May 20
Picket Action

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“Free the Cuban 5 Now!” “Extradite Posada to Venezuela Now!” This was the call that rang through the streets of Downtown Vancouver and shook the US Consulate Tuesday May 20th, 2008. Dozens of supporters and organizers of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver were picketing outside the Consulate for the 29th time in 29 months to demand freedom for the 5 Cuban Heroes.

The picket MC Sarah Alwell, a Capilano College student and Social Justice Coordinator for the Capilano Students Union, opened the protest announcing that US officials have claimed May 21st a “Day of Solidarity with Cuba”. Sarah explained that this is by no means a day in solidarity with the people of Cuba but a day to “remind the world of political prisoners in Cuba” many of whom are confessed terrorists and agents paid by the US interest section in Havana . Meanwhile the Cuban 5 are being held as true political prisoners. Sarah called on participants to reclaim the so-called “Day in Solidarity with Cuba” as a day for solidarity with the 5 Cuban Heroes!

First to speak was Charles Boylan, host of the “Wake Up with Co-op” show on Co-op radio in Vancouver. Charles presented a resolution recently unanimously passed by a convention of the Federation of Post Secondary Educators that called for the immediate release of the 5 Cuban Heroes held in US jails. Support for this resolution was reaffirmed by the cheering of the crowd!

Mike Larson, an organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver, further outlined the case and the struggle of these 5 brave men. He reminded the participants that while these 5 men unjustly remain in prison across the US, self proclaimed terrorist, assassin and former CIA agent, Louis Posada Carilles remains free to walk the streets of Miami in safe heaven created for him, and other anti-Cuban terrorists like him, by the US government.

After several more rounds of energetic picketing, Aaron Mercredi, organizer with the Indigenous Rights and Action Project (IRAP) and Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC), spoke of the many political prisoners in the US jails and in secret US prisons around the world. He brought attention to the case of Leonard Peltier, an Indigenous fighter and activist who has been falsely charged and unjustly imprisoned in the US for over thirty years. When speaking of the hypocrisy of the right wing US government sponsored “Day in Solidarity with Cuba” Aaron stated - “if we want to talk about political prisoners, let’s talk about Guantanamo!” He was referring to the US-run prison on the land at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba which is held illegally by the US military.

Each speaker was followed by an energetic round of picketing as protesters wielded Cuban flags and colourful signs demanding freedom for the 5 heroes – Gerardo, Ramon, Antonio, Rene and Fernando. The picket signs also called for the extradition of anti-Cuban terrorist Louis Posada Carilles, and for solidarity with the people of Cuba, as chants of “We Fight, We Fight for Dignity – the Cuban Five Will be Free!” erupted from the picket line. As the protest came to a close participants vowed to be outside the US consulate next month and every month there after until our 5 heroes are freed!

Free the Cuban 5 Now!
Extradite Posada to Venezuela Now!
Justice for the 5 Now!