The meeting takes place at an important moment in the movement to organize for the freedom of the remaining of the five Cuban political prisoners held in U.S. jails. The international solidarity movement is united in the call "16 years is 16 years too long: Not a single minute more!" in the world campaign that began September 4 and runs until October 6.
At a September 3 press conference, Kenia Serrano, President of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), explained the program. Delegates would include deputies of the Cuban Parliament, parliamentarians from abroad, representatives of organizations making up the Martí Alliance and Cubans living in the U.S., as well as representatives of Cuba solidarity organizations from the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and other countries, she said. Activists that have been participating in important events in Washington, DC and London are also present.
On September 11 at Havana's
Convention Centre, delegates were addressed by former U.S. Attorney
General Ramsey Clark.
As well, the documentary "Justice in London," by Cuban film maker
Chile was screened, and relatives of the Five held exchanges
Also on September 11, delegates met with members of the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution.
On September 12, participants in the Colloquium are
universities and the Association of Cuban Journalists. In the
afternoon, they are visiting the Museum of Fine Arts, where a work by
Cuban artist Alexis Díaz, "Kcho," is on display -- a
"the hole" (solitary confinement) where the Five have
often been held.
At left, Tonito, son of Antonio and Irma, daughter of René Gonzales.
At far fight, Aili, daughter of Ramon.
(With files from ACN. Photos: CubaDebate)
Fabio, Forever in Our Thoughts
Commemorative event for Fabio Di Celmo, Cobacabana Hotel, September 4, 2014.
An event to remember, pay tribute and reaffirm revolutionary resolve, took place in the lobby of Hotel Copacabana in Havana on September 4, the 17th anniversary of the death of young Canadian of Italian origin and resident of Montreal, Fabio Di Celmo, marking the start of the International Event for the Freedom of the Cuban Five and Against Terrorism.
During the ceremony, in which a floral wreath was placed by the plaque in remembrance of Fabio, a moment of silence was held by workers and invited guests.
Solidarity and support was offered by all those affected by the tragic and unjust event to Fabrio's father Giustino Di Celmo, who attended the commemoration, together with Decorated Hero of the Republic of Cuba, Fernando González. Also in attendance at the ceremony were Kenia Serrano, President of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP); Mirtha Rodríguez, mother of Antonio Guerrero, and Graciela Ramírez, coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, among other personalities.
Since that moment, 17 years ago, the Di Celmo family has become part of Cuba's history. They "add to the 3,477 victims of acts of terrorism," stated Haymel Espinosa, President of the Cuban Committee of the Families of Victims of Terrorism.
"This war unleashed by the United States against the Cuban Revolution as a state policy, has been evidenced throughout history and is fully demonstrable through the multiple, political; military; economic; biological; and diplomatic actions, among many others, which have been carried out against our country," emphasized Espinosa.
She also stated that the Cuban people will never cease in denouncing terrorism and crimes such as those perpetrated in the hotels Tritón, Chateau Miramar and Copacabana in 1997; and much less, abandon the cause of the three anti-terrorists still incarcerated in U.S. prisons.
"Today with us, are René and Fernando, heroes who like our people, continue to work on the difficult task of bringing them [Ramón, Gerardo and Antonio] back." Espinosa highlighted the important role of solidarity organizations in continuing the struggle for the freedom of the Cuban Five.
In addition to the commemoration ceremony, other actions took place all over the country under the banner of Fair Play. Other activities are scheduled to take place in 5,844 sports grounds around the country on the anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of the Five.
Cuba Confers Friendship Medal on Keith Ellis
Prominent Canadian Intellectual Keith Ellis, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, was honored on September 9 in Havana with the prestigious Medal of Friendship in recognition of his long history of solidarity with Cuba.
The award by the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba was granted at the proposal of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). The award was directly conferred by Fernando González, Vice President of ICAP, one of the Five Cuban Heroes unjustly imprisoned by the U.S. government for defending Cuba from terrorism.
Ellis, who was born in Jamaica in 1935, has an extensive history as an essayist, researcher, literary critic and translator. He expressed appreciation for the award and committed to multiplying his efforts in solidarity with Cuba.
"Many of us are dedicated to Cuba. We know why we do so and will continue to do so," he stated.
Professor Ellis's work as an essayist and literary critic encompasses such works as Narrative Art of Francisco Ayala (1964), Critical Approaches to Ruben Dario (1974) and Nicolas Guillen: New Poetry of Love (1994).
In addition, he has translated a substantial part of the poetry of José María Heredia and José Martí.
Ellis travelled to Havana as part of a delegation of more than 30 Canadians participating in the X Colloquium for the Cuban Five and Against terrorism, being held from September 11 to 12.
South African Parliament Calls on U.S. to
René González meets Portugal-Cuba Friendship Association, September 4, 2014.
Marches, rallies and other actions will be held
including a grand cultural gala on September 12 on the steps of the
University of Havana.
In Portugal, political leaders and solidarity activists urged the U.S. government to release the anti-terrorist Cubans during a rally at the offices of the Avante newspaper in Lisbon on September 4. On the occasion, Antonio Filipe, a Member of Parliament (Portuguese Communist Party), Vice President of the National Assembly and President of the Portugal-Cuba Parliamentary Friendship Group, recalled the significance of exerting international pressure to solve the case.
