U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans activists launch initiative
by Leslie Feinberg
Jan. 25, 2007
Reprinted from Workers World
A call for Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five is winging its way around the planet. On Feb. 6, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) activists working with the New York Committee to Free the Cuban Five issued the statement calling for a new trial and freedom for the five Cubans held in U.S. prisons.
The only “crime” of the Cuban Five is that they had infiltrated CIA-backed mercenary commando groups operating out of the U.S. in order to monitor and halt terrorist plots against Cuba.
The Rainbow Solidarity call concludes, “The Cuban people have the right to self-determination and sovereignty. The U.S. must stop targeting Cuba with its economic blockade and CIA-trained, funded and armed attacks by mercenary ‘contra’ armies operating on U.S. soil. These are all illegal acts of war. We call for a new trial and freedom for the Cuban 5!”
Within hours after the call for Rainbow Solidarity with the Cuban Five went out, close to 200 individuals and organizations that fight oppression based on sexuality, gender expression and sex had signed on, many adding enthusiastic comments. Most exciting to organizers was how many of the signers immediately volunteered to help send out the call.
Endorsers came from across the U.S. and around the world: Mexico, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Germany, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Portugal and Spain.
Signers span political spectrum
Early U.S. signers span a broad political spectrum. They include Teresa Gutierrez, a long-time leader in the struggle to free the Cuban Five; former political prisoner and leading prison abolitionist Angela Y. Davis; Leslie Cagan, who is national coordinator of United for Peace and Justice; LeiLani Dowell, national coordinator of FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together); Stephen Funk, the U.S. Marine who was the first imprisoned Iraq War conscientious objector; Bev Tang, organizer for Anakbayan, the youth group of Bayan; Gerry Scoppettuolo, co-founder GALLAN (Pride At Work, Boston); Lani Ka’ahumanu, BiNET USA; Atlanta community activist Pat Hussain; Camille Hopkins, director of NYTRO (New York Transgender Rights Organization) of Western New York; transgender activist Moonhawk River Stone; and Jesse Lokahi Heiwa, Queer People Of Color Action.
Activists Barbara Smith and Margo Okazawa-Rey signed on. The two were among the founders of the Combahee River Collective, a group of Black feminists of all sexualities who issued a historic 1977 statement against the “interlocking” system of “racial, sexual, heterosexual and class oppression.”
Former political prisoners Laura Whitehorn and Linda Evans added their names.
Playwright and performer Imani Henry and performance artist Holly Hughes endorsed. So did renowned lesbian cartoonist and graphic novelist Alison Bechdel and many political writers, including Minnie Bruce Pratt, Matt/ilda a.k.a. Matt Bernstein Sycamore, Eileen Myles, Sarah Schulman and Catherine Ryan Hyde.
Organizations signed on, including the Audre Lorde Project--a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit and Transgender People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area; FIERCE!—a community organization for Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Queer, and Questioning (TLGBTSQQ) youth of color in New York City; QUIT! (Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism); Trans Action Canada; LAGAI-Queer Insurrection; Stonewall Warriors, Boston; and Queers Without Borders, Hartford, Conn.
In addition, people of conscience across the United States and around the world of all nationalities, ages, sexes, genders and sexualities are adding their names, as well, to this call.
Organizations that are not exclusively LGBT signed on in the spirit of unity, including Anakbayan-Los Angeles; Bayan-Southern California; All India Anti-Imperialist Forum; Latin American Solidarity Committee, task force of the Western New York Peace Center; VIRTUAL u.s. Peace Academy at Seattle, Wash.; and The United Peoples, Denmark.
‘Your help is needed!’
Less than a week after the initial call circled the globe, the Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five published its web page on the New York Committee to Free the Five web site. Visit: www.freethefiveny.org/rainboweng.htm
The introduction to the initiative and the call itself are up there in English, Spanish, simplified and traditional Chinese.
The introduction and call have now also been translated into Farsi, Portuguese, German and French and will be posted soon. More translations are planned for the Web site, including into Tagalog, Japanese, Korean, Italian and a video version in ASL (American Sign Language).
Readers are encouraged to visit the web site at www.freethefiveny.org in order to add their names and to help spread the news to others to do likewise. For more information on this struggle also visit: www.freethefive.org.
