• UNDER the maxim 15 Years is Enough!,
the International Encounter of Solidarity for the
Freedom of the Five concluded September 12 in Havana
with a commitment to intensify actions to secure the
liberation of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters.
Activists from 33 countries meeting
in the Hotel Nacional on the 15th anniversary of the
arrest of the Cuban heroes agreed to instigate new
and more effective efforts to demand that President
Barack Obama immediately release Gerardo Hernández,
Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino and Fernando
The group further decided to promote
throughout the world, and particularly in the United
States, publicity around the habeas corpus filed by
lawyer Martin Garbus, to have the rigged trial which
led to the sentencing of the Five declared invalid.
Essential to this is the extension
of solidarity networks in the heart of the United
States, involving large and diverse social sectors,
religious and community leaders, artists and
intellectuals and any forum which would be receptive
to comprehending the need to end such a long-term
This last aspect was addressed by
René González, the only one of the Five who has been
able to return home after fully completing his
arbitrary sentence, speaking to participants in the
"We must focus more on the actors of
greatest weight in any decision making in
Washington; in other words, the White House,
Congress and pressure groups or lobbies and
academics in institutions linked to power.
He stated that the case of the Five
must be promoted in a way that it can be understood
by the greatest number of people, independent of
creed or party affiliations, because it is about
reaching hearts with an unquestionable truth. René
shared with those present one of the most moving
moments of the day: a brief telephone call with his
brother in struggle Ramón Labañino, who conveyed a
message of optimism.
In the name of family members of the
anti-terrorists fighters, Mirtha Rodríguez,
Antonio’s mother, spoke of the moral strength of the
Five – "all of them are my sons," she emphasized –
emphasizing the importance of the international
solidarity movement in the battle for justice.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Ana
Teresita González thanked participants for their
support and expressed her confidence in the capacity
of activists meeting in Havana to develop multiple
actions and ideas.
During the first part of the event,
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada updated the audience of
intellectuals, artists, outstanding athletes and
diplomats on the legal aspect of the case of the
"The legal battle for the liberation
of the Five is at the same point that it was a year
ago," he said. "We continue awaiting the decision of
Judge Joan Lenard on the demand to disclose the
evidence which has been kept hidden and which
demonstrates the media show organized around the
trial in Miami."
Alarcón condemned "the monumental
violation of legality and ethics" on the part of U.S.
authorities in charge of the case of Ramón,
Fernando, Antonio, Gerardo and René.
The Five have the exceptional merit
of having fought against terrorism without resorting
to violence; however, they were sentenced like
criminals, he added.
He recalled the case of U.S. soldier
Bradley Manning, accused of espionage for leaking
secret information to the WikiLeaks website.
"Manning has made history, exposing
the politics of an empire which is trampling the
rights and sovereignty of states, but he was not
charged with conspiracy to commit espionage (like
the Five); his charges were far more serious and he
was given a sentence of 35 years in prison.
"The contrast of this sentence with
the one decided by the Court in relation to the Five
us highly revealing; our brothers were judged with
even more hatred hatred.
Alarcón continued, "The Five were
not members of the U.S. Army, they did not seize any
official document, nor reveal any state secrets.
They were simply fighting to defend the rights of
the Cuban people."
French academic and journalist Salim
Lamrani affirmed that the case of the Cuban anti-terrorists
is "a judicial scandal, but also a political and
"The Western informative media,
supposedly champions of freedom of expression,
present the Cubans as spies, when the court in
Atlanta itself and U.S. military officials stated
that this was not as case of espionage."
According to Lamrani, in relation to
the case of the Five and the Cuba issue, "The major
Western media consortiums are not fulfilling their
role of providing citizens with truthful and
balanced information, but in exchange, have accepted
the U.S. doctrine of the good and bad terrorist, in
which everything is dependent on who the victim
happens to be."
"When it’s about a Cuban, the media
discourse converts the perpetuator into a human
rights activist, instead of someone accused of
terrorism, as in the case of Luis Posada Carriles."
Raúl Carcés, dean of the
Communication Faculty at the University of Havana,
said that in order to gain larger audiences in the
United States, communication actions must be
coordinated which directly impact on how U.S.
citizens think and feel, so that they will bring
more pressure to bear on the government. "We have to
be capable of making the U.S. people also say ‘Enough!’
of so much injustice," he added.
In a similar vein, Nalda Vigezzi,
coordinator of the National Network on Cuba in the
United States, affirmed that more and better actions
have to be undertaken to increase international
pressure on the Obama administration, resulting in
the release of the four Cuban anti-terrorists still
Her point was supported by the U.S.
human rights fighter Cindy Sheehan, who called on
her compatriots to join the fight against the
injustice being committed. "Obama can do something
for the Five tomorrow," she emphasized.
Other delegates who spoke at the
event included Clarissa López, daughter of Puerto
Rican independence fighter Oscar López, who is
completing a 73-year sentence and has already spent
32 years in prison. López Rivera and Fernando shared
a cell in the Terre Haute, Indiana penitentiary.
"We have appealed to President
Obama, who could grant him a pardon. All that
remains for my father is to die in prison or
complete his sentence, which will happen within a
decade. This is a similar sentence to the one
imposed on Gerardo, who was sentenced to two life
sentences plus 15 years, a totally vicious one," she
The international event began with
the reading of a message from Fernando in relation
to the recent death of the outstanding U.S.
intellectual Saul Landau, a friend and a man who, "with
his talent and sensibility, made a great
contribution to the cause of the Five."
The documentary 15 años, ¡Basta
Ya!, by Liudmila Talancón and Alexei Parra was
also launched during the opening event. Additionally,
there was a global tweet for the Five on social
networks, in which 25,000 messages of solidarity
with the Cuban anti-terrorists and their families
were sent from all parts of the world.
Messages sent by some of those
attending the solidarity with the Five event in
Washington were also read during the event,
including one from the U.S. actor Danny Glover.
The day was also used to inaugurate
the exhibition 15 Years of Struggle against
Injustice and Silence, comprising 73 posters by
artist members of the Cuban Association of Social
Communicators, which is to remain open to the public
in the Hotel Nacional’s Salón Vedado.
Present during the day were Cuban
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla; José
Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, member of the Central
Committee of the Communist Party Secretariat and
head of its International Relations Department; and
Kenia Serrano, president of the Cuban Friendship
Institute, among other guests. •