I have acted in
accordance with my principles
• Fernando González Llort
celebrated his 50th birthday, August 18th. He was
only 35 years of age on Saturday, September 12,
1998, when, during the dawn hours, the FBI arrested
him, but they have not been able to destroy his
chance to kiss Rosa – his wife with the immense,
blue eyes – is what Fernando González Llort is
wishing for right now. He won’t get it. He can’t.
Just as he has not been able to wake up at her side
for many years.
Magali and Rosa.
He has been denied the simple
pleasure of enjoying some yuca con mojo, the
Cuban dish only his mother Magdali knows how to
prepare the way he likes, and which she has not
cooked since her son has been away.
It is a longing that grows stronger
as the day he will return draws closer.
His return will come after an unjust
incarceration, an unjust sentence, an unjust trial
in Miami which in December of 2001 condemned him,
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar,
Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and René González
Sehwerert — five brothers united in the struggle
against terrorism — to long terms in U.S. prisons.
"My 50 years give me the
satisfaction of having lived according to my
convictions, those instilled in me by my family and
the Revolution. They allow me to understand that the
road continues, that my work to improve myself as a
human being, as a man, as a revolutionary, as a son,
as a partner, is work that one can never consider
completed. That is the perspective that this
birthday brings to me."
These are words which arrived from a
penitentiary in the state of Arizona, though not in
an interview; that is impossible. They arrived in
the context of a brief exchange with this reporter.
What are 50 years in the life of a
Nothing, if your point of view is
the history of human beings as a biological species,
not even from the perspective of the history of the
country in which you live and carry out your
Now, 50 years for a human being, in
terms of one’s personal life, are popularly
considered "halfway around the wheel."
Although I always jokingly say that
my cogwheel has more than 150 teeth, so I’m still
far from halfway around.
I believe that what is most
important is feeling happy with what one does, which
doesn’t imply a degree of satisfaction that prevents
you from taking on goals or assuming new challenges
Neither does it mean that you’re
always right or have taken maximum advantage of the
time you have lived.
Prison offers the opportunity to
think, to evaluate, to grow - if one takes advantage
of the time positively.
A 50th birthday in the life of a man
can therefore be a good time to take stock and gain
experience, with a view toward continuing along the
road ahead. One which is still lengthy and one which,
with the development of science and medical advances,
and of culture as well, could be even longer.
Your role models?
Che and Camilo [Cienfuegos] are my
paradigms. I think that among revolutionaries of my
generation, they are role models for the majority.
This opinion is not the result of a
survey or a sociological investigation, I could be
But they are the figures in our most
recent history who have profoundly marked our
development. Of course, I didn’t meet them
personally, but since I was a little boy in school,
the things we were taught made a strong impression.
Later, during my youth, reading and
listening to those who had known them and shared the
danger with them, the tasks of the Revolution, work
- a deeper understanding of this image, established
in my childhood, emerged.
Subsequently, as an adult, knowledge
of their work, their histories and personal
characteristics, with a bit more depth, I confirmed
and reinforced that which had been instilled in me
as a child.
Look, and I believe that no one has
brought together, as Che did, the capacity to put
principles into action and the capacity to sacrifice
everything for the ideas one believes in, determined
to change the world in which we live for the better.
A human being in whom
characteristics such as principled behavior, ethics,
theoretical understanding, intrepid action are
interwoven and a deep love for humanity which was
his motivation, which drove him throughout his life.
It is no accident that we see his
photo in demonstrations in every corner of the world,
no matter how far away geographically from the
places where Che carried out his struggle.
It is possible that some of those
carrying his picture in these demonstrations do not
have the same degree of detailed understanding that
we Cubans have of Che’s life and work, his
ideological legacy, theory, etc.
But, Che’s principled behavior, his
capacity for sacrifice and his revolutionary ethics
have an impact and have left the world a message, a
message which reaches the hearts of human beings. A
message which mobilizes people.