Those with ideas for widening and deepening the initiative are urged to e-mail organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the web appeal concludes: Your help is needed to free the Cuban Five!
Rainbow Solidarity for Cuban Five forms broad political arc
by Leslie Feinberg
Feb. 1, 2007
Reprinted from Workers World
Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five—initiated by U.S.-based lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other activists who are oppressed based on their sexuality, gender and/or sex—is widening its arc across this continent and around the world.
The five political prisoners are serving long sentences behind bars in federal penitentiaries in this country for the “crime” of trying to stop CIA-backed terrorists on U.S. soil from attacking Cuba.
Just two weeks after the first call went out on Jan. 7, Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five is shaping up to be a historic united front. It is cementing a broad political spectrum with the courage to demand: free the Five, defend Cuba’s right to self-determination and sovereignty, lift the blockade and stop U.S.-instigated terror attacks on the island nation.
Several hundred individuals and organizations have already signed on to the call, posted on the www.freethefiveny.org web site. Look for the rainbow.
Individuals and groups have responded from across the United States—southern Florida to the Pacific Northwest, San Diego to Maine.
International endorsements are already in from Mexico, Brazil, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales, Italy, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Austria, Germany, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Portugal and Spain.
With the help of volunteers from around the world, the introduction and call for Rainbow Solidarity to free the Cuban Five is posted online in Spanish, English, simplified and traditional Chinese, Farsi, Portuguese, Italian, French and German. More translations are in the works or planned, including a streaming video ASL (American Sign Language) translation.
Signers in recent days include the Center for the Study of Sexualities, National Central University, Taiwan, and its coordinator, Professor Josephine Ho; and New-York-based anti-imperialist activist Joo-Hyun Kang.
Louisville, Ky., filmmaker and activist Sonja de Vries—director of the documentary “Gay Cuba”—signed on to the call.
Stephen Whittle, professor of equalities law and the British organization Press for Change at the School of Law at Manchester Metropolitan University, endorsed. So did Barbara Findlay, co-chair of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Issues Section, BC Branch, Canadian Bar Association; and Tami Starlight and the Vancouver-based organization she is director of—Trans Action Canada.
Brigitte Oftner, coordinator of the Austrian “Free the Five” committee, and Simon McGuinness, secretary of the “Free the Miami Five Campaign, Ireland,” strengthened the call with their endorsements and those of their organizations.
Rainbow Solidarity organizers stress that to make this call even more powerful, your signature is needed. To become a part of Rainbow Solidarity to Free the Cuban Five, sign on at: www.freethefiveny.org/rainboweng.htm.
For ideas about how to deepen this initiative, email: email@example.com
For more information about the case of the Cuban Five, visit freethefiveny.org or freethefive.org.
Rainbow Solidarity for Cuban Five circles the planet
by Leslie Feinberg
Feb. 15, 2007
Reprinted from Workers World
More than 600 lesbian, gay and bisexual, transgender and transsexual, intersexual and other activists, organizations and allies battling oppression based on sexuality, gender expression and sex have united behind the demand to free the Cuban Five.
The five political prisoners—Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzáles, and René Gonzáles—are serving long sentences in U.S. penitentiaries for the “crime” of infiltrating CIA-backed fascist commando groups in order to halt terror attacks against Cuba from U.S. soil.
The call for “Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five” demands a new trial and freedom for these political prisoners, defense of Cuban sovereignty and self-determination, and a halt to the illegal U.S. acts of war against Cuba—including the economic blockade and CIA-trained, funded and armed attacks by mercenary “contra” armies operating from this country.
A multinational, multi-lingual group of U.S. activists first issued the call for Rainbow Solidarity to Free the Cuban Five on Jan. 7. Within days, some 200 individuals and groups from across the United States and around the globe had signed on. In the next two weeks that number tripled.
Enthusiastic replies poured in from more than two dozen countries, and from more than 215 cities, towns and campuses in 38 states in the United States.
The geographic and political arch of the rainbow continues to broaden. A frequently updated list of signers is posted at: www.freethefiveny.org.
Roster of hard-working activists
The national organization Pro-Gay Philippines has added its powerful voice to the Rainbow Solidarity demands.
