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      Cuban Guests in Vancouver Discuss...
      Cuba in Perspective – Fidel and Che: An Everlasting Friendship

      By Janine Solanki

      June 14, 2017 marked what would have been the 89th birthday of revolutionary leader Che Guevara. This heroic figure was a commander in the Cuban rebel army, as well as a visionary thinker that has inspired people around the world. After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Che still felt the need to continue fighting for revolutionary change world-wide and joined guerrilla fighters in Bolivia, where he was killed by the CIA on October 9, 1967.

      Around the world when people think about the Cuban Revolution, the first two faces that come to mind are that of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Fidel, the leader of the Cuban Revolution and Cuba’s former president, passed away just last year on November 25, 2016, at the age of 90. The world lost Fidel in his physical form, but his ideas and vision live on in Cuba and beyond in the fight for a better and more just world.

      On June 10, 2017, Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) organized an event titled “Cuba in Perspective – Fidel and Cuban Guests in Vancouver Discuss... Cuba in Perspective – Fidel and Che: An Everlasting Friendship Che: An Everlasting Friendship” to reflect on these two revolutionary heroes, and to celebrate the birthday of Che Guevara. The event was sponsored by Friends of Cuba Against the U.S. Blockade, Communist League, Communist Party Canada (Marxist-Leninist) and Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice (FTT).

      Vancouverites had the special opportunity of hearing from two guests from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), an institute which works to promote friendship and solidarity between Cuba and the international community. Sandra Ramirez Rodriguez, director of the North American desk of ICAP and Yamil Martinez Marrero, representative of the Canada desk of ICAP were welcomed to Vancouver by many people who were eager to hear them speak, and the event had a full house at the Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House.

      The evening started out with words from Tamara Hansen, coordinator of Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba. Kelly White, an Indigenous activist and elder, together with the participation of the entire event, led a song to open the evening and welcome the Cuban guests. The program continued with video clips highlighting Che Guevara’s life and legacy, as well as videos showing the outpouring of emotion and love from the Cuban people following Fidel’s passing. The audience then heard the poetry of Alejandro Mujica Olea, a Chilean poet and host of World Poetry Café on Coop Radio, as well as from local poets Max Tennant and Shakeel Lochan. The audience then was treated to the songs of Maria Luisa Melendez, a Salvadorian musician and representative of the FMLN Vancouver.

      After this beautiful cultural program, Sandra Ramirez and Yamil Martinez were invited up to speak. Sandra spoke about the legacy of Fidel and Che with both factual information and her own touching personal stories of interactions with Fidel. Yamil spoke about the struggle against the US blockade and the strain this criminal policy puts on Cuba, but also how no matter what the new US President Trump’s policy is, Cuba will keep true to its revolutionary principles. The Cuban guests answered questions from the audience, including one on the upcoming 2018 elections in Cuba which prompted a very educational response from Yamil on the very democratic and inclusive process of voting in Cuba!

      The evening wrapped up with a birthday cake to celebrate Che Guevara, and attendees gathered around to sing happy birthday and blow out the birthday candles together (and enjoy the cake of course!). The Cuban guests returned home to Cuba knowing that here in Vancouver, people are coming together with the desire to learn more about Cuba and are inspired by the huge gains of the Cuban Revolution. For more info on upcoming events on Cuba visit www. vancubasolidarity.com, find Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba on Facebook or follow on Twitter @VCSC_Van

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