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The VI International Cuban 5 & Anti-Terrorism Colloquium, Holguin Cuba PDF Print E-mail

by Brian Gordon Sinclair


Political prisoners and terrorism make for a pretty serious subject and it was dealt with seriously in Holguin between Nov. 17 and 21. By now, most of you have read the list of outcomes agreed upon and will continue to be involved in the fight for the freedom of the 5 heroes.

Welcoming Group
What I want to do here is to mention a few of the tender, personal moments that were connected to the colloquium.

On Nov. 16, I had the pleasure of presenting Hemingway’s HOT Havana at UNEAC, the headquarters for the Union of Artists and Writers. In attendance were Kenia Serrano and Basilio Gutierrez, President and Vice-President of ICAP, many delegates to the convention and a wonderful group of Cuban students who were studying English. Oh yes, a very large cockroach scuttled across the floor in the middle of one speech. Since admission was free, I couldn’t very well throw him out. At the point in the show where I speak of the Cuban flag and the love of Cuba, the students rose to their feet in applause. This old actor’s heart was very proud at that moment. Later a large British delegation who attended the performance invited me to bring the show to England and make a tour of the labour halls. Sounds like a fine way to bring even more attention to the plight of the Cuban 5.

Later, Elizabeth Hill, president of the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto and Co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba, interrupted her family vacation in Santiago to join the colloquium. Elizabeth spoke in front of the international gathering, specifically at the gathering of artists, writers and intellectuals and strongly conveyed the support of her fellow Canadians.

Although Elizabeth’s speech was very well received, I also remember with great fondness the night we attempted to see a play celebrating the Cuban revolution and written by Portuguese playwright  Leandro Vale. Because of a technical problem, the performance was cancelled. Elizabeth, Leandro and I along with a Columbian born Bostonian, headed for the cafes of Holguin’s entertainment district. The conversation flowed and so did time as we all entered into a lifetime of friendship but the hour was late and no traditional taxis were available, only bicycle taxis. With great revolutionary fervour, we leaped into three different bicycles and each instant general gave the command, “ This is a race! Beat those other two bicycles to the Hotel Pernik!” The drivers huffed and puffed and strained their muscles and finally one pulled ahead by a few lengths and stopped in front of the hotel. Out stepped the winner. It was... I won’t tell you who won but I will tell you that with the amount of laughter exuding from all the worthy combatants, no one was disappointed.

On my last full day in Cuba, I was taken with a group to the attractive town of Baguanos. It was here that the lovely children in the photo came to greet the colloquium delegates. In fact, the whole town came to greet us. Cheering people with flags and signs were at the intersections approaching the town and when we finally stepped off the bus, the town square was full. The band was there, military cadets were there and then the little drum majorettes marched forth and did their tiny-perfect, precision routine. When they finished, the anthem played and they all stood very still at attention, radiant in their youth. At that point, I know it must have rained for surely that could not be a tear that rolled down my cheek.

Later, after a delicious snack that was a lot bigger than a snack, we visited a street market, an art display and a cooking school with lots of samples. We then returned to the town hall where we were entertained with music, song and poetry. At the conclusion, the delegates were asked to speak. When my turn came, I spoke as Ernest Hemingway. I told them that I had been out of Cuba at the moment of the revolution but that when I returned, I kissed the Cuban flag and stated that I believed in the absolute necessity of the Cuban revolution.  I said that the photographers, at the time, did not manage to get a photo but today, because of the milagro of theatre, I would be able to pose, kissing the flag, for photos. I then said, “But today is different. Today, I kiss the Cuban flag because I believe in the absolute necessity of the freedom of the Cuban 5.”  I kissed the flag, held the pose briefly for photos and concluded by saluting and exclaiming, “Viva los cinquos heroes!” Would it be a surprise to say that the reaction was very, very positive?

How proud one feels when doing deeds of goodness and substance! Please join me in a future of performance, of solidarity and of good deeds.

Viva Hemingway, Viva Cuba

Brian Gordon Sinclair
“Hemingway On Stage”
www.briangordonsinclair.com

 

 
6th International Colloquium – Holguin Cuba PDF Print E-mail

by Elizabeth Hill

The 6th International Colloquium for the Freedom of the Cuban Five and Against Terrorism took plays in Holguin Cuba from November 17th to 21st. Over 350 participants from 56 countries attended the event organized by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) which this year celebrated it’s 50th Anniversary.

