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    Vancouver Celebrates the July 26th Movement:
    Long Live Moncada Day and the Gains of the Cuban Revolution!

    By Janine Solanki

    The Cuban Revolution was alive and present in Vancouver on July 26th 2012, as Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba celebrated Moncada Day through reflection, poetry, music and multimedia. This year marked the 59th anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Army Barracks in Santiago de Cuba, led by Fidel Castro on July 26th 1953. The attack signaled the beginning of the Cuban Revolution which triumphed 6 years later in 1959, and continues to push forward to a better world today.

    Joe’s Café in Vancouver was packed with over 70 people, supporters of Cuba and the Cuban Revolution, those interested to learn more, and people from many different ethnic communities, especially the Latin American community. Participants were welcomed to the event by Colleen Glenn, the MC of the evening, President of the Richmond NDP and Executive Committee member of VCSC. To outline the historic events of July 26th and it’s legacy on the continuing revolutionary movement today, Aaron Mercredi, organizer with VCSC and the Indigenous Rights and Action Project (IRAP) spoke. “Cuba’s revolutionary process today is a reflection of the aspirations of those young rebels who attacked the Moncada barracks, for a better Cuba and a better world. Their fighting spirit is alive today through the Cuban 5 who stand strong in defense of Cuba and humanity after almost 14 years in US prisons. It is in the Cuban doctors brigades which have brought hope and health to poor communities the world over. And it is in the Cuban people who today are commemorating the revolutionary heroes of July 26th.”

    The audience experienced a history of July 26th through video footage and clips following moments of July 26th from its beginning as a heroic yet failed attack, to a revolutionary movement, to the Cuban Revolution today. Janine Solanki, VCSC organizer and recent brigadista with the Ernesto Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade, shared photos of a visit the brigade took to the site of the Moncada attacks, as well as shared an account of the July 26th attacks written by Haydee Santamaria, a great Cuban revolutionary who was one of the two women who participated in the attack on Moncada.

    Vancouver’s July 26th celebration connected with Cuba, as VCSC coordinator Tamara Hansen, who was with the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba, shared her experience of the July 26th celebrations in Matanzas, Cuba via phone message. Greetings from Cuba were also heard from Esperanza Luzbert, Director of the North American Desk of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), who warmly expressed her appreciation towards those supporting Cuba in Vancouver and joining in commemorating July 26th.

    The evening also featured poetry, with a poem written by Raúl Gómez García, one of the rebels who fought and died in the attack on Moncada. The poem "We are in combat" was originally written the night before the attack, and read to the rebels before they departed for the Moncada Barracks. Eder Delgado, a Venezuelan student living in Vancouver, read the poem in Spanish, which was summarized in English by Gisela Lara, also a Venezuelan living in Vancouver. Gisela also expressed how Cuba’s example paved the way for today’s Venezuelan revolution and the deep appreciation Venezuela’s revolutionaries have towards Cuba.

    The Cuban 5 heroes were present in the hearts and minds of those gathered on this evening, as Max Tennant, VCSC organizer, shared a letter written by the Cuban 5 from US prison in commemoration of July 26th. Participants were encouraged to join the fight for the freedom of the Cuban 5, as next month's picket for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 was announced.

    A Cuban inspired evening would not be complete without music. Throughout the evening talented local musicians shared their songs of struggle and love. Joaquin Ernesto played inspiring “Trova” music and had the audience singing along to Cuban favorite “Guantanamera.” Local Hip Hop artist Joose Justis got people dancing to conscious rhymes and hip hop beats. Yahara Muñoz, a Mexican folk singer, played beautiful and passionate songs from across Latin America.

    To bring the event to a close, participants of the event voiced their support of the Cuban Revolution by proclaiming:

    ¡Viva Cuba!
    ¡Viva la Revolución!
    ¡Viva el 26 de Julio!
    ¡Viva Fidel!
    ¡Viva Raul!

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