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March 3, 2014 - No. 21

Oppose U.S.-Backed Terrorism Against Cuba

Celebrate the Release of Cuban Patriot Fernando González from U.S. Prison!
All Out to Support Cuba's Right to Be! Free All the Cuban Five!

Join in March 5 Actions

Oppose U.S.-Backed Terrorism Against Cuba
Celebrate the Release of Cuban Patriot Fernando González from U.S. Prison! All Out to Support Cuba's Right to Be! Free All the Cuban Five!
Fernando the Giant - Message from Gerardo Hernández
Excerpts from Interview with Fernando González
Cuba Suspends Consular Services in U.S. Due to Blockade

Coming Events
Cross Canada Actions to Mark Vancouver's 100th Monthly Picket to Free the Five
Tour of Cuban Musician Gerardo Alfonso to Promote Third Meeting of World Solidarity with Cuba
International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five, March 7-8, London, UK - www.voicesforthefive.com

Oppose U.S.-Backed Terrorism Against Cuba

Celebrate the Release of Cuban Patriot Fernando González from U.S. Prison! All Out to Support Cuba's Right to Be! Free All the Cuban Five!

On February 27, Fernando González, one of the five Cuban heroes unjustly imprisoned in U.S. jails for more than 15 years, was released from a U.S. prison after serving his full, unjust and long sentence. Fernando was transferred from the federal penitentiary in Safford, Arizona to Immigration Services to start the process of deportation to Cuba. Fortunately, he was deported to Cuba the following day. TML rejoices with all those around the world who are fighting for the freedom of the five, and sends a warm embrace to the Five and all the Cuban people and their leadership on this joyous occasion.

The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González. Fernando is the second of the internationally-known Cuban Five to be freed, after René. Although released in 2011, René had to complete a term of parole and renounce his U.S. citizenship before he could return to Cuba in 2013.

Fernando, René, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and René Labañino, known as the Cuban Five, were arrested in 1998 while monitoring terrorist groups based in Florida responsible for launching terrorist attacks against Cuba from U.S. soil. They were imprisoned after a totally unjust trial. The joy of Fernando's return to Cuba is mitigated by the fact that Gerardo, Antonio and Ramón are still serving their sentences in U.S. penitentiaries and the fight to win their freedom must continue until they too are returned to their loved ones in Cuba.

The case of the Cuban Five highlights the U.S. unacceptable hostile policy toward Cuba, including the use of terrorism, to undermine not only Cuba's sovereignty but those nations that have normal trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba.

It is with the most shameful double-standard that the U.S. persecutes a war on terror while supporting terrorism against Cuba. It is with utter hypocrisy that the U.S., to serve its narrow political aims, has placed Cuba on its list of countries that support terrorism, despite the fact that Cuba has never carried out terrorism. To the contrary, Cuba defends human rights and shares weal and woe with the oppressed and suffering people of the world by sending its humanitarian brigades wherever they are needed, not to mention the sacrifices it made when it answered the call of the Angolan people to assist them in the fight against the terrorism of South African Apartheid.

The Cuban Five are exemplars of the Cuban Revolution. Their dignity and steadfastness of principles are modern human qualities forged in the fight to affirm rights and sovereignty and will never be surrendered, something that the U.S. imperialists, with their outlook of pettiness, revanchism and retrogression cannot seem to fathom. On the occasion of Fernando González' return to Cuba, unbroken and unbowed, the message from all peace- and justice-loving people around the world to President Obama and the U.S. ruling circles must be repeated again:

Free the Five Cuban Patriots from U.S. Prisons Now!
No to U.S.-Backed Terrorism Against Cuba!
Hands Off Cuba!

A Hero's Welcome in Cuba

Fernando arrives in Cuba and is immediately met by his mother and his partner Rosa Aurora.

Fernando is welcomed home by Cuban President Raúl Castro.

Left to right: Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdez; Interior Minister General of the Army Corps Abelardo Colome Ibarra; José Ramón Machado Ventura, Second Secretary of Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Left to right: Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers; Esteban Lazo, President of the National Assembly of People's Power; former President of the National Assembly Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, a tenacious fighter for the cause of the Five.

Concert Dedicated to Fernando and the Freedom of All the Five

On March 1, from the historic steps of the University of Havana, musicians of all ages joined together to demand the release of Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, who are still serving harsh sentences in U.S. prisons, and celebrated the return of Fernando González.

The event was presided over by Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba's Central Committee and First Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers. Also present were other members of the politburo -- Mercedes López Acea, First Secretary of the Communist Party in Havana, and Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, Foreign Minister -- as well as Hero of the Republic René González and relatives of the Cuban Five anti-terrorist fighters .

The opening remarks were given by Crespo Yuniasky Baquero, member of the Central Committee and First Secretary of the Union of Young Communists (UJC), who highlighted the people's extraordinary joy at the news of Fernando's return.

