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The Cuban 5

John Dolva

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Havana. March 21, 2013

Women of Steel support the Cuban Five

• Meetings in Pittsburgh and Boston

cinco1.gif THE case of the Cuban 5 is known by unions across Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries because on several occasions the mothers and wives of the Five have been invited to speak at labor conferences in those countries. And now in the United States, for the first time, hundreds of women from the United Steelworkers (USW) got to hear about the injustice committed against the Five and their families.

The United Steelworkers (USW) 2013 Women of Steel Conference (WOS) took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from March 9-13. It included plenary sessions, and workshops with a wide range of themes including trade, media and communication, health care, along with legislative and political related issues.

On the last day of the conference, during the plenary session with international guests, Karen Cole from UNITE, the British union, addressed the audience and thanked the USW for giving them space to have a table with information about the case of the Cuban 5 at the conference. When she mentioned that two of the wives of the Cuban 5 have been denied visas by the U.S. government to visit their incarcerated husbands, a woman from the audience loudly shouted “Shame”. Cole then proceeded to raise an ‘Obama Give me Five’ postcard and asked those at the plenary to send one to Obama when they got home.

The fraternal relations between the USW and its sister union UNITE in the UK made the presence of the Cuban 5 possible at this women’s caucus conference. Last May the case of the Cuban 5 was raised at the 25th International Convention of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) meeting in Denver, Colorado. (From the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5)

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Vol. 77/No. 13 April 8, 2013

(feature article)

‘I’m proud of what our lieutenant did

and of what he continues to do today’


José Luis Palacio, center, traveled to Feb. 21 event in Havana from Cuba’s Pinar del Río province along with Sergio Abreu, left, local president of ICAP. Gerardo Hernández, Palacio’s commander during Angola mission, “knows I’ll always be in the front trenches alongside him, in every cause we’re fighting for,” Palacio told Militant reporter Martín Koppel, right.


Internationalist mission in Angola “strengthened us in our fight to defend the Cuban Revolution today,” said José Luis Palacio. Above, Sgt. Palacio, standing, with members of scouting platoon in Cabinda, Angola. At right, Lt. Gerardo Hernández Nordelo.



HAVANA—Sgt. José Luis Palacio Cuní served from 1989 to 1991 as a squad leader in a 12-man reconnaissance platoon in Cabinda, the northernmost province of Angola. The platoon was led by Lt. Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, today known around the world as one of the Cuban Five. Hernández is serving two life sentences in a U.S. penitentiary on trumped-up charges of conspiracy to commit espionage and murder.

Hernández and Palacio were among the 375,000 Cubans who volunteered for military duty in Angola between 1975 and 1991. The Cuban internationalists fought alongside the armed forces of the newly independent nation of Angola—which had just overturned nearly five centuries of Portuguese colonial rule—to defeat repeated invasions by the armed forces of the South African apartheid regime and its allies.

The Militant spoke with Palacio at a Feb. 21 presentation in Havana of the book The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should be Free (see above).

Today Palacio is a member of the Communist Party of Cuba and a refrigeration mechanic who works in a cold-storage warehouse in Pinar del Río, western Cuba. He recounted his Angola experiences in a 2006 interview first published in the Pinar del Río newspaper Guerrillero. That interview—“Twelve Men and Two Cats: With Gerardo Hernández and His Platoon in Angola”—is reprinted in The Cuban Five, published by Pathfinder Press.

Accompanied by Sergio Abreu, president of the Pinar del Río branch of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), Palacio traveled to Havana to attend the February 21 book presentation. The translation from Spanish is by the Militant.


MARTÍN KOPPEL: You were 28 years old when you left for Angola, a member of the UJC [union of Young Communists] at that time. What did Cuba’s internationalist mission in Angola mean for you?

JOSÉ LUIS PALACIO: I’m proud that this book about our five heroes brings together the experience we lived through in Angola.

Angola was the best school we could have gone through. We saw conditions there that don’t exist in our country anymore. It made us prouder of the Cuban Revolution and strengthened us in our fight to defend the revolution today.

The Cuban mission helped Angola defend its independence. It brought the end of apartheid closer. It showed we’re internationalists who will fight for a just cause anywhere in the world.

Many of us were just kids when we went to Angola. We knew little about the world. Over the years we’ve developed as revolutionaries and realize how much that mission helped us. It certainly helped me. And it helped Gerardo too.

I was sad when I first heard the news that my lieutenant Nordelo, as we affectionately called him, was imprisoned in the United States. But I’m proud of what he did, of what he is doing today. It’s an inspiration. He knows I’ll always be in the front trenches alongside him, in every cause we’re fighting for in the world.

When the history of humanity is written, there will have to be a page for the five Cuban heroes. They’re internationalist heroes, world heroes.

KOPPEL: What can you tell us about Gerardo from your experiences working with him?

PALACIO: The first thing I remember about Gerardo as a leader is that he treated us like brothers. He was always concerned about the men he was responsible for. He had the ability to sense when you had problems, if you were sad or troubled. “What’s the matter? You feel bad?” he’d say. “Are you getting any letters from home? What’s going on?”

