Report & Photos from Gerardo Hernández Visit to Vancouver & Nanaimo!

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Gerardo Hernandez appreciates support of unions in B.C.
Vancouver, April 12, 2016.

During his stay in this western Canadian city, the Hero of the Republic of Cuba, Gerardo Hernandez, expressed his eternal gratitude to Canadian unions for their participation in the international campaign for the release of the Five.

In meetings held separately with leaders of trade unions including the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF), the Post-Secondary Educators Federation and the Hospital Employees Union, the Cuban antiterrorist fighter launched an appeal to continue supporting the causes of the Cuban Revolution, especially demand the US government to lift the criminal blockade, while thanked on behalf of his four brothers and relatives of the Five for all the support received during the time unjust imprisonment.

Gerardo was honoured by the warm welcome he received from Victor Elkins President of the Hospital Employees Union; Jim Iker, President of the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF); Teri Mooring, 1st Vice-President of the BCTF; George Davison, President of Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC (FPSE) and Terri Van Steinburg, Secretary-Treasurer of FPSE.

Reprinted from: Consulate General of Cuba-Toronto with additions by Noah Fine

Vancouver, April 12, 2016

On Wednesday April 13, after concluding the previous evening a very successful event in Vancouver with more than 250 participants, Cuban 5 Hero Gerardo Hernandez with friends from Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade- Vancouver travelled by ferry to Nanaimo, BC where Gerardo and the Cuban 5 have enjoyed the support of many great friends of Cuba. More than 70 people packed into the conference room of the Nanaimo Harbourfront Public Library for a beautiful and intimate event with Gerardo.

Barbara Biley, Regional Vice-President for Vancouver Island of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) and member of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist- Leninist) opened the event as MC and welcomed Gerardo to Vancouver Island. She then welcomed amazing friend, Cuban 5 activist, and Nanaimo resident, Ruth Caspell who read touching sections of her letters from her years of personal correspondence with Gerardo Hernandez while he was held in U.S. prison.

Following Ruth, Tamara Hansen, coordinator of VCSC gave a short overview of the success of Gerardos visit to the province of British Columbia so far. She was then followed by incredible guest of honor Cuban 5 hero Gerardo Hernandez. Gerardo spoke about his experience during his more than 16 years of unjust incarceration and thanked the people of Nanaimo for their solidarity. Audience members asked many questions to Gerardo some hearing about the case for the first time. The event wrapped up with a loud applause for Gerardo as audience members were invited to get signed copies of Gerardos cartoons.

When the decorations were set and doors opened to the conference hall of the Vancouver Public Library, more than two hundred and fifty people made their way in to hear from Cuban revolutionary hero and former Cuban 5 political prisoner Gerardo Hernandez.

The packed room was filled with energy and anticipation as participants walked through an exhibit of artwork made by Cuban 5 hero Gerardo Hernandez while he spent more than 16 years unjustly held in U.S. prison. So many people wanted signed copies of his artwork that the beginning of the event program had to be delayed to ensure people could get their opportunity and even at that some had to wait till after the event.

Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) opened the evening as the MC, welcoming everyone and explaining what an honour it is for Vancouver to receive a visit from Javier Domokos, Cuban Consul General in Toronto and one of our 5 Cuban heroes, Gerardo Hernandez. She then got the program started by inviting to the stage Coast Salish indigenous elder, Kelly White who sang the Women’s Warrior Song before performing an aboriginal blanketing ceremony to welcome Gerardo to the unceeded Coast Salish Territory.

Bob Chamberlin, elected Chief Councillor of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation & Vice President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) spoke next bringing warm greetings to the event and explained many of the struggles facing Indigenous people in BC and Canada today.

Following Chief Chamberlin there was a cultural interlude in the program as 3 Poets from Proyecto Cultural Sur, Lucy Ortiz, Alejandro Mujica-Olea and Frida Marzolina read poems dedicated to the Cuban 5 and other social justice struggles.

