Actions around the world demand freedom for the Five
Sept. 14, 2008
From Sept. 12 through Sept. 14, actions all around the world on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of five Cuban heroes have had one demand: Free the Five! This is a brief summary of some of them.
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Hundreds of activists converged on the nation's capitol, Washington, D.C., for a series of actions. On Friday, Sept. 12, a press conference held right in front of the White House featured remarks from Wayne Smith, former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Brian Becker, national coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), Banbose Shango, Regional Coordinator of the Venezuelan Solidarity Network and co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, and Claudia Morcom, former Detroit Judge.
Wayne Smith at the press conference
Video of the press conference and the action which followed (YouTube version • QuickTime version)
Brian Becker's complete talk at the press conference (YouTube version • QuickTime version)
Following the press conference, activists attempted to present George Bush with petitions containing 102,000 signatures from 78 countries demanding the freedom of the Five, and were arrested while attempting to do so. A full report and pictures of that part of the action are here, and a video of the arrests is here.
Brian Becker's talk while handcuffed and under arrest (YouTube version • QuickTime version)
Video of the arrests (YouTube version)
The following day started with an outdoor rally at Malcolm X Park featuring many speakers (click here to watch the speech by Gloria La Riva), followed by a spirited march through the streets of Washington D.C. including a stop at the Washington Post to protest the sparse media coverage given to the Five by the corporate media (click here to watch a speech given by Gloria La Riva in front of the Post). The march concluded with a picket line right in front of the White House.
Gloria La Riva's talk at Malcolm X Park (YouTube version • QuickTime version)
Gloria La Riva's talk at the Washington Post (YouTube version • QuickTime version)
Marching in Washington, D.C.
After the march, an indoor conference was held at the SEIU building. Attendees at the conference received an important legal update from attorney Leonard Weinglass, and were honored with the presence and remarks of the head of the Cuban Interests Section, Jorge Alberto Bolaños Suarez, who spoke about the importance of the solidarity movement to the Five and to the Cuban people. The Rev. Lucius Walker of Pastors for Peace told the audience about an important solidarity mission that is being assembled to go to Cuba to help with reconstruction following the extensive damage suffered from the recent hurricanes. Carpenters, electricians, and others with construction experience are particularly needed; contact the Pastors for Peace if you are able to join this important contingent. Also speaking at the rally were Gloria La Riva and Akbar Muhammad, International Representative of the Nation of Islam. Ben Ramos read remarks prepared for the occasion by the Five.
Leonard Weinglass' talk to the conference (QuickTime movie)
Gloria La Riva's talk to the conference (YouTube version • QuickTime version)
Activists spread the word about the Five
À Montréal à l’appel de la Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba et de son Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5, plus de 60 personnes sont venues manifester devant le consulat étasunien pour exiger la liberté des 5 Cubains emprisonnés aux Etats-unis.
350 tractes informatifs ont été distribués aux passants piétons et en automobiles pendant que les manifestants scandaient des slogans en faveur des 5 et leurs familles.
La participation de 5 personnes enchaînées et déguisées en prisonniers et de musiciens à ajouter à l’animation de l’évènement.
Plus tôt dans la journée, des représentants des comités ont remis une pétition au consulat étasunien signée par 2020 Québécois et Québécoises dirigée à l'Ambassadeur des États-unis au Canada, M. David Wilkins. Les signataires appuient le libellé : << Monsieur l’Ambassadeur des États-Unis au Canada, M. David Wilkins : Nous réclamons la libération des cinq Cubains Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Fernando González Llort, René González Sehwerert qui sont injustement emprisonnés aux États-Unis pour avoir défendu le peuple cubain contre des attaques terroristes>>.
Nous continuons de tenir des lignes de piquetage une fois par mois devant le consulat étasunien à Montréal depuis mai 2007. L’évènement a été couvert par des médias nationaux et locaux.
In Alicante, Spain, the Miguel Hernández Association of Friendship with Cuba, Alicante held an activity in solidarity with the Five, in the Plaza de Manila, where we projected the documentary, Mission Against Terror, handed out information and read the communique of the Five and that of our association.
Neighbors and passersby were able to learn of this injustice that is hidden by the means of communication.