The Puerto Rican Alliance of Los Angeles and its coordinator Lawrence Reyes have endorsed.
Many Italian groups have signed on. These include Coordinamento Nazionale Trans FTM, Movimento Identità Transessuale and Crisalide Azione Trans.
Other signers include the Committee to Defend Palestinian Human Rights and its co-chair, Donna Joss; Walter Lippmann, editor-in-chief of CubaNews; Cianán Russell, chair of the Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance; QueerToday.com and its founder, Mark Snyder; Gordene MacKenzie, GenderTalk Radio and director of Women’s Studies, Merrimack College, Beverly, Mass; the Global Coalition for Peace and its director, Victor (Vyasa) Landa; Doug Barnes and the Freedom Socialist Party; Starlene Rankin, Green National Committee delegate of the Lavender Caucus of the Green Party of the United States; Viktor Dedaj, webmaster of the Cuba Solidarity Project; the Cuba Edmonton Solidarity Committee in Alberta, Canada; and the Swiss Cuba Association.
Volunteers have translated the call, making it available online in Spanish, English, simplified and traditional Chinese, Farsi, Portuguese, Italian, French and German.
The Japanese translation is ready, and work has already begun in Tagalog and Turkish. Help with other translations is needed.
Many names on the list, viewable at www.freethefiveny.org—look for the rainbow—will be recognizable as well-known LGBT activists and others battling oppression based on sexuality, gender and sex, including women’s liberationists.
This roster also reveals that many of these activists are also some of the hardest-working organizers in movements here and around the world against imperialist war, neo-liberalism, neo-colonialism, national oppression, racism, police brutality, prison and death penalty abolition, sweatshops and capitalist globalization.
These are also leading activists in the struggle for immigrant rights; women’s liberation, including reproductive rights; jobs; labor union, tenant and community organizing; education; health care and affordable housing; freedom for all U.S. political prisoners and for prisoner rights; national liberation; support for Cuba and the revolutionary movement to overturn capitalism and build an economy based on planning to meet peoples’ needs.
Enthusiastic support for Cuban Five
The Rainbow Solidarity initiative is giving voice to grassroots support for the Cuban Five.
Shahlah Barvenvall, from Malmo, Sweden, writes with the kind of enthusiasm that is characteristic of the responses: “Yes, I want to sign on to the call for Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five!”
Stephen Schryver: “[A]dd my name to your growing list of outraged citizens in this country.”
Tami Starlight, director of Trans Action Canada: “I support this fully!”
Lynda Aubrey, from Elk, Calif.: “Please add my name to the call to free the Cuban 5 (I am a lesbian).”
Tim Sutton: “My partner and I are with you 100 percent.”
Joan Larkin, from Brooklyn, N.Y.: “I have long been outraged by the terrible injustice of their situation.”
Paul Lefrak, a member of OPEIU Local 100 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., says: “As a gay man in South Florida who calls for freedom for our brothers, the Five, I am delighted to see this initiative. THEY MUST BE FREE!”
U.S. warlord hypocrisy
Other signers hit U.S. imperialist hypocrisy.
Jerry Pendergast, from Athletes United for Peace, U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, Nicaragua Solidarity Committee, writes: “These people were trying to prevent an act of terrorism. The country that claims to lead the ‘War On Terror’ is imprisoning them.”
Larry Morton of the Scottish Socialist Freedom Movement: “It is time these Cubans had a fair trial and it is recognized they were protecting their homeland from U.S.-sponsored terrorism.”
Barry Morley, secretary-treasurer of the Community Business and Professionals Association of Canada, states, “It is time for the Bush administration to stop the hypocrisy and make terrorism against Cuba illegal.”
Tighe Barry supports the five as “those most important defenders of everyone’s right to live without fear of terrorism. The patriotic Cuban Five [are] illegally held political prisoners in a country with the most of its own people behind bars.” Barry, who grew up in Miami, adds the need to organize to close down the U.S. prison at Guantanamo and free all those held there.
Ray Elling, from Farmington, Conn., suggests, “Put Cheney and Bush in jail instead of the Cuban Five.”
Sebastian Shunmugam, Kempton Park, Gauteng, South Africa, notes, “I trust that justice will prevail and not the shortsighted political agenda of individuals.”
