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      People in Canada Welcome Cuban 5 Hero Gerardo Hernández!

      By Noah Fine

      Republic of Cuba and former Cuban 5 political prisoner, Gerardo Hernández made a tour to a number of cities in Canada including Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Nanaimo. His travel to Canada was initially upon invitation from the United Steel Workers (USW) union for their annual convention, which took place in Montreal. However Gerardo alongside the rest of the 5 Cuban Heroes knew very well that Canada has many important and long time defenders of freedom of the Cuban 5 especially in Vancouver where the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver had organized 110 monthly protests in front of the U.S. Consulate demanding freedom for the Cuban 5. Gerardo knew that if he had the ability to travel to Canada it would be an important opportunity to meet with the friends of the Cuban 5 who during their 16 years of unjust imprisonment in the U.S. struggled in the international movement to achieve their freedom.

      Who are Gerardo Hernández and the 5 Cuban Heroes?

      Gerardo Hernández was a leader of the Cuban 5 sent to Miami, Florida to investigate terrorist activities against Cuba. In September 1998, Gerardo, René, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando, also known as the Cuban 5, were arrested and held for 18 months in solitary confinement in the United States. Eventually they were charged and found guilty of false charges such as, ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ and ‘conspiracy to commit murder’. Gerardo was given the most severe sentence, double-life plus 15 years. The United States wanted Gerardo to live his life and eventually die in a U.S. prison.

      Meanwhile in Cuba and around the world people rose up to demand the freedom of these political prisoners held in U.S. jails. Gerardo was finally released and returned to Cuba on December 17, 2014 as part of the thaw in U.S./Cuba relations. He spent over 16 years unjustly held in United States jail.

      During those 16 years Gerardo was also prevented from seeing his wife, Adriana Perez, who was repeatedly denied a visa to visit the United States. Today Gerardo and the Cuban 5 have been all living freely in Cuba for over a year. He is living happily with his wife, Adriana and their baby daughter, Gema.

      The Presence of Gerardo is Our Continuity!

      Gerardo’s visit to Canada was of significant importance. Not only did he come here to meet and thank all of the longtime supporters of the Cuban 5 but he also came with a special message which you will notice as a theme in the following reports about his trip here: The necessity to end the cruel and inhuman U.S. blockade against Cuba.

      Although Cuba and the U.S. are moving forward in many aspects of the more than 50-year U.S. imposed freeze of relations between the two countries, the most important factors of the U.S. criminal policy against Cuba are still very much in place, the U.S. Blockade & the illegal occupation of Guantánamo Bay. Gerardo’s message was simply that the job of Cuba’s friends is not over, that now more than ever friendship with Cuba is critical and a strong, consistent and united campaign to lift the U.S. blockade and give Guantanamo back to Cuba are necessary.

      The following section of this issue of Fire This Time Newspaper is an accumulation of reports from the very successful visit of revolutionary hero Gerardo Hernández to Canada concluding in the transcript of the entire speech made by Gerardo to more than 250 participants at the Vancouver Public Library made on April 12, 2016.

      Gerardo Hernández meets the Mayor of Fort Erie
      Toronto, April 3, 2016.

      The Hero of the Republic of Cuba, Gerardo Hernández visited the cities of Niagara Falls and Fort Erie as part of his tour in Canada, allowing him to thank the local solidarity movement for all the years of efforts as part of the international campaign for the release of the Cuban Five.

      Accompanied by several executives of the Cuba - Canada Friendship Association in the region, Gerardo was received by Fort Erie Mayor, Wayne Redekop, whom he recognized the several years of support to the Cuba solidarity groups in the area. The meeting took place in a fraternal and informal atmosphere, where both parties were able to exchange on topics of interest.

      Accompanied by the Consul General of Cuba in Toronto, Javier Dómokos Ruiz, Gerardo could update in the exchanges on the major challenges facing Cuba today, mainly regarding the need to lift the US blockade against Cuba and the return of the Guantanamo Naval Base.

      Gerardo Hernandez participates today in the Convention of the United Steelworkers taking place in the city of Montreal. Then he will travel to Ottawa and Vancouver to participate in events organized by the movement of solidarity with Cuba in Canada.

      Reprinted from: Consulate General of Cuba-Toronto

      USW 2016 National Policy Conference Passes Resolution Against U.S. Blockade on Cuba
      Ottawa, April 12, 2016.

      Last week, Canada´s United Steelworkers National Policy Conference passed a resolution condemning U.S. blockade against Cuba, with the presence of Cuban Hero Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, one of the Cuban 5 formerly held in U.S. prisons.

      Hernández Nordelo, who had been invited to attend the 53rd USW National Policy Conference, addressed the delegates at the closing ceremony and thanked, on behalf of his comrades, Canadian steelworkers for their commitment and support to the international campaign to free the Cuban Five. Gerardo gave an account of the reasons leading these five Cuban young men to prevent Floridabased terrorist groups from carrying out other actions against their country which have caused so many deaths and suffering to the Cuban people for more than five decades.

      The United Steelworkers is the largest private trade union in North America with more than 225,000 members in Canada. It had a very active participation in the international campaign to free the Cuban Five antiterrorists, which was one of its international policy priorities.

