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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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6th Montreal Day of Friendship with Cuba a Great Success! Print E-mail

6th Montreal Day of Friendship with Cuba a Great Success! 

Left: Her Excellency Cuban Ambassador to CanadaTeresita Vicente and Haitian Consul
Pierre Richard Casimir. Right: Performance by Los Quebecos Del Son.

"Hailing Cuba's solidarity with the peoples of the world" was the theme of the 6th Montreal Day of Friendship with Cuba, held September 18 at the grand tent of the Centre culturel, social et éducatif-Maisonneuve. It highlighted the Cuban people's unwavering support for the peoples of the world and for the Haitian people in particular. Event organizers, the Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba, are sending half of the event's proceeds to Cuba's Henry Reeves Medical Brigade currently deployed in Haiti.

The day's activities began at 1:30 pm. Outside the tent visitors were welcomed with Cuban music and flags while inside the tent were displays on Cuban society and the projects being undertaken by the people including Cuba's political system, developments in renewable energy, youth and education, the fight to free the Cuban Five and popular Cuban music. There were also displays about U.S. aggression towards Cuba such as the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo and the blockade. Throughout the afternoon people from the neighbourhood and elsewhere came through and learned about Cuba, especially the internationalist and human-centred worldview of the Cuban people. Réal Ménard, the mayor of the borough of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, visited the booths and greeted participants. In a message sent to the organizers, he expressed his pleasure for the opportunity to send the borough's congratulations and "for choosing our borough to hold this day of friendship." He mentioned his appreciation of the initiative to support the Haitian people, "a country with which we share a deep friendship and a common solidarity."

Left: Quebec folk dancing with Les Pieds Légers from Laval. Right: salsa de l'école Ritmo Picante

From 4:00-6:00 pm a cocktail service accompanied the dance workshops from the Ritmo Picante dance school and the dance troop Pieds Légers from Laval. People of all ages participated in square dancing sets and Cuban salsa dance.

The tent was filled with locals residents, friends of Cuba, families, including many from Montreal's Haitian and Latino communities when the evening program began at 7:00 pm. Emcee Maguy Métellus, a well-known personality from the Haitian community, set the tone by presenting the huge canvas of the Cuban Five created by Quebec artist Armand Vaillancourt which adorned the stage. She recalled that this September 12 marked the 12 years since the five were unjustly imprisoned in the U.S.

Lively speeches, interspersed with musical performances and poetry made for an evening as vibrant as the day. Several dignitaries and politicians spoke including Her Excellency the Cuban Ambassador to Canada Teresita Vicente, Cuban Consul,Laureano Cardoso, Consul General of Haiti in Montreal Pierre Richard Casimir, Consul of Bolivia Walter Estenssoro Borda, Consul General of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Margarita Lesbia Morales Castillo, Hochelaga MP Daniel Paille, MPP for Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Carole Poirier, Mary Deros of the City of Montreal and many more. The friendship between the peoples of Cuba, Haiti and Quebec and the defense of the peoples' were at the heart of the interventions, highlighting the peoples' unity based on common struggle and mutual assistance.

Also present were the renowned Haitian storyteller Jean-Claude Martineau, Gaétan Chateauneuf, president of the Montreal Central Council of the National Confederation of Unions (CSN), and Armand Vaillancourt, who each hailed the struggles of the peoples of the Americas against the U.S. empire. 

On the musical front, pianist Vic Vogel and his orchestra, musical group Acalanto, Jules Cousineau and company, and the group Los Québécos Del Son lit up the room with their rhythm and music and had everyone dancing, singing and applauding the night away.

It was a full day honouring the friendship between peoples and emphasizing that, together, a better world is possible!


Hamilton Says Hands off Cuba! End the Blockade Now! Print E-mail

Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba,
September 2010

Cuban Consul General in Toronto Jorge Soberón (left) and Lisa Nussey of the
Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba.

On September 15, the Hamilton Friendship Association with Cuba (HFAC)  held an event featuring Jorge Soberón, the Cuban Consul General in Toronto in an evening lecture on the topic of Hands Off Cuba! End the Blockade Now! The event was co-organized by McMaster OPIRG as part of McMaster University Alternative Welcome Week. The audience consisted of workers and youth who came to learn about the blockade and its impact on Cuba.

