Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cuba Seventh Colloquium to Free the Cuban Five: Monument and March

HOLGUIN, Cuba (acn) As part of the activities of the Seventh Colloquium to Free the Cuban Five a monument was unveiled on Friday November 18th honoring victims of state terrorism in the town of Boca de Sama, Holguin. Boca de Sama was attacked by mercenaries 40 years ago. The Colloquium was attended by more than 300 delegates from 47 countries.

The artist Luis Silva, member of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) in Holguin, created the monument to condemn atrocities and barbarities brought about to the Cuban people by state terrorism. In Boca de Sama, and as a result of the events of 1940, Lidio Rivaflecha Galano and Ramon Siam Portelles, combatants, were killed in an attack perpetrated by a group of mercenaries and organized by the Miami-based Alpha 66 terrorist group. The attack also caused serious injuries to Carlos Escalante, Jesus Igarza, and to sisters Nancy and Angela Pavon.

 The program included a women’s walk for Fernando Gonzalez, Gerardo  Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, and Rene Gonzalez ––the Cuban Five––, and the screening of materials produced by different Committees of Solidarity with Cuba worldwide. The mentioned Cubans were unjustly imprisoned in the U.S since 1998 and sentenced to harsh terms while trying to prevent terrorist actions against Cuba by Miami-based right wing groups such as the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), and Alpha 66.

Cuba: US Activist Mary-Alice Waters Describes Unfair Treatment of Workers in the US
HOLGUIN, Cuba (acn) During the Colloquium to Free the Cuban Five, Mary-Alice Waters, president of Pathfinder Press and member of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), spoke of the unfair treatment workers received in the United States. Waters noted that american workers have become the main victims of the crisis. “The situation in the United States is growing worse, the living standards are crashing, the working conditions deteriorate and workers without papers are being deported by the thousands”, she said. “The number of foreclosures is impressive, millions of families are left to fend for themselves, the government doesn’t take any actions against the banks but it does against workers.”

People throughout the United States are protesting, and rejection towards the government increases because government is responsible for these calamities: “Millions of families are suffering the injustices against their kin in jails, just as the families of the five Cuban Heroes, sentenced in the US for fighting terrorism, due to the violations of their rights during their
trials and later in jails.” 

Waters explained that The Militant, her party’s newspaper, now published in English and Spanish, is sold all over the United States and in other countries like the UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. “For us is mandatory to speak about the Cuban Five in our newspaper, due to the silence about them in the mass media, and we need to spread their truth though different means” 

Solidarity with Cuban Five Grows in Spain

Holguin, Cuba (PL) There is a strong movement of solidarity with Cuba in Catalonia, Spain, and this movement is particularly concerned about the release of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters unjustly imprisoned in the United States since 1998, stated Salvador Torres, president of Barcelona Friendship with Cuba House.

Torres is one of the 300 delegates participating in the 7th International Colloquium for the Release of the Cuban Five and against Terrorism closing Saturday November 19th. Torres spoke about the work of his organization in informing people about the truth on the Cuban Five.
In Spain the detention of the Cuban Five was presented as the arrest of Cuban spies: "We started gathering information, the real facts, and when we knew the injustice committed by the U.S. government against them, we decided to tell the truth all over our territory."

Since then, group members have traveled from town to town in Catalonia giving lectures and editing materials about the Five to increase solidarity with their cause. Their agenda emerged from the 19 Friendship Houses they have in Catalonia's main cities, promoting activities for the Five throughout the year. We have a Fair of Solidarity and while we prepare mojitos and explain how to travel to Cuba, we hand out posters and pictures of Antonio, Ramon, Gerardo, Fernando and Rene.

Their movement sent a DVD with information about the case of the Five to the 800 town halls of Catalonia and they also disclosed the truth through social networks and local media they have access to in fighting the silence of major TV channels, newspapers and radio stations.

They have organized caravans for the Five and an initiative called "Five recipes for the Five" where they describe the ingredients and explain how to cook a Cuban meal, like an ajiaco and tell the story of one of the Cuban Five.

For Torres the Colloquium helps them get new ideas and come up with new plans to involve more people in the international campaign for the Five: "I am convinced that political prisoners are released only when there is a strong presence of people in the streets, and if solidarity is the key to free the Five, then we will drum on the bars to make a symphony until we see them free."