      Besides attending the USW National Policy Conference, Gerardo Hernández is also visiting many Canadian cities as a way to show his gratitude to thousands of people in Canada who contributed to his freedom and that of his comrades.

      Reprinted from: Embassy of Cuba in Canada

      Montreal, April 5, 2016.

      Gerardo Hernández Nordelo arrived in the city of Montreal yesterday night. Gerardo has been invited to attend working sessions of the Canadian Steel Workers Congress where he will hold several meetings with steel workers and union leaders. The Cuban hero is expected to meet with some friends of Cuba, members of the Cuba Solidarity movement, as wells as with a large number of Quebeckers who added their voices to the fight for the freedom of the Cuban Five. Gerardo´s visit also includes a keynote speech and some press interviews.

      On the last day of his visit Gerardo will hold talks with officials of the Kahnawake First Nation Reserve, southwest of Montreal Island. Gerardo Hernádez was welcome at the Montreal airport by members of the Cuban state mission in this city.

      Reprinted from: Cuban Consul General-Montreal

      Toronto, April 3, 2016.

      Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, one of the Cuban Five and Hero of the Republic of Cuba, arrived this Sunday to Canada as part of an invitation to participate in the Convention of the Steelworkers Union in Montreal. Solidarity groups, friends and Cubans living abroad welcomed Gerardo at Toronto airport with signs and Cuban flags.

      In the afternoon the Cuban Hero participated in a public event at the historic Steelworkers Hall in Toronto. Jorge Garcia -Orgales, from United Steelworkers addressed the audience with the opening remarks. The labour activist Heide Trampus read a message sent to Gerardo from the US National Network on Cuba. Different speakers such as the lawyer Juan Carranza, who acted as MC, Pablo Godoy, national representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), Miguel Figueroa, from the Communist Party of Canada, Liz Hill, President of the CCFA-Toronto, and Brian Gordon Sinclair, writer and actor, thanked Gerardo for being an example and for showing what convictions are about. Lisa Makarchuk recalled the beginning of the struggle for the Cuban Five and all those who are no longer with us. Councilor Joe Mihevc presented a Certificate to Gerardo on behalf of the city and stressed the values represented by the Cuban Five.

      Consul General of Cuba, Javier Dómokos Ruiz, presented a message from the Cuban Ambassador Julio Garmendia Peña and introduced to Gerardo the diversity of the solidarity movement towards the freedom of the Cuban Five in Canada. The Cuban diplomat stressed the values of the Cuban Hero as a revolutionary, as a father, as a son and as a husband. In his speech, Gerardo Hernández on behalf of his four brothers and their families thanked the support and the hard work of the solidarity movement towards their release. He also explained that there are new battles concerning the lifting of the US blockade, the return of the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base. The Cuban Hero stressed that the Cuban Revolution has not renounced to any of its principles and will continue with its longstanding solidarity with the just causes.

      There were standing ovations during the speech and heartfelt messages of support and solidarity with the Cuban Revolution from an audience that surpassed the 300 people present.

      Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo will also visit the cities of Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver to participate in public events organized by the solidarity movement.

      Reprinted from: Consulate General of Cuba-Toronto

      Ottawa, April 11, 2016.

      Over one hundred people gathered at the Cuban Embassy in Canada last Saturday to welcome Cuban Hero Gerardo Hernández Nordelo. Gerardo is visiting many Canadian cities as a way to express, on behalf of the Cuban 5, his gratitude to thousands of Canadians for their solidarity and commitment to their cause.

      Gerardo, who addressed a clearly moved audience, told some stories of the tough times he and his four brothers had to go through since the very moment they were caught, during their time in maximum security prisons —where they were sent to punishment cells for long periods of time despite no misconduct—, until the day they were released.

      The mere fact that he knew they were not alone, that thousands of people from around the globe supported their cause —rallying in front of U.S. embassies and consulates regardless of the weather and writing letters to American officials calling for their liberation, among many other actions— gave them the strength not to break during such an unjust imprisonment.

      Gerardo exchanged some ideas with the attendees for more than two hours and took all kinds of questions. He made reference to the terrorist actions that had been planned and conducted by Miami-based terrorist groups which they had infiltrated. He talked about absurd incidents of their trial and shared his views on the process of normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States. Likewise, the Cuban Hero reiterated his willingness to serve his homeland and its people wherever needed.

      On behalf of Ottawa-Cuba Connection Solidarity Group, Linda Dams, Joan Bishop, Maricarmen Guevara, Pagi Taylor and Bill Ryan, with an active participation in the Cuban Five´s freedom campaign, thanked Gerardo for having shared his experiences and also for his strength of spirit and determination throughout the long struggle to secure their return to their homeland.

      Finally, the Hero of the Republic of Cuba firmly stated that all friends of Cuba can still rely on its unchanging support and solidarity to all just causes of developing countries. Members of the Latin American Diplomatic Corps, Cuban residents in Canada, as well as all Cuban Embassy officials, staff and their relatives attended the celebration.

      Reprinted from: Embassy of Cuba in Canada

      Vancouver & B.C. Welcome Cuban 5 Hero Hernández
      April 12 & 13, 2016

      Click here for the report for the Gerardo Hernández events in Vancouver & Nanaimo

      Click here for the report for the Gerardo Hernández events in Vancouver

      Click here for Gerardo's Speech at the event in Vancouver

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