The Cuban 5

The Cuban Five are Free!
posted by Answer Coalition
December 17, 2014


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At last! The Cuban 5 are free. After 16 years of imprisonment, the United States government has released the final three members of the Cuban 5: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero


The imprisonment of the Cuban 5 for the last 16 years has been a grave injustice. Their freedom has been a focal point for struggle by people around the world who demanded their release.
The Cuban 5 came to the United States to expose and prevent terrorism directed against their country from within the territory of the United States.
They were never terrorists; they were always fighting terrorism.
The imprisonment of the Cuban 5 has been one chapter, one battle in a decades-long war directed against the Cuban people and the Cuban Revolution.
The Cuban people have been blockaded, invaded and subjected to all kinds of terrorism, and yet have remained resolute in defending the independence of their country and the social system that puts people before profits.
Congratulations to Cuba, to the Cuban 5 and their families, and to all of those who have rallied in support of their freedom around the world.
The ANSWER Coalition has organized scores of demonstrations, rallies, campus events, mass petitions, letter writing to Congress and other activities as part of the movement to free the Cuban 5. We thank all of the ANSWER Coalition supporters and volunteers who have dedicated so much time and effort to this noble cause.
Movements from the grassroots can make change. In fact, power is in the people if we are organized and mobilized. We will continue to fight for justice.

It is time to end the war against Cuba. It is time to end the blockade of Cuba and to normalize relations with Cuba.

Brian Becker,
National Coordinator ANSWER Coalition
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New International Campaign for the Cuban 5 "Together for the Holidays"

Dear Friends,
We are announcing a new campaign "Together for the Holidays", on behalf of the three remaining members of the Cuban Five still imprisoned in the United States. Our aim is to urge the president to release them so that they can be home with their families for the Holiday season and the New Year.
We are asking each committee in support of the Five, in their respective countries, to contact personalities who have joined the cause of the Five during these 16 years and ask them to add their names to the enclosed letter (English and French versions) The letter will be sent to Obama before the Holidays so there is some urgency.
The purpose of the campaign is to bring the issue of the Five at a particular time when there is awareness and discussion about the case. There are many new voices asking Obama for their freedom and a fundamental change of policy towards Cuba.  The holidays provide us with a perfect opportunity to push Obama towards a turning point of the struggle for their freedom.
We asking you to gather the names of the personalities as soon as possible and begin to send them to the following addresses:
For Spanish-speaking countries: navidadconlos5juntos@gmail.com
For the rest of the world: christmastogetherthe5@gmail.com
We only need the names of the personalities, with a brief description of who they are, and the country where they are from.
The time is vital and we must act quickly. Please send us the names of the personalities no later than December 20. We only have a little more than one month to achieve our common goal. Together we can do it.

In solidarity,
Katrien Demuynck, Coordinator of the European Campaign of Solidarity with Cuba
Wafica Ibrahim, International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 in the Arab World.  
Alicia Jrapko and Graciela Ramírez
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
Please see format letter below:

December 2014

Dear President Obama,

In the last few weeks, the New York Times, one of the most influential newspapers in the United States published a series of editorials and opinions asking your administration to change its policy towards Cuba. In the center of this just demand, is the case of three Cuban men who have been in U.S. prisons since 1998.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero are part of the internationally known "Cuban Five" who came to the United States to monitor the activities of violent groups of Cuban exiles who as a result of their actions have caused great suffering to many Cuban families. Unarmed, the altruistic mission of the Five was to safe lives and prevent more criminal acts against their people, and also against U.S. citizens.

General James Clapper, current National Director of Intelligence, testified at their trial that "The Five" did not damage, nor did they endanger U.S. National Security. Two of them, René González and Fernando González have returned to Cuba after serving their entire sentences.  

In these 16 years  of injustice personalities from around the world including 10 Nobel Laureates, jurists, intellectuals, artists, trade union and religious leaders, parliamentarians, governments, human rights organizations and U.S. elected officials, have demanded their freedom over and over again. These demands have been supported by major international bodies such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and Amnesty International.

Former President Jimmy Carter expressed in 2011: "I believe that the detention of the Cuban Five makes no sense, there have been doubts expressed in U.S. courts and by human rights organizations around the world. They have now been in prison 12 years and I hope that in the near future they will be freed to return to their homes." 

President Obama, 16 years of this unjust imprisonment is too long. The undersigned have added their voice to all the people of good will around the world who are asking you to find a solution to this case.

In the spirit of the holiday season, we ask you to use the powers vested in you by the Constitution of the United States, and allow these three Cuban men to return to their homes soon, so they can embrace their elderly mothers, wives and children and began the New Year with their families. 

President Obama, you can do it. A humanitarian gesture would constitute a major step forward in the relations between the two countries; we ask you to do the right thing. The people of the United States and peoples of the world would thank you.

