Home | About Us | Archive | Documents | Campaigns & Issues | Links | Contact Us

      Vancouver Remembers Comandante Fidel Castro

      By Alison Bodine

      “It is with deep sorrow that I come before you to inform our people, and friends of Our America and the world, that today, November 25, at 10.29pm, commander and chief of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz passed away...Hasta La Victoria Siempre! (Until victory always!)”

      Late in the night of Friday, November 25, Raúl Castro, the President of Cuba, went on to Cuban television and announced the passing of a giant, Cuban revolutionary and internationalist leader, Fidel Castro at the age of 90. The news spread quickly around the world, as did the messages of condolences, in recognition of the incredible impact of his extraordinary life.

      In Vancouver, Canada, organizers with Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) took the news of Fidel Castro’s passing with not only with heavy hearts, but with the determination that the life and legacy of Comandante Fidel Castro must be told at this important time. VCSC organized four events in the nine days following his passing in order honour the life and legacy of Fidel Castro and to set the record straight about this important revolutionary leader who struggled for the victory and dignity of poor and working people in Cuba and around the world.

      The four events organized by VCSC brought out hundreds of people from many different ages, backgrounds and experiences in Vancouver, all impacted by the life of Fidel Castro. Through speeches, stories, poetry, music, and film, participants expressed not only their profound sadness, but also their intense love and respect for Fidel Castro as a humble, tireless and one of a kind revolutionary.

      Also importantly, the perspective and opinions of people in Vancouver in support of Fidel Castro were reflected in the media through coverage of VCSC’s work. This coverage included over 10 radio and TV interviews as well as articles with media including the Province Newspaper, CBC TV, CTV, Global TV, CKNW, News1130, Spice Radio, Coop Radio and Roundhouse Radio which worked to help combat the media bias against Comandante Fidel and the Cuban Revolution.

      Fidel’s Legacy Lives! Vancouver Candlelight Vigil

      On Sunday November 27, over 100 people gathered in the wind and rain at CBC Plaza in downtown Vancouver to honour Comandante Fidel Castro. In between chants of “Viva Fidel!” and “Fidel Presente, Ahora y Siempre!” a dynamic program of speakers, poets and musicians warmed the hearts of participants.

      The candlelight vigil was MC’d by Tamara Hansen, the Coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC). To begin the program, she first welcomed Kelly White, a Coast-Salish Elder, indigenous leader and social justice activist, who welcomed everyone to the vigil with a song of strength and remembrance. Kelly was followed by the powerful words of Yasin Kiragga of the African Descent Society and the International President of Ubuntu Human Rights, Brian Sproule of the CPC-ML and Stan Squires, a long-time supporter of Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution, as well as Napolean Ortiz, who read a statement from the FMLN of El Salvador.

      Any program honouring the life and legacy of Comandante Fidel Castro would not be complete without poetry and music to express the beauty of the struggle for a better world. Myra Climaco, an historic combatant and militant of the FSLN from Nicaragua and Lucy Ortiz, the Director of the Latin-American poetry collective “Proyecto Cultural Sur,” both read poetry, while Honduran musician MX Katracho and El Salvadorian musician Maria Melendez had participants clapping and singing in celebration of Fidel’s life.

      Despite the increasingly terrible weather, participants at the vigil stood strong and proud with their candles and Cuban flags until the program ended with an opportunity to pay respects to Comandante Fidel Castro by laying flowers at the foot of his portrait.

      Vancouver Remembers Fidel! - Open House

      Following the Sunday vigil, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) organized an open house for people in Vancouver to continue remember the life and legacy of Comandante Fidel Castro. At the event, which took place on Tuesday November 29, at the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House in East Vancouver, there was also a condolence book set up for people to sign.

      Despite the sadness and reflective sentiment in the air, the colourful room decorated with beautiful portraits of Fidel, was also lively with fond memories of Fidel and revolutionary Cuba, and even the occasional sound of joyful laughter. Soon, the condolence book began to fill with messages of all kinds, long and short, and in many languages.

