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    Groups Across Canada Mark the 10 Years of Unjust Imprisonment of the Cuban 5!

    Reports Edited and Compiled By Tamara Hansen
    On Friday September 12th 2008, Cuba solidarity groups across Canada joined the call to raise awareness about the fact that the Cuban 5 have now been in held unjustly in US prisons for 10 years! Throughout the world supporters of the Cuban Five organized over 40 actions in defense of the Five and demanded their immediate release from US prisons. Below are short reports from the events held in Montréal, Toronto and Vancouver.


    Excerpts below are from full reports at:

    http://vancubasolidarity.com/freethefivevan. html

    “10 years too long!” rang through the streets of Vancouver on September 12, 2008, the Free the Cuban Five Committee-Vancouver and Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba co-organized the picket which saw over 25 people picket the US Consulate.

    MC Noah Fine, the coordinator of the Free the Cuban Five Committee-Vancouver, welcomed everyone to the picket. The first round of protesting began with people chanting for justice for the Five. The first speaker, phoning from Washington, DC, was Alison Bodine. She spoke about the actions in Washington that saw the US government arrest five Cuban 5 supporters for trying to deliver over 100,000 petitions in support of the Cuban Five to George Bush.

    The other two dynamic speakers were Charles Boylan, a member of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and Nita Palmer, an organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee- Vancouver and the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba. Both spoke of the urgency of the case of the Cuban 5 today and why people need to fight for their freedom.

    The picket was followed by an extremely important and poignant cultural evening. In a bold quest the FC5C-Van had sent a broad call for original poetry to commemorate 10 years of our continued fight for justice. The response was extraordinary with over 30 people writing heart-felt poems for the 5 heroes and this special cultural night. Over 45 supporters and defenders of the Cuban 5 enjoyed a great evening of original poetry for the 5 heroes, at Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

    Poetry was not only read in English, but also in Spanish, French and Farsi. Added to this werepoems sung as songs, poems read over powerful music and hip hop infused spoken word. Many poems had a common introduction…“I am not really a poet,” or “I have never really written poetry,” followed by how all had been inspired to write their poem for the 5. From humble introductions came moving and imaginative poems that encompassed many aspects of the case of the 5 Heroes, rousing emotions of sorrow, happiness, anger and above all the determination to continue the fight for their freedom.

    The beautiful film, “Ivette” about the daughter of René González (one of the Cuban 5) was also shown. The film illustrates the injustice inflicted on 7-year-old Ivette, as she dedicates a drawing to a father she hadn’t seen since she was 2.

    The Free the Cuban Five Committee – Vancouver & Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba would like send another great big “Thank You” to everyone who contributed their poems!


    Excerpts from the full report at:


    This September 12th, Toronto participated in the international condemnation of ten years of the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five, with an event organized by Toronto Forum on Cuba and presented by Ontario Public Interest Research Group at U of T, demanding freedom for the Cuban Five and visitation rights for their families.

    Thando Hyman, the host of the “African Woman and Family” program on 89.5 CIUT-FM, was the master of ceremonies for the evening and after welcoming everyone, she invited Morteza Gorgzadeh to give a brief introduction of Toronto Forum on Cuba.

    The Honourable Consul General of Cuba in Toronto, Laureano Cardoso, described the injustice that the Cuban Five and their families continue to be subjected to and he provided some of the circumstances surrounding their arrest and their conviction. Samira Amndan , the Honourable Consul and the Consul General of the Consulate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Toronto brought strong words of solidarity for the Cuban Five.

    Other wonderful and enthusiastic speakers included: William Castilla Alvarez, a Social Researcher and Human Rights Defender in Colombia; Sister Marie Clark Walker, Executive Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress; Keith Ellis, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Latin American Studies Committee of the University of Toronto; Juan Carranza, Attorney at Law; and Mr. Khaled Muammar, the President of the Canadian Arab Federation.

    A letter of solidarity was also read from Dave Bleakney from the Education Department of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, who was scheduled to speak.

    Poetry written by two of the Cuban Five –Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino was interpreted by Carlos Angulo from Perú and by Ardis Harriman from CCFA-Toronto. Benny Esguerra thrilled the audience with his performance of a song entitled “Se Acabe el Silencio” (Break the Silence), dedicated to the Five and by singing and rapping more lyrics filled with socially conscious context. Ten-year old Skigh Johnson concluded the cultural segment of the program, by performing a monologue written by her, portraying Ivette, René González’ daughter.

    The event had a successful participation of about 90 people united in demanding freedom for the Cuban Five, over $1000 in donations were collected for the Cuba Hurricane Relief and hundreds for the Cuban Five campaign.


    Excerpts from a Press release of the Table de Concertation Solidarité Québec-Cuba and its Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5.

    On 12 September, there will be exactly 10 years since the Cuban Five are unjustly imprisoned in the USA. In Montreal at the invitation of the Table de Concertation Solidarité Québec-Cuba and its Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5, more than 60 people came forward to the U.S. consulate to demand the freedom of 5 Cubans imprisoned in the U.S. 350 informative leaflets were distributed to pedestrians and passing cars while demonstrators chanted slogans in support of 5 and their families. The participation of 5 people shackled and dressed as prisoners and musicians added to the animation of the event.

    Earlier in the day, representatives of the committee handed over a petition to the U.S. consulate signed by 2,020 Quebecers addressed to the Ambassador of the United States to Canada, David Wilkins. The signatories support the demand: ‘Mr Ambassador of USA to Canada, David Wilkins: We demand the release of five Cubans Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Fernando González Llort, René González Sehwerert who are unjustly imprisoned in the USA for defending the Cuban people against terrorist attacks.

    We continue to hold picket lines once a month before the U.S. consulate in Montreal since May 2007. The event was covered by national and local media.

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