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Vancouver Vigil for the Cuban 5 Print E-mail

Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver

The Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver continued its participation in the growing annual International Period of Action in Solidarity with the Cuban Five by organizing an all-day vigil in front of the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver on September 13th, 2010. The vigil lasted 11 hours, from 8am to 7pm, and was punctuated by a spirited picket action denouncing the now 12 year imprisonment of the Cuban 5 Heroes and demanding their immediate release.

Downtown traffic slowed to look at two large banners demanding "FREE THE CUBAN 5 NOW!" while pedestrians were greeted by vigil participants explaining the case of the Cuban 5 and asking them to sign postcards addressed to Barack Obama demanding their immediate release, as well as offering Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver created postcards intended to be mailed to family and friends who may not yet have heard of the case.

Throughout the day dozens of people participated in the picket including many members of the Latin-American, faith, LGTB, Middle-Eastern, and progressive communities.

A letter of protest was written addressed to the U.S. Consul General in Vancouver Phillip Chicola, as well as to U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Although the letter was delivered during regular consular hours, the delegation was told by security guards blocking the door there was no one in the Consulate capable of receiving the letter. While the head of security finally agreed to deliver the letter personally, the delegation remained committed to returning and will have ample opportunities as monthly picket actions will continue in Vancouver until the Cuban 5 are released.

The day culminated in the busy picket action with over 40 people participating. Speakers included Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver members and decades-long social justice fighters Nestor Ortega and David Whittlesey, as well as Lyne Alton who had travelled from Vancouver Island to participate in the action. Sean O'Donoghue from La Table de Concertation de Solidarité Québec-Cuba also gave greetings via telephone, while local rapper Speeches Beyond and poets Seoniad Lamb and Luis Velasquez added an important cultural dynamic to the event in support of Cuban 5 heroes.

Participants left the picket agreeing to continue to struggle for the immediate release of the Cuban 5, and reaffirming the final sentence of the protest letter delivered to the U.S. Consulate:

"Our demand may be simple, but our voices are getting louder:

Free the Cuban 5 Now!" 


Toronto Forum for the Cuban 5 Print E-mail

On September 12, the Toronto Forum on Cuba and others held a public forum to mark the 12th anniversary of the imprisonment of the Cuban 5.  The event began with a Mayan welcoming ceremony and speakers included relatives of the Cuban Five, as well as cultural performances by Poetic Voices/Voces Poéticas and Zuviri.

Mayan welcoming ceremony.

Vice-President of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) Basilio Gutierrez; Professor Keith Ellis, Coordinator for the Cuba for Haiti Campaign, reading a message of greetings from Puerto Rican independence leader Rafael Cancel Miranda; Morteza Gorgzadeh of the Toronto Forum on Cuba.

Musical performance by Ruben Esguerra.


Vancouver Forum Marks 12 Years of Unjust Imprisonment for Cuban Five Print E-mail

Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver

On September 9th, 2010 participants gathered, some for their first time and some after many occasions, to hear about the struggle for liberation of the 5 Cuban Heroes held in U.S. prisons. This event was organized in Vancouver as part of an International Period of Action taking place to mark the 12th year of the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban 5 and to strengthen the worldwide campaign to free them.

The Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver and Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) co-organized this very special event to commemorate these 12 years of struggle. The event was honored to have as special guest speakers, Basilio Gutierrez, Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) and Raul Cardoso, from the Canada desk of ICAP.

To begin the event, the evening's facilitator, Tamara Hansen, coordinator of VCSC announced the loss of a great fighter in the Cuba solidarity and social justice movement, the passing of Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr. Walker was the founder of the IFCO/Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba which has been for over 20 years organizing one of the greatest international campaigns in solidarity with Cuba and to end the immoral and inhuman blockade by the U.S. government. Tamara introduced a beautiful book addressed to the family, friends and co-fighters of Rev. Lucius Walker and encouraged all of the participants of the event to write their feelings towards Walker in its' pages.

The event continued with a wonderful musical opening by long time supporter of the Cuban 5, Joaquin Ernesto, who gave tributes to Walker and the 5 Cuban Heroes sharing songs from Cuba and Latin America.

The live music made way for the introduction of the first of the two special guests from Cuba. Raul Cardoso spoke first with aid from a PowerPoint presentation to explain the history of U.S. sponsored terrorism against Cuba and to outline the work of the Cuban 5 to expose the terrorist crimes. Raul also gave an in-depth history of the case of the 5 Cuban Heroes from its' beginning.

Basilio Gutierrez spoke next, passionately describing the situation of the legal process of the Cuban 5 and the necessity of the international movement to free the 5 Cuban Heroes. He explained that the legal avenues of the case are coming to a close and that the decisive battle for their freedom will come from the political pressure of the campaign to free them.

After these two dynamic presentations, the floor was opened up for questions and discussion. Many of the participants at the event asked questions or made comments about the case of the 5 Heroes, the Cuban revolution and Fidel's recent talks in Cuban public life.