Our next commitment will be to fill at least one bus from Alicante for the demonstration and acts of solidarity with the Five, on Oct. 4 in Madrid and continue to paste up posters in the coming months throughout Alicante, denouncing this criminal injustice of the United States government.
Saturday 13th September marked ten years since the unjust arrest and incarceration of the Cuban 5. Rock Around The Blockade (RATB) joined protesters around the world on this day, and showed it's solidarity for these five brave men by holding a rally in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London.
The rally was a huge success, with some thirty protesters, adults and children alike, attracting the attention of hundreds of passers-by. RATB were joined by members of the Marti-Maceo Association of Cubans in the UK, who delivered moving speeches to the public. These and other speeches from passionate protesters encouraged people to stop and find out more. Several people, having already heard about the imprisonment of the Five, approached us and took away more information. Hundreds signed our petition, which will be sent to the international Free the Five campaign.
The rally did much to raise awareness of the need to have the Cuban 5 freed from prison, and of the positive politics of Cuba in general. RATB continues to stand in solidarity with socialist Cuba and revolutionary struggles in Latin America.
San Antonio, TX:
Coverage of the event in the San Antonio Current here.
Watch a YouTube video of the San Antonio action here
Read the excellent press coverage from Luxembourg's Zeitung vum Lëtzebuerger Land here and here
This September 12th, Toronto participated in the international condemnation of ten years of the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five, with an event organized by Toronto Forum on Cuba and presented by Ontario Public Interest Research Group at U of T, demanding freedom for the Cuban Five and visitation rights for their families.
A couple of weeks prior to the event, three radio interviews were done by members of Toronto Forum on Cuba on community radio stations at Ryerson, York University and CIUT 89.5. In addition, there will be upcoming articles on the Cuban Five resulting from the event in the Correo Canadiense and in the Yeni Hayat Turkish newspaper.
The dance ensemble “Azteca Tonatzen” from Mexico, kicked off the evening performing an Indigenous dance. Thando Hyman, the host of the “African Woman and Family” program on 89.5 CIUT-FM, was the master of ceremonies for the evening and after welcoming everyone, she invited Morteza Gorgzadeh to give a brief introduction of Toronto Forum on Cuba.
The Honourable Consul General of Cuba in Toronto, Laureano Cardoso, described the injustice that the Cuban Five and their families continue to be subjected to and he provided some of the circumstances surrounding their arrest and their conviction. After mentioning the participation of three of them -Gerardo Hernández, René González and Fernando González- in the internationalist mission against the South African apartheid regime in Angola, he went on to expose the hypocrisy of the “war on terror” waged by the U.S. government by outlining the Five’s actions of alerting the Cuban government about impending terrorist attacks against Cuba, planned from U.S. territory by extreme-right Cuban exile groups and contrasting their imprisonment with the impunity that U.S. authorities give to known terrorists such as Orlando Bosch (one of the masterminds of the bombing in mid-air of a Cubana airliner in 1976, which killed all 73 people aboard). To conclude, the Consul General read a letter that René González wrote to the people of Pinar del Río and of Isla de la Juventud after hurricane Gustav.
Samira Hamedan , the Honourable Consul and the Consul General of the Consulate of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Toronto brought strong words of solidarity for the Cuban Five, for the sovereignty of Cuba and for the Cuban people and some updates on the situation facing Venezuela a the moment. They were followed by Social Researcher and Human Rights Defender in Colombia, William Castilla Alvarez who expressed his complete support of the Cuban Five and explained the necessity of their mission, in light of the recent events indicating the U.S. government’s illegal involvement in the internal affairs of Bolivia and of Venezuela.
The next speaker to offer a message of solidarity, was sister Marie Clark Walker, Executive Vice President of the Canadian Labour Congress, who also read a message sent by brother Dave Bleakney from the Education Department of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, who was scheduled to speak.
Keith Ellis, Professor Emeritus and former Chair of the Latin American Studies Committee of the University of Toronto presented a report of the damages caused in Cuba by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike with details and a slide show illustrating the devastation. He informed the audience of the Cuba Hurricane Relief campaign and announced the upcoming fundraiser on September 26th at 7:00PM at the Steelworkers’ Hall in Toronto. He encouraged everyone to donate as much as possible and to get others to donate as well, to help Cuba recover as rapidly as possible, considering the huge amount of damages and losses that the Cuban people suffered as a result of these hurricanes.
