excerpts from:
Notes on Che Guevara conference in Vancouver, B.C.

by: "Walter Lippmann" walterlx@earthlink.net
Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:11 pm (PDT)

Some weeks ago I was invited to participate in a conference held here in Vancouver, B.C., Canada to mark the 80th birthday of CheGuevara. Here are a few personal notes to supplement the detailed comments already presented on the CubaNews list by Tamara Hansen, the coordinator of the sponsoring group, Vancouver Communities inSolidarity with Cuba. I won't repeat what she said since it can be read here. It's quite detailed and has photographs, by the way:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/86865

It was a quite successful event, in my view. Attendance exceeded projections for the main speaker, Dalhousie University professorIsaac Saney who flew all the way from the other side of Canada (Halifax) to give an exciting and enthusiastic presentation about Cheand the current state of the Cuban Revolution. Isaac Saney's remarks were particularly well-received. Hopefully he will be write about the points he discussed. There was an almost full house with over a hundred present for the Friday night session. Even more than that came and went during the sessions on Saturday which went from early in the morning past midnight with dance education, home-prepared food, and dancing wrapping up the day's activities.

Saturday featured a series of films, workshops and numerous presentations, including remarks on two panels by young Cubans who came to the event: Irma Gonzalez, a member of the Union of Young Communists at the University of Havana, where she is studying psychology. Jairo Rodriguez, who is an officer of the University Students Federation (FEU) in Havana also spoke. For Rodriguez, who is also an accomplished guitarist and singer, this was his first time outside of Cuba. Samira Amndan, diplomatic attache of the Venezuelan Embassy in Ottawa also spoke. The gathering was opened up by an Indiginous Canadian woman in a special ceremony which politically conscious people here use to express their own solidarity with Indiginous peoples and their struggles.

The two Cuban visitors were welcomed with the greatest of enthusiasm, which they also returned to their hosts and the audience. These young people (He's 26, she had her 24th birthday on Sunday), weren't like what you might be expecting of visiting dignataries. They also picked up chairs, participated in the cleaning up of the meeting hall afterwards, and stayed, not in any fancy hotels, but in the homes ofconference organizers. Samira Amndan, the Venezuelan diplomatic attache, a woman in her late 20s with an extensive left political history going back to before the Chavez administration, just had a baby four months ago, but she didn't hesitate to pick up cooking implements and prepare a Venezuelan dish to share with some of the conference activists.

The gathering also drew a raft of activists from left organizations and tendencies, most of whom participated in the animated political discussions which followed the presentations which were given.

Ali Yerevani, Political Editor of the Canadian magazine called FIRE THIS TIME, gave a presentation about what he described as the sense of self-satisfaction which he sees infecting too many on the Canadian political left. Members of the audience joined in discussing his points as many were interested in the issues he raised an how the political left could make itself an effective force for social and political progress in the country. Yerevani is a most interesting man, with a long history going back to Iran where he got involved in politics before the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He's lived abroad since then, including a stint in Europe, another in the United States where he was in the Socialist Workers Party for some years, and here in Canada where he has lived for about a decade.

The day after the conference, many of those present went out to support the border crossing by the Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba which crossed over from Canada to the U.S. on Sunday. During the following week the Cuban visitors participated in print and electronic media interviews, and took a long ride (over four hours, each way), to the small city of Comox Valley on Vancouver island) to make a presentation and take questions from a local group, the Comox Valley Friends of Cuba.

Hopefully I didn't forget any major details, but it's been quite an enjoyable time here in Vancouver, where I'm going to hang out for awhile longer. Oh, I did a short radio interview one morning as well on the local Co-Op radio station, which is something like Pacifica and other non-commercial stations in the United States.

The weather here is a bit nippy, which makes me appreciate even more the distance from Los Angeles, where I'm told the weather is sweltering this week.

Walter LippmannVancouver, B.C., Canada

To view full report by Walter Lippmann go to: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CubaNews/message/86885