80 MORE YEARS!
CELEBRATION OF FIDEL'S 80TH BIRTHDAY
& the 50th anniversary of the landing of the Granma!
CLICK ON THE PHOTOS FOR LARGER VERSIONS!
Tamara Hansen (VCSC Coordinator) & Colleen Glynn (Richmond Center NDP President) Host the Event
Former Vancouver City Councillor Tim Louis
Saida Osman, Capilano Students' Union Students of Colour Liaison
A packed house!
Vancouver 'Fidelistas' Enjoy the film "Fidel"
Jaehun Choi (Imagination for International Solidarity) brings solidarity message from Seoul, South Korea
VCSC Organizers selling raffle tickets for memorabilia brought back from Cuba
Eagerly awaiting the raffle draw!
Musician Donald Morin
Activist Rosa Arteaga shares what Fidel means to her: "Fidel is the definition of resistance"
Coordinator for Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba, John Waller
Hospital Employees Union President, Fred Muzin on Cuba & Fidel's great advances in healthcare
Signing the birthday card for Fidel from Vancouver - the card will be sent to Fidel along with photos of the celebration!
"The Rhythm Section"
Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice Coordinator Ivan Drury
Lindsay Clarke, VCSC Organizer & Social Justice Coordinator at the Capilano Students Union
Everyone helped Fidel blow out the candles on the cake! Here's to 80 more years!
Delicious cake in shape of Fidel's trademark hat! |
“Sentence me. It doesn’t matter. History will absolve me.” It is with these words that Fidel Castro closed his defense statement in a courtroom in Cuba in 1953 before being sentenced to jail for attempting to overthrow the dictatorship of US-backed Fulgencia Batista. It was these same words, that 50 years later opened Fidel’s 80th birthday celebration in Vancouver, BC. December 2nd 2006, marked the 50th anniversary of the landing of the Granma in Cuba. It was also a time to celebrate 80 years of Fidel’s vibrant life and over 100 people came throughout the night to join in the festivities held at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver.
Organized by the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church of Vancouver, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and the Free the Cuban Five Committee – Vancouver, the night was introduced by event MCs Tamara Hansen, coordinator of VCSC, and Colleen Glynn, president of the Richmond NDP. Colleen read a warm letter from Fidel to participants in his birthday celebrations in Cuba and abroad.
The first speaker of the evening was Tim Louis, a former Vancouver city councilor, who recounted why Fidel inspires him. Saida Osman, Capilano Students’ Union - Students of Colour Liaison, then took the stage explaining how two of her siblings had been delivered by Cuban doctors and how much help Fidel and Cuba had done for her country, Somalia.
The audience then enjoyed three sections from Estella Bravo’s film, “Fidel”. Jaehun Choi an organizer with Korean anti-war organization “Imagination for International Solidarity” gave a thoughtful talk on how Fidel has inspired people to struggle all over the world. He was followed by the original music of Donald Morin. Donald sang out of the ordinary songs about seemingly every day occurrences, engaging the audience and asking them to sing along.
Next, Rosa Arteaga explained how Fidel and Cuba impacted struggles for social justice in her country, Mexico. John Waller, coordinator of the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba, was the next speaker up proclaiming, “Viva Fidel!” to which the room responded, “VIVA!”.
Special guest speaker, Fred Muzin, president of the Hospital Employees’ Union spoke about homelessness in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and the privatization of healthcare in Canada. To both of these points he stated, “You would never see anything like this in Cuba.”
Then the funky jazz improv group, the Rhythm Section, began their set, which got people up to dance. After a couple of songs Ivan Drury, coordinator of the Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, got up to speak, mentioning the “moral vest” of Fidel, which he wears for protection instead of a bullet-proof one. Following him was Lindsay Clarke who spoke on behalf of VCSC. Lindsay spoke about her inspiration from Fidel and Cuba as a young woman organizing with a solidarity group.
The feeling of inspiration and celebration were warm in the air. Many took some time to sign the birthday card for Fidel, buy some raffle tickets or chat with the people sitting next to them. The spirit, vision and leadership of Fidel was on everyone’s minds, as well as hopes for his speedy recovery from his surgery. Soon the room broke out into the “Happy Birthday” song and a cake shaped like Fidel’s famous army hat appeared. Everyone was invited up to help blow out the candles together and then the Rhythm Section took the music off into the night!