Cecile Meyer, from DeKalb, Ill., adds: “As Martin Luther King points out: justice delayed is justice denied. Justice has been delayed far too long for the Cuban Five.”
Dr. Akira Asada, from Hyougo, Japan, states, “I am not a U.S. citizen. But this is a problem of human rights. So I sign.”
Yancy Gandionco, from the LGBTQI Desk of Bayan USA, affirms: “Mabuhi ang panaghiusang international!!! Long live international solidarity!!”
Eric Theis, from Milwaukee, reminds, “Ah, the things we gain from solidarity.”
Grassroots support for Cuba
Richard Spurgeon, from Madera, Calif., says succinctly, “It’s way past time to change our policy toward Cuba and the Cuban people.”
Chien San Feng, professor in the Department of Journalism, National Cheng Chi University, in Taipei, Taiwan, sends this message: “The U.S. should lift the embargo.”
Adela Brent, counselor at the Zig Zag Young Women’s Resource Centre Inc. in Brisbane, Australia: “As a citizen of the world, I demand the U.S. government to free the five Cubans who have not committed any crime. I also demand the U.S. government to lift the economic embargo against the Cuban people.”
Joan Malerich, from St. Paul, Minn.: “I have written Fernando Gonzáles approximately twice a week since March of 2003. I have learned so much from him. The Five are examples for the world, just as the Cuban Revolution has always been an example for the world. I greatly appreciate your work in supporting the Five, and I know the Five and their families also greatly appreciate your beautiful efforts. Thank you!!!!!!”
Dale Pfeiffer, author of “Eating Fossil Fuels,” writes from Irvine, Ky.: “It is long past time for the U.S. to recognize Cuba’s right to determine its own form of government. In the years to come, U.S. respect for Cuba will be extremely important to the welfare of the U.S. public, as industrialized, U.S.-style agriculture results in a food crisis for which Cuba has pioneered the only possible solution. It is time to honor Cuba, not vilify it. Let this honor begin with the freedom of the Cuban Five.”
David from New York state stresses how biased the trial venue was for the Five: “[The] Five Cubans who were trying to stop the ultra-right terrorist groups in Miami from carrying out violent actions against the people of Cuba. Miami is the one city in the U.S. where the Five certainly could not receive a fair trial.”
David eloquently concludes: “To all justice-loving people in the U.S. and around the world, we appeal to you to join the struggle to free Fernando, René, Antonio, Ramón and Gerardo. Help us in outreach, education and organizing, because once people know the facts of the case, we are sure they will call for their freedom as well.”
Sign on the call at: www.freethefiveny.org—look for the rainbow.
For more information about the case of the Cuban Five, also visit freethefive.org.
Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five extends around the world
by Leslie Feinberg
Mar. 1, 2007
Reprinted from Workers World
An extraordinary mobilization of Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five is extending around the world.
To read and sign on to the call, visit www.freethefiveny.org and look for the rainbow. Individuals and organizations are urged to help circulate the call far and wide.
The five political prisoners—Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González—are serving long sentences in U.S. penitentiaries for the “crime” of infiltrating CIA-backed fascist commando groups in order to halt terror attacks against Cuba from U.S. soil.
The Rainbow Solidarity for the Cuban Five call demands a new trial and freedom for these political prisoners, defense of Cuban sovereignty and self-determination and a halt to the illegal U.S. acts of war against Cuba—including the economic blockade and CIA-trained, funded and armed attacks by mercenary “contra” armies operating from this country.
The solidarity initiative has inspired self-motivated grass-roots organizing by lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (LGBT) and other activists who fight oppression based on sexuality, gender expression and sex.
Circling the globe
Individuals and organizations from more than 32 countries and 43 states in the U.S. have signed on.
Volunteers have translated the introduction to the initiative and the call itself, so that it is now available in Spanish, English, simplified and traditional Chinese, Farsi, Turkish, Greek, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, French and German.
ASWAT—the Palestinian lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersexual organization—is translating the introduction and call into Arabic.
LGBT and feminist activists in Croatia are translating and circulating the call.
Translations and downloadable leaflets and petitions are constantly being updated on the www.freethefiveny.org Web site.
More information about the Cuban Five is available on that Web site or at www.freethefive.org.