René González speaks at news conference for the Cuban 5

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.”