People participating in the event created a lively discussion which led Basilio to state that we must organize more events to be able to address all of the questions and comments that were brought up about the 5 Cuban Heroes and Cuba.

The event was a great launch of the International Period of Action in Vancouver and to demand:

Free the 5 Cuban Heroes Now!


Toronto Celebrates 15th Annual Day of Friendship with Cuba Print E-mail

On August 28, the 15th annual Toronto-Cuba Friendship Day was held at Nathan Phillips square in front of Toronto City Hall. Front and centre were banners calling for the liberation of the five Cuban heroes imprisoned in the United States and an end to the illegal economic, commercial and financial blockade by the U.S. Present were Cuba solidarity activists, the Juan Gualberto Gómez Association of Cubans and many friends and supporters of the Cuban people and their Revolution. Cuban Ambassador to Canada, Her Excellency Teresita Vicente, delivered the main speech, in which she expressed sincere appreciation for the solidarity and friendship with Cuba in Canada.

Also present were the Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) Basilio Gutiérrez García and Raul Cardoso Cabrera, also from ICAP, as well as Antonio Rodríguez Varcárcel, Minister-Counsellor of the Embassy of Cuba and Jorge Soberon, Consul General of Cuba, based in Toronto, among other officials of the Cuban Diplomatic Mission. The President of the Canadian Cuban Friendship Association of Toronto, Elizabeth Hill, said the growing ties between the Cuban and Canadian people are shown by the visit to Cuba of more than 900,000 people from Canada in 2009. Tony Ruprecht, Member of Provincial Parliament for Davenport, recognized the admiration of Canadians for Cuba and in particular the profound dignity that characterizes the people. He read a message of friendship from the Premier of Ontario Dalton McGuinty. The event also saw the raising of the Cuba flag, the singing of the Cuban national anthem, as well as Cuban music, dancing and food, to the delight of the hundreds of participants and passers-by.


Montreal Conference and Concert for Cuban Five Print E-mail

Montreal Conference and Concert Demand an End to the Blockade and Freedom for the Cuban Five


Elizabeth Palmeiro addresses Montreal conference on the Cuban Five, September 30, 2010.

On September 30 the conference "Human Rights -- Cuba and the Five, as well as a concert and recital on October 1 were held in Montreal in support of campaign to win freedom for the five Cuban anti-terrorists unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. since September 12, 1998. Elizabeth Palmeiro, the wife of one of the five, Ramón Labañino, came to Montreal and spoke at the two events organized by Base de Paix, in collaboration with the Table de concertation de solidarité Québec Cuba, the Bolivarian Society and A la défense de l'humanité. These two events served as a valuable opportunity to provide an update on the situation of the Cuban Five and the present campaign to win their freedom. 

At the conference, held at the Université de Québec a Montréal, Her Excellency Teresita Vicente, Cuban Ambassador to Canada, set the tone explaining that the main obstacle to human rights in Cuba is the economic blockade imposed by the U.S. for over 50 years. She pointed out that this October, for the 19th consecutive year, the UN General Assembly is once again expected to adopt by overwhelming majority a resolution demanding an end to the blockade. She pointed out how contrary to U.S. disinformation, it is the U.S. blockade which violates the people's human rights. She added that despite this situation the Cuban people's full participation in all decisions which affect their economic, political and social conditions is the guarantee that they enjoy their rights. 

Elizabeth Palmeiro hailed the organizations in Quebec who organize picket lines, petitions, meetings and events to smash the silence on the Cuban Five. She emphasized the significance of each action held to demand the release of the Five. She gave the recent example of one of the five, Gerardo Hernandez, who was arbitrarily put in solitary confinement on July 21 but was released on August 3 after a concerted international campaign. These actions are very important and they must increase she stressed. She denounced the U.S. policy of double standards, on the one hand permitting known terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles to roam free in Miami while the Five remain in prison. Elizabeth noted that during this visit she had met with parliamentarians, a senator and had plans to meet with other political figures to take a stand in favour of the Five.

Singer and poet Orlando Silverio performed two songs written by the Five, giving a preview of the next day's concert and recital.

Singer and poet Orlando Silverio performs at the October 1 concert in Montreal.

On October 1, the Simon Bolivar Cultural Centre was packed for the  concert. Several foreign dignitaries were present: Lesbia Margarita Morales Castillo, Consul General of Venezuela, Walter Estenssoro Borda, Consul General of Bolivia, Galo Oliva, Consul of Ecuador, Laureano Cardoso, Consul General of Cuba, as well as Sylvia Garcia, an official of the Cuban National Assembly. It was a magnificent evening with singer Orlando Silverio and others performing songs and poems written by the Five which reflected their courage and determination and their great pride and love for their families, people and country. In the background paintings inspired by these writings were unveiled throughout the performances.

It was a beautiful evening which affirmed the struggle of the Five, the Cuban people and all the peoples of the Americas to determine their own way of life, free from outside interference, especially terrorist activity from the U.S. Empire.



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