He paid attention to detail. “We’re going on patrol. Did you clean your rifle? Do you have your ammunition?” He was always on top of everything.

Nordelo never raised his voice. He never mistreated anyone. If you didn’t understand something, if you did something the wrong way, he didn’t get mad. He’d explain it again. “Try it this way, do it that way,” he’d say. Until you knew it well. Until you could handle any task.

In the army there are always officers who are very formal in their approach, or who have a sharp temper. But not Nordelo. He was outgoing, good-humored. He never made anyone stand at attention while he chewed them out. When he wanted to tell you that you’d done something wrong, he’d say:

“Hey, pinareño [native of Pinar del Río], come over here. Listen, man, this is what you did and it was wrong. What’s up? Be sure not to do it again.”

“No lieutenant, I won’t do it again. I promise.”

“Fine. Let’s go play some baseball.”

That’s the way he was. That’s why we respected him.

Nordelo loved to draw cartoons. He loved to read. And he especially liked to encourage others to read—reading opens the mind, he’d say. “If you don’t want to go to school, don’t go. But read. You’ll get a better understanding of things.”

TOM BAUMANN: What kind of books did he read?

PALACIO: He read a lot of revolutionary books—books by Che and others. When he found something on a page that related to us, he’d say, “Hey, come over here. Look at this. See what it says here.”

The night before he left Angola, when his mission was finished, we organized a farewell for him. I remember the last thing he told us when he got in the truck.

“Guys, don’t make me look bad,” he said. “Always hold high the banner of the Cuban Revolution.” I’ll never forget that.

We all yelled, “Lieutenant!” as his truck left. We liked him a lot. And we never made him look bad.

KOPPEL: What were relations like between Cubans and Angolans in the platoon?

PALACIO: We had good relations. We were providing military training to the Angolans. And they wanted to learn. They knew we’d be leaving one day and they would remain.

In our platoon there were two men from the FAPLA [People’s Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola], Basquito and Pembele. They’d been soldiers in the armed forces for many years. They were originally from southern Angola but were with us in Cabinda, in the north. They were just two more members of the reconnaissance unit, like the rest of us. They even spoke Spanish like Cubans!

KOPPEL: How did you decide to go to Angola?

PALACIO: I was recruited as a reservist. I was asked to go because I’d been trained as a tank artilleryman. At that time many tank crew members had returned, and we had to send replacements. The military committee here in Cuba selected me as one of them.

In Angola I didn’t serve as an artilleryman. I was a member of the tank brigade in Cabinda, but I was assigned to the scouting platoon. Being black, I could blend in. I could be taken for an Angolan—a member of either UNITA [the force allied with South Africa] or the Angolan army.

KOPPEL: You were asked to go, but you and other Cuban combatants in Angola went as volunteers, right?

PALACIO: When you were called in by the military committee, they’d ask you, “Are you willing to carry out an internationalist mission?” If you said yes, fine. If you said no, fine.

I could have said no. I could have said I had to take care of my mother. That I had children. That I had such and such a situation and didn’t want to go. Nothing would have happened. I would have gone on with my life. I know some who said, “No, look, I’m not going,” and today they have leadership responsibilities.

I went to Angola, first and foremost, because I was a member of the Union of Young Communists. I have my principles. “Of course, I’ll go,” I said.

When I returned from meeting with the military committee, my father asked me, “So, what did you tell them?”

“I said yes.”

“That’s good,” he said.

If I had said no …!

BAUMANN: Was your father a party member?

PALACIO: My father, now deceased, was not a party member, but he supported the revolution. He was a Christian. My mother is a Christian too. She supports the revolution. They both understood the cause we were fighting for. They agreed with my going.

KOPPEL: What kind of work did your parents do?

PALACIO: My father was an electrician. My mother was a nurse in a hospital in Pinar del Río. She’s now retired.

When I was getting ready to leave Pinar del Río to come here for the book presentation, my mother said, “It’s wonderful that they invited you!” She’ll be even prouder when I bring her this book.

It’s a matter of pride for any Cuban to have been in Angola. There were 50,000 volunteers there when I was, and all of us contributed our little grain of sand to the internationalist cause. I’m proud to have given my grain of sand.

And I’m very proud to have served under the command of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo.

Related articles:

‘It is only through international solidarity and action that we will bring our compañeros home’

Among the participants

‘Fight for their freedom is inextricable part of sharpening class struggle in United States’

‘Letting the people of the US know the truth about the Five’

‘Thank you, Angola, for allowing us to know our comrades better’

‘Diverse religious institutions are united behind Cuban Five’

Who are the Cuban Five?

Edited by John Dolva
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Havana. April 9, 2013

New injustice in the case of the Five



WASHINGTON, April 8.—Authorities at the Victorville Penitentiary in California have refused to allow the U.S. actor Danny Glover a planned visit to Gerardo Hernández, according to a communiqué from the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.

Prison authorities informed Glover, who has visited the Cuban anti-terrorist on nine occasions since 2010, that he would not be admitted, since they were not aware of any planned visit.

