‘Free the Cuban 5’ events spread awareness

WW photo: Brenda Ryan

WW photo: Brenda Ryan

“The Second 5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington, D.C.” hit the street on June 1 with a spirited picket line and rally at the White House gates. Representatives from 25 countries demanded freedom for the Cuban 5 — anti-terrorist Cubans held unjustly in U.S. jails. Of particular interest to the public was a huge banner signed by the Stockholm, Sweden, support committee. Demonstrations were also held in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, and other countries.

Later that day an ecumenical/cultural event filled the St. Stephen church sanctuary. The keynote speaker, former political prisoner and educator Angela Davis, was joined by Church World Service President John McCullough. Cuban author and ethnographer Miguel Barnet and British actor Andy de la Tour read letters from the Cuban 5 to their loved ones from a compilation, “Letters of Love and Hope.”

Barbadian cultural ambassador Mighty Gabby sang what has become a theme song for this series of events, “Free Them,” and the D.C. Labor Chorus roused the crowd.

Increasing public awareness of the massive injustice is a major goal of this ambitious series of events. Literature distributions, postering, a march in the Washington suburb of Takoma Park through a farmers’ market on Sunday morning, and book and intellectual public events have all involved new people in the effort to free the Cuban 5. On June 5, a final closing plenary at the Venezuelan Embassy’s Bolivarian Hall will discuss future actions.

After completing his prison term, one of the Cuban 5, René González, has returned to his home and family in Cuba. The other four — Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino— are still suffering long prison sentences for infiltrating the Miami-based groups that were actively bombing hotels and restaurants in Cuba. González spoke via video at the opening press conference on May 30. Read more on page 3.