And when I mention names such as
A giant of perseverance and dignity.
He survived 27 years in prison without declining at
all and his stature grew so much that, in any corner
of the world, he is recognized, just saying his name,
His universal prestige makes him one
of the indispensable figures of our times. He was
the first Black President of South Africa, a man who
was able to win many battles, the most recent, for
Even from his hospital bed, he
continues the battle. A vast number of people
honored this icon of the struggle against apartheid
on his 95th birthday, simply because Mandela
I would like to take advantage of
your question about significant contemporary figures
to mention that I have had the privilege of sharing
years in prison with Oscar López Rivera. López
Rivera is another giant of perseverance and dignity,
who has spent more than 30 years in U.S. prisons as
a result of his struggle for the independence of our
sister island of Puerto Rico. I would also like to
offer a well deserved tribute to this compañero,
from whom I have learned so much during the years we
have shared in prison.
And Mahatma Gandhi?
A visionary. A man who was able to
decipher the psychology of an empire, the British
empire, which was falling apart, in order to
confront it with great effectiveness and reach the
goal of independence for his country.
He had the immense courage to
confront the police and military forces of that
empire and its repressive forces, with only the
protection of his convictions and his morality,
which proved to be superior to all the power and
arrogance of the British empire.
A political giant, a man with great
intelligence, but more than anything a moral giant.
One of the greatest political figures of the second
half of the 20th century and the 21st.
Good fortune for Cubans who have
relied, and rely, on his presence and his action. He
finished what Martí was unable to do, given his
premature death in battle. Achieving and maintaining
Cuba’s independence is an historic accomplishment of
You have only to look at a world map
and see the geographical location of our country; a
small island just 90 miles away from the most
powerful empire in history, which has dreamed of
appropriating this island for more than 200 years.
Fidel was able to achieve
independence in the most difficult historical
conditions; maintain and consolidate it under even
more complex conditions.
He taught us how to overcome the
most difficult conditions, how to turn a negative
event, or even an apparently fatal one, into a
victory - think about Alegría de Pío or the collapse
of the socialist camp, for example.
The ideas, the concepts and the way
to confront difficulties which Fidel has taught us
are today part of the ideological and cultural
legacy we rely upon to face the world’s current
complexities, to move forward despite any situation,
as difficult as it may be, and overcome.
Some people say you are the most
intelligent, that you write beautifully, are quiet
and, at the same time, a regular Cuban joker. What
do you say?
René is the most intelligent among
us. Any one of us would say the same thing, without
thinking twice. I don’t know where this ‘beautiful
prose’ business comes from. I never heard that
opinion about what I’ve written, which isn’t much.
Yes, some have commented to me on
occasion about my habit of summarizing, which I
consider a good one, although it isn’t always.
There are times when it can become
an obstacle. But it is true that, for better or
worse, it is a habit of mine.
The rest of what you mention, the
quietest and a Cuban joker, I think I am a little of
both. I tend to be reserved, to observe quietly and
enjoy that, developing my opinions before expressing
them, not expressing them frivolously.
I am not an extroverted person, but
I do like a joke, a rumba, the latter not only in
the sense of a musical genre, which I also enjoy,
but in its more general acceptance.
October 13, 2009, the re-sentencing
process ordered by the 11th Circuit Court of appeals
in Atlanta began in Miami, to review the cases of
Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón
Labañino, and concluded two months later, December
8. At that time, Fernando’s original sentence of 19
years in prison was reduced to 17 years and nine
months. He will complete this sentence in February
The son of Magali Llort and Fernando
Rafael González, Fernando was born in Havana in
1963. He studied International Relations, graduated
with honors and like many of his generation, served
in Angola. His final comment engenders even more
admiration for this man – for the Five who our
people recognize as heroes. Despite the pain, he
declares without hesitation, "At 50 years of age, I
am happy and, at the same time, understand how much
more I have to learn."