President of ICAP, Kenia Serrano Puig, at a session dedicated to culture, outlined examples of very successful concerts for the Cuban five, exhibitions of Antonio’s paintings, Poetry events, speeches by Alice Walker, and a campaign underway of actors and artists in support of the campaign to free the Cuban Five.  At the closing of the Colloquium there was a special evening dedicated to recognizing this anniversary milestone.

About 20 participants came from groups across Canada, including the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto; CCFA Vancouver; CCFA Niagara; Worker to Worker;  Free the Cuban 5 Committee Vancouver; Hemingway on Stage;  Comite Fabio Di Celmo pour Les 5; Table de Concentration de Solidarity Quebec-Cuba; and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).  Also present was Elizabeth Hill, Co-Chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba, and Dave Thomas, executive member of the CNC.

Elizabeth Hill Speaking
The five days of meetings, workshops and discussions focused on the activities of the past year, the recent developments in the case and the work of the organizations in the coming year.  Members of the families of the Cuban Five participated in the sessions. A Final Declaration was adopted by the participants contrasting the colossal injustice against the Five, with treatment of notorious international terrorist Orland Bosch Avila and Luis Posada Carriles who walk free in the streets of Miami.  The Declaration outlines a 15 point call to action. The movement to free the Cuban Five from US Prisons has grown tremendously recently.  The action plans of the declaration will further the cause of ending the injustice and Freeing the Cuban Five!

Delegates Reading

 
Canadians for "Cuba Medical Brigade for Haiti" Update PDF Print E-mail

As of November 29, 2010, the number of people affected by cholera in Haiti had risen to 75,888. Of these, the Cuban Medical Brigade had attended 27,015, with 254 deaths (0.94%).  Cuban doctors  were the first to give the warning about the prescence of Cholera and are also the ones who are continuuing to travel outside the cities to remote areas with no medical services.

Haitian state hospital facilities, NGOs and other, private organizations, treated 48,875, and had a fatality rate of 1,721 (3.03%).

(Statistics are extracted from the December 2, 2010 edition of “Cinco de Septiembre", in a column written by Fidel)

We certainly are getting good value for the money donated by our members and supporters of the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association Toronto who initiated this campaign. As of December, 2011 we have been able to send  $403,728.52cad.

The Canadians for ‘Cuba for Haiti’ Campaign was started by the CCFA Toronto in January 2010 in response to the terrible earthquake on January 12th in Haiti and has spread across Canada with the help of the Canadian Network on Cuba and other groups and individuals across Canada. We believe that this kind of unprecedented and invaluable help, which Cuba has been giving Haiti for eleven years previous to the earthquake, deserves to be supported as strongly as possible.

The "Cuba for Haiti" fund is a special account, ensuring that 100% of all donations are used for medical support and aid to Haiti - including helping to build clinics and a public health system.

Cuban Doctors

The Mac-Paps does not charge any administration fees for this project.   A charitable receipt will be issued for your donation in 4 - 8 weeks.

You may make a donation by:

1. Mail:

Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund
Attention - Sharon Skup
56 Riverwood Terrace
Bolton, ON
L7E 1S4

For more information:   Tel: 905-951-8499  
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it    or   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    Canada Revenue agency  www.cra.gc.ca/charities 
    (Revenue Canada Charitable registration#88876 9197RR0001)

Please make your cheque payable to the "Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund" and write "Cuba for Haiti" on your cheque’s memo line.

2. Online by credit card:

Go to Canadahelps.org and go to the "Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund" page and follow instructions. Do indicate "Cuba for Haiti" in Message/instructions box. Please be aware that if you use a credit card for payment, almost 4% of the amount will be deducted for administrative fees by Canadahelps.org (although a charitable receipt to you will be issued for the full amount). The remaining balance is then later sent to the Mac-Paps  for the "Cuba for Haiti" project.  Please send an email to Sharon that you have made a payment to Canada Helps.