Sincerely,



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René González speaks at news conference for the Cuban 5

By  on June 1, 2013  Workers World
René González speaks via Skype at May 30 press conference in Washington, D.C.WW photo: Berta Joubert-Ceci
René González speaks via Skype at May 30 press conference in Washington, D.C.
WW photo: Berta Joubert-Ceci
Washington, D.C. — René González, the first of the Cuban Five to be released from U.S. jails, was the first speaker at the press conference on May 30 in Washington, D.C., that opened the Second “Five Days for the Five.” The purpose of this international event is to take up the case of the Cuban Five and raise awareness about both this serious criminal injustice and the overall criminal U.S. policy toward the Republic of Cuba.
To change U.S. policy and to liberate the rest of the Five — our brothers Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino — we must let the people of the United States know of this effort and convince them to join it. While we know a good job is being done in the legal arena, we also know that victory in most cases can be won only   through the pressure of public opinion.
No wonder then that the U.S big capitalist media were noticeably absent from this news conference. In contrast, the same day, as good and faithful representatives of the imperialist policy of the government and the Pentagon, these media echoed the latest barbarism committed against revolutionary Cuba: the U.S. government’s decision to keep Cuba on the list as a state sponsor of terrorism. This is a further example of the enormous hypocrisy of the imperialist state that promotes economic, political and military terrorism while it denies freedom to five anti-terrorists, the Cuban Five.
Alicia Jrapko, the representative and leading organizer in the U.S. of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, chaired and opened the press conference by talking about the importance of the case. The Second week-long event — Five Days for the Cuban 5 — was organized by the International Committee and endorsed by the Institute for Policy Studies.
René speaks to the people of the U.S.
From his home in his beloved homeland, René González addressed the U.S. people through a Skype connection. After spending 15 years in U.S. prisons, he was finally able to return to and stay in Cuba with his loved ones in exchange for renouncing his U.S. citizenship.
In his brief speech, René González made it clear that his struggle for the liberation of the rest of the Five continues and that as long as one of them remains in U.S. prisons, they will remain the Cuban Five, as he can only enjoy his freedom when all five are released. Speaking in English, he expressed thanks for the solidarity expressed for the Five from all people around the world.
González noted the importance of this second series of actions that will make Washington hear the call for justice from people worldwide. He appealed to the media representatives present to learn more about the case and publicize the facts, exposing the truth, so that finally justice is done for his four comrades, who are still imprisoned, accused of crimes they never committed.
Hateful verdict, media lynching
Then Ignacio Ramonet, who traveled from France where he’s based, joined the campaign by speaking out. Ramonet is a university professor and editor of the Spanish version of Le Monde Diplomatique. He was also one of the organizers of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and author of the book of interviews, “100 hours with Fidel.” Ramonet began his presentation by echoing what he said was the expression of many European reporters about the case of the Five, which is a “verdict based on hatred and revenge” by the U.S.
Ramonet categorized the verdict as a “media lynching to influence the jury and the court created by journalists who we now know were paid by the U.S. government … resulting not only in their sentence, but in disproportionate jail sentences.” With his passionate words in defense of Cuba and the Cuban Five, he invited those listening to remember the history of Cuba, which he emphasized “had never, in 60 years, committed any act of violence against the United States.” And although no U.S. person has ever been injured by Cuba, this country still suffers from U.S.-promoted terrorist acts.
Dolores Huerta, the renowned co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union in the 1960s, along with the very famous Cesar Chávez, emphasized the terribly prejudiced, “poisoned” anti-Cuba atmosphere in Miami, where the trial of the Five was held. She drew attention to the difficulty the relatives of the Five had trying to visit them. Huerta stressed the need for President Barack Obama to take a stand and do something to free the Five.
Wayne Smith, former State Department official for 25 years (1957-1982), also spoke to the press. Smith is now director of the Cuba Project at the Center for International Policy and directs the Exchange Project between the University of Havana and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He is an expert on U.S. policy toward Cuba because, among his many official responsibilities for the government, Smith was in charge of the mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana during the Carter administration.
Smith pointed out the many contradictions of the irrational U.S. policy toward Cuba and also recalled that Latin America is strongly united both in its solidarity with Cuba and in the rejection of Washington’s aggressive policy toward Cuba.
Also participating in the news conference were some of the many personalities, parliamentarians, intellectuals, artists and activists in Latin America who will take part in the diverse range of activities for the Second event for the Five during the rest of the week. Among these are the Nicaraguan Sofia Clark D’Escoto, former secretary of the Nicaraguan Embassy in Washington, and Fernando Morais, well-known Brazilian politician and author of “The Last Soldiers of the Cold War,” a book that reveals details of the manipulation of the Five’s case.
To end the news conference, René González reiterated Cuba’s willingness to sit down and talk with the U.S. on many issues of concern to both countries. The U.S. has arrogantly refused this offer up to now.
Cheryl LaBash, logistics assistant for the week’s events who works with the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, underlined for Workers World the importance of René González’s words that the “case will be decided in a court of millions.” This, LaBash said, “is especially important inside the United States, where we need to intensify our work to free the Cuban Five.”
 Also see:

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LETTER OF CINDY SHEEHAN TO OBAMA

August 5, 2012    

Dear President Obama,

Though I have little faith you will actually read this letter, my passion for this cause gives me optimism that you might take a moment to hear me.

