the hatred of those who cannot stand the fact that the Cuban Revolution has the support of the most progressive youth in the belly of the beast. We send you a big hug,” wrote Díaz-Canel in a tweet.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in the Russian State Duma, November 2022. (, Wikimedia Commons)

Cuban organizations and media personalities also expressed outrage following the politically motivated detentions.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center which participated in several of the brigade’s activities wrote,

“As CMLK, we denounce the harassment which the hundred young people, ‘ambassadors of peace’ are being subjected to and we reject the injustices suffered in this moment by those who embrace and sustain solidarity amongst the people as the only alternative to capitalism. We denounce these acts of abuse towards good people. Young people who desire and dream of a better future full of hope to transform what is imposed on us as ‘impossible.’”

Cuban social media influencer, El Necio, highlighted the hypocritical nature of the detentions and wrote, “We only have one question: where is the freedom?”

The continental platform of social movements, ALBA Movimientos, joined in the condemnation stating, “They have shown once again that they cannot tolerate that there are people that from the belly of the beast [who] support the Cuban revolution.”

On Thursday morning, De Los Santos reported that “all the comrades who traveled to Cuba are FREE,” and once again condemned the U.S. authorities for intimidating the young delegation.

A terminal at Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport, 2019. (Tacorontey, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

“The aggressive attitude of the Customs & Border Patrol officials towards the members of our delegation during their return to the United States is reprehensible. The seizure of phones and the political nature of interrogation in secondary questioning imply a level of harassment not seen in years. It was a clear effort to intimidate young people who exercised their right to travel and learn. This attempt to deter us from being in solidarity with Cuba will fail,” said Santos.

“We affirm our right to travel and exchange with the Cuban people, and now more than ever it is our duty to stand with them to break the U.S. Blockade. These unfortunate incidents are further evidence of the wrong direction of a hostile U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba. Their actions in fact demonstrate that the U.S. is far from a bastion of democracy and human rights, and rather than intimidate us, they motivate us to strengthen our struggles for true, transformative change here in the United States,” he added.

Over 150 young leaders from a variety of organizations in the U.S. went to Cuba to participate in a meeting with different sectors of Cuban society and learn about the impact of the U.S. blockade and experiences in building socialism. The meetings were held in Havana between April 24 and May 3.

This article is from Peoples Dispatch.  

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

9 comments for “Youth Delegation to Cuba Detained on Return to US

  1. vinnieoh
    May 6, 2023 at 10:50

    It wasn’t so long ago, as I recall, that members of one phony political party were calling out the other for not even being willing to talk to our enemies/foes/competitors (D’s chastising GW Bush administration,) and even more recently that a past POTUS took the first steps to normalize relations with Cuba.

    We can only assume that this treatment comes from that same leadership in the State Dept. that is itching to start WWIII. The message is: BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID.

    They win if that message succeeds. The truth is that they are afraid, they are very afraid. You see it daily in the bobble-headed wankers that seem to inhabit increasingly both chambers of the US Congress.

  2. Anon
    May 5, 2023 at 04:00

    Add Two more Ironies to the Primary one Reported here: (“Do as I Say… Not as…. I …… DON’T!”)
    1. Cuba US air hijacking agreement 70s returned some w/ Castro govt co-operation…
    2. Amtrak (which of course doesn’t service Cuba) USGov national transpo… With Far More Pleasant & Relaxing Traveling Conditions.

  3. George Philby
    May 5, 2023 at 01:04

    Let’s raise our fists to Fidel and Che—
    ‘Hasta la victoria siempre!’

    The days of Love and Peace, and Hope
    Are vanished now. And we must cope
    With censorship and corporate greed,
    A wealthy few—a world in need.

    But Chile now has Liberty.
    And Cuba has survived to be
    A socialist epitome.

    The lights are going on today
    Throughout the South—
    Oh, Siempre!

  4. Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
    May 5, 2023 at 00:38

    Is this true ? Is this happening in the USA ? Please check if the Statue of Liberty is still standing and reflect on what it was suppose to mean !

    • vinnieoh
      May 6, 2023 at 16:00

      Paul Simon, 1973 – “An American Tune”:

      Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken
      And many times confused
      Yes, and I’ve often felt forsaken
      And certainly misused.

      Oh, but I’m alright, I’m alright
      I’m just weary to my bones
      Still, you don’t expect to be bright and bon vivant
      So far away from home, so far away from home.

      And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
      I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
      I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
      Or driven to its knees.

      But it’s alright, it’s alright
      For we lived so well so long
      Still, when I think of the
      Road we’re traveling on
      I wonder what’s gone wrong.
      I can’t help it, I wonder what has gone wrong.

      And I dreamed I was dying
      I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
      And looking back down at me
      Smiled reassuringly.

      And I dreamed I was flying
      And high up above my eyes could clearly see
      The Statue of Liberty
      Sailing away to sea.

      And I dreamed I was flying
      We come on the ship they call The Mayflower
      We come on the ship that sailed the moon
      We come in the age’s most uncertain hours
      And sing an American tune.

      Oh, and it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright
      You can’t be forever blessed
      Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
      And I’m trying to get some rest
      That’s all I’m trying to get some rest.

      At a recent (this year) TV broadcast concert tribute to Paul he chose to perform two of his compositions himself; he did this one first and then “The Sounds of Silence.”

  5. shmutzoid
    May 4, 2023 at 17:52

    Well, the inverse relationship between declining US global influence…and…greater means of social control is expressed here in this action of the state. As economic/diplomatic influence further declines, means/modes of social control increase. ….whether it’s harassing international travelers, or controlling the free flow of information, or criminalizing journalism, or heavy handed police response to protest, and more……all of this will be increasing.

    “Which country is the police state?” …..indeed.

    In its myopic fervor to control the official narratives for public consumption, the state has lost touch with just how the rest of the world sees these repressive/suppressive actions. …..from intimidating travelers to Cuba to the ongoing persecution of Assange, to orchestrating coups, to illegal wars that indiscriminately kill tens of thousands, people around the world see more clearly the true nature and character of just what this USA is all about than do citizens IN the USA.

    • Dfnslblty
      May 5, 2023 at 09:12

      Agreed, and supportive.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      May 5, 2023 at 10:45

      Quite right. The U.S. is out of touch with the world, which it views as its toy.

  6. jo6pac
    May 4, 2023 at 17:09

    LOL what sad scared govt. we have here in Amerika

Comments are closed.