                                    A Grateful Thanks to All • Merci • Gracias

Cuban Doctor

 
Chileans Thank Cuba’s Medical Assistance PDF Print E-mail


HAVANA, Cuba, Nov 19 (ACN) The work of the members of the Henry Reeve Cuban Emergency Medical Brigade who attended to victims of last February’s earthquake in the Chilean province of Ñuble was praised on Thursday during a ceremony to bid farewell to the health professionals.

“We all know the great contribution of these health professionals in Ñuble in the last months. We are witnesses to their dedication and efforts during this period,” said Jaime Guzman, head of Health Services in the province.

“Your solidarity and warmth has made this time more bearable in spite of constant problems and challenges. It’s not easy to stand up after you fall. That’s why we appreciate so much the assistance of friends who help us in difficult times,” he added.

“Let the example of our Cuban friends inspire us for the tasks that lie ahead,” Guzman continued.

Rodrigo Avendaño, director of the Herminda Martin hospital of Chillan, the capital of Ñuble, also thanked the Cuban specialists for their services.

The Cuban medical brigade, which included doctors, nurses, technicians, psychologists and administrative personnel, arrived in Chillan only a few days after an earthquake hit this Chilean region on February 27, 2010.

 
Cafe Cuba: A Night to Remember with Manuel Yepe PDF Print E-mail

by Sean Smith

When the Executive of the CCFA were offered the chance to host an evening with activist, educator, professor, former diplomat and journalist Manuel Yepe; we immediately made this a priority to ensure our members had an opportunity to spend time with such a remarkable Cuban.

CCFA President Elizabeth Hill began the evening by introducing Manuel and his life long efforts for a world free from imperialism.

Manuel's presentation at our Cafe Cuba on Monday, 15 November exceeded our expectations in every way. In front of a great crowd of many CCFA members and non-members alike, Manuel gave a riveting presentation of Cuba's past, present and future.

Manuel began by describing the Cuban peoples’ long struggle for independence and their principles of social justice and freedom from imperialism. This history was a sobering reminder of the horrific cost in lives and how the imperial powers of first Spain than the United States used any means necessary to prevent the people from reaching their dream.

The triumph of the Revolution in 1959 was merely the final chapter in this long struggle for freedom and an opportunity to put into practise the ideals of those before them like Jose Marti.

What made his presentation so remarkable was that this was given by a person intimately connected to these events. From his start with the 26th of July Movement in Matanzas Province to the triumph of the Revolution to his many roles in the Cuban government working alongside Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and many others he was able to give many personal insights into the priorities and importance of the Cuban Revolution. As with all living histories, it is a story filled with a humanity and humour that no text book can match.

During the question and answer period the conversation shifted to the present and future of the Revolution. Both Manuel and the Cuban Consul General for Toronto, Jorge Soberon, discussed the recent process to re-calibrate Cuba`s economy whilst ensuring the priorities of independence and social justice are maintained.

As Manuel said "Revolution is the mother of changes. No one wrote the book on how socialism has to be. It has to be constructed by the people and every model has to be different to match the peoples' needs."

Jorge Soberon described the three biggest challenges facing Cuba today as the ongoing blockade, the world wide financial crisis and climate change.

To ensure these changes reflect the will of the people, a special congress is being called in the spring to discuss changes to Cuba's economic model. Across the country there are mass consultations and open participation to discuss these 292 proposals. Special delegate elections will also be held.

Already plans are underway to move towards an economic union with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (the Venezuelan Consul General for Toronto, Marta Prado, was at the event).

Other priorities include:

  • Continuing the process of giving land to the people over and above the 100,000 Cubans who have received land to farm in the past five years.
  • Local governments will become part of a new financial model to become more self sufficient and able to address local concerns
  • The further development of the ALBA Block
  • Elimination of the dual currency
  • Workers will be re-accommodated in growing sectors of the economy

These changes will be the most profound since the Special Period. The Revolution's history of mass consultation with the people and organizations like its unions, farmers, communities and the Party will give them the experience to carry them through.

As Jorge said "Maintaining a socialist model 90 miles from the United States is an extraordinary challenge and triumph. This is something we excel at by ensuring its the people themselves who lead these changes. We ask for your continued support and confidence in our abilities to ensure we get this right".

