Vancouver fills the International Days of Solidarity with activities in suport of the Cuban Five
by Noah Fine
Oct. 14, 2007
Student Week In Solidarity with the Five Cuban Heroes Held in U.S. Jails
The International Campaign to Free the 5ive Cubans Held in U.S. Jails from Sept 12th to Oct. 8th was kicked off this year in Vancouver with the latest monthly picket organized outside the US Consulate by the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver (FC5C-Van) and Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC). The ambitious program for this month of action included the first –ever student week in solidarity with the 5ive and concluded with a surprise visit by the Cuban Consul General from Toronto Laureano Cardoso who joined in for 3 of the events!
Simon Fraser University, October 1st
On Monday October 1st the Student Week for the Cuban 5ive began at Simon Fraser University. Twelve people attended the event which was co-organized with the Mobilization Against War & Occupation club (MAWO-SFU). The event was opened by Brazil Pejvik (the treasurer of MAWO-SFU) who talked a bit about how she learned about the Case of the 5ive on a recent trip to Cuba with the Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade. The event featured the film Septiembres y Mas, about the U.S. sponsored terrorism against Cuba that the Cuban 5 were investigating in Miami. After the film, Nita Palmer, an organizer with FC5C-Van, gave updates on the recent Aug. 20th court appearance of the 5ive and what this means for the development of their case. Nita was also joined by Alison Bodine, a young US citizen who was recently arrested by Canada Border Services Agency, and was targeted because of her social justice activism both here in Canada and in the U.S. (For more information visit: http://alisonbodine.blogspot.com) A lively discussion soon followed, about why both of these cases are important for people who oppose war and occupation.
Langara College, October 2nd
The second day of events on campuses began at Langara College on October 2nd. Supporters of the 5 Cuban Heroes arrived on campus at 9am to poster and leaflet and bring this important issue to student’s attention. The event began at 12:30 with event MC Sophie Ziner (an organizer with FC5C-Van) introducing the film Septiembres y Mas to the over 20 people who had gathered for the event. Esteban Gonzalez Arteaga (Organizer with VCSC) followed the film, outlining recent updates in the case and talking about why the case exposes the hypocrisy of the U.S. government’s “War on Terror”. He explained, “The U.S. President George Bush said that any government harbouring terrorists is a terrorist government. At the same time Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles [both responsible for the deaths of the 73 people killed in the 1976 Air Cubana plane bombing] walk freely today in Miami. However, the Cuban 5 who went to the U.S. to expose these terrorist organizations were arrested and are beginning their 10th year in U.S. prisons.” Next, Alison Bodine explained more about her case. The event concluded with Sophie encouraging everyone to get involved in the year round campaign for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.
Capilano College, October 3rd
October 3rd marked the third event in the student week to free the Cuban 5. Capilano College was buzzing as organizers with FC5C-Van, VCSC and organizers from the Capilano Students’ Union were hard at work promoting this event. Over 20 people gathered for the meeting during the lunch hour, with MC Noah Fine (an executive with the Capilano Students’ Union and coordinator of FC5C-Van) welcoming everyone and introducing the film Septiembres y Mas. The speakers were Sarah Alwell (coordinator of the Free the Cuban Five Committee – Capilano) and Alison Bodine. The film and speakers lead to some dynamic discussion as students were eager to learn more about what happened during the 5ive’s trial date on August 20th. Sarah explained, “The Cuban 5 currently have 10 points they are appealing in the Atlanta Circuit Court of Appeals. One of those points, the bias of their original trial venue - Miami, was first ruled in their favor by a 3 judge panel. This meant that their convictions were all overturned, however the U.S. government directly intervened, and that point of appeal went to a 12 judge panel, where the original unjust convictions were upheld. On August 20th the lawyers of the five presented 3 more of the points of appeal. No decision has been made by the courts on these points, but we will continue our fight until all of these five heroes are free.”
University of British Columbia, October 4th
October 4th was an exciting morning because it was the final campus event for this year’s student week in solidarity with the Cuban 5 and it was a special event because VCSC, the FC5C-Van and the Coalition Against War on the People of Iraq & Internationally (CAWOPI – UBC) were honoured to have the Cuban Consul General of Toronto, Lauearno Cardoso, come to speak with UBC students. The program began with MC Nita Palmer (organizer with CAWOPI and the FC5C-Van) introducing the film Septiembres y Mas. The film was followed by Noah Fine (coordinator FC5C-Van) and Alison Bodine. Soon after, Laureano Cardoso was introduced to the room of over 25 people and talked about why this case is so important for people across Cuba. Laureano explained how these 5 young men left their families and friends to go expose and infiltrate anti-Cuban terrorist organizations operating out of Miami. He explained how these men are great heroes for the people of Cuba as they are truly giving their lives to defend their country and people against terrorism. Laureano’s talk covered many important and serious issues around the case but he also made many jokes and had the crowd smiling and laughing with him. An enthusiastic discussion period left everyone wondering how they could get involved in defending the Five Cuban Heroes Held in U.S. Jails.