Visiting Lisbon, René González said in an interview with Prensa Latina, "We will never renounce to our right to keep denouncing the injustice that has been committed." He spoke of the political nature of the case of the Five and the importance therefore of continuing to put pressure on the U.S. government to secure justice. He also expressed thanks, on behalf of all the Five, to all those supporting the cause and all the displays of solidarity shown around the world and which continue the international solidarity event.
Other activities include a mass Twitter action on September 12 at 10:00 am, aiming for at least 5,844 tweets demanding their release, a figure equivalent to the number of days Gerardo, Antonio and Ramón have spent in prison.
TML calls on
everyone to go all out to participate in
to spread the word about the injustice against the Five, as part of the
work to secure their immediate release and bring an end to the U.S.
criminal acts of terrorism against Cuba and all countries and peoples
that are forging an independent path.
(With files from Prensa Latina, Periodico26.cu)
On August 27, René González was denied a visa to visit the UK for a second time. René, the first of the Cuban Five to be released, was due to speak at meetings in Liverpool and London to mark the 16th anniversary of their arrests. Despite an invitation from 29 British MPs to address a meeting in Parliament and an invitation by the Trades Union Council to address their Congress in Liverpool, the British government has refused three legal appeals to overturn its decision to deny him entry to the country. René is able to travel throughout the EU -- it is only the UK where a ban on his entry is in place. René was in the middle of visits to Portugal and France at the time his visa to the UK was denied.
The first refusal to issue René a visa occurred on the eve of the Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five where he was to appear as chief witness. At that time in March 2014, legal appeals failed to overturn the ruling.
Olga Salanueva attends the Congresss of the British Trades Union Council in Liverpool, September 8, 2014, despite René González being barred entry to the UK.
"Given the international significance of
this case, it is vital that René is given every platform
present the case of the Five and to pursue, world-wide, the case for
justice and freedom for the three remaining
in U.S. prisons," stated the U.S. Committee to Free the Cuban Five.
Although René has not been allowed to attend the September 10 meeting, the appeal process has not ended. The next stage of the legal process is already underway and activists are working to express ensure that strong opposition to the visa denial is expressed.
Olga Salanueva, René's wife, spoke at emergency meetings from September 8 to 10 in the UK to protest the British government's denial of an entry visa for her husband.
"This report will
help impress upon the US authorities that
legal opinion amongst some of the world's most distinguished judges
considers that the only just resolution of our case is for a complete
and unconditional release of our three brothers remaining in prison."
- René González, first of Cuban Five to be released
The report of the proceedings of the International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban (Miami) Five, held at the Law Society in London in March 2014, is now available in a new publication.
The two Commission Coordinators, Sara Chandler, chair of the Law Society Human Rights Committee and leading barrister Elizabeth Woodcraft launched the report at a packed meeting at the House of Commons in London on 10 September, hosted by Member of Parliament Jeremy Corbyn and Baroness Angela Smith.
Olga Salanueva, wife of René González, the featured speaker at the London meeting, recounted the latest visa denial by the British Government banning her husband from entering the country.
In a 44-page magazine format, written in English and Spanish, the outstanding success of the Commission and its associated events is recorded. It presents the concluding statements of the three presiding judges Yogesh Sabharwal, Zak Yacoob, and Philippe Texier, who, after hearing two days of testimony from witnesses, called upon President Barack Obama to grant "unconditional pardons" to the Five and to release "immediately and unconditionally" the three who remain in prison.
The report also records highlights from the Commission proceedings with special mention of the testimony from Amnesty International that focussed on the unfairness of the trial and, recognising the urgency of the case, pledged to continue to appeal for justice.
A section of the Commission report recounts how the British government refused key witness René González entry into the UK. The launch events were due to be attended by René González but he has again been banned from entering the UK.
Rob Miller, Director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and one of the organisers of the Commission said
"It is ridiculous that René is able to attend events in Portugal and France this week but has again been banned and is not allowed a visa to come here to meet with MPs and help with the launch of this report. Britain looks destined to become the only European country to which René is denied entry. We will continue to campaign vehemently against this extra `unilateral' punishment to René as well as to campaign for justice for the Five."
The report is illustrated with numerous photographs bringing to mind the intensity of these days of concerted activity -- from the concert and dramatic readings performed at London's prestigious Barbican Centre in front of an audience of 2,000, two panel discussions, an exhibition of the paintings of Miami 5 prisoner Antonio Guerrero, as well as the closing dinner. Also featured are words from special guests such as novelist Alice Walker, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and former President of the Cuban parliament, Ricardo Alarcón.
The success of the Commission would not have been possible without the broad support it enjoyed, more than evident in a list of the internationally renowned personalities drawn from many countries who endorsed this initiative including actor Emma Thompson, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, international fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood and writers such as John Le Carré, Günther Grass and Fernando Morais.
Report and full testimonies of all the witnesses available at the website Voices for the Five which was instrumental in organising the Commission of Inquiry:
Please circulate the report to raise awareness around the campaign for justice for the Five.
Philadelphia's Geller Foundation granted its Nelson Mandela Prize to the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters who were given unfair prison sentences in the U.S. after they infiltrated U.S.-based violent organizations that planned terrorist actions against the Cuban people.
The Geller Foundation in Philadelphia is led by two members of the Center for Cuban Studies. When Nelson Mandela passed away they established the annual prize to be granted to those who best embody the human qualities of the South African leader.
The prize, granted for the first time by the foundation, was given to relatives of the five Cubans by the director of the New York-based Center for Cuban Studies, Sandra Levinson, during a meeting in Havana with 25 members of the center at the headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) on July 30.
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