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    Leader of Cuban Women's Federation Tours BC,
    Explaining "What is Cuba Beyond Fidel"?

    By Noah Fine
    Since February 19, 2008, when Fidel Castro announced that he would not accept the nomination to continue as President of Cuba, there has been renewed interest in Cuban politics by both friends and foes of Cuba. From March 17-22, 2008, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) hosted an exciting BC-wide speaking tour entitled “Cuba Beyond Fidel”.

    The tour featured two experienced speakers on Cuban politics. First was Tamara Columbié, the head of the Department of International Cooperation of the Cuban Federation of Women (FMC), which represents 4.1 million Cuban women. Tamara spoke during the tour about the gains of the Cuban revolution and emphasized that the Cuban people, with Fidel’s leadership, have made huge gains in the last 49 years. Speaking alongside Tamara was John Waller, the International Coordinator of the Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba. John spoke on the US blockade against Cuba and the US government’s response to Fidel’s decision in the framework of the upcoming US elections.

    The tour visited four campuses, where over 150 students and faculty participated in events at the University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Langara College and Capilano College. The tour also traveled to Vancouver Island, with events in the Comox Valley and Victoria. The events were co-organized with Victoria Goods for Cuba, Comox Valley Friends of Cuba and the Comox Valley Peace Group.

    As a close to the tour, a celebratory event was held in Vancouver. Over 70 people attended the evening which began with a reading of poetry written by the Cuban 5 political prisoners in US jails. Kelly White and Vivian, two Indigenous activists and elders spoke passionately about the oppression that Indigenous people face and the hope that the Cuban revolution provides. They welcomed Tamara Columbié as their Cuban sister. Live music and beautiful spoken word closed the evening.

    The “ Cuba Beyond Fidel” tour was a great success with students, teachers and community members who showed interest in learning more about how the Cuban people are advancing the ideas of their revolution alongside Fidel, both being “foot soldiers in the battle of ideas”.

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