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‘Cuba: Estamos contigo!’
Rainbow solidarity for Cuban Five circles the globe
Lavender & red, part 110
Published Aug 27, 2007 8:27 PM
A multinational, multilingual group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT)
activists in the United States—the belly of the beast—issued a call
in Spanish and English for Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five in mid-January
The five political prisoners—Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero,
Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René
González—are collectively serving four life sentences and 75 years
in far-flung U.S. penitentiaries. The “crime” they were convicted
of is having infiltrated CIA-backed fascist commando groups in order to halt
terror attacks against Cuba from U.S. soil.
The Rainbow Solidarity call demands a new trial and freedom for these political
prisoners, defense of Cuban sovereignty and self-determination, and a halt to
the illegal U.S. acts of war against Cuba—including the economic blockade
and CIA-trained, funded and armed attacks by mercenary “contra”
armies operating from this country.
This initiative was consciously issued by LGBT and other activists battling
oppression based on sexuality, gender expression and sex—one of the
targeted progressive movements at whom the imperialist campaign to vilify Cuba
had been aimed.
This was not the first act of solidarity with Cuba by left-wing LGBT activists
in the United States—not by a long shot. But the response to the Rainbow
Solidarity initiative—swift and dramatic—signals a new day for LGBT
support worldwide for Cuba.
Within hours and days after the call went out over the Internet, hundreds of
individuals and organizations signed on to the call, posted on the
www.freethefiveny.org web site (look for the rainbow).
Most exciting was how many of the signers immediately began forwarding the call
to their lists.
Volunteers from around the world translated the introduction and call for
Rainbow Solidarity to free the Cuban Five into simplified and traditional
Chinese, Tagalog, Farsi, Turkish, Greek, Croatian, Portuguese, Italian, Danish,
Japanese, French and German. More translations in the works or planned include
Swahili, Urdu, Indonesian, Arabic, Korean, Bengali and a streaming video in ASL
(American Sign Language).
International endorsements flooded in from Argentina, Australia, Austria,
Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, England,
Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan,
Luxemburg, Mexico, Montenegro, New Zealand, occupied Palestine, Philippines,
Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland,
Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Wales and other countries, and from Hong Kong and
Individuals and groups from every state in the continental United States signed
on as well—from southern Florida to the Pacific Northwest, Southern
California to Maine.
All told, they form an extraordinary and broad arc of a united front. A
frequently updated list of signers is posted at www.freethefiveny.org.
Many names on the growing list will be recognizable as well-known LGBT
activists and others battling oppression based on sexuality, gender and sex,
including women’s liberationists.
This roster also reveals that many of these activists are also some of the
hardest-working organizers in movements here and around the world against
imperialist war, neo-liberalism, neo-colonialism, national oppression, racism,
police brutality, prisons and the death penalty, sweatshops and capitalist
These are also leading activists in the struggle for immigrant rights;
women’s liberation, including reproductive rights; jobs; labor union,
tenant and community organizing; education; health care and affordable housing;
freedom for all U.S. political prisoners and for prisoner rights; liberation of
oppressed nations; support for Cuba, and the revolutionary movement to overturn
capitalism and build an economy based on planning to meet peoples’
Expansive political spectrum
Early signers include Teresa Gutierrez, a longtime leader in the struggle to
free the Cuban Five; former political prisoner and leading prison abolitionist
Angela Y. Davis; Leslie Cagan, national coordinator of United for Peace and
Justice; LeiLani Dowell, national coordinator of FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand
Together); Stephen Funk, the U.S. Marine who was the first imprisoned Iraq War
conscientious objector; Bev Tang, organizer for Anakbayan, the youth group of
Bayan; Gerry Scoppettuolo, co-founder of GALLAN (Pride At Work, Boston); Lani
Ka’ahumanu, BiNET USA; anti-imperialist activist Joo-hyun Kang; Atlanta
community activist Pat Hussain; Camille Hopkins, director of NYTRO (New York
Transgender Rights Organization) of Western New York; transgender activist
Moonhawk River Stone; and Jesse Lokahi Heiwa, Queer People Of Color Action.
