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Japanese peace boat visits Cuba

Aya Igarashi, organizer of the project, said in a press conference that the Peace Boat carries out its main activities through a chartered passenger ship that travels the world on peace voyages. "The ship creates a neutral, mobile space and enables people to engage in dialogue and mutual cooperation at sea and in the ports that we visit," said Igarashi.

"They think that any problem faced by a community is a global challenge that must be confronted through cooperation between the worlds peoples, organizations and governments. We dont try to impose our ideas; instead, we invite those who come with us to internalize everything they have learned in every country we visit," Igarashi added.

"This idea was born," said Akira Uchimura, another organizer of the group, "to meet the need of creating opportunities for the Japanese to meet with the rest of the world.

Twenty-three years ago, five Japanese university students began this project, which has become a new chance for meetings between people from all over the world; a floating forum that enables dialogue, fraternity, studies and action.

The ship sails from Tokyo every three months and carries 1,000 people of all ages who follow a common objective, to learn firsthand about the realities of the nearly 25 countries they visit.

Upon its arrival in the port of Santiago de Cuba, on November 15, the Peace Boat will carry out a number of activities.

During their two-day stay in Santiago de Cuba, the visitors will take trips, participate in dances, play baseball and learn about various aspects of Cuban society.

"The most popular tour among passengers is the one called 'Following the tracks of the Revolution, which will take them to the surrounding the Sierra Maestra mountain range (where Fidel Castros guerrillas fought in the 1950s)," Igarashi said.

The Peace Boat has visited Cuba 16 times; therefore, for three months it cannot dock in US ports because of the almost fifty-years-old US blockade against Cuba.

"Thats why, in the beginning, the trip was difficult and expensive because of the route they had to travel; but that doesnt matter, because we want to come to Cuba," stressed Aya Igarashi.

Peace Boat is a Japan-based international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equitable and sustainable development and respect for the environment.

Source: Juventud Rebelde

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