Free The Five


June 7th, 2009

International Days of Action to Free the 5 Cuban Heroes!

Report Back from Cuban 5 Youth Summit in Cuba!

Click on photos to Enlarge!

Report back from Cuban 5 Youth Summit in Cuba!

The June 6-8, 2009 International Days of Action to Free the 5 Cuban Heroes were in full swing as people began arriving on June 7th at the Mt. Pleasant Neighbourhood House. MC Sarah Alwell, the Coordinator of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver (FC5C-Van) welcomed participants and began the evening with poetry reading from, “Volveran”, the book of poems created and published by FC5C-Van. Vancouver supporters of the Cuban 5: Peyvand Pejvack, Luis Velasquez and Max Tennant all contributed to the struggle for the freedom of these 5 heroes though their strong and expressive poetry.

This was followed by the recent CBC coverage of the case of the Cuban 5. This 15 minute documentary was full of the humorous stories as well as the remarkable strength of relatives of the Cuban 5. After the film, Sarah Alwell gave some updates on the case. Currently the Cuban 5 are fighting to have their case heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. This is a battle which is heavily stacked against them. However the Cuban 5 have two important advantages. Firstly, are 12 amicus briefs (letters written by “friends of the court”) written on their behalf to convince the Supreme Court to hear this case. The second is the world-wide solidarity movement demanding their freedom.

As a part of this movement, Tamara Hansen and Aaron Mercredi traveled to Queen’s University in Ontario for the “Cuba 1959-2009: A Measure of a Revolution” conference and then onto Havana for the “2nd International Youth Summit on the Case of the 5 Cuban Heroes”. Aaron Mercredi, an organizer with FC5C-Van and the Indigenous Rights & Actions Project, outlined the conference in Kingston and also spoke about the cultural aspects of the youth summit and the final declaration of the summit. He explained, “Something that was very encouraging for us was the fact that Cubans are using poetry, music, and culture to spread the word about the case of the Cuban 5 in their country. This creativity and passion is something we must strive for in our work. It is an important way to connect people to the case and inspire them to get involved.”

Tamara Hansen, the coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba, also spoke outlining the program of the youth summit and some other meetings they had in Cuba following the conference. Tamara and Aaron also acknowledged the absence of Alison Bodine, an American organizer with the Cuban solidarity movement in Vancouver who is currently banned from Canada and living in New York working for IFCO/Pastors for Peace. Alison met Aaron and Tamara in Cuba and attended the Cuban 5 Youth Summit as a delegate from FC5C-Van. Both talks gave an important foundation for the multimedia slideshow which followed, with photos of the fantastic trip!

The talks sparked some interesting discussion about the future of the campaign to free the Cuban 5, which MC Sarah Alwell wrapped up very poignantly saying, “everything we have heard tonight makes it clear that the Cuban 5 are not relying on the U.S. judicial system for their freedom. They are truly relying on us, the solidarity movement. There has been over 10 years of injustice committed against Rene, Antonio, Ramon, Gerardo and Fernando, the time to get involved is now!”