I am writing to you about the case of the "Cuban 5." The Cuban Five are five Cuban anti-terrorist agents from Cuba, who came to the United States to monitor the activities of real terrorists-Cuban expatriates living here who planned violent counter-revolutionary acts in Cuba and have been responsible for the deaths of thousands of Cubans over the years.

As you probably know, my son, Casey Austin Sheehan, was killed in Iraq on April 04, 2004. He was lied to by his government and military leadership that told him he was occupying another's land to "fight terrorism." So many injustices have been committed in this so-called Global War on Terror, but these Five Cuban heroes have been in US jails and prisons for fourteen years and their only real crime was not registering as foreign agents-a mild crime that usually carries a mild sentence of expulsion or short prison terms.

However, to obfuscate the USA's training of and harboring of real terrorists, such as Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, the injustice system of this country has convicted these five Cubans in a travesty of justice and the penalties were inhumane.

I have read numerous other letters to you from colleagues who have also pled with you to Free the Five based on the fact that they are sons, husbands, and fathers who need to return to their homeland and be with their families. Since you are already well aware of the deaths of sons, fathers, husbands, wives, mothers, and daughters due to the expansion of the Bush wars, and starting a few of your own, I am rather certain that approach will not work.

I know and care about the families of the Five-Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González-they are optimistic and wonderful human beings. I have had the fortune of getting to know them over the years during my travels to Cuba and around the world. I am not appealing to you based on compassion as that would be a useless waste of my time and yours-the US imprisons more people per capita than any other nation in the world. Nor am I appealing to you based on the fact that you were a Constitutional Scholar and lawyer, primarily because what happened to the Five was an obscenity of the law, as was the signing of the NDAA into law, drone bombing in countries without a declaration of war, and assassinating US citizens without the due process guaranteed by the Constitution-all clearly in violation of the Constitution and also obscene.

However, I am appealing to you to "Free the Five" based on the fact that you have said, and shown the world, that the USA can "act pre-emptively" to protect our "safety," and I would like to believe that you would extend the Cuban people and government the same right to protect its citizens from acts of terrorism.

Your regime has vigorously violated the sovereignty of several countries in the purported quest to "keep America safe." The Cuban government and the Five Heroes did far less.

As a United States citizen, I do not make appeals of the people who work for me, however, I demand that my government allow the Four still imprisoned people listed above, as well as René González, who is out but on probation in Miami (which is the worst place for him to be because of the counter-revolutionary Cuban terrorists who live there) to return home. They have been punished enough for a relatively small crime.

President Obama, you have also made a statement that "Cuba needs to change its society" before you will consider normalizing relations. The blockade is an anachronism from the Cold War that can be lifted to the benefit of both nations- then you can go visit and see how wrong you've been.

Cindy Sheehan

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Peoples' Tribunal Assembly to 
Free the Cuban Five
www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca -

