The Consortium

Update: Pastors End Cuban-Computer Fast

By Sam Parry

WASHINGTON -- With the Clinton administration's grudging release of 300 first-generation computers which had been destined for Cuban hospitals, four members of Pastors for Peace ended a 94-day fast.

"We began to receive mail from concerned citizens from all around the country on about the 60th day," a spokeswoman for Pastors for Peace said. "People were begging the fasters to stop. Many expressed their fears that the government would never back down."

But with the government's release of the computers to Methodist Church humanitarian workers at midnight Eastern time on May 24, the fasters finally agreed to swallow bites of solid food.

Still, the release of the computers is far from a back-down on Cuban trade policy. The computers remain in storage while negotiations continue with the Treasury Department over how the computers will be used in Cuba. Special trade licenses are required by law to send anything but food and medicine to Cuba.

And the trade licenses could be a continued sticking point in the negotiations. The Rev. Lucius Walker, the leader of the fasters, said that Pastors for Peace will not submit an application for a trade license. "To apply for a license is a way of condoning the blockade," Walker said.

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