Free The Five


April 9 2009
Free the Cuban 5 Now!

Coordinated Picket Actions in Vancouver and Montreal

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40th Picket line in Vancouver in Support of the Cuban 5 Heroes!

On April 9th, youth, elders, workers and students came together in front of the U.S. Consulate in Downtown Vancouver for the 40th picket action in 40 months to demand freedom for the 5 Cuban Heroes!

Sarah Alwell, M.C. of the picket action and an organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver, welcomed everyone to the picket and explained that this protest action also comes the day before the wives of two of the Cuban 5, Olga Salanueva, and Adriana Perez, will be requesting Visas from the U.S. to visit their loved ones in prison. The two wives have been denied Visas 9 times consecutively by the U.S. government which claims the women are a “threat to national security”. They have not seen their husbands for over 10 years.

Kerri Goodwin, an Indigenous activist and organizer with the Indigenous Rights and Action Project (IRAP), read the beautiful poem “I Will Return” by Antonio Guerrero one of the 5 Heroes. Moved and inspired by the beautiful and powerful words of Antonio, protesters took to a picket line demanding “Freedom for the 5 Now!” and promised “Hey Obama You Will See! The Cuban 5 Will Be Free!”

David Whittlesey, a veteran of the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam war movement, shared his experience as a social justice activist and urged people not to give up the struggle for the 5 Heroes, and that if we continue to fight for justice, we will win. Charles Boylan, radio host on Co-op Radio and member of the Communist Party Canada – Marxist Leninist reminded everyone at the picket that we are not alone in demanding freedom for the Cuban 5 but are standing with millions of oppressed and working people around the world.

April Desilets spoke next expressing that although the U.S. has a new president, Barak Obama, it does not mean that the situation for the Cuban 5 will change. April protested that the U.S. has been engaged in an undeclared war against the people of Cuba for 50 years, including numerous terrorist attacks and a total economic and social blockade against the island and that we must continue to come to the streets to demand justice and freedom for the 5 Cuban Heroes.

Participants then gathered to hear from Nita Palmer, organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver and a participant in the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba. Nita contrasted the case of the 5 Heroes to another very important one, the case of anti-Cuban terrorist Louis Posada Carriles. Posada is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks against the people of Cuba including the in flight bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed all 73 innocent people on board. However, while the Cuban 5 remain imprisoned for attempting to stop these attacks, Posada roams free in the streets of Miami, where the US refuses to try him for his crimes against Humanity. Protesters demanded that Posada be extradited to Venezuela immediately where he we will stand trial for these crimes.

The picket came to a close with loud and energetic chants of “Freedom for the 5 Now!” “Visas for their Families!” and “Extradite Posada to Venezuela Now!” and participants vowed to continue to come to the US consulate every month until the very day the 5 Cuban Heroes are free!