Rauda Morcos, general coordinator of Aswat-Palestinian Gay Women, signed on.
The Puerto Rican Alliance of Los Angeles and its coordinator Lawrence Reyes
Activists Barbara Smith and Margo Okazawa-Rey signed on. The two were among the
founders of the Combahee River Collective, a group of Black feminists of all
sexualities who issued a historic 1977 statement against the
“interlocking” system of “racial, sexual, heterosexual and
Former political prisoners Laura Whitehorn and Linda Evans added their
Louisville, Ky., filmmaker and activist Sonja de Vries, director of the
documentary “Gay Cuba,” and Walter Lippmann, editor-in-chief of
CubaNews, signed on. Other activists and organizations working in defense of
Cuba added their weight to the call, including Cuba Education Tours, Vancouver,
B.C., Canada; Fairness Campaign, Louisville, Ky.; Simon McGuinness, secretary
of the Free the Miami Five Campaign, Ireland; Brigitte Oftner, coordinator of
the Austrian Free the Five committee; Viktor Dedaj, webmaster of the Cuba
Solidarity Project; the Cuba Edmonton Solidarity Committee in Alberta, Canada;
the Swiss Cuba Association; Deutsche Kommunistische Partei Cuba Arbeitsgruppe,
Germany; and No War on Cuba, Washington, D.C.
Also QueerToday.com and its founder, Mark Snyder; Gordene MacKenzie, GenderTalk
Radio and director of Women’s Studies, Merrimack College, Beverly,
Organizations include the national organization Pro-Gay Philippines; Audre
Lorde Project—a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit and Transgender People
of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area;
FIERCE!—a community organization for Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Two Spirit, Queer, and Questioning (TLGBTSQQ) youth of color in New York City;
QUIT! (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism); LAGAI-Queer Insurrection;
Stonewall Warriors, Boston; Greek Homosexual Community, Athens, Greece;
Queertoday.com, Boston, Mass.; and Queers Without Borders, Hartford, Conn.
The Queer Caucus of the National Lawyers Guild; Stephen Whittle, professor of
equalities law and the British organization Press for Change at the School of
Law at Manchester Metropolitan University, endorsed. So did Barbara Findlay,
co-chair of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Issues Section, BC Branch,
Canadian Bar Association, and the law office of Lenore Rae Shefman, San
Many transgender and transsexual organizations and individuals strengthened the
initiative, including Trans Action Canada; three national Italian trans groups:
Coordinamento Nazionale Trans FTM, Movimento Identità Transessuale and
Crisalide Azione Trans; playwright and performer Imani Henry; Matt/ilda a.k.a.
Matt Bernstein Sycamore, editor “Nobody Passes,” San Francisco,
Calif.; Cianán Russell, chair of the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy
Alliance; and the Winona Gender Mutiny Collective.
Endorsers include The National Lavender Green Caucus; Doug Barnes and the
Freedom Socialist Party; Starlene Rankin, Green National Committee delegate of
the Lavender Caucus of the Green Party of the United States; Orange County
Peace & Freedom Party, Anaheim, Calif; and the LGBT Caucus of Workers World
Among the signers are individuals and organizations whose activist work
includes the struggle against women’s oppression: Brenda Stokely, a
leader of the Million Worker March Movement and NYCLAW; transnational feminist
theorist Chandra Talpade Mohanty; Sara Flounders, co-director of the
International Action Center; Women’s Fightback Network, Boston, Mass.;
Melinda Clark, local co-founder of Code Pink in Willits, Calif.; Welfare
Warriors, Milwaukee, Wis.; League of Women Voters in Montenegro; and
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) chapters in
Washington, D.C.; Rome, Italy; and the Canadian Section in British
Many labor activists have added their names and/or the endorsement of their
unions, including Pride at Work/GALLAN Boston, Mass., AFL-CIO; Bus Riders
Union/Labor Community Strategy Center, Los Angeles, Calif., and
Guyanese-American Workers United, New York, N.Y. From Canada, Canadian Union Of
Postal Workers, Calgary, Alberta; Canadian Union of Public Employees, Toronto,
Ont.; and Hospital Employees’ Union, Burnaby, B.C.
