5th Biennial CNC Convention affirms determination to strengthen Canada-Cuba relations and step up the work to free the Cuban Five, political prisoners in U.S. jails
Communiqué, Canadian Network on Cuba, September 20, 2010
THE Canadian Network on Cuba (CNC) held a very successful 5th Biennial Convention in Toronto from September 4-6, 2010. Delegates and observers from 18-member organizations were joined by observers and invited guests including Her Excellency, the Cuban Ambassador to Canada Teresita Vicente, the Consul General of Cuba to Canada Jorge Soberón and other Cuban guests. The Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) was represented by its Vice-President Basilio Gutiérrez and Alison Bodine represented the organization Pastors for Peace, which organizes the Friendshipment Caravans, which are aimed at breaking the U.S. blockade of Cuba in which Canadian solidarity organizations participate. Messages of greetings were received from La Table de Concertation de Solidarité Quebec-Cuba and the United States National Network On Cuba.
Both the Ambassador and Vice-President of ICAP emphasized the need to continue building and deepening the existing relations of friendship and cooperation that exist between Canada and Cuba. Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Liberal MP for St. Paul’s in Toronto also addressed the convention with a presentation, which focused on the lessons that the Canadian healthcare system can draw from Cuba’s experience.
A dynamic session on unions and Canada-Cuba solidarity featured the participation of Denis Lemelin, National President of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour and Jorge Garcia, United Steelworkers Canada-Global Affairs Officer. Their presentations highlighted the collaboration and mutual support between the Canadian union movement and their Cuban counterparts.
CNC Sets Its Program
The reports on the work of the CNC and its member organizations over the previous two years highlighted the breadth and diversity of activities across the country, encompassing the political, social and cultural spheres.
Themed “The Year of the Canadian Campaign to Free the Cuban Five,” the Convention paid specific attention to the work to break the wall of silence and disinformation that surrounds the unjust imprisonment of the five Cuban political prisoners in U.S. jails and resolved to make a concerted effort to request that the U.S. President immediately and unconditionally end their incarceration. Based on the reports, discussions and workshops, resolutions were adopted to strengthen the CNC’s work, including the decision to strengthen and make permanent the successful Cuba for Haiti Fundraising Campaign.
A new executive was elected to implement the Convention’s decisions: Laura Chesnik, Rolf Gerstenberger, Vincent Guihan, Elizabeth Hill, Dave Thomas, Isaac Saney and Ray Viaud. The executive subsequently selected Elizabeth Hill and Isaac Saney as co-chairs. Isaac Saney was also appointed National Spokesperson, with Laura Chesnik assuming the position of Secretary and Elizabeth Hill that of Treasurer.
The Convention’s three-day program also featured cultural programs, including a performance by the CNC’s new member, Hemingway on Stage of the second act of Hemingway’s Hot Havana. On Saturday evening, a packed film screening of the acclaimed documentary Moments with Fidel was held at A Different Booklist. Participants at the Convention also marched in the Labour Day Parade in Toronto bearing the CNC banner, and signs in support of the Cuban Five Heroes and against the U.S. blockade. We call on Canadians from all walks of life to join the work to build friendship between the Canadian and Cuban people and support Cuba’s right to self-determination as well as encourage organizations that support Cuba to join the CNC. The success of the Convention’s political, social and cultural program reflects the sentiment of Canadians to strengthen Canada-Cuba relations at all levels based on the principle of mutual respect and equality.
For information, contact:
CNC National Spokesperson
CNC member organizations participate in the Labour Day 2010 parade in Toronto.