September 21-23, 2012
Toronto, Canada
 www.freethe5peoplestribunal.org 


Almost 14 years ago, the Cuban Five -- René González, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando González -- were falsely charged and wrongly convicted in a Miami courtroom of "conspiracy to commit espionage" against the U.S. on behalf of the Cuban government. Ever since the unjust conviction, the five Cubans have been held in separate U.S. prisons, often in solitary confinement.
 In fact, the politically-motivated trial and conviction of the Cuban Five had nothing to do with threats to U.S. security. The Cuban Five never conspired to commit espionage. They were on a mission to monitor and report on violent groups in Miami that are well known by the U.S. government to be responsible for terrorist acts against the Cuban people.
 For more than 50 years, hundreds of attacks have been launched against Cuba by these extreme right-wing groups, whose aim is the violent overthrow of the Cuban government. Their campaign of bombings, assassinations and other attacks has left 3,478 Cubans dead and 2,099 seriously injured.
 The Cuban Five were peacefully trying to do what U.S. law enforcement authorities have refused to: prevent terrorism.
This horrific injustice against the Five has provoked an unprecedented campaign in the U.S., Canada and around the world to demand that their convictions be overturned and that they be granted immediate release.
 As part of this international effort to achieve the freedom of the Cuban Five, a number of trade unions and solidarity groups from across Canada, in coordination with the Canadian Network on Cuba and La Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba, are convoking a Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly on September 21-23, 2012 in Toronto, to shed new light on this egregious injustice and to build a broad public campaign to demand their freedom.
 The Peoples' Tribunal Assembly aims:
- to act as a forum for education and for launching an appeal to get justice for the Cuban Five;
- to break the silence of the mainstream media about this case; and
- to map out the next steps of a broad and united campaign on the Cuban Five in Québec and across the rest of Canada.
 The Peoples' Tribunal, composed of prominent Canadian and international panelists, will hear from expert witnesses before rendering a ruling. Although the Tribunal's ruling will not be legally or judicially binding, it will carry moral force and suasion of the outrage of concerned people across Canada and internationally.
 Witnesses will testify to the suffering caused to the Cuban people and to others as a result of all the terrorist attacks against Cuba and Cuban interests. They will testify to the unjust trial in Miami, the U.S. government's covert payments to journalists covering the trial, the horrendous sentences given to the Cuban Five and the violation of international law by the United States government regarding the inhumane treatment they have endured, the denial of visitation rights to family members and the U.S. government's harbouring and protection of self-confessed anti-Cuban terrorists.
 The Peoples' Assembly will serve to develop and adopt an extensive plan of action to pressure the Canadian government to join the international demand urging U.S. President Obama to use his authority to immediately release the Cuban Five and allow them to return to their homeland.
 Guests and participants include:
• Family members of the "Cuban Five" • Livio Di Celmo, a victim of terrorism against Cuba, Montréal, Québec • Danny Glover, actor, U.S.A. • Gloria La Riva, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five-U.S.A. • Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist, U.S.A. • Libby Davies, NDP MP, Vancouver East • Rodolfo Dávalos Fernández, lawyer, Havana, Cuba • Tony Woodley, UNITE trade union, UK • José Pertierra, lawyer, Washington, D.C. • Denis Lemelin, National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers • Marie Clarke Walker, Canadian Labour Congress • Isaac Saney, professor, Dalhousie University, Halifax • Arnold August, writer, Montréal, Québec • Raymundo Navarro, Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC) • Bernie Dwyer, documentary film producer, Ireland • Dra. Digna Castañeda, Cuba • Julian Rivas, journalist, Venezuela • Wes Elliott, Grand Chief, Grand River Territory • Keith Bolender, journalist and author, Toronto • Richard Klugh, lawyer for the Cuban Five, U.S.A. • Ken Neumann, National Director for Canada, United Steelworkers • Stephen Kimber, professor of Journalism, University of Kings College, Halifax • Alicia Jrapko, International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, U.S.A. • William Sloan, civil rights lawyer, Montréal, Québec •
 For more information about the Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly, and to find out details about registration, go to www.freethe5peoplestribunal.org or contact the Organizing Committee attribunal.five@gmail.com.

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Visiting Gerardo

The View From Victorville Prison
by DANNY GLOVER and SAUL LANDAU

We visited Gerardo Hernandez for the fifth time and, as usual, his spirits seemed higher than ours despite the fact that he resides in a maximum-security federal prison.
Gerardo and three other Cuban intelligence agents approach their 14thyear of incarceration – each in different federal penitentiaries. Rene Gonzalez, the fifth Member of the Cuban Five, got paroled after serving thirteen years, but not allowed to leave south Florida without permission for another 2½ years.
The uniform, given to Gerardo earlier in the day, looks three sizes too large. But the ill-fitting tan jumpsuit doesn’t affect Gerardo’s smile or the warm embrace of his hug when he greets us.
He had watched some of the recent CNN “Situation Room” shows in which Wolf Blitzer interviewed a variety of actors – Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Victoria Nuland (Press agent at State), Alan Gross (convicted of anti-regime activities in Cuba) and Josefina Vidal (US desk chief in Cuban Foreign Ministry). They presented views on the justice or injustice surrounding the cases of Gross and the 5.
Cuba sent the 5 to south Florida in the 1990s to stop terrorism in Cuba because that’s where the planning for bombings of hotels, bars and clubs took place, he explained. In 2009, “Gross came to Cuba as part of a US plan to push for “regime change,” Gerardo asserted.
Gross sounded desperate when he talked to Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s Situation Room. He described his confinement in a military hospital: “It’s just like a prison, with bars on the windows.” Did he forget he received a fifteen-year sentence?
For Gerardo, bars, barbed wire, electronically operated, heavy metal doors, and guards watching and periodically screaming commands describe routine daily life in the Victorville Federal Prison.
Gerardo eats a pink slime sandwich, which we bought at the visiting room’s vending machines and popped into the microwave. We munch on junk food – all bought from the same sadistic apparatus offering various choices of poisons.
Other prisoners, mostly sentenced for drug dealing, sit with wives or women companions and kids under the watchful eyes of three guards seated above on a platform. The uniformed men chuckle and exchange prison gossip; we talk about Gerardo’s case.
The Miami federal judge condemned him to two consecutive life sentences plus fifteen years for conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit espionage must get to him. Gerardo became a victim of the strange notion of US justice in Miami where the US prosecutor presented not a shred of evidence to suggest Gerardo Hernandez knew about Havana’s plan to shoot down two planes flying over Cuban air space (“murder”); nor that he had any control over, or role in what happened on February 24, 1996 when two Cuban MIG fighters rocketed two Brothers to the Rescue planes and killed both pilots and co-pilots – just as Cuban had warned the US government it would do if the illegal over-flights continued.
Indeed the evidence paints a very different picture of what Gerardo Hernandez really knew. Cuban State Security would hardly inform a mid level agent of a decision made by Cuban leaders to shoot down intruding aircraft after he had delivered a series of warnings to Washington.
In fact, as a new Stephen Kimber book  shows, “the back-and-forth memos between Havana and its field officers in the lead-up to the MIG jets firing rockets at the Brothers’ planes make it clear everything was on a need-to-know basis—and Gerardo Hernandez didn’t need to know what the Cuban military was considering.” (Shootdown: The Real Story of Brothers to the Rescue and the Cuban Five. Available as an ebook)
Gerardo, like the Cuban government, insists the Brothers’ planes got shot down over Cuban airspace, not in international waters as Washington claims. But the National Security Agency, which had satellite images of the fatal event, has refused to release them.
The Brothers’ planes had over flown Cuban airspace for more than half a year (1995-6) before they got blown out of the sky. Cuba had alerted the White House several times, and a National Security Counsel official had written the Federal Aviation Authority to strip the Brothers’ pilot licenses – to no avail.
The Cuban intelligence agents that had infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue had informed Havana that Jose Basulto, the Brothers’ chief, had successfully test fired air-to-ground weapons he might use against Cuba. For Cuba, the Brothers had become a security threat.
The NSA documents, however, never arrived at the trial, nor did Gerardo’s lawyers get them for the appeals.
Gerardo’s case for exoneration for conspiracy to murder rests on establishing one simple fact: if the shoot downs occurred over Cuban airspace no crime was committed.
On conspiracy to commit espionage, the government relied on Gerardo’s admission that he was a Cuban intelligence agent rather than seek evidence to show he tried to get secret government documents or any classified material. Gerardo’s job was to prevent terrorist strikes against Cuba by exiled Cubans in Miami, not penetration of secret US government agencies.
Justice in the autonomous Republic of Miami led five anti-terrorists to prison. Gerardo smiles, perhaps his way of telling us he remains convinced he did the right thing, meaning he has stayed true to his convictions. We wonder if we could endure fourteen years of maximum-security confinement.
DANNY GLOVER is an activist and an actor.
SAUL LANDAU’S  ”WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP” screens at San Francisco’s Brava Theater (24th York) on June 8, 7:30.




