Free The Five


August 30, 2008
Free the 5 Cuban Heroes Unjustly Held in US Jails!
Cross-Canada Day of Action - Picket Action at the US Consulate in Vancouver, BC Canada

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On Saturday August 30th, Vancouverites joined with supporters of the Cuban 5 across Canada in Toronto as part of a Cross-Canada Day of Action to demand freedom for the 5 Cuban heroes. Here in Vancouver 30 people gathered outside the U.S. Consulate with a display of colourful picket signs and loud voices that echoed through the downtown streets.

Luciano, a member of the Social Justice Committee of the Hospital Employees Union, was the first speaker of the day and spoke to the crowd about the crimes the U.S. has committed throughout Latin America and the world and emphasised that it was the 5 who were fighting to defend their country against these same attacks on the Cuban people.

Following Luciano came a call from Noah Fine via telephone loudspeaker all the way from Toronto to give the picketers an update on the action happening in that city. Noah Fine is the co-ordinator of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver (FC5C-Van) and is in Toronto as a delegate to the convention of the Canadian Network on Cuba, of which the FC5C-Van is a member. Noah emphasised the importance of unity and joint actions and that neither we nor the 5 are alone in this struggle for their freedom. Vancouver protesters, inspired by the report on the successful Toronto action, then hit the sidewalk for more picketing with loud and energetic chants of “Freedom for the 5 Now!” and “Justice for the 5 Now!”.

Sarah Alwell, executive member of the Capilano Students’ Union and organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver, spoke to participants about the importance of September 12th, 2008. This date will mark the 10th anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of the 5 and the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver, along with committees around the world will be organizing an International Day of Action to protest this anniversary.

The picket ended as people in the crowd proudly raised a hand, outstretching 5 fingers to represent the 5 Cuban heroes. The names of the 5 Heroes were called out with a response of “Presente” from the crowd after each of their names were read. This showed that although they are locked up behind the cold bars of U.S. prisons, the strength and spirit of the 5 is alive and with all those struggling for their freedom.

Mike Larson, organizer with the committee and MC of the action, emphasised the battle of the wives of Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez and their right to see their loved ones in prison. Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva, have been denied visas to visit their husbands 9 times and have not seen them in almost 10 years. Mike announced to the crowd that the committee has collected over 300 signed postcards in the campaign for the families and called on everyone to sign a postcard and support this struggle.

Picketers hit the sidewalk for yet another round of energetic chanting and protesters left the picket action inspired and ready to continue the fight for the freedom of the 5 Cuban heroes, vowing to come back out to the streets to protest the unjust 10 year anniversary date on September 12th .