There’s no end in sight to this rainbow.
The Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five initiative is also giving voice to
individuals who, living in capitalist democracies, have little political input
except to be asked to pull a lever for a big-business candidate.
The Rainbow Solidarity call has become a poll that reveals a new grassroots
sentiment as signers eloquently register their outrage at the continued
imprisonment of the five Cubans and at Washington’s economic and
political blockade of Cuba and other illegal and covert acts of war.
Rebecca writes from San Diego, Calif., “Free the Cuban Five!! No more
David from New York state stresses how biased the trial venue was for the Five:
“Five Cubans who were trying to stop the ultra-right terrorist groups in
Miami from carrying out violent actions against the people of Cuba. Miami is
the one city in the U.S. where the Five certainly could not receive a fair
Paul says: “As a gay man in South Florida who calls for freedom for our
brothers, the Five, I am delighted to see this initiative. THEY MUST BE
Tighe supports the five as “those most important defenders of
everyone’s right to live without fear of terrorism. The patriotic Cuban
Five [are] illegally held political prisoners in a country with the most of its
own people behind bars.” Barry, who grew up in Miami, adds the need to
organize to close down the U.S. prison at Guantanamo and free all those held
“T.” from California, comments: “These five men, fighting
against terrorism, have been imprisoned by the U.S.
government—‘MY’ government! Jailing heroes and supporting
terror, while pretending to do the opposite, is sadly all the public can count
on from ‘our’ hypocritical, double-speaking, global corporate-run
excuse for a ‘by and for the people’ government.”
Brian states from Newport, Ore.: “I am enraged by the hypocrisy of five
innocent men being held in prison under harsh circumstances while known
terrorist Luis Posada Carriles goes scot-free. While Bush and cronies spout off
that no nation that harbors terrorists will be tolerated with one face, they
set a convicted terrorist murderer of at least 73 innocents free with the
other, while holding five innocent men in prison.”
Adela, from the Zig Zag Young Women’s Resource Centre Inc. in Queensland,
Australia, states, “I want to express my solidarity with the Cuban Five
and the Cuban people and Fidel.”
Richard, from Madera, Calif., says succinctly, “It’s way past time
to change our policy toward Cuba and the Cuban people.”
Jerry, from Athletes United for Peace, U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities,
Nicaragua Solidarity Committee, writes: “These people were trying to
prevent an act of terrorism. The country that claims to lead the ‘War On
Terror’ is imprisoning them.”
Marcos writes from Bielefeld, Germany, “Free the 5 Cubans now, stop the
war on Cuba and the rest of the world!”
Richard, in Jacksonville, Ill., says, “Close Guantánamo, human
rights are for humans everywhere.”
Ray from Farmington, Conn., suggests, “Put Cheney and Bush in jail
instead of the Cuban Five.”
Yancy, from the LGBTQI Desk of Bayan USA, affirms: “Mabuhi ang
panaghiusang international!!! Long live international solidarity!!”
Solidarity is not charity
Eric from Milwaukee reminds, “Ah, the things we gain from
By defending Cuba against imperialist warfare, LGBT activists and organizations
in the U.S. and other imperialist countries are breaking with their own ruling
classes and extending their own unilateral declaration of peace to a socialist
By rejecting anti-communism, the movement against sexual, gender and sex
oppression is combating capitalist ideology—a giant step towards
Cuba has much to teach those who yearn for the right to live and love without
fear or censure about what it takes to begin the process of literally
eradicating white supremacy, patriarchy and prejudice against same-sex love and
gender/sex diversity; what it takes to create a new woman, a new man, a new
human being, and new forms of communist comradeship.
The Cuban people fought back against enslavement for half a millennium. For the
last half century they have resisted the most powerful slave-master in history,
just 90 miles from their shores.
The famous labor union song poses the question sharply: Which side are you
Rainbow Solidarity answers: “Cuba, we are with you. Cuba, estamos
This is the last segment of the Cuba mini-series within the ongoing
Lavender & Red Workers World newspaper series, which can be read in its
entirety online at: www.workers.org.
Next: An anti-imperialist perspective on ending oppression based on
sexuality, gender and sex.
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