René González, one of the five anti-terrorist Cuban fighters unfairly given harsh prison sentences in the United States, arrived to Cuba on Friday on a family, private visit in the wake of authorization by a US judge to visit his gravely ill brother.

According to information released by the TV news program, René arrived minutes alter midday.

On February 24, René had filed through his lawyer an emergency motion before the South Florida District Court, requesting an authorization to visit his brother, seriously ill in Cuba.

Nearly a month later, on March 19, Judge Joan Lenard, who have been handling the case of The Cuban Five since the start of their proceedings, authorized the trip for 15 days under certain conditions, including obtaining all US government travel permits needed.

She also set as a prerequisite failing a detailed travel schedule, his location in Cuba and information of contact in the country, as well as a systematic phone contact with his probation officer.

The judge also made clear that all conditions of Rene's supervised release remain unchanged and he has to go back to the United States as soon as the two weeks pass from the date of his trip.

After having suffered 13 years of unfair prison, René is under a supervised release regime for another three years during which he has to remain in the United States, which constitutes an additional sanction.

The decision of authorizing his trip is fully in line with conditions established for his supervised release, which allow him to travel to Cuba after an approval by the probation officer or the judge.

Even the US Government, which has opposed all motions filed by René to be allowed a permanent return to Cuba and his temporary visit to his brother, admitted that conditions of his supervised release do not prevent him from visiting our country.

In this regard, as of March 7, 2011, the Attorney General's Office argued that the terms of Rene's supervised release do not prevent him from traveling to Cuba during that period. "Nothing will prevent him from requesting his probation officer (or the court, if he was denied that by the former) a permit to travel to Cuba to visit his wife, his old parents or other relatives."

In the motion filed by his lawyer, Rene said he would comply with the terms established for the visit and return to the United States.

Despite the terms imposed, our people, with deep respect, welcomes home our beloved René, and do not stop fighting for his final, permanent return home along with his four close brothers, says the press release.

René González, along with his comrades Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González, was detained in 1998 in the United States for monitoring Miami-based violent groups operating against Cuba.




“CONDEMNED HEROES”..

 “Os ultimos soldados da guerra fria” (The Cold War’s Last Soldiers), a book by Fernando Morais edited by the Companhia das Letras (2011), would have made 007’s author Ian Fleming envious had he not died in 1964 particularly because it proves that once again, reality surpasses fiction.

Suppose there was a bar at the corner of your street sheltering suspects of having assaulted houses in the neighbourhood. As a preventative measure you try to infiltrate a detective amongst them in order to protect your family. The police, with an eye on the scoundrels, identify the detective. Instead of arresting the thieves they jail the one who infiltrated…

This is what happened with five Cubans who, monitored by the Cuban intelligence services, infiltrated into anti Castro groups in Florida which were responsible for 681 terrorist attempts against Cuba resulting in the murder of 3478 people and causing serious injuries to another 2099.

Cubans Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández and Ramon Labañino have been in prison in the USA since September 1998. The fifth, René González, condemned to 15 years, was given conditional freedom on 7th October 2011 mainly because he has dual nationality (American and Cuban) and is forbidden from leaving the country.