Fernando Gonzalez expressed his appreciation for the event and called on everyone to apply themselves to the fight to free Antonio, Gerardo and Ramón.

(With files from AIN. Photos: TML, CubaDebate, Estudios Revolución)

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Fernando the Giant

In each of the Five there is something more or less unique about us. For example Ramón is the tallest one, closely followed by René, Fernando happens to be the one who is the least in physical stature, while I took away second place in that category by beating out Tony by a hair.

Fernando's "title" in this category is based partly on affection, but also for our deeply rooted professional custom of avoiding names, so sometimes we would call him "the small one."

A warm embrace between brothers -- Fernando is welcomed home by René González, February 28, 2014.
(Estudios Revolución)

What I have said here may seem odd and flippant, but in these days of joy and anxiety, with only a few hours separating Fernando from his freedom, (and hopefully also for his quick return) I am remembering so many signs of greatness inherent in our brother. I am reflecting on the irony of first calling him "small" to now referring to him as a giant of a person.

When we were arrested, Fernando had several extra reasons to feel anguish, pain, frustration... In baseball terms, something Fernando likes a lot, he often threw complete games, but this time his mission in Miami was that of a short reliever. He was scheduled to return to Cuba soon. His wedding was rapidly approaching. His bride, the warrior Rosa who sacrificed everything in her life for him, almost had her wedding dress on. Even with all this we never heard any lamenting from the giant.

I witnessed when his lawyer from the trial, Joaquin Mendez, told him, with all his best professional advice, that given the lower seriousness of the charges against him any lawyer would suggest that he opt out and be tried separately from the others as the best legal strategy. The response from Fernando, as well as René who received a similar suggestion, was emphatic and unequivocal.

Fifteen and a half years later, Fernando, like René, will come out of prison with his head held high. They gave him nothing. His sentence was the maximum possible, and the time discounted for good behavior he earned it and by law they had to give it to him.

Today those who love him and admire him will celebrate. We are convinced that our struggle will be strengthened and reinforced with another standard bearer.

We send Fernando a big embrace and say:

Congratulations Giant!
Thanks for your example!

Gerardo Hernández Nordelo
Victorville Penitentiary California
February 25, 2014

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Excerpts from Interview with Fernando González

The Cuban blog CubanitoenCuba conducted an interview Fernando González in the days prior to his release. In the wide-ranging interview, Fernando expresses his gratitude to the international movement to free the Five, gives insight into his formative experiences as part of Cuba's internationalist assistance to Angola and his friendship with Puerto Rican patriot and fellow political prisoner Oscar López Rivera. TML is posting below excerpts from that interview dealing with his experience as a political prisoner in the U.S.



Question: Even if being in prison really put your principles to the test, how do you explain the respect and recognition that the Five enjoyed in U.S. penitentiaries? Were there demonstrations of solidarity from other inmates?

Fernando González: I ascribe the respect and recognition the Five gained in U.S. prisons to a number of factors. First of all, when they watch you they see a serious individual who stays away from the typical dynamics of life in prison that become a breeding ground for conflicts among inmates. They also notice your cool and the mature advice or views you give to whoever requests it, and they see that you're discrete and tight-lipped about any problem or situation that another inmate shared with you. All of that leads others to respect you even if they don't know anything about the Five's case.

On the other hand, those who challenge the judge and prosecutors who brought you to trial are usually held in a certain respect, for such an attitude is not very common in a court of law.

Now, when they hear about why you were convicted, even if they don't know the details, other factors come into play which contribute to that respect, as they become aware not only that you were tried -- which is deserving of some respect of itself, as I said -- but also that you locked horns with all the hatred the U.S. government usually has for whoever they consider a political enemy.

There's also another fact found at the root of it all: many people, even those who know nothing about the history of the U.S.-Cuba relations or have no interest whatsoever in political issues, are instinctively aware that Cuba has withstood and still withstands the power of the American government. Therefore, they see in us a reflection of that resistance that we're part of. They link us to it, and that creates respect.

Add to all these factors the support that they know we get as much from the Cuban people as from many friends around the world. And they don't know the specifics, but they notice how many e-mails we receive and send, which they recognize as a sign the support we have.

Again, all these factors combine and, together, lead other inmates to see us as serious, dignified individuals and respect us accordingly.

Q: How much have the messages and signs of support from Cuba and elsewhere influenced your capacity for resistance?

They've had a great influence. Not that we would have given up without them, but they no doubt make your resistance more bearable. Knowing that you can count on the understanding and support of a whole militant people and hundreds of thousands of friends worldwide inspires more confidence in victory. It also teaches you about those who fight for us in the disadvantageous position that they find themselves in countries where advocating for our case requires a lot of effort, initiative and perseverance.

