D.C. actions to demand: Free the Cuban Five!

The writer is a logistics volunteer with the Inter­national Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.

May 29 — Worldwide support for the Cuban 5 political prisoners has been pouring in to bolster a week of scheduled solidarity activities here in the political capital of world imperialism from May 30 through June 5. Parliamentarians, authors, attorneys, religious and labor leaders, and cultural representatives from 22 countries will take part in these events.

An important mass public rally will take place on June 1 at the White House at 1 p.m., followed by an ecumenical-cultural event at 6 p.m. at St. Stephens Church, 1525 Newton St. NW, with 1970s’ political prisoner Angela Davis, Barbadian musician Mighty Gabby and the D.C. Labor Chorus. Delegations from Quebec, Toronto and cities throughout the U.S. are traveling for these weekend events. Low-cost bus tickets from New York City were made possible by donations from the labor ­movement.

The International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 initiated the “Second 5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington, D.C.” Those coming to Washington include a delegation of 30 Cuban Americans who are traveling from Miami to show their support for the release of the Cuban 5.

One of the Cuban 5, René González, was the first of the men to be reunited with his family in Cuba. The other four — Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González — remain unjustly held in U.S. prisons, where they have been since their arrest on Sept. 12, 1998. They are now the focus of this massive campaign, in the U.S. and around the world, to win their release and repatriation to Cuba.

René González to speak

González is scheduled to speak live from Havana, Cuba, for the first time to the U.S. population, at the May 30 opening press conference. Other speakers at the May 30 opening press conference include Ignacio Ramonet, originally from Galicia in Spain, who is the former editor-in-chief of Le Monde Diplomatique and author of “100 Hours with Fidel,” a book presenting a political biography of Fidel Castro based on interviews with the Cuban leader. Also speaking are Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers of America and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2012; and Wayne Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana during the Carter administration and currently a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy.

Also on May 30, at Howard University Hospital Auditorium, a forum and film will highlight the role of Cuba in liberating Southern Africa from colonialism and apartheid, resulting in the independence of Namibia and the release and subsequent election of Nelson Mandela.

Three of the Cuban 5 — Gerardo Hernández, Fernando González and René González — served in Cuba’s internationalist forces there. Among the speakers will be José R. Cabañas Rodríguez, chief of the Cuban Interests Section — the equivalent of an embassy if the U.S. and Cuba had normal diplomatic relations — who also participated in Cuba’s internationalist campaign in Africa. Clips from “Cuba, an Africa Odyssey,” a documentary made by an Egyptian director for French and German TV, will be shown.

International solidarity

On June 3, the Central Trabajadores de Cuba — the Workers Central Union of Cuba — is holding a meeting at the theater of the Lazaro Pena workers’ school to coincide with a meeting of union members at Local 140 of the Postal Workers Union. Committees in solidarity with the Five in Canada, Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Ukraine also reported plans for actions in solidarity with the ones in Washington during the week.

A complete, updated schedule of events is available at theCuban5.org.

Unjustly incarcerated

Armed only with courage, the Cuban 5 tried to stop anti-Cuba terrorism by infiltrating the Florida anti-communist organizations that carried out hotel and restaurant bombings inside Cuba during the 1990s. This wave of bombings killed a young Italian man, Fabio DiCelmo, on Sept. 4, 1997. The exiles’ aim was to further destroy the blockaded Cuban economy by disrupting the tourism industry and starving the Cuban people into accepting U.S. capitalist domination.

Many of the Cuban 5’s supporters worldwide — not to mention the millions in Cuba — consider them real heroes who defended their country while carrying out a real battle against terror attacks on civilians in Cuba. For this the U.S. hit them with long prison sentences.

Although René González’s prison term ended on Oct. 7, 2011, he was forced to remain on supervised release in the Miami area for three additional years. However, while on an authorized two-week trip to Cuba following the death of his father, González — who was born in Chicago and moved to Cuba with his parents when he was five — was permitted to remain permanently in Cuba after renouncing his U.S. citizenship in May.

In an extralegal punishment, González’ spouse, Olga Salanueva, was repeatedly denied a U.S. entry visa for the full term of his imprisonment and supervised release, depriving them of the human right of family visits.

The George W. Bush administration and the Barack Obama administration that followed both claimed to be waging a “war on terror.” But what they were really doing was using “terror” as a pretext to terrorize people from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen, from Iraq to Somalia, with military occupations, drone strikes, assassinations, renditions and torture.

In a new example of the U.S. government’s outrageous attempts to intervene abroad to stifle anything related to Cuba, the Office of Foreign Assets Control intercepted funds to purchase French author Salim Lamrani’s books from his U.S. publisher. Lamrani reported this from his book tour in Britain. The book the OFAC is targeting for allegedly violating the over 50-year U.S. economic blockade of Cuba is entitled “The Economic War Against Cuba.” Lamrani will also present this book in Washington.

In its news releases about the broad series of scheduled events, the International Committee to Free the Five states its answer to all these attacks on Cuba: “Enough is enough.” It is time to release the remaining Cuban 5 and seek a dialogue with Cuba — something demanded by all governments in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as the overwhelming majority of the world’s people represented at the United Nations General Assembly, who year after year vote against the U.S. blockade.

Free the Cuban 5!