Many organizations were involved in helping to organize and support Gerardo’s talk in Vancouver. These groups were given the opportunity to give greetings ahead of the main event. Greetings were brought from: ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) – Seattle, Charles Boylan on behalf of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist- Leninist), Katy LeRougetel on behalf of the Communist League in Vancouver, Thomas Davies on behalf of Fire This Time Newspaper, Cindy Domingo on behalf U.S. Women & Cuba Collaboration in Seattle, Garry Owens on behalf of LELO – Legacy of Equality, Leadership & Organizing in Seattle, Colleen Glynn on behalf of Richmond-Centre Federal New Democratic Party (NDP), Azza Rojbi & Noah Fine on behalf of Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver.

A very special and warm greeting was given by long-time supporter of Cuba and the Cuban 5, lawyer and former Vancouver City Counsellor, Tim Louis. Tim spoke about the inspiration he felt from the 5 Cuban Heroes to fight on in the struggle for a better world. Wilfredo Perez Bianco, Venezuelan Consul General in Vancouver spoke about the importance of the Cuban 5 heroes for the people of Venezuela, Cuba’s sister nation which since the beginning of its’ revolution has defended Cuba against U.S. hostility especially in the case of the 5 Cuban Heroes. Consul General Bianco also took the opportunity to thank the 5 Cuban Heroes and the people of Cuba for their ongoing and unwavering support of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution.

Gerardo’s speech, which is printed in its entirety in this issue of Fire This Time, brought all of the more than 250 participants to their feet with huge emotion, applause and chants of “Viva los 5!” and “Viva Cuba!” Gerardo told stories of his time in prison and told how he was encouraged daily to continue the struggle for his freedom as he surrounded himself with photos of the international campaign, especially in Vancouver, demanding his freedom. The ovation continued as Tamara invited to the stage Nino Pagliccia, editor of the book “Cuba Solidarity in Canada: 5 decades of people to people foreign relations” to give a gift to Gerardo, a sweatshirt of a photo of Gerardo and his baby daughter Gema. Tamara closed the event inviting everyone to get involved in Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and the campaign to end the U.S. blockade against Cuba and return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, two of the main highlights from Gerardo’s talk to Vancouver participants.

Gerardo made his difficult passage through the crowd at the event as supporters surrounded him trying to take photos and have their artwork signed. It was an emotional evening for all those who participated, especially after the great effort and campaign of many Vancouverites who joined some or all of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver’s 110 monthly protests until the 5 Cuban Heroes were freed.

Organizers with Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba & Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade – Vancouver (FCAB-Vancouver), thanked Gerardo for his amazing visit to BC with the gift of a one of a kind aboriginal wood carved eagle, which represents Honour, Friendship and Peace.

Nanaimo, April 13, 2016

On Wednesday April 13, after concluding the previous evening a very successful event in Vancouver with more than 250 participants, Cuban 5 Hero Gerardo Hernandez with friends from Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) and Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade- Vancouver travelled by ferry to Nanaimo, BC where Gerardo and the Cuban 5 have enjoyed the support of many great friends of Cuba. More than 70 people packed into the conference room of the Nanaimo Harbourfront Public Library for a beautiful and intimate event with Gerardo.

Barbara Biley, Regional Vice-President for Vancouver Island of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) and member of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist- Leninist) opened the event as MC and welcomed Gerardo to Vancouver Island. She then welcomed amazing friend, Cuban 5 activist, and Nanaimo resident, Ruth Caspell who read touching sections of her letters from her years of personal correspondence with Gerardo Hernandez while he was held in U.S. prison.

Following Ruth, Tamara Hansen, coordinator of VCSC gave a short overview of the success of Gerardos visit to the province of British Columbia so far. She was then followed by incredible guest of honor Cuban 5 hero Gerardo Hernandez. Gerardo spoke about his experience during his more than 16 years of unjust incarceration and thanked the people of Nanaimo for their solidarity. Audience members asked many questions to Gerardo some hearing about the case for the first time. The event wrapped up with a loud applause for Gerardo as audience members were invited to get signed copies of Gerardos cartoons.

Reprinted from: www.firethistime.net

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