Furthermore, receiving so many messages of solidarity and sympathy also has a practical, palpable impact. In my previous answer I told you about an angle of that impact, but also the prison authorities and many other inmates get to know who we are and all the support we receive, which to some extent has an influence on their caution in treating us in some circumstances. This is not to say that we get special treatment. It's just that they are careful about how they treat us.


Q: Heroism is to many people nothing but a thing of Hollywood or a history book. Do you see yourself as a hero?

Fernando González: I don't. I just did and do what I'm sure millions of Cubans would have done. At any rate, all I can say is that it was my privilege to do what millions would have liked to have the chance to do and, faced with adverse circumstances at a defining moment, I took a stance that I believe is in keeping with the history of our people and their fighting spirit and ability to resist. The vast majority of Cubans, not just the five of us, carry in our hearts those values, instilled in us throughout our people's history of struggle. That's why I say that millions of Cubans would do the same, and that's why the Revolution is alive and moving forward.


Q: What helped you serve your sentence with integrity and without your will being broken? Do you have any anecdote or "slogan" -- I mean, as an element of reaffirmation -- that helped in any way?

Fernando González: What mostly helped me do my time without giving up my principles is the awareness that we are defending a just cause, which confers calm and capacity to both cope with the circumstances, hard though they may be, and put your situation into context.

We know that what they do to us is to punish, or try to punish, Cuba for its audacity to build a just society despite the animosity of the most powerful country on Earth, which is still reluctant to come to terms with the fact that Cuba is an independent and sovereign nation.

Understanding that helps us keep our predicament in perspective and accept it with honor and dignity, and it gives us a more comprehensive view about the meaning of our case in the framework of U.S. hostility toward the Cuban Revolution. Without trying setting ourselves up as a symbol or anything, I hope that the U.S. government learns that they will not break the Revolution any more than they could break the Five.

We would have never given up our principles, not even in the utter isolation we endured in the early years of our imprisonment, and I know that our brothers who remain in prison will do the same even in the most difficult conditions. However, the solidarity and support that we have received from the Cuban people and so many other friends everywhere make your sentence easier to bear and become to us a commitment of resistance and combativeness.


Q: Any plans for when you arrive in the island?

Fernando González: At first, above all else, to spend time with my family and [my partner] Rosa Aurora, from whom I've been separated for so many years; greet my brothers' relatives; to meet with friends I have not seen for a long time; and to try to fill myself up with the island and the lifestyle we're used to enjoying and which I miss so much. I'd like to swim in the sea -- weather permitting -- and walk around Havana. These are the first things to do, there will be time afterwards to make other plans.

As to the future, generally speaking, I will join the struggle for the return of my other brothers and strive for that goal to the best of my ability.

Left to right: Mirta Rodríguez, mother of Antonio Guerrero; René's mother, Irma Sehweret;
Maruchi Fernando Guerrero, Antonio's sister.

Left to right: Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Ramón Labañino; Adriana Perez, the wife of Gerardo Hernández.

(Published on www.freethefive.org. Translated from original Spanish by CubaNews, edited by Walter Lippmann. Photos: CubaDebate, Estudios Revolución, CubanitoenCuba.)

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Cuba Suspends Consular Services in U.S.
Due to Blockade

On February 14, Radio Havana Cuba reported that the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC suspended its consular services given the impossibility to find a bank that will accept its financial accounts -- a consequence of the U.S. economic, financial and commercial blockade of Cuba.

A press release posted on the Interests Section webpage refers to its December 9, 2013 press release informing of a new deadline given by M&T Bank due to its termination of banking services to the Cuban Interests Section and the Cuban Permanent Mission to the United Nations. February 14 was set as the last date for deposits and a deadline of March 1 given to close the accounts.

The release explains that in spite of the huge efforts made on the part of Cuba, as a result of the restrictions arising from the policy of economic, commercial and financial blockade by the U.S. government against Cuba, it has been impossible for the Interests Section to find a U.S.-based bank for the accounts of the Cuban diplomatic missions.

The Cuban Interests Section now finds itself forced to suspend consular services as of February 15 until banking services are re-established. In November, it was also reported that consular services will only be provided for humanitarian cases.

"The Section regrets any inconvenience this situation may cause to Cuban and U.S. citizens who may require the services of our offices, with the negative impact on family visits, academic, cultural, educational, scientific, sports and other types of exchanges between Cuba and the United States," states the press release.

(Radio Havana Cuba)

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Coming Events

Cross Canada Actions to Mark Vancouver's
100th Monthly Picket to Free the Five

Posters from Free the Cuban Five events in British Columbia, March 5-8.


