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      Vancouver Celebrates with the World the Release of the Cuban 5 Heroes!

      The Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver and Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) send our congratulations to everyone around the world that have been struggling for the freedom of our 5 Cuban Heroes! When Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio landed in Cuba, reunited with René and Fernando, their loved ones and the people of Cuba, a historic victory was won for not just the Cuban 5 and Cuba, but for the human rights of all of us. We share with you in this immense feeling of joy!

      Please see below the report and photos from two celebratory actions held in Vancouver, Canada on December 17, the day of their release.


      >>> Vancouver, Canada Celebrates the Release of ALL 5 Cuban Heroes!

      “Like stones rolling down hills, fair ideas reach their objectives despite all obstacles and barriers. It may be possible to slow or hinder them, but impossible to stop them.” Jose Marti

      Before the sun had risen over Western Canada, sleep was broken by joyful news... Ramón, Antonio and Gerardo, 3 of our 5 Cuban Heroes, were on their way home to Cuba! On December 17, 2014, after over 16 years of unjust imprisonment in the United States, ALL the Cuban 5 Heroes were free at last! The immense joy at this historic victory for human rights was heard all around the world!

      Preparations for the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver’s 2 celebrations began immediately following the victorious announcement. Our 5 Cuban Heroes, imprisoned unjustly for over 16 years for defending the people of Cuba against US- backed terrorist actions, now had the warm Cuban sun on their faces, and their loved ones in their arms. Now was the time to celebrate, to recognize the significant contribution of over 300 committees around the world that had been struggling, alongside the people of Cuba, to release Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René from the clutches of the empire. Around the world people declared VOLVIERON! THEY HAVE RETURNED!

      To mark this historic victory, the Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver first called for all organizers and supporters to return to the U.S. Consulate for the 110th time. However, this action was not a protest, but something we had all been dreaming of for 9 long years of consecutive monthly protests, a victory celebration! It was only 12 days before that supporters of the 5 Cuban Heroes went to the US Consulate for the 109th consecutive monthly picket action, chanting for freedom for all of the Cuban 5. Now, peace and justice loving people were gathered despite the rain and cold in downtown Vancouver for one last time, to share embraces and chant, “Let the world know! The Cuban 5 are free!”

      The gathering was a joyful celebration of solidarity messages and poetry in response to this immense victory for human rights, including special greetings from Don Foreman, organizer with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) in Ottawa. Many took part in the open mic, and reflected on our many years of struggle in the campaign for freedom of ALL 5 Cuban Heroes in Vancouver, Canada and around the world.

      The Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver then called on everyone to continue the celebration at a second evening event where 100 people united for this historic victory in the united struggle the return of our 5 Cuban Heroes. An exuberant room of Cuban 5 supporters were welcomed by the Free the Cuban 5 Committee singing choir. This was followed by the video of Cuban President Raul Castro’s speech on the normalization of US/Cuba relations and release of the Cuban 5 Heroes, from earlier that day. Raul’s speech was then followed by the beautiful victory video of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio, the 3 remaining Cuban 5 prisoners, landing in Cuba and embracing their families for the first time as free men.

      Many joyful tears were shed while watching the images of all of the 5 Cuban Heroes together with their families; a beautiful moment denied for over 16 years. This moment reminded us all, that when we struggle together as oppressed people, even against the mightiest powers in the world, we win.

      The room then heard solidarity greetings directly from the Cuban Ambassador to Canada his Excellency Julio Garmendia Peña over the phone from Ottawa. The microphone was then opened up for participants to come and share their own experiences and reflections in the fight for the freedom of the Cuban 5 Heroes. The famous quote from revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara, “We are realists, we dream the impossible,” became a sort of theme for the night, which many speakers connected to the victory.

      Some of the participants who shared their words included: Wilson Muñoz, a civic politician and social justice organizer from El Salvador and Tim Louis, lawyer and former Vancouver City Councillor. Others who participated included: poets, activists and many leading organizers from Latin America solidarity work in Vancouver. Also, musicians who have been supporting the case of the Cuban 5 Heroes came with very little notice, to lend their art to the cause. Maria Louisa Melendez, organizer with the FMLN Vancouver shared songs from the heart and soul of Latin America, and MX Katracho, a Honduran musician and social justice fighter. During his performance he shared that over a year ago he had tied a yellow ribbon to his guitar in support of freedom for the Cuban 5. During the performance he untied his yellow ribbon and attached it to a touching gift he had made for the Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver. The energy was high as the night ended with the rallying cry to take this great victory of the release of the Cuban 5 political prisoners, and continue to expand our campaign in Vancouver, and around the world, to end the cruel and illegal US Blockade against Cuba.

      The international campaign to Free the Cuban 5 political prisoners from US jails has resulted in a tremendous and historic victory for human rights, with the release of ALL of our 5 Cuban Heroes, who are home with their loved ones and the people of Cuba. The Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver will continue the celebration into the new year and invites everyone to come together for a special event on Monday January 5th, to celebrate the 5th of the month and the release of the Cuban 5!

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