The exhibition/meeting was jointly organized on January 24 by the local Montreal branch of the CSN (one of the largest Quebec unions) and the Comité Fabio Di Celmo. The goal was to build support for the freedom of the Cuban Five as part of the worldwide effort. The attendees examined and reflected upon the exhibit. Dominique Daigneault, General Secretary of the Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain (CCMM-CSN), the sponsor of the event, said in her introductory remarks that she was moved to see so many people despite the record-breaking close to minus 40 degrees centigrade temperature. (The organizers were hoping for 50 people, but the result was the standing-room only attendance.) She explained how the CSN has been supporting Cuba for a long time, and lately specifically the Cuban Five in their struggle against their unjust imprisonment.
Her introduction was followed by a musical interlude and a screening of the video “The Bird and the Prisoner.” American actor Danny Glover outlined Gerardo’s incredible outreach from his prison to save a newborn orphaned bird that had wandered into the prison. This ongoing action, we saw, won the support of the prison population.
“Brothers and sisters,
Words cannot express how deeply I appreciate the effort of the Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain de la Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN-Québec), the Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5 de la Table de concertation de solidarité Quebec-Cuba and all the others who worked to make this exhibition a reality in the important city of Montreal. It is my understanding that all the promotion, explanations of my work and even this letter have been translated into French for the very first time.
It has been humbling to me how many countries these cartoons have been shown in, because they were not made with the idea that someday they would be displayed all together in an art exhibit. As some of you know, I spend a great deal of my time responding to hundreds of solidarity letters and I do this work lacking the material and appropriate conditions of a real artist. I am an art aficionado who draws cartoons out of a necessity to express myself in a certain way. This necessity comes from a desire to send out a message to our people or to express my perspective before different events, such as the birthday of someone we admire or the death of a friend.
Someone once said that “humor liberates” (and if nobody did say that, I will say it now) and for me it is something that “gets us out” for at least a few moments from behind the walls where we have been unjustly imprisoned for almost 15 years. The Cuban Five have been expressing themselves through humor – in this case – or by painting and poetry in the case of Tony, and – although less known – in the paintings of Fernando and the poetry of Ramón and René.
On behalf of all of us, I want to thank you for being here today and for the solidarity that it represents in our struggle for justice. We know that the key to our inevitable freedom lives in that solidarity that continues to grow worldwide.
¡Hasta La Victoria Siempre!
Victorville Penitentiary California
January 20, 2013”