Lisa Nussey, HFAC Executive Member chaired the event, first welcoming Heidi Trampus from the Worker to Worker Canada-Cuba Labour Solidarity Network who affirmed the importance of union and worker exchange between the two countries. She invited everyone to the annual Worker to Worker conference, taking place from September 24 to 26 in Toronto. The conference, she announced,  will conclude with a "Free the Cuban Five" open forum on Sunday, September 26 from 9:30am to 1:00pm. It will feature guest speakers Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Cuban Five Hero Ramon Laba?ino, and Silvia Garcia Tabio, a member of the Cuban National Assembly. The HFAC encourages everyone to attend this exciting program! Heidi's remarks were followed by greetings from Brain from McMaster OPIRG to the gathering. 

Jorge Soberón then spoke, thanking everyone for their ongoing friendship with Cuba and pointing out that Hamilton-Cuba links are very strong. He also informed everyone that direct flights will soon begin from the Hamilton airport to Cuba. 

Earlier that day, Mr. Soberón said, Cuba's report on the UN General Assembly's resolution against the blockade was presented to the Cuban National Assembly. That resolution was passed by 185 countries of the UN, outlining the international community's demand for an end the U.S. illegal blockade. Despite this resolution, the Obama administration has made no substantial changes to the long-standing U.S. blockade. What little changes have been made, Mr. Soberón explained, are merely cosmetic and do not signify a real shift in U.S. foreign policy. Yet Cuba and its people will continue to push for the normalization of relations between the two countries, he affirmed. 

Mr. Soberón outlined the great difficulties faced by the Cuban people on a daily level under the blockade. Such difficulties have been aggravated recently by the devastating 2008 hurricane season which was soon followed by the world-wide economic crisis. The blockade has cost the Cuban people untold billions of dollars since its imposition in 1961 and has stifled Cuba's ability to provide for its citizens, he said.  He cited a simple example of a chemotherapy drug, used to treat brain tumors. This drug is only available in the U.S. and those who would benefit from or be cured by it must simply do without as the U.S. will not permit Cuba to import it. In the face of this aggressive policy, Cuba and its people continue to build a society that looks after the well-being of all, he concluded to applause. 

The lecture was followed by a lively discussion, with participants looking forward to future opportunities to discuss the work of Cuba and build relations between our two peoples.


Vancouver Vigil for the Cuban 5 Print E-mail

Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver

The Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver continued its participation in the growing annual International Period of Action in Solidarity with the Cuban Five by organizing an all-day vigil in front of the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver on September 13th, 2010. The vigil lasted 11 hours, from 8am to 7pm, and was punctuated by a spirited picket action denouncing the now 12 year imprisonment of the Cuban 5 Heroes and demanding their immediate release.

Downtown traffic slowed to look at two large banners demanding "FREE THE CUBAN 5 NOW!" while pedestrians were greeted by vigil participants explaining the case of the Cuban 5 and asking them to sign postcards addressed to Barack Obama demanding their immediate release, as well as offering Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver created postcards intended to be mailed to family and friends who may not yet have heard of the case.

Throughout the day dozens of people participated in the picket including many members of the Latin-American, faith, LGTB, Middle-Eastern, and progressive communities.

A letter of protest was written addressed to the U.S. Consul General in Vancouver Phillip Chicola, as well as to U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Although the letter was delivered during regular consular hours, the delegation was told by security guards blocking the door there was no one in the Consulate capable of receiving the letter. While the head of security finally agreed to deliver the letter personally, the delegation remained committed to returning and will have ample opportunities as monthly picket actions will continue in Vancouver until the Cuban 5 are released.

The day culminated in the busy picket action with over 40 people participating. Speakers included Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver members and decades-long social justice fighters Nestor Ortega and David Whittlesey, as well as Lyne Alton who had travelled from Vancouver Island to participate in the action. Sean O'Donoghue from La Table de Concertation de Solidarité Québec-Cuba also gave greetings via telephone, while local rapper Speeches Beyond and poets Seoniad Lamb and Luis Velasquez added an important cultural dynamic to the event in support of Cuban 5 heroes.

Participants left the picket agreeing to continue to struggle for the immediate release of the Cuban 5, and reaffirming the final sentence of the protest letter delivered to the U.S. Consulate:

"Our demand may be simple, but our voices are getting louder:

Free the Cuban 5 Now!" 



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