Cindy Sheehan Seals Commitment with Mothers of Cuban Five

Holguin, Cuba (PL) Cindy Sheehan, US pacifist who lost her son in the US war against Irak, sealed a commitment for the release of The Cuban Five with the mothers of Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez.

During a political-cultural event at the end of the march for the release of the Five, in which thousands of women participated, Sheehan gave the Cuban mothers the chaín that her son Casey had given her. "This chain says: To Mum, with Love. I want you to have this, my most precious possession. I would like you to keep it until your sons return home, and have it back later," said Sheehan to Mirtha Rodriguez (mother of Antonio) and Magali Llort (mother of Fernando).

Sheehan expressed loving the relatives of The Cuban Five with all her heart and reaffirmed the support of thousands of US people to the Cuban Revolution and to their struggle for the release of the Five, unfairly in prison in the US for informing the US of anti-Cuban actions planned by Miami-based terrorist groups.

Sheehan led the March on Saturday November 19th, together with relatives of The Five and victims of the mid-air explosion of a Cuban airliner in 1976 -which resulted in the death of all 73 people on board.

The US is the biggest terrorist organization in the world, said Cindy. Her son was soldier in the US military, and she believed he was a victim of the US war -which she no longer calls the war on terror but the war of terror against the world, she explained. In her opinion, the actions of the US government are by definition terrorist actions -when you bomb, occupy and torture populations for things like regime change or ideological reasons, is basically terrorism.

The anti-war and peace causes are in her view intimately connected to the Cuban Five and to everyone unjustly imprisoned, to those in the Guantanamo prison (operating in Cuba under the US) who we know are innocent. Regarding the case of the Cuban Five she said she heard for the first time about them in 2006 while in Venezuela attending the World Social Forum. Later she met relatives of the Five and learned more and began working with groups dedicated to tell US citizens the truth about the Cuban Five.

"I´m here to know more about the case and more about what I can do to help, because there is a movement in US that is dedicated and passionate with the cause, but it is very small. I am also here to network with people all over the world who demand the release of the Cuban Five and to learn how I can help without causing any harm with my actions." 

One of her goals is to help build a movement in the US to pressure the government to release the Five. The main activities of the committees of solidarity with the Five in the US are concentrated in big cities like New YorkChicago and San Francisco, where she has seen a great job done, particularly in the harbour area.

Her recent activities included visiting five universities in Chicago, through the International Committee of Solidarity with the Five; there she shared information about the case with students interested. I talked about the hypocrisy of having the Cuban Five unjustly imprisoned, while a coward terrorist like (Luis) Posada Carriles is protected by the US government.

Independent journalist are important to fight media silence and negative propaganda in the US against Cuba, she pointed. Cindy has a weekly radio show where she interviews people related to the cause, like Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National US Committee for the release of the Five, and a blog connected to her radio show.

Holguin, Cuba (PL) "I have no doubt that one day soon the Cuban Five will return home, they will be finally exonerated and free," said Geoffrey Bottoms, a British Catholic priest.

Bottoms was one of the 11 delegates to the VII International Colloquium for the Release of the Cuban Five and against Terrorism held in Holguin. He has been cooperating since 2002 to help release The Cuban Five. Nearly 10 years ago he read an article about the injustice committed against these anti-terrorist Cuban fighters imprisoned in U.S., and he decided to write letters to them. "They wrote back to me and we exchanged quite a few letters. I asked them if they would like me to visit them and they all said yes, so they sent me forms." 

As a result of that process, Bottoms visited Gerardo, Ramón and Fernando, but was not allowed to visit Rene or Antonio. He recalls that he met Gerardo first and saw him five times and that later he met and saw Ramón three times, and that in 2008 he finally met Fernando. The first time he tried to see Ramon the authorities of his prison did not allow him because of the U.S war against Iraq at the time and they considered the priest a threat to national security.

Bottoms is now in charge of spreading the cause of The Cuban Five within the Cuban Solidarity Campaign, an organization with five thousand members committed to this. They have different programs informing the British people about their case and harsh sentences but their main activity is an annual candle vigil outside the U.S. Embassy in London demanding their release. This year the vigil will be on December 1st and Magali Llort and Mirtha Rodriguez (mothers of Fernando and Antonio respectively) will participate in it.

