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      Vancouver Cuba Solidarity Activists and Cuban Guests Celebrate the Birthday of Che Guevara!

      By Janine Solanki

      “We cannot be indifferent to what happens anywhere in the world, for a victory by any country over imperialism is our victory; just as any country’s defeat is a defeat for all of us.” -Ernesto “Che” Guevara

      These words are a few of the many profound thoughts shared by revolutionary hero Che Guevara. This leader of the Cuban Revolution, of Argentinian origin, not only spoke but acted upon these words. After the triumph of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, he joined revolutionary struggles in Congo and Bolivia, where he was murdered by CIA. June 14 would have marked his birthday, which in Cuba and here in Vancouver is an opportunity to celebrate a hero whose example continues to inspire millions of people in the fight for a better world.

      On June 14

      Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC) held an event to celebrate the birthday of Che Guevara, with special guests direct from Cuba! The packed event started out with an introduction by Tamara Hansen, coordinator of VCSC, before the program began with a series of video clips outlining the exceptional life of Che Guevara. To welcome the Cuban guests to Indigenous territory, Coast Salish elder Kelly White shared a song and drummed, raising her voice in a solidarity call of “Viva Cuba!” Participants were then treated to a poem paying tribute to Che Guevara by Mayra Climaco, a Nicaraguan poet, social justice activist and former Sandinista fighter. Another beautiful poem was shared by Macarena Cataldo, a Chilean poet and activist with Proyecto Cultural Sur – Vancouver.

      The program also included greetings from Jaime Coreas on behalf of the FMLN Vancouver. The audience then heard from the featured Cuban speakers, beginning with Sandra Ramirez Rodriguez, Director of the North America Desk of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). Sandra spoke about how Che Guevara’s legacy is reflected in the ongoing Cuban Revolution today. She was followed by Yamil Martinez Marrero from the Canada Desk of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), who talked about Che’s central ideas of internationalism, which are practiced today in Cuba and reflected also in the Cuba solidarity movement.

      On June 16

      VCSC took these discussions from indoors to Vancouver’s summer streets, with a table at two June festivals. On June 16, VCSC had a table at the Main Street Car Free Festival, an annual event drawing tens of thousands of people to 21 blocks of festivities.

      Many people followed the chalk lettering on the street reading “End the Blockade on Cuba!” and stopped at the VCSC information table to talk to organizers, get literature about Cuba and to sign a petition against the U.S. blockade on Cuba.

      On June 22

      VCSC was proud to have a table at the East Side Pride festival, as a community partner of the Vancouver Pride events happening throughout the season.

      Many people were attracted to the table by a banner reading “Cuba Says: Sexual Diversity is not Dangerous! Homophobia and Transphobia are!” and a Cuban and Pride flag flying above the table together. Organizers talked to people about the advances Cuba has and is making for LGBTQAI2S+ rights, and many also signed on to the petition against the U.S. blockade against Cuba. VCSC was also scheduled in the program and brought a bit of Cuba to the event by contributing a salsa lesson! VCSC organizer Janine Solanki got the crowd up on their feet, learning salsa steps and dancing to Cuban music!

      VCSC is taking advantage of the summer weather to bring Cuba solidarity to festivals and outdoor events – to find out more visit www.vancubasolidarity.com or on Facebook and Twitter @VanCuba_VCSC

      Follow Janine Solanki on Twitter: @janinesolanki

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