On June 26th, 27th and 28th, 2009, the 2nd International Che Guevara Conference took place for the second consecutive year in Vancouver, Canada, hosted by Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC). Guest speakers attended from Canada, the US and Cuba taking the over 250 participants through presentations and discussions which spanned the historic, international, and current aspects of the Cuban revolution.
On Friday, June 26th the conference began with an Indigenous welcoming from Kelly White, a Coast Salish elder and activist, who spoke about the common struggle of Cuba and Indigenous nations. The keynote speaker of opening night was Isaac Saney, a professor at Dalhousie University as well as author of the acclaimed book “Cuba: A Revolution in Motion” and the co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC). He gave a presentation on the theme “Cuba: A Revolution in Motion and What We Need to Learn from the Cuban Revolution.”
“Roots and Causes of the Cuban Revolution”, the first workshop of the second day, was presented by Walter Lippmann, Editor-in-chief of the CubaNews. The next workshop picked up from where the last one left off, and went into “The Early Years of the Cuban Revolution: Guerrilla Warfare, Socialist Revolution, Challenges and Progress”. This workshop was presented by Jorge Soberon, the newly appointed Cuban Consul General in Toronto.
In the afternoon, the workshop “The Cuban Revolution and Women’s Liberation: A Revolution Within a Revolution” was presented via video link from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Lisa Valanti, National President of the US-Cuba Sister Cities Association and a participant in all 20 Pastors for Peace Caravans to Cuba. The next workshop, “US Imperialism and the Cuban Revolution: Socialism, the Blockade, and the Five Cuban Heroes” was presented by Gloria La Riva, Coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five in the US.
The first workshop on the third and final day, “Cuba and Human Rights: Achievements and Fundamental Progress in Social Equality” was presented by Tamara Hansen, Coordinator of VCSC and co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba, and Alison Bodine, a project coordinator for IFCO/Pastors for Peace in New York. Due to political targeting from the government of Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency, Alison is banned from Canada for two years, and therefore was only able to be present via video link.
The next workshop “The Cuban Revolution and Homosexual Rights: Revolutionary Leadership Rectifies Itself” showed the progresses and leadership that Cuba has taken in advancing homosexual rights. A film clip from the 2008 events in Havana for the International Day Against Homophobia opened the workshop before a presentation by Nita Palmer, who is an organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver and a member of the editorial board of Fire This Time newspaper.
In the afternoon, the next workshop “Cuba: Participatory Democracy and Elections in the 21st Century” was presented by Arnold August, an acclaimed journalist and author of the popular book on Cuba “Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections” and the upcoming book “Cuba: Participatory Democracy and Elections in the 21st Century.” The final workshop of the conference was “Revolutionary Resistance and Recovery: The Collapse of the Soviet Union, the Special Period and the Tourist Industry” by Jorge Soberon.
The conference closed with a cultural celebration, which highlighted the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, as well as the 5th anniversary of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba with the beautiful music of local musicians and poets.
This conference took the historic 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution as an opportunity to discuss the many challenges Cuba has faced and the achievements they have made within these 50 years. Through all of the topics discussed in this conference, from the roots of the Cuban Revolution to the continuing progression of their revolutionary progress, Cuba remains a beacon of hope for humanity in the struggle for a better world.
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