Poetry written by two of the Cuban Five –Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino- was interpreted by Carlos Angulo from Perú and by Ardis Harriman from CCFA-Toronto. Benny Esguerra thrilled the audience with his performance of a song entitled “Se Acabe el Silencio” (Break the Silence), dedicated to the Five and by singing and rapping more lyrics filled with socially conscious context. Ten-year old Skigh Johnson concluded the cultural segment of the program, by performing a monologue written by her, portraying Ivette, René González’ daughter.
The political segment continued with Attorney at Law, Juan Carranza, who called the Cuban Five case “a complete travesty to justice”. He provided a history and an update on the legal aspects of the case, along with an explanation of the possible outcomes.
Mr. Khaled Muammar, the President of the Canadian Arab Federation, spoke of the bravery of the Cuban people and of their internationalism and solidarity with the people of the world and he stressed the need to campaign for the freedom of the Cuban Five and to support Cuba through this difficult time.
The event had a successful participation of about 90 people united in demanding freedom for the Cuban Five, over $1000 in donations were collected for the Cuba Hurricane Relief and hundreds for the Cuban Five campaign. On behalf of Toronto Forum on Cuba, Morteza Gorgzadeh expressed our appreciation to all who helped us to make this day a success and said, "We shall continue to educate ourselves in order to educate the broader public on issues related to Cuba, so that we can take a just stand”.
Two Namibian cities, Windhoek and Otjiwarongo, opened the activities of this African country in the framework of the World Days of Solidarity with the Cuban Five that will take place up to October 8.
Early in the morning, two radio stations announced the beginning of the campaign, and the president of the Namibia-Cuba Friendship Association, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, gave details of the case of The Five Cuban Heroes that suffer unjust prison in North American jails for fighting against terrorism planned and carried out by some Cuban-Americans encouraged by the U.S. Government
A group of demonstrators gathered in a well-known corner of the Namibian capital and led a march along Independence Avenue up to the Ministry of Justice, where they delivered a letter to the Deputy minister of Justice, Hon. Uutoni Nujoma, requesting the Minister of Justice of Namibia to write to her counterpart in the United States, demanding the immediate release of The Five Cuban patriots.
On the other hand, in Otjiwarongo another rally took place in front of the offices of the Ministry of Justice in that town of the center-north region of Namibia; There, several speakers raised their voices to refer to the case of The Cuban Five and the countless aggressions that the U.S. has carried out against Cuba - a small country with a dignity that has withstood the hardest tests and that in spite of the economic and financial blockade it has been subjected to for almost half a century, it generously shares their doctors and other specialists with many poor nations of the world - Namibia among them.
The activities will continue in the coming days with the exhibition of a documentary on the case of the Five Heroes, interviews, lectures and rallies in several cities of this African nation.
Con un piquete frente a la Embajada de Estados Unidos en la ciudad de Kiev, capital de Ucrania, se dio inicio en este país a la III Jornada por la Liberación de los Cinco Héroes cubanos, en el décimo aniversario de su injusta prisión en cárceles del imperio norteamericano.
Banderas cubanas y rojas con la imagen del Che y el símbolo del Partido Comunista, pancartas alegóricas a los Cinco y murales preparados especialmente para la ocasión, dieron color a la manifestación, en la que participaron más de 130 amigos de la Isla de la libertad y que comenzó a las 9 de la mañana y se prolongó a la una de la tarde. La música cubana sirvió de complemento a las más de 10 intervenciones realizadas por los directivos de las principales organizaciones que participaron en el acto.
Durante el encuentro se recogieron firmas para respaldar una misiva dirigida al Presidente Norteamericano, George Bush, con la exigencia de poner en libertad inmediatamente a los héroes cubanos. También se repartieron a los transeúntes libelos con información sobre los Cinco, y se enarbolaron lemas de repudio al bloqueo que mantiene Estados Unidos contra Cuba y contra la adhesión de Ucrania a la OTAN, tema que preocupa particularmente a los patriotas de esta tierra, donde tanto se ama a la mayor de las Antillas.