On March 5, the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver is holding its 100th monthly picket, actions that date back to 2005. This more than eight years of steady work to break the silence about the case of the Cuban Five has seen the scope of the committee develop beyond the Vancouver area to other cities on the mainland and also Vancouver Island. As such, this important achievement is being used as the occasion to hold a series of events in Vancouver and other cities on the mainland as well as Vancouver Island, with the participation of His Excellency Julio Garmendia Peña, Cuban Ambassador to Canada, Mrs. Miraly González González, First Secretary of the Cuban Embassy and Stephen Kimber, journalist and author of "What Lies Across the Water" about the Cuban Five.

The occasion of the 100th monthly picket is also being acknowledged by other Cuba solidarity and Free the Five Committees across Canada with their own pickets and activities on that date, all for purposes of raising the profile of the case of the Cuban Five so as to win their freedom as soon as possible. Click on the Calendar of Events above for details and posters.

TML calls on everyone to go all out to organize their peers to take part in these activities and make them a success!

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Tour of Cuban Musician Gerardo Alfonso to Promote Third Meeting of World Solidarity with Cuba

The beautiful poetic songs of outstanding Cuban composer and guitar player Gerardo Alfonso Morejón will be heard between Halifax and Victoria, with stops in 12 cities from March 21 to April 13. The tour is organized by the Canadian Network on Cuba to promote the Third Meeting of World Solidarity with Cuba in Havana October 27-29, 2014. Sandra Ramírez, North American Specialist from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) will accompany Gerardo and speak about the Solidarity Meeting.

Gerardo Alfonso is part of the nueva trova (new song) movement that started in Cuba in the 1960s and combines traditional folk music with political lyrics. He songs touch upon themes of humanity, society, love and life. He has shared the stage with world famous musicians Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes, Vicente Feliú and many others.

Saturday, March 22 -- 7:30 pm

College Street United Church, 452 College Street (at Bathurst)
Tickets $10 -- can be purchased at the door.
For information: www.ccfatoronto.ca or call Elizabeth, 416-654-7105

Wednesday, March 26

Save the Date! Time and Location TBA

... more locations and dates to come!

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International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five, March 7-8, London, UK

The two day Commission of Inquiry will convene a group of internationally renowned commissioners drawn from legal, human rights, political and academic backgrounds and organisations. The Commissioners will hear first hand evidence from a number of key witnesses on:

- their personal experiences of terrorism against Cuba
- the role of US based organisations in these terrorist acts
- the legal right of nations to defend themselves against terrorist actions
- the arrest, trial, ensuing legal case
- the sentencing of the Five
- family visitation rights and conditions of detention

Other witnesses will provide factual information on the actions undertaken by the Five, including evidence about the legality of this action under US and international law. A full range of legal opinions from respected international organisations will be sought.

The findings from the Commission will be presented to the US authorities and directly to President Barack Obama.

It is a public event and will run concurrently with a full programme of rallies, exhibitions, screenings, media and cultural events, including a gala concert, panel discussions and VIP receptions.

The event will bring together members of Voices for the Five, an international coalition of campaigners for the Cuban Five in order to reach out to the widest audience possible and increase international support and awareness for the cause of justice for the Five.

Latest Details:
René González, Former Miami Five Prisoner to Attend London Event

René González, the first member of the Miami Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence in the United States, has announced that he will come to London to give evidence to the International Commission of Inquiry on 7th and 8th March 2014.

He will be joined by family members, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world including Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winning author of the Color Purple.

The Commission will hear testimony from around 20 key witnesses including U.S. defence attorney Martin Garbus, representatives from international human rights organisation Amnesty International, and from Miami Five family members including wives of the Five, Olga Salanueva and Elizabeth Palmeiro.

The Commission will be presided over by distinguished international jurors including the former Chief Justice of India Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal, Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Philippe Texier, former Chair of the Supreme Court of France.

There will be testimony from specialists on the range of measures taken to defend Cuba against the threat of terrorist attacks, as well as testimony from Cuban and international victims of US based terrorism.

In his New Year message René González urged support for the International Commission of Inquiry and said:

"When we were imprisoned 15 years ago, our captors never imagined that from all corners of the world people like you would take up our cause. Instead of suffering defeat we have become stronger. During this time we have suffered hardships and lost people close to us. But our spirits never broke because we knew we could count on people from all over the world like you. Your solidarity and sense of justice has kept us and our families strong."

The International Commission is the major event of the campaigning organisation Voices for the Five which has brought together hundreds of international celebrities including John Le Carré, Emma Thompson, Danny Glover, Lord Rowan Williams, Martin Sheen, Noam Chomsky, Günter Grass, Peter Capaldi and Dame Vivienne Westwood. They have been joined by thousands who have posted messages of support to the web based campaigning site.

A number of associated events will take place including a major international concert at the Barbican Hall in London featuring acclaimed Cuban musician and star of the Buena Vista Social Club Eliades Ochoa and his group Cuarteto Patria, alongside other international performers and guests, as well as associated screenings and exhibitions.

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