To that end the night ended with an update on our Cuba for Haiti Fund and how the CCFA has raised over $140,000 towards assisting Cuba's ongoing solidarity efforts in Haiti. With the recent outbreak of cholera it is once again the hundreds of Cuban doctors, nurses and technicians who are on the front lines and the first to respond.

Although Manuel was responding to a question about Cuba's leadership role for world peace, this statement rings just as true for Cuba's role in improving the health of the world's dispossessed: "The existence of the Revolution itself guarantees a force unlike any other for peace and change."

Its a testament to our remarkable membership that many made donations to once again show the tremendous solidarity the members of the CCFA play in ensuring this force continues to grow stronger in the years to come.

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 November 2010 02:51
 
Washington Post Campaign PDF Print E-mail

The National (USA) Committee to Free the Cuban Five announces the launching of a campaign to place a full-page ad in the Washington Post, the most prominent newspaper in the nation's capital. The Post is read daily by everyone in the U.S. political establishment and all international media outlets.

We think the time is
NOW
to put the demands for freedom of the Cuban Five as publicly, and directly, as possible, to President Obama and the U.S. government:

Free the Cuban Five Now!  Grant visas immediately to wives Adriana and Olga!

Support actions for the Cuban Five in the United States and around the world are building exciting momentum in this struggle. At the same time, this summer the news was filled with headlines in the U.S. press about prisoner swaps and releases:

  • The 10 people accused of being Russian agents were sent home within weeks by the U.S.;
  • Jimmy Carter traveling to North Korea to get the release of a U.S. citizen and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson going to Cuba for the release of suspected spy Alan Gross. The obvious question to Washington is: What about the Cuban Five?

We ask all supporters of the Five Cuban Heroes to join with us in placing a full-page ad in the Washington Post, to call for the unconditional and immediate release of the Cuban Five, who have endured 12 years of harsh and unjust imprisonment at the hands of the U.S. government, simply because they were defending their people from terrorism.

The cost of a full-page ad is $62,000. Through your donation and that of many other organizations and individuals, together we can help make the Cuban Five's freedom struggle a public debate in Washington, as we did with the New York Times full-page ad (shown on website) in March 2004. Already, our European friends in Germany, Italy, France, as well as organizations in Puerto Rico, Brazil, Canada, have pledged contributions.

You can make an on-line donation.  OR mail a USD bank draft OR arrange a wire transfer.

For more info: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

or call:415-312-6042

Web: http://www.freethefive.org

You can also make a donation through the CCFA Toronto (working with the Mackenzie-Papineau Memorial Fund) and receive a Canadian charitable tax deductible receipt  (Memo on cheque: for Cuban5 Ad campaign.)

 
Cuban Women Obtain Best Result Ever in Chess Olympiad PDF Print E-mail
Cuban women obtain best result ever in chess Olympiad GRANMA INTERNATIONAL/ONLINE EDITION

Havana. October 7, 2010

The Cuban women’s chess team obtained its finest result in the history of the World Chess Olympiad, by placing fourth in the tournament that ended recently in the Russian city of Khanty-Mansiysk.

Led by Grandmaster Yaniet Marrero, gold medalist in the third board, the Cuban women won a total of 30 points overall with eight matches won and three lost, a result surpassing in bounds the eighth place obtained in Salonika, Greece in 1988.

The following information suffices to understand the merit of the Cubans: in 1988 only 59 teams took part, while 119 competed in the 2010 edition. At the same time, the geopolitical map is totally different, as now ex-Soviet and Chinese women’s teams are spread throughout the world.

The island’s players were only beaten this year by powers like Russia 1 (champion), China (second) and Georgia (third).

For her part, Marrero played excellently in defense of the third table to take first place with 87.5% effectiveness, or seven out of eight possible points.

Georgian Salome Melia came second and Latvian Ilze Berzina third.

In addition to Marrero, the Cuban women’s team was made up of Oleiny Linares, Sulennis Piña, Lisandra Ordaz and Maritza Arribas.

The men’s chess team finished in 23rd place with six wins, two ties and three defeats and a total of 26.5 units.
 
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