On Sunday July 26, 2015 our day in Vancouver, Canada began with
rain. However, the forecast was in our favour: the rain would stop
by 4pm, just in time for Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with
annual Moncada Day celebration of the gains of the
Cuban revolution. As luck would
have it, by 6pm all the clouds had
vanished and the sun was out
over Trout Lake Park where the
Cuba banners and flags were up,
yummy food was cooking on the
barbecue and Cuban music was
welcoming everyone gathering
for the event.
Over 120 people gathered lining
up for food in anticipation for
a great event, which was also a
fundraiser for the campaign to bring a freezer truck and tractor to
the Julio Antonio Mella Volunteer Work Camp in Caimito, Cuba.
“Let us begin tonight’s program with the historic news this week.
Once again, after 54 years of US government sabotage and hostility
towards Cuba, the Cuban flag is waving in front of the newly
established Cuban embassy in Washington, DC- in the heart of
the empire.” Expressed Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver
Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) as she opened the
event and welcomed participants. Tamara continued by explaining
the importance of the fact that Cuba has stood firm in the face of US
aggression since their revolution in 1959, and that the new US-Cuba
relations represent a historic victory for Cuba. She also explained
that the reason the US government has been so harsh towards the
Cuban revolution is because it feels threatened by Cuba’s example, a
socialist example. Also, that the ideas that form the base of the Cuban
revolution and it’s success come from an other historic date: July 26,
1953. When Fidel Castro and over 120 other young revolutionaries
attacked the Moncada Army Barracks in Santiago de Cuba with
the goal of over throwing the cruel US-backed dictator Fulgencio
Batista. Tamara finished her opening talk with “Viva Cuba!” which
was echoed back by the audience.
Tamara then introduced the first musical group, performing for the
first time together – Macarena Cataldo, Noah Fine and Maria Luisa
Melendez. It was a treat for the audience who enjoyed singing along
with their traditional Cuban and Latin American songs.
The second speaker for the evening was Nino Pagliccia, editor of
the recently released book “Cuba Solidarity in Canada: 5 Decades of
People to People Foreign Relations” (Friesen Press, 2014). He spoke
about the importance of solidarity and the development of new US-
Soon the microphone was filled with powerful Irish folk songs, sung
by Gerry Alwell. His dynamic set reminded everyone of the struggles
of the people of Ireland and their strong spirit.
Gerry’s performance was
followed by a speech by
Michael O’Neil, an executive member of the Canadian-Cuban
Friendship Association – Vancouver (CCFA-Vancouver). Michael
brought greetings on behalf of his organization and emphasized the
importance of continued solidarity with Cuba.
It was then time for El Trobador Beto Fuentes to take the stage. Beto
played many original songs relating his Latin American roots and his
life today in Vancouver, Canada. It was then time for the final live
performer, Oki. As a Cree/Nishnawbe artist, Oki rapped about the
struggles of Indigenous people in Canada today and the importance
of fighting back against oppression. She had the whole audience
clapping along creating a communal beat for her flows.
The sun was slowly setting, everyone had eaten a delicious meal, heard
some inspiring speakers and many talented live performers. It could
only mean one thing – it was time for the Salsa dance lesson! Janine
Solanki, an organizer with Vancouver Communities in Solidarity
with Cuba and her dance partner Alfredo encouraged everyone to
participate, whether they were a salsa beginner, novice or expert! Many
smiles, and even some laughs, were seen and heard during the lesson,
many learned some new moves or refreshed their skills.
As the salsa dancing came to an end, it was time for the special raffle.
Everyone had their tickets out, hoping to win the beautiful framed
Cuban artwork of Che Guevara by renowned Cuban artist Olivio
Martinez, as well as the bottle of Havana Club rum. It was a very
good night for the winner!
The event wrapped up with everyone being invited to Vancouver
Communities in Solidarity with Cuba’s next event celebrating the 89
birthday of Fidel Castro, on Saturday August 15. Many cheered in
agreement while shouting “VIVA CUBA!” “VIVA FIDEL!” “VIVA
RAUL!” “VIVA LATINOAMERICA UNIDA!”
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