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    Vancouver Celebrates July 26 Movement:

    Cuba Lives and Stronger Than Ever!

    By Tamara Hansen
    It was a beautiful and hot summer evening at Trout Lake Community Centre when Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC)’s July 26th Celebration began. Event MCs Colleen Glynn and Shannon Bundock opened the “Celebration of the July 26th Movement and the Gains of the Cuban Revolution”. Speaking passionately about the attacks on the Moncada Army Barracks 52 years ago, Bundock said, “The revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro, were set to change the miserable Cuban existence, they were set to do the impossible, they were set to rid Cuba of the US-backed dictatorship of Batista.”

    Ian Beeching then took to the stage on behalf of the Free the Cuban Five Committee-Vancouver. He spoke about the case of the five Cuban prisoners being held unjustly in US jails. He also introduced the Vancouver premiere of the film “Mission Against Terror,” a film directed by a Cuban and an Irish filmmaker about the lives and struggle of the Cuban Five.

    Many people came to see this internationally renowned film, with VCSC organizers trying to make space for all of their guests as the room met its capacity of 150 people. After the film, Nelson Carpio of the FMLN-Vancouver brought solidarity greetings for Cuba on behalf of the group.

    The musical portion of the program then began with an emotionally charged set by El Trobador Beto Fuentes, who performed social justice music from Latin America. Beto ended his performance with the Cuban classic “Guantanamera,” which had everyone clapping and many got up to dance.

    This energy was carried over to the next performers, Latin American hip-hop sensations Platino Latin Productions (PLP). PLP kept the crowd on the floor dancing and shaking it. When they were joined onstage by Vancouver’s most infamous Latino hip-hop artist, Che Pablucci, they inspired the room together with their hip-hop and reggaeton beats.

    After PLP and Pablucci inspired the audience with their music, Vancouver City Councillor Tim Louis inspired the room with his words, saying, “The failed July 26th attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953 and the victory of the Cuban revolution in 1959 showed us that with discipline, morale and energy, there is no defeat from which victory cannot be made.”

    Tamara Hansen then spoke about the importance of the July 26th movement and the gains of the Cuban revolution. She also introduced Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba’s latest campaign against anti-Cuban terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. She encouraged everyone to sign the petition demanding the extradition of Posada to Venezuela, and invited everyone to the next international day of action against Posada happening on August 29th at 4:30pm at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

    At this point, the band Juventud Rebelde was introduced, and during their set-up, the stars and stripes covered ‘imperialist’ piñata was brought out and the crowd was invited to take a swing at beating imperialism. Children, young people and the young at heart came to the front to strike back at imperialism and receive a sweet treat at the end when the piñata exploded.

    Once Juventud Rebelde began they immediately lit up the stage and the dance floor with their wonderful and lively Cuban and Latin American music. Everyone was so excited that the band was forced to perform an encore at the end.

    By the end of their performance it was 11pm on a Tuesday night and many people had to leave to get home and sleep before work the next day. Shannon and Colleen wrapped up the program and thanked everyone for joining Vancouver Communities in Soldiarity with Cuba (VCSC) for a fantastic night and promised to see everyone again next year!

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