2013: a year to free the Cuban 5

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González are five Cuban men held unjustly for their 15th year in U.S. prisons. An International Colloquium in Holguín, Cuba, Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, demonstrated the growing global demand to free these five and outlined united actions to advance that goal in 2013.

More than 330 delegates from 44 countries pledged to intensify the central demand that President Barack Obama use his humanitarian and constitutional powers to return the Cuban 5 to their homeland unconditionally; to support the habeas corpus appeal and the extensive support affidavit by defense attorney Martin Garbus with forums, debates and conferences of jurists exposing the unconstitutional and biased trial; to mobilize a 2013 “Five Days for the Cuban 5” in Washington, D.C.; and eleven additional initiatives to reach out to unions and religious congregations.

The delegates also demanded justice for the 73 people killed in the 1976 midair bombing over Barbados of Cubana flight 455, through extraditing Luis Posada Carriles from Miami to Venezuela. This already convicted bomber, who walks free on the streets of Miami, has been charged with that horrible crime.

The Cuban 5 are hostages to the U.S. imperialist drive, which predates the 1959 socialist revolution, to dominate the people of this largest Caribbean island. In his pamphlet, “Expanding Empire,” Vince Copeland explained: “The first real foreign war of the United States — the Spanish American War — took place almost simultaneously with the first real expansion in U.S. foreign investment. And that is the real secret of understanding that war, as it is of understanding all subsequent U.S. wars. …

“The war with Spain was motivated by the desire to exploit Cuba, Puerto Rico, the rest of Latin America and the Philippines, etc., and to get complete control of the Caribbean so as to facilitate the U.S. control of the contemplated Panama Canal and open up easier access to business expansion in Asia. It was a question of economic expansion and pretty much understood and openly explained as such at the time.” (workers.org/cm/empire1.html)

The U.S. naval base and prison in occupied Guantánamo, Cuba — a prison Obama pledged to close in his first term (but has yet to do so) — is a vestige and reminder of the U.S. domination that followed the Spanish-American War. It is a symbol of the overt and covert U.S. aggression unceasing in the 54 years since the Cuban revolution: invasion, assassination attempts, biological warfare, media slander campaigns and an economic blockade that thwarts but doesn’t stop Cuba’s socialist development or international solidarity.

Washington’s hostility to the Cuban revolution has continued unabated. In 2003, the George W. Bush administration formed a so-called “Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba,” even boldly publishing a 456-page regime-change plan for re-establishing capitalist exploitation over Cuba’s workers. But much else has changed. For 21 consecutive years in ever larger numbers the United Nations General Assembly votes repudiate the U.S. blockade.

According to an April 15 New York Times article, the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, “Ends with discord over Cuba.” Even Colombian host and U.S. ally, President Juan Manuel Santos, called the U.S. position “a cold war anachronism,” and said, “Hopefully within three years we will have Cuba as part of the summit.”

While the U.S. blockade cruelly costs such a small country working to overcome the legacy of colonialism and slavery, economic ties with Brazil, China, Venezuela and many other countries are growing. Collaborative development through the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA) helps all of its partners. Growing Latin American unity can be seen in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, formed in 2010 as an alternative to the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States.

According to Andrés Gómez, president of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, and a Cuban who lives and organizes in Florida, the 2012 U.S. election showed another change. “He said that 47 percent of Cubans living in that state voted for the Democratic candidate, 10 percent more than in the 2008 presidential elections. … This changing trend is due to demographic transformations of the emigration, because those emigrants from the 1960s and 1970s with a more hostile position toward Cuba, are now a minority below 2 percent of the Miami residents while their descendants maintain positions different from those of their parents.” (Cuba News, Dec. 26)

Mirta Rodríguez, mother of Antonio Guerrero, characterized the year 2013 as decisive in the fight for the liberation of the Cuban 5. On Dec. 24, Prensa Latina reported that she told the Nordic Brigade visiting Havana that mobilizing U.S. public opinion in favor of the cause to free her son and his four comrades requires breaking the wall of silence surrounding the case that exists in the U.S.

LaBash represented WW newspaper at the Holguín Colloquium. On Facebook, “like” Friends of the Cuban 5. For more information, go to theCuban5.org, antiterroristas.cu or freethefive.org