Las conmemoraciones se extenderán hasta comienzos del mes de octubre por una buena parte de la geografía ucraniana. Se reunieron para reafirmar su apoyo a Los Cinco y a nuestro país miembros de la Asociación de amistad Ucrania – Cuba, de la Asociación de Cubanos Residentes en Ucrania, de la Organización Juvenil Che Guevara, de la Organización de Marxistas, de la Asociación de Veteranos Internacionalistas “cubanos”, del Komsomol Leninista, del Partido Comunista de Ucrania, de la Revista Propaganda, de la Asociación de mujeres de Ucrania, de la Asociación de los veteranos de la guerra, y otras.
Antigua and Barbuda:
22 de septiembre de 2008 – Una escogida selección de música cubana, conformó el Concierto por los Cinco, celebrado en Antigua y Barbuda, en honor a Gerardo, Antonio, Ramón, René y Fernando, como parte de la Tercera Jornada Mundial por su liberación.
Al dirigirse al auditorio, el embajador cubano, Raúl Rojas, abundó sobre la situación legal de los Cinco a diez años de su encarcelamiento y destacó que ni los huracanes Gustav y Ike pudieron impedir que se realizaran en Cuba diversos actos exigiendo la liberación de nuestros hermanos.
Significó, que haremos realidad las palabras de Fidel sobre el regreso de los Cinco, con la misma disciplina y decisión con que enfrentamos a invasiones, bloqueos y huracanes, lucharemos sin descanso hasta su retorno a la Patria.
Un reclamo por su excarcelación fue presentada por el Comité Pro Liberación, la cual exige la anulación de las condenas y un juicio justo fuera del estado de La Florida y que se les permita el encuentro con sus familiares, que le han negado a Gerardo y René, al no dejarlos encontrarse con sus respectivas esposas, Adriana y Olga.
Harold Lovell, Ministro de Turismo y Colin Murdoch, Secretario Permanente de la Cancillería, quienes asistieron al concierto, suscribieron el texto que fue acogido también por los demás antiguanos presentes, colaboradores y cubanos residentes en la isla.
La velada cultural, organizada por la misión diplomática cubana y el Comité por la Liberación de los Cinco, se inició con las notas de los himnos nacionales de ambos países y en ella se escucharon interpretaciones como La Comparsa, de Ernesto Lecuona; La Bayamesa, de Sindo Garay; Cuando te encontré, de Pablo Milanés y La Guantanamera, de Joseito Fernández, entre otras, ejecutados por Julián Chiang, Indira Cepero y Yudmila Suárez.
El talento de estos hombres de gran sensibilidad, también estuvo presentes en el canto que se les dedicó desde esta pequeña isla del Caribe Oriental, con los poemas de Antonio Guerrero y el diseño del logo que Gerardo concibió para el Concierto Cinco Estrellas y un Canto, que tuvo lugar en Estados Unidos.
Un canto al amor y a la vida, devino el concierto, un abrazo que a través de la música, antiguanos y cubanos enviaron a estos valerosos hombres y también a sus familiares, víctimas de una política irracional contra todo un pueblo.
