Alicia Jrapko, U.S. coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, opened the program by welcoming those attending, "it is with great joy that today we can finally say that the Five are free and back in Cuba, safe and sound with their loved ones and their people. Many have asked us if we could see it coming and even though we saw some signs we were as surprised as anyone. In fact we were already moving ahead on the organizing of the fourth "5 days for the Cuban 5" that was to take place in September of this year. For example we had already secured a permit for a demonstration at the White House on September 12 and Cheryl LaBash had just signed a lease for a house here in Washington for us to use as an organizing office and a place to stay. We cannot tell you how happy we are that we will not have to do this!" she said with happiness and a visible hint of surprise.
Netfa Freeman, another member of the International Committee, thanked organizations and individuals for their support in recent years to ensure the success of the activities carried out in Washington D.C. including the three annual "5 days for the Cuban 5". Freeman reminded those present that it was 39 years ago on this day that American Indian political prisoner Leonard Peltier was unjustly imprisoned.
Following Gerardo was a slide show given by social documentary photographer, and member of the International Committee, Bill Hackwell who presented dozens of images depicting the reception that the Five received when they returned home. Many of the photographs showed the Heroes in their homeland interacting with the people in their communities and in public places.
The evening was filled with songs of hope and encouragement relating to the release of the Five performed by musicians and groups including the D.C. Labor Chorus, the Chilean song writer and singer Patricio Zamorano and the talented rap duo from the D.C. Slam Team.
The activity at the Festival Center closed an important chapter of more than 10 years of struggle for the freedom of the Five, but opened a new stage that without doubt will bring new challenges.