Next year, he said, we are working on an art exhibition to be called "Beyond the Frame" that will include works by Cuban artists and works by Antonio and Gerardo. We hope to promote the cause of Cuba and The Cuban Five involving as many people as possible. We will convey our message through art. Breaking the silence imposed by major newspapers and TV channels in England is crucial and whenever there is a chance to post articles on The Guardian, The Observer and The Morning Star we do it, he said.They work with young people too through the National Union of Students.

The 30 local groups existing around England have public meetings, salsa nights, use local radio and TV to inform about the case and hold rallies in the streets to campaign nationwide. In London, specifically, the organization works very closely with members of Parliament sympathetic to Cuba and The Cuban Five; having legislators involved helps them reach top levels of government.

We benefit from coming together and sharing experiences and activities and strengthening our links, he said. The forum increases hope for family members of the Five who get to see and learn about the activists, the case and plan ways to advance the campaign and make it more effective. "I always believe that truth and justice will prevail. The Cuban Five represent the heroic history of Cuba, the principles and ideals upon which the Revolution was founded; that another world and the new man of which Che Guevara spoke are possible. They are an example to our struggle for a better world."

Casa del Habano Partagas: Their Meetings are gaining Worldwide Prestige
 HAVANA , Cuba (acn) Businessmen, suppliers and guests from all over the World, participate in the 21st Meeting of Clients and Friends of the Casa del Habano Partagas, and event that is increasingly gaining prestige. Attended by nearly 350 people from ItalySpainBrazilCanada, the United StatesMexicoSwitzerlandPanamaFrance, and Greece, who are attracted by the international reputation of Cuban cigars, the event includes visits to Club Havana, the Equestrian Center at the Lenin Park, and the Alcona Farm.

Imanol Elguezabal, from Spain, is taking part in this meeting every year as a way to recall the moments he has shared with famous producer Alejandro Robaina, in whose plantations in Pinar del Rio he learned about tobacco harvesting. Alejandro Robaina, the son of well-known producer Carlos Robaina, see the event gaining quality year after year and becoming a permanent tribute to his father, a regular participant since the beginnings in 1998. A similar event will take place in Italy in February next year; businessmen, suppliers, and guests from all over the world, including Cuba, will attend.

Francesco Minetti, president of Cigar Clubs in Italy, said that this will be the biggest event in the continent with Cuban representatives from Partagas, artists, chefs, and cultural promoters exhibiting Partagas cigars and highlighting Cuba as tourist destination of choice.

Vince Piva, a Canadian journalist participating in these meetings for the fourth time, feels very much at home in Cuba and with its people and described the environment familiar and peaceful.

Oscar Gonzales, president of Caracol S.A., notes that one of the factors contributing to the prestige of these meetings is the extraordinary effort made by the staff and its president Abel Exposito. This 21st Meeting of Clients and Friends of the Casa del Habano Partagas is dedicated to the 492nd anniversary of the foundation of Havana, the 166th anniversary of the Partagas Cigars Royal Factory, and the 18th anniversary of the Casa del Habano Partagas.

Int’l Meeting on Agroecology Begins in Cuba

HAVANACuba (acn) Representatives from Latin American and Caribbean countries are attending the Third International Meeting on Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture that began on Monday in Havana to discuss the best ways to obtain agricultural products and to protect the environment.

Experts from ArgentinaBrazilColombiaEcuadorCosta RicaMexicoNicaraguaPeruGuatemalaEl SalvadorDominican RepublicPanama and Uruguay, are exchanging their experiences with local producers.

Deborah La O Calaña, an official from the National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), told reporters that participants in the meeting will visit farms and cooperatives in the provinces of de Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, La Habana, Mayabeque, MatanzasCienfuegos, Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus. The program includes a key lecture on food sovereignty and security by Adolfo Rodriguez Nodal, head of the National Group of urban and sub-urban agriculture in Cuba.

Some of the topics discussed by participants include sustainable management in Cuba; financial, economic and technological experiences in productive systems; and the protection of natural resources.