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      A Busy Month for Friends of Cuba in Vancouver & Seattle!
      Lift the Blockade on Cuba!
      Return Guantanamo to Cuba!

      By Noah Fine

      The month of July was full of vibrant activities celebrating and practising solidarity with the people of Cuba. The following are reports on activities that took place last month in Vancouver, BC and Seattle, WA.

      Now is the Time! Pastors for Peace Sends Off the 27th Annual Caravan to Cuba!

      On Sunday July 3rd, 2016 supporters of Cuba from both sides of the U.S./Canada border gathered at the Peace Arch Park border crossing to help send off the 27th annual Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba. The Caravan has been bringing people and humanitarian aid to Cuba illegally for almost 3 decades in its campaign to end the cruel and inhuman U.S. blockade against Cuba. On this warm sunny day participants shared in on a potluck lunch while listening to live music. Before the group marched down towards the border crossing a number of speakers and presenters from Seattle and Vancouver addressed the participants. Most notably was the presence of Cuban revolutionary and Queer rights activist, Isel Calzadilla Acosta. Isel spoke to the gathered crowd about the hardships that have been caused to Cuba due to the U.S. Blockade and thanked all of Cuba's friends around the world for their support in fighting against it.

      After Isel's inspiring words the group marched down to the border crossing and joined hands while holding signs and banners demanding an end to the U.S. Blockade on Cuba. The annual picnic and rally is organized by Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) in conjunction with Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee and IFCO Pastors for Peace.

      Pastors for Peace Caravan events continued on July 5th as 3 car loads of Cuba solidarity activists from Vancouver joined the Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee for a protest action demanding an end to the U.S. Blockade in downtown Seattle. Among the speakers at the protest were VCSC organizer Thomas Davies and IFCO Pastors for Peace Executive Director, Gail Walker.

      Vancouver Celebrates the July 26th Movement & the Gains of the Cuban Revolution!

      On July 24th, 2016 over 70 supporters of Cuba gathered in East Vancouver's Trout Lake Park for an energetic celebration of the anniversary of the spark that ignited the Cuban Revolution. July 26, 1953 marks the day that Fidel Castro led a group of young revolutionaries to attack one of the U.S. backed dictatorships army barracks in order to take weapons and begin the revolution. The attack led by Fidel was a defeat however the defeat became a point of inspiration for millions of Cubans who later joined Fidel to see the triumph of the revolution.

      A delicious BBQ dinner, wonderful live Latin American music, an Indigenous Hip Hop group were all part of the dynamic celebration of Cuba's achievements. Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) coordinator Tamara Hansen explained to participants the history of the day and some of the many advancements Cuba has made since the revolution and despite the punishment of the U.S. blockade on the island.

      The evening also featured Venezuelan Consul General in Vancouver, Wilfredo Perez Bianco. July 24 marked the 233rd birthday of liberator of Latin America Simon Bolivar. The Venezuelan Consul addressed the crowd speaking about revolutionary hero Bolivar before updating participants on the gains and challenges of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution. Wilfredo's talk was greeted with cheers of “Viva Venezuela!”

      Other parts of the events program included poetry, a dance lesson, children's games and much more. The annual celebration was again a success this year with more people joining in to learn about and support the gains of the Cuban Revolution.

      Monthly Protests Continue in Vancouver to Demand: Lift the Blockade! Return Guantanamo!

      On Tuesday July 19th, Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade-Vancouver (FCAB-Van), came together again for their monthly protest in front of the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver. Every month since the announcement of the reestablishment of U.S.-Cuba relations the group has gathered to say loud and clear: Normalization starts with an end to the blockade and the return of Guantanamo to Cuba! In between energetic rounds of picketing the U.S. Consulate, participants gathered to hear from a number of speakers who explained the history and current situation of the cruel and inhuman U.S. blockade on Cuba. Before gathering for a group photo, FCAB co-coordinator Azza Rojbi committed to continuing the monthly campaign as long as the U.S. continues its unjust attacks on Cuba.

      To get involved or find out more about Cuba solidarity events in Vancouver please visit:

      vancubasolidarity.com and www.vancubavsblockade.org

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