Activists in Seoul carried out a series of activities. A joint statement, calling for family visits, freedom for the Cuban Five, and for the U.S. Government to put an end to anti-Cuba terrorism, was issued by 17 organizations and 11 individuals: Beyond border (International solidarity group to stop the US war on terrorism), People’s alliance for the reunification and peace of Korean Peninsula, Democratic Labor Research Institute in memory of Jun-Taeil, International solidarity committee of Democratic Lawyers association, Dasan Human right center, International Democratic Solidarity, Haman right committee of Catholic church, Alliance of Healthcare organizations, Wooden Chicken Move Research Institute (Cultural activist organizations), APWSL (Asia Pacific Worker’s Solidarity Link) Korea, MTU (Migrant workers trade union), KASAMAKO (Philippine migrants alliance), Seoul Regional branch of KDLP (Korean Democratic Labor Party), Progressive party, Professors Trade union of KCTU, Seoul Regional Branch of KCTU (Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) Kyunggi Regional Branch of KCTU, Park, Jonggi (President, Alliance of memorial associations for heroes (who sacrificed lives for democratization and worker’s right and so on)) Kim, Jaemyung (Specialized reporter, Seonggonghwai University professor) Park, Soojung (Writer), Yoo, Jaehyun (Writer), Lim, Seungsoo (Writer), Jung, Sikhwa (International solidarity labor activist), Kang, Namhoon (Hanshin University professor) Kim, Hanseong (Yonsei University professor), Kim Sanggon (Hanshion University professor) Jung, Baekgun (Kyengsang University professor), Hur, Sukryul ( Chungbok University professor)
A press conference in front of U.S embassy was held on Sept. 11. According to Korean law, protest in front of embassies is prohibited, so usually we have actions like press conference. Also U.S embassy is famous for its highest security, because, I believe, they know they are biggest trouble maker. The press conference lasted one hour peacefully even as we were confronting with the police. All the participant condemned U.S and requested to free the Cuban Five now. An opening statement made by Kim, Seungho (Executive member of Democratic Labor Research Institute) : How we prepared the joint statement and press conference, and how important issue of the Cuban Five is for us. Also condemning U.S for its unjust war on terror. The first main speech was given by Jang, Changwoen, (Coordinator of APWSL), discussing how brutal U.S policy is upon the people of Asia Pacific and why it is important for us to support the Caribbean friends –the Cuban Five. A second main speech by Kim, Jongil (General Secretariat of People’s alliance for the reunification and peace of Korean Peninsula) compared Cuba and Cuban Five with our own situation. U.S is consistently challenging the South Korean people by attempting to extend U.S military base in South Korea. Also other leaders of various organizations made solidarity messages. Mainly they pointed out how ridiculous it is, and even though we just start to build solidarity with the Cuban Five after they has been imprisoned ten years, we will do our best to free all of them. We condemned U.S government as well as South Korean government which is acting as a puppet of U.S. Also we shared our respect for the Cuban Five and Cuban people who keep the pride and confidence while coping with all the odd U.S is forcing. Especially, Pilipino migrant comrades were there and talked about Philippine situation. He claimed that U.S is the number one terrorist and got biggest applaud.
Following the Press Conference, two leaders delivered a request letter to U.S ambassador Alexander Vershbow through the Security captain of embassy. In that letter we made clear our concern and request to the U.S government. A newspaper advertisement placed in the Hangyorye Newspaper, under the title "Open Request Letter to Bush U.S President," was also placed, calling for: 1: Free the Cuban Five now 2: Stop supporting and protecting anti-Cuba terrorist groups. 3: Stop the war on terrorism and withdraw troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Vancouver, BC, Canada:
“10 years too long!” rang through the streets of Vancouver on September 12, 2008, the tenth anniversary of the unjust jailing of the Cuban Five Heroes. Throughout the world supporters of the Cuban Five organized over 40 actions in defence of the Five and demanded their immediate release from US prisons. The Free the Cuban Five Committee-Vancouver and Vancouver Communities in Solidarity with Cuba co-organized the picket which saw over 25 people picket the US Consulate.
Noah Fine, the coordinator of the Free the Cuban Five Committee-Vancouver, MC’d the picket. After Noah welcomed people to this action the first round of picketing began with people chanting for justice for the Five. The picketing was followed by the reading of a recent letter from Fernando Gonzalez, one of the Five. Fernando wrote to VCSC organizer Stan Squires thanking him for his support for all the Cuban Five.
The emotion felt from Fernando’s encouraging words energized the crowd who went into a second round of picketing. As people gathered together again, Noah introduced via telephone from Washington, DC, Alison Bodine. She spoke about the actions in Washington that saw the US government arrest five Cuban 5 supporters for trying to deliver over 100,000 petitions in support of the Cuban Five to George Bush.
After Alison spoke, Charles Boylan, a member of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) spoke about the hypocrisy of the US government regarding the Cuban Five. Next to speak was Nita Palmer, a leader in the Cuba Solidarity work, who outlined the recent developments of the families of the Cuban Five. Nita condemned the US government’s immoral barring of the wives of two of the Cuban Five from entering the United States to see their husbands. The picket came to a close with Noah announcing a poetry night entirely dedicated to the Five that same evening, September 12.
More coverage of Vancouver actions here