The rest are serving heavy sentences: Hernández was condemned to a double life sentence plus 15 years in prison… he would require three lives in order to serve such an absurd sentence. Labañino was condemned to life plus 18 years, Guerrero to life plus 10 years and Fernando to 19 years.

The five belonged to Rede Vespa which provided Havana with information regarding terrorists who, by air or disguised as tourists, practised attempts against Cuba, smuggled arms and set off explosives in Havana hotels causing injuries and deaths.

Bush and Obama should be grateful to the Cuban government for identifying the terrorists who use American territory to attack the socialist Caribbean island with impunity. However, what happens is the opposite, as revealed in the well documented book by Fernando Morais. The FBI arrested the Cuban agents and continues to ignore the terrorists who promote clandestine aerial incursions over Cuba and pursue armed training in Miami’s surrounding areas.

In 15 chapters, Morais’ book tells how Cuban security prepares its security agents; the saga of the Salvadorian mercenary who received soldier’s pay from Miami and placed five bombs in hotels and restaurants in Havana; the role of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, as carrier pigeon, in the exchange of correspondence between Fidel Castro and Bill Clinton; the secret visit of FBI agents to Havana and the volume of proof against Cuban Miami offered to them under Fidel’s orders.

“The Cold War’s Last Soldiers” is the result of exhaustive research and interviews by the author in Cuba, USA and Brazil. Written in easy style, with no ideological adjectives or considerations, the book proves why Cuba has resisted for over 50 years as the only socialist country in the West: the Revolution and its social victories inspire in the population a sense of sovereignty which induces it to preserve them as a gesture of love.

For those who, thanks to the biological lottery, were born into families in a social class immune from misery and poverty in capitalist countries, it is difficult to understand why the Cubans do not rebel against the authorities who govern them. Now, when one lives in a country only 140 Km away from the greatest military, economic and ideological power in history which has blocked it for half a century, to resist for so long and even deserve the praises of John Paul II during his visit in 1998 is a matter of pride.

There are Cuban doctors and teachers involved in the service of solidarity in poor areas in more than 100 countries including Brazil. The number of deserters is minimal, considering the amount of professionals who, once their tour of duty is over, return to Cuba. And the Revolution, as happens now under the government of Raul Castro, has tried to modernise so as not to perish.

Perhaps this large outdoor poster found close to Havana airport and mentioned frequently by Fernando Morais can help to understand the civic conscience of a people who struggled to free themselves from being a colony first from Spain and then from the USA: “Tonight 200 million children will sleep on the streets of the world. Not one of them is Cuban”.

*Frei Betto is a writer, author of “Diario de Fernando – nos carceres da ditadura militar brasileira” (Fernando’s Diary – in the prisons of the Brazilian military dictatorship) (Rocco). http://www.freibetto.org/>  twitter: @freibetto





Amnesty Intl's 2011 Report on U.S. Calls Cuban Five Trial "Unfair,"


Amnesty International has released its 2011 report on human rights around the world. In its chapter on the United States, the section entitled "Unfair Trials" lists just one - the trial of the Cuban Five. The writeup spotlights the issue which has been the focus of the work of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five for more than a year, and which forms a central part of the current round of appeals of the Five - the U.S. government-paid journalists who helped poison the atmosphere during the trial.

In June, a new appeal was filed in the case of Gerardo Hernández, one of five men convicted in 2001 of acting as intelligence agents for Cuba and related charges. The appeal was based, in part, on evidence that the US government had secretly paid journalists to write prejudicial articles in the media at the time of trial, thereby undermining the defendants' due process rights. In October, Amnesty International sent a report to the Attorney General outlining the organization's concerns in the case.

On October 2010 Amnesty International had published a Report on the case of the Cuban Five concluding that:  "The organization believes that the concerns outlined above combine to raise serious doubts about the fairness of the proceedings leading to their conviction, in particular the prejudicial impact of publicity about the case on a jury in Miami. Amnesty International hopes that these concerns can still be given due consideration by the appropriate appeal channels. Should the legal appeals process not provide a timely remedy, and given the long prison terms imposed and length of time the prisoners have already served, Amnesty International is supporting calls for a review of the case by the US executive authorities through the clemency process or other appropriate means."

For more information see complete report in English: 



Seattle Teacher's Union
hosts Antonio's art exhibit
Opening reception Thurs., Jan. 12, 2012

Web Bug from http://img.constantcontact.com/letters/images/spacer.gif
Antonio prison shirtWith an opening reception this Thursday, Jan. 12, the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789 of Seattle, Washington, is hosting the beautiful exposition of paintings by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban Five unjustly imprisoned more than 13 years.

The M. Rosetta Hunter Gallery, home of the exposition, is centrally located in downtown Seattle at the main campus of Seattle Community College, 1701 Broadway. The opening reception is 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Thurs. Jan. 12.

