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These were the words of the Cuban Consul General in Toronto, Javier Domokos, speaking in Vancouver, BC during a crowded event dedicated to the Cuban 5. Mr. Domokos was echoing the words of lawyer and longtime supporter of the Cuban 5 Tim Louis, who had spoken earlier in the evening. Co-organized by Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba (VCSC), and the Free the Cuban 5 Committee- Vancouver, the event featured Mr. Domokos speaking specifically about the campaign to free the 5 Cuban anti-terrorist Heroes. The political/cultural night was filled a lot of optimism regarding recent developments in the case, tempered with the reality that the Cuban 5 have been in jail for 15 years and there is still a lot of work to do to, “Free All the Cuban 5 Now!”
September 12, 2013 marked 15 years since the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban 5. It also marked the beginning of the “Yellow Ribbon for the Cuban 5” campaign initiated by René Gonzalez. René returned to Cuba after finishing his sentence in the US, and began the campaign to appeal to the people of the US by using a popular song and American folk tradition of tying a yellow ribbon to a tree to show devotion to the return of a loved one.
The campaign took off both in Cuba and internationally. As people entered the room that evening, they were treated to a slideshow of the different ways Cubans had tied ribbons to everything in their country. Apartment buildings, dogs, famous landmarks, palm trees, even the iconic “coco taxis” in Havana got into the yellow ribbon spirit!
The program got started with VCSC Coordinator Tamara Hansen welcoming everyone and thanking the Consul General for crossing the second largest country in the world to speak about the Cuban 5 in Vancouver. She also introduced Free the Cuban 5 Committee –Vancouver co-coordinators Azza Rojbi and Alison Bodine. Together they expanded on the importance of the Yellow Ribbon Campaign for the Cuban 5 in popularizing the case, as well as making a scene which was nearly impossible for mainstream media to ignore. Major news services such as Reuters, AFP, CBS, BBC, NBC, AP, even FOX News, who have made their own campaign of constantly ignoring the Cuban 5, all carried articles about the yellow ribbons covering Cuba for the Cuban 5.
Azza and Alison also outlined the activities in BC, where the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver had been able to work with supporters of the Cuban 5 in Vancouver, Kamloops, Nanaimo, and Bowen Island to organize 7 events in 4 days. The audience was treated to both a video of renowned Cuban musicians covering the “Tie A Yellow Ribbon to the Old Oak Tree” song , as well as a video documenting the BC “Yellow Ribbon” events for the Cuban 5.
After the videos, Alison and Azza read the Spanish and English version of the beautiful poem by Antonio Guerrero entitled, “I Will Return”, which begins with the beautiful words,
“I will return and say to life I have come back to be your confidant. From north to south I will deliver to the people the part of my love hidden within me.”
Following the poetry, Tim Louis shared his insights about the Cuban 5, as a lawyer, former Vancouver city council member, and as a ardent defender of social justice around the world. Tim reminded the room of the outrageous terrorists acts perpetrated against Cuba since 1959, and the necessity of the Cuban 5’s work to save lives.
The passionate music of Honduran ranchero maestro MX Katracho then took the stage. Between songs he also took the time to get the audience to chant, “Viva Cuba!” and “Libertad Para Los Cinco!”
Coalition of Progressive Electorate (COPE) Executive Committee member Wilson Munoz reminded everyone of the monumental efforts Cuba has made in solidarity with working oppressed people around the world, and re-affirmed his commitment to working for the Cuban 5 until they are all free.
The evening closed with the main attraction, Javier Domokos speaking about the case of the Cuban 5. Javier spoke with a lot of passion and optimism as he outlined some important developments in the case. These include a U.S. federal court order that the State Department to hand over files about secret payments that the U.S. government made to Miami-based journalists to prejudice the case of the Cuban Five in 2001.
Mr. Domokos also made special mention of the efforts of the Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver for its monthly picket actions in front of the US Consulate, among other consistent actions as part of 10 years of campaigning for the Cuban 5. He agreed with Tim Louis once again in saying this is the kind of work which needs to be done to finally win the freedom of the Cuban 5.
The event closed with Tamara once again thanking Javier for sharing his ideas and perspectives with Vancouver, and re-affirming the commitment more and more people around the world have been making to continue educating, organizing, and mobilizing until all of the Cuban 5 are free and returned to Cuba with their loved ones!
Volveran! They will Return!