Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver report from the 6th International
Colloquium for the Freedom of our Five Heroes & Against Terrorism
November 22, 2011
From November 17th to 21st, more than 350 international solidarity activists from over 56 countries gathered in Holguin, Cuba for the 6th International Colloquium for the Freedom of Our Five Heroes & Against Terrorism. Organized by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), this gathering brought the international movement for the freedom of the Cuban 5 together to discuss and plan the critical work to be done in this struggle.
Unjustly imprisoned in US jails for more than 12 years, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Rene González, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando González are five anti-terrorist fighters who were sent to Southern Florida to monitor terrorist organizations acting against Cuba. Groups like the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), Brothers to the Rescue, Alpha 66, and others have been committing acts of terror against the island nation with impunity from within the United States for decades. Since their arrest in 1998, the Cuban Five’s international campaign for their freedom has been growing.
The five days of meetings, discussions and workshops focused on the important work that has been going on in the last year of the campaign, the recent developments in the case, and the crucial work that the organizations around the world need to take in the coming year.
Ricardo Alarcon, President of the National Assembly of People’s Power, brought a strong message to the colloquium in his opening video address, where he emphasized the importance of tackling the issue in US President Obama’s last two years in office. As well, he highlighted the important new tool in the fight with the recently released report by Amnesty International which called on the US government to review the case and mitigate any injustice.
Many plenary sessions among delegates took place as groups from North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East renewed their solidarity and commitment to creating a stronger movement in their own countries. The day’s events included the participation of the family members of the Five, who encouraged the groups to redouble their efforts and brought inspiration with their strength while being separated from their loved ones.
Different individuals and member groups of the Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) participated in the colloquium to plan future work in Canada. The Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver, Canada-Cuba Friendship Association- Vancouver, the Canada-Cuba Friendship Association – Niagara, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), and Worker to Worker all participated in this year’s colloquium. As well, le Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5 and the Parti Rhinocéros from la Table de Concertation de Solidarité Québec-Cuba, contributed from the solidarity movement in Quebec.
Discussions took place between participants in each geographic region on how to further the campaign regionally, while participants also had an opportunity to discuss how to adopt the campaign in to their own profession. Whether you were a lawyer, a worker, a student, a journalist, an artist or an intellectual, there were many ideas that were adopted in to the colloquium. The delegates also took part in a march alongside 10,000 Cubans to the memorial of Che Guevara on the edge of the city to rally for the freedom of the Five.
This year was very significant as it had the largest amount of participation from the countries in the world. Coming from Canada, it was very inspiring to connect with groups involved in the same struggle and use the coming year to work together and strengthen our collective effort and our campaign to free our Five Cuban Heroes!
Libertad para los Cinco!
Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver