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.
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.
(With files from AIN. Photos: TML, CubaDebate, Estudios Revolución)
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."
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:
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo
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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