Ken Matsudaira, director and curator of the gallery, has been working diligently to prepare the exposition. He says, "We are very excited to be able to host Antonio's art to reach to the community with the powerful message of his paintings and to tell the story of the Cuban Five. We feel privileged to host his art." He has also highlighted several poems of Antonio's in the exhibit.

John Martinez, organizer of the exposition and member of the AFT Human and Civil Rights Committee, says, "It is our hope that once our faculty members, staff, students, and the public are aware of Antonio's story, as well as the others, they will seek ways to help the Cuban Five win justice."

The M.L. King Central Labor Council, representing 130 union locals and 75,000 members, sent notice of the Exposition to all delegates of the council. There has been extensive outreach to all four College Campuses. Several programs will be held at the gallery to educate the public about the Cuban Five. The local chapter of National Committee to Free the Cuban Five will provide literature at the reception and through the showing. The exposition is an important way to break through the media censorship of the Cuban Five's 13-year-long battle for freedom.

A few days before his current transfer from Florence prison to a still-unannounced location, Antonio Guerrero expressed his appreciation to director Ken Matsudaira and to John Martinez for their support of him and his brothers, as well as the care and sponsorship of his paintings.

Martinez says, "In voting to sponsor Antonio's art show, From My Altitude, the Executive board of our union draws on the union tenet that 'an Injury to One is an Injury to All.'

"The union recognized the grievous nature of the human and civil rights violations committed against the Five, and the urgency to use this art show to further educate our membership, college staff, students and the public about this situation."

If you live in the Seattle, be sure and bring your friends to see the inspiring exposition!


Help organize a public event for the Cuban Five in your area!

Whether it is a public forum with speakers and a film on the Cuban Five, or if your community can host the art exhibit of Antonio Guerrero, if you can volunteer with our committee now or intern with us for a semester if you are a student, or intern during the summer, contact us today! There is so much more to do to win the Five's freedom. Any time you can give will help.


Contact us: info@freethefive.org
Or call: 415-821-6545
http://www.facebook.com/FreeTheFive




Grand Valley State baseball players find surprises during trip, games in Cuba
January 10, 2012,  The Grand Rapids Press
By Chris Cloonan


Following a week-long trip to Cuba, Grand Valley State University’s baseball team returned home Monday with team members thrilled to have been part of a cultural exchange with a country so historically cut off from their own.
The trip, two and a half years in the making, took the 30 players to the island nation for a week of exhibition games against Cuban all-stars, meetings with Cuban sports officials and a chance to transcend political hostilities.
“There’s so much more to it than just baseball,” said university President Tom Haas.
The team, he said, experienced a cultural opportunity that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Though the Lakers stayed at the top of the NCAA Division II rankings for most of last season, they knew they would face tough competition during their three games against the all-stars — a group of 18 to 22-year-olds from across the country.
The Cuban team proved them right, winning the three games played between Thursday and Saturday, 13-5, 8-5 and 4-3 in 10 innings.
“There were probably six to eight guys that were certainly draftable,” said Grand Valley State coach Steve Lyon.
Grand Valley also struggled with game-day differences — wooden bats as opposed to their accustomed aluminum bats and a natural field instead of turf at the country’s stadiums, including the site of the second game, Havana’s Estadio Latinoamericano, the so-called Yankee Stadium of Cuba.
The fans’ neutrality was another surprise. Even when a bad call favored their own team, they booed the umpire.
“There were a lot of people hootin’ and hollerin’,” said senior catcher and team captain Jared Cowan. “It was great.”
But Grand Valley’s experience on the field didn’t surprise the team as much as its experience off the field.
“I think a lot of Americans have these stereotypes — that it’s a communist country, that you don’t really have any rights and people don’t really like Americans,” Cowan said. “All that kind of stuff was totally untrue in our eyes.”
The Grand Valley players were excited to forge friendships with the Cuban players and exchange jerseys and caps as a sign of mutual acceptance.
“The exchange and the smiles and the genuine friendship was really cool to see,” said Tim Sego, Grand Valley’s athletic director.
Another proud moment, Selgo said, came when the players stopped at a baseball field on their way back to Old Havana on Sunday and distributed two boxes of used baseball gear to groups of local children.
“Watching our guys do that will be my best memory of the trip,” Selgo said. “The smiles they had were as equal to the smiles the children had.”


David Morris contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: Cloonan and Morris are participants in Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism’s Journalism Without Walls winter 2012 program in Cuba.







Maestra, a documentary film directed by Catherine Murphy, 33 mins., Spanish and English, with English subtitles, 2011, maestrathefilm.org

The high rate of literacy in Cuba is one of the proud and much touted accomplishments of the Cuban Revolution. Beginning half a century ago, in 1961, the literacy campaign mobilized more than 1 million Cubans as teachers or students. In that same year, 707,000 Cubans learned how to read or write. Maestra tells the story of that inspiring campaign through the memories of the women who served as literacy teachers—the maestras themselves.