The student week in solidarity with the Cuban 5 was a great success for VCSC and the FC5C-Van. This marked a new school year of promoting this case on campuses across the lower mainland and making students more aware about this important case. FREE THE CUBAN 5 NOW!
More pictures of Student Week in Solidarity with the Cuban 5 here
Perspectives on Building a Cuba Solidarity Movement —
An evening with Cuban Consul General Laureano Cardoso
As the first-ever Student Week in Solidarity with the Cuban 5 drew to a close, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver (FC5C-Van) were gearing up for a weekend full of actions in defense of the Cuban 5.
VCSC and the FC5C-Van were pleased to welcome a special guest to join the weekend’s activities: Laureano Cardoso, the Cuban Consul General in Toronto.
The weekend began on Oct. 4 with a dinner and presentation on “Building an Effective Cuba Solidarity Movement”. Over 60 people filled the room at the Chilean Housing Co-op to hear the speakers and participate in discussion. The evening was MC’d by Jose Angel from the Solidarity Coalition for a United Latin America (SCULA) and was opened by Noah Fine, coordinator of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver. Noah spoke about the success of the recent Student Week in Solidarity with the Cuban 5, and about some of the important gains that the campaign to free the Five has made around the world. Tamara Hansen, the coordinator of VCSC and a member of the executive committee of the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC), presented next. Laureano Cardoso was welcomed up to the stage with excited cheers of “Viva Cuba!”. Laureano spoke about the important gains that the Cuban revolution has made for humanity – and the importance of people around the world defending these gains.
The Case of the Cuban 5 Held in US Jails and Political Prisoners in Latin America- Forum
The next day (Oct. 5), VCSC and the FC5C-Van were back at the Chilean Housing Co-op again, this time for an event on “The Case of the Cuban 5 and Political Prisoners in Latin America”, co-organized with the Solidarity Coalition for a United Latin America. Once again, about 60 people participated in the forum. The evening was MC’d by Esteban Gonzalez Arteaga, a member of VCSC and SCULA. The forum was opened by Rosa Quero, who explained the goals and the work of SCULA. Rosa’s presentation was followed by an informative and powerful slideshow about the Five to outline their case and their struggle. The first speaker was special guest Laureano Cardoso, who spoke about the hypocrisy of the US government in imprisoning these five anti-terrorist fighters. “The U.S. administration has a double standard – they dropped atomic weapons on Japan, they do many things saying that "we need to fight against terrorism" but they are helping terrorists all around the world!... The U.S. has no morals, to fight against us, and especially to lock up these 5 men,” said Laureano. Thomas Davies, an organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver gave a presentation on how far we have come in the last nine years of their case – including legal victories, major media coverage, and over 300 organizations around the world defending the Cuban 5. The presentations by Thomas and Laureano filled the room with more cheers of “Viva Cuba! Viva Fidel! Viva la Revolucion!”. This was followed by a lively discussion and ideas of what we can do in Vancouver to defend the Cuban 5.
Film Showing: "The Trial" — Western Canada Premiere!
Sunday night was the final event in the International Month of Action in solidarity with the Cuban 5, although by no means the end of the international campaign for their freedom. To wrap up the month of actions, VCSC and the FC5C-Van hosted the Western Canada premiere of the newly-released film “The Trial”. The film explores in-depth the blatant hypocrisy and undue process of the trial. It also explains the U.S. government’s complete support of anti-Cuban terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, who were responsible for the 1976 bombing of Air Cubana Flight 455. Over 50 people attended the event at the SFU Harbour Centre to watch the film and participate in an energetic discussion around the case of the Five.
The successful weekend of actions finished off a successful month of actions – and marked the beginning of many more actions in defence of the Cuban 5! The next event in support of the Five Heroes is the Free the Cuban 5 Committee’s 21st picket action at the U.S. Consulate in downtown Vancouver on Thursday, October 18th from 12pm-1pm.
More pictures of these events here
Related article about earlier events in Vancouver here