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CCFA-Windsor Holds Successful General Meeting and Border Rally Print E-mail

October 6, 2010

The Canadian Cuban Friendship Association of Windsor is pleased to announce that it held its General Membership Meeting on October 2 and has established its major goals for the coming period. Even before the General Meeting began, the association was in action, alongside members of the Windsor Peace Coalition holding a massive banner which read: "Free the Cuban Five: Unjustly Held in U.S. Prisons," by Huron Church Road facing the mouth of the Ambassador Bridge, to bring the case to the attention of passing Canadian and U.S. motorists. Following the banner action, members of the CCFA-Windsor met and established the five following areas of work for the coming period:

1) Contribute to the Canadian Campaign to Free the Cuban Five

2) Contribute to the Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Break the U.S. Blockade of Cuba

3) Hold a Day of Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution in May as part of the Windsor MayWorks Festival

4) Organize a delegation from Windsor to participate in the Terry Fox Run in Cuba in March on the 30th anniversary of Terry's Run

5) Continue using our Bulletin to inform our members and the community about our activities and issues of concern to Canada-Cuba solidarity

In addition to these decisions, a number of changes were made to our Constitution, including the establishment of a three-person executive and a Community Members Committee. Lastly, it was decided to hold General Meetings at least every 2 years instead of annually.

Following the General Meeting a public Border Rally was held at the University of Windsor calling for the immediate release of the Cuban Five heroes held in U.S. prisons. The rally was addressed by Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Ramón Labañino, Silvia Garcia Tabio, an official of the Cuban National Assembly and Jorge Soberón, Consul General of the Cuban Consulate in Toronto. CCFA-Windsor member Irvine Barat opened the meeting with a letter he had received from Gerardo Gonzalez from prison. In it, Gerardo wrote about his experiences and what it felt like to be in the lower level security prison to which he had recently been transferred. Vito Signorile, then gave an overview of the reasons for the work of the Cuban Five and Cuba's long experience with terrorism from the United States. He explained how terrorism for the Cuban people was an ever present danger and that new plots and criminal actions were being planned even today by the Cuban mafia in Southern Florida with the knowledge of the U.S. government. He called for the immediate release of the Five from prison.

In her keynote address, Elizabeth Palmeiro focused on the importance of Canadians showing solidarity with the Five at this time. She explained how public outcry for the release of the Five is what has kept them safe thus far and also pressured the U.S. Attorney General to reduce some of their sentences. However, she stressed, the battle is not over. The focus is now on the political movement, rather than the legal case. She appealed for Canadians with a sense of justice to try and get their MP's, unions, community groups and other associations to take a stand on the case. In particular she mentioned that having a motion passed in the Canadian Parliament would be a concrete show of support and put more pressure on the Obama administration which has the power to free the Five. She also highlighted the significance of writing letters to the Five. Not only was this a way to help keep the Five's spirits up in the face of the brutal prison conditions, but it also contributes to the security of the Five as prison officials and other inmates know that they are loved and cared for by people around the world.

Following Elizabeth's address there was a lively discussion from the floor where various people expressed their support for the freedom of the Five, as well as other anti-terrorist fighters held in U.S. prisons. Participants asked questions about the latest developments in the case and about the best way to support them.

If you would like to get involved in any of the areas of focus for this year, please let us know.


New Executive:
Laura Chesnik
Susan Gold-Smith
Enver Villamizar
Canadian Cuban Friendship Association - Windsor
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