The filmmaker, Catherine Murphy, lived in Cuba in the 1990s and earned a master’s degree at the University of Havana. She is the founder and director of a multimedia project known as the Literacy Project, which focuses on gathering oral histories of volunteer teachers from the literacy campaign. For Maestra, the first documentary to arise from the project, she interviewed more than 50 women and 13 men who were involved in the campaign. Many of them are now in their seventies. She also carried out five years of research in the Cuban national film archives.

More info:


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Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez


Antonio is serving sentence at the Florence United States Penitentiary (USP) in Colorado. 
You can write to Antonio at:
Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez
No. 58741-004
FCI Florence
PO BOX 6000
Florence, CO 81226


Regresaré (I will return)

Regresaré y le diré a la vida
he vuelto para ser tu confidente.
De norte a sur le entregaré a la gente
la parte del amor en mi encendida.

Regaré la alegría desmedida
de quien sabe reir humildemente.
De este a oeste levantaré la frente
con la bondad de siempre prometida.

Por donde pasó el viento, crudo y fuerte,
irè a buscar las hojas del camino
y agruparé sus sueños de tal suerte
que no puedan volar en torbellino.
Cantaré mis canciones al destino
y con mi voz haré temblar la muerte.

Antonio Guerrero with music by Cuban singer Polo Montañez.

Fernando Gonzalez Llort

 
Fernando Gonzalez was resentenced on December 2009 to 17 years.
You can write to Fernando Gonzalez Llort at the following address:

Rubén Campa
No. 58733-004
FCI Terre Haute
P.O. BOX 33
Terre Haute, IN  47808

I cannot have you in my arms but you are with me in a thousand ways. Nobody can take that away from me. I spend much of my time sitting at the table in my cell writing or studying and, because I have a picture of you across from me, every time I raise my eyes your blue eyes are observing me. I feel your eyes as if they were touching me with your hands... (this segment was translated from a letter Fernando wrote to his wife Rosa included in "El dulce abismo").  


Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert

Rene was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment on December 14, 2001 and transferred to a maximum-security prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, from where he was moved to McKean Federal Correctional Institution and later to Edgefield FCI in South Carolina. He is currently serving in Marianna FCI, Florida and his case is now under appeal before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Rene’s wife, Olga Salanueva, was deported in 2000 and since then the government of the United States has denied her visa permits on 7 occasions. You can write to Rene at the following address:

Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert
No. 58738-004
FCI Marianna
P.O. Box 7007
Marianna, FL 32447-7007

La Semana (The week)

Yo no sé si los domingos brilla el día
o si el lunes, densas nubes se levantan
yo no quiero ver si el martes, de alegrìa
en tropel saltan las aves cuando cantan.

En los mièrcoles no miro el sol saliendo
ni tampoco cuando el jueves deja el cielo
y los viernes, nadie espere que esté viendo
si es el clima de tristeza o de consuelo.

Pero el sábado, el encanto de tu risa
trastocando del encierro su amargura
rompe lìmpido en mi celda, con la brisa
refrescante de tu amor y tu ternura.

Y te vas, abandonàndome a la esencia
que dejò la brevedad de tu estadía
nueva paz, alimentando mi existencia
que me alumbra, por otros siete días.
          Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert (From: El dulce abismo.)


Gerardo Hernández Nordelo

After the trial, Gerardo was transferred to Lompoc U.S. Penitentiary in California, and later to Victorville USP, where he is serving his sentence at this moment. The government of the United States has denied his wife, Adriana Perez, visa permits to visit him on 7 occasions. You can write to Gerardo at the following address:
Gerardo Hernández
No. 58739-004
USP Victorville
PO BOX 5300
Adelanto, CA 92301

Sólo
Sólo en los días de sol inmenso,
o en las mañánas de húmedo andar
si el árbol mundo dibuja el viento,
o si la lluvia golpea el cristal.

Si en el silencio invoco tu risa
o alguna voz se me antoja igual
si el tiempo duele, lento o de prisa,
y de las penas ansío el final.

Sólo en las noches de eterna luna,
si mil estrellas se hacen mirar,
o si no alcanzo a contar ninguna,
y el cielo añora su palpitar.

si el frío acecha junto a mi lecho,
si aún despierto intento soñar,
si no reposas sobre mi pecho,
o si en los sueños contemplo el mar.

Sólo si río o si estoy triste,
sólo si pienso en lo que yo fui
solo si sé que el amor existe
sólo si vivi pienso en ti. 
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo (El dulce abismo).


Ramòn Labañino Salazar


On December 2009 Ramon Labañino was resentenced to 30 years and transferred to FCI Jesup in Georgia. You can write to Ramón Labañino at the following address:

Luis Medina
No. 58734-004
FCI Jesup
2680, 301 South
Jesup, GA 31599


To his daughters...
Be strong, very strong so you face any duty life poses to you with a smile playing upon your lips. Do not be afraid on my behalf, I am feeling well and I am strong, much more now that I have you, my people and the dignity of the world by my side. I will return, do not doubt it, and as soon as possible because I miss you very much. And when I return we will recover all these absences, and rebuild all the dreams and wishes we had to put on hold....(translation, fragment from a letter by Ramón Labañino included in "El dulce abismo").