      Viva Fidel! Film Festival & Tribute Event

      On Sunday December 4, the ashes of Fidel Castro were laid to rest in a cemetery in Santiago de Cuba. As the Cuban people continued to commemorate, remember and mourn their late leader, Vancouver continued to remember the life of Comandante Fidel together as well through two special events, bother held at the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House.

      The first event was an all-day film festival of excellent films about Cuba’s revolutionary internationalist leader, MC’d by Friends of Cuba Against the Blockade (FCAB-Vancouver) and VCSC organizers Sarah Alwell and Alison Bodine . Through eight documentaries, participants at the festival were given the opportunity to review the important leadership role that Fidel Castro played in Cuba, in Latin America and all around the world, from the beginning of the Cuban Revolution to his recent 90th birthday on August 13, 2016. Many of the films also included interviews with Fidel, people in Cuba, and world leaders that illustrated his patient, kind, persuasive, defiant, visionary, and in a word, revolutionary, character.

      In between the films, people were invited to sign the Vancouver book of condolences as well as an online condolences book established by the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.

      The Viva Fidel! Film festival ended with Roberto Chile’s “Desafío,” a moving tribute to the steadfast leadership of Fidel Castro and the determination of Cuba people, leaving the packed room in tears.

      However, those tears didn’t last for long, as people found their way to the final VCSC event honouring the life and legacy of Fidel Castro,and chants of Viva Fidel! once again filled the air.

      The tribute evening was opened by MC Tamara Hansen, the coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba, with the videos from the last week of memorial events in Cuba. Following the videos, Tamara invited up Kelly White, a Coast-Salish elder, Tim Louis, former Vancouver City Councilor, Yasin Kiragga of the African Descent Society and the International President of Ubuntu Human Rights who read a letter from the General President of Pan African Congress of North America and International Civil Rights Lawyer Julialynne Walker, Bryan Belfont,a long-time Cuba supporter, and Barb Biley from the CPC-ML. Revolutionary condolences were also read from Wilfredo Perez Bianco, the Consul General of the Consulate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Vancouver. Following the diverse speakers, Tamara also gave her own reflections on the life and legacy of Comandante Fidel Castro.

      The cultural portion of the program was opened by Max Tennant, a poet and organizer with Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba. He was followed by Marcos Uribe, a Chilean musician who was accompanied by Macarena Cataldo Hernandez for a moving set of classic songs dedicated to Comandante Fidel. Following Marcos and Macarena, the powerful voice of El-Salvadorian musician and organizer of the FMLN in Vancouver, Maria Melendez filled the hall. The tribute evening closed with a soulful performance by Kiki Connelly. Throughout the tribute, participants were also invited to continue to sign the Vancouver book of condolences.

      In the 90 years of his extraordinary life,Fidel outlasted 10 different US presidents, 11 counting US president Barack Obama. He survived over 600 assassination attempts orchestrated by the US government and the CIA. Through his unwavering leadership Comandante Fidel Castro steered the Cuban Revolution through 57 years of great gains and great challenges, and through his undying internationalism Fidel continued to support the struggles of all oppressed peoples for a just and better world.

      Now is the time for all of us who believe in a better future to honour the legacy of Comandante Fidel Castro and work together to keep up the fight in the ongoing struggle for this new world.

      Fidel’s legacy of hard work, dedication, dignity and revolutionary internationalist spirit will stay with us, as well as the Cuban people and the world forever. Fidel, his example and his ideas, will never truly die, and we find hope in that for the future. As a young Cuban shouted to international media in the streets of Havana, “Fidel isn’t dead because the people are Fidel.”

      ¡VIVA FIDEL!

      For photos of the Vancouver Remembers Fidel! Tribute events and to find out more about Cuba solidarity in Vancouver, visit http://www.vancubasolidarity.com

      Follow Alison on Twitter: @Alisoncolette

      Back to Article Listing