The Committee notes that this is a totally arbitrary decision, given that any person included on a prisoner’s list has the right to visit.

The communiqué also thanks Danny Glover for his constant support of the liberation of Gerardo and his four brothers in struggle.

U.S. government attempts to isolate Gerardo from his family members and friends have been a consistent for 15 years. During this period, his wife Adriana Pérez has repeatedly been denied a visa to visit Gerardo in prison.


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Vol. 77/No. 13 April 8, 2013

(feature article)

‘Fight for their freedom is inextricable part

of sharpening class struggle in United States’ 1MA13.jpg

2MA13.jpgTop: Militant/Lea Sherman. Bottom: Bruce Dixon Working people in U.S. can identify “justice” meted out to Cuban Five with their own life experiences at hands of cops, courts and prisons, said Waters. “It is the Five’s unbroken dignity, integrity and steadfastness in face of this system of capitalist ‘justice’ that win the respect of working people across the U.S., including fellow inmates.” Top, rally outside California Department of Corrections against solitary confinement and other inhumane prison conditions, July 2011. Bottom, similar action outside Georgia Department of Corrections in Forsyth, July 2012.

3MA13.jpgBill Hackwell “Why do we fight for the Five?” asked Puerto Rican revolutionary Rafael Cancel Miranda, above, at September 2012 meeting in Washington, D.C., marking the beginning of their 15th year in prison. “Because we are fighting for ourselves, for our own freedom.”


Pathfinder had two objectives above all in producing this book, which is as much a work in progress as our struggle itself.

The first aim is to explain what many who first learn of the Cuban Five find inexplicable. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, why were our five comrades convicted by U.S. federal courts on all charges, including conspiracy to commit espionage and, in the case of Gerardo, conspiracy to commit murder?

Why do the U.S. rulers so fear the example of the Cuban Revolution that they have locked away these exemplary human beings for a total of 83 years plus two lifetimes for Gerardo?

The answer starts with the Cuban Revolution itself and the example you have given the world of the capacity of the toilers—when they have a leadership forged in struggle, a leadership they deserve—to change the course of history. …

The second aim is to help working people and youth in the U.S. connect the “justice” meted out to each of the five by the U.S. cops, courts and prisons to their own life experiences at the hands of that same class system. To recognize the common web of “justice” dispensed above all to those who resist, who refuse to break, who refuse “to own their crime,” who refuse to deny their own humanity and worth. …

It is the unbroken dignity, integrity and steadfastness in face of this system of capitalist “justice” that win the respect of working people across the U.S.—including their fellow inmates—as they learn the truth about our five comrades.

The fight to free the Five is inextricably part of what can only be a sharpening class struggle in the U.S. in the years to come. And we say to workers attracted to their example: what we need here in the U.S. and elsewhere is a party made up of men and women like the Cuban Five. Join with us and let’s work together to build that kind of party. …

I want to end by telling you about two things that will be added to the next edition of The Cuban Five. They reveal a great deal about the qualities of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando, and René—the kind of human beings, the kind of revolutionaries, they are.

One is an interview with Rodolfo Rodríguez, “Rody,” as he is known to others, a Cuban of the Mariel generation who was one of René’s fellow inmates for seven years at the Federal Correctional Institution in Marianna, Fla. Like René, Rody is currently on parole. His tribute to René is one of the most powerful testimonies to the character of the five heroes I have ever read. I’ll give you just a taste.

In a radio interview with journalist Edmundo García on Radio Progreso in Miami last year, Rody described how he first became friends with René in 2004.

I was introduced to René by a fellow prisoner in the following way: “Hey, man. Let me introduce you to the spy.” Everyone called them spies, even though they weren’t. That’s what they were charged with.

And that’s how one of the friendships that has most changed my life began.

In Cuba, I was raised in a home with a lot of hostility toward the government of our country. Obviously, before I met René González I didn’t think what I do now.

Right off the bat, I told him that I believe in God. I expected him to take me on, to start arguing with me.

What was his response? He said, “That’s great! I don’t. But I believe that a true Christian will want the best for humanity, and if my friendship with you helps you be a better Christian, I’ll feel satisfied.”

That’s how an hour-long conversation with Rody begins, full of stories that show us how our comrades have conducted themselves in prison. How they have won the respect and admiration of fellow inmates as they carry out their revolutionary work on the front lines of the class struggle where they are, as part of some 2.3 million other workers behind bars in the United States.

‘A favor not for them but ourselves’

The second piece I want to share with you is an exchange between Gerardo and the great Puerto Rican revolutionary Rafael Cancel Miranda. As many of you here today know, he and four other Puerto Rican patriots spent some 25 years in U.S. prisons for actions in defense of their country’s independence.

Cancel Miranda was the principal speaker last Sept. 14 at a meeting in Washington, D.C., that marked the beginning of the 15th year of imprisonment of the Five. He gave a magnificent speech, beginning to end, that will be included in the next edition. Cancel Miranda began with the declaration:

Why do we fight for the Five? Because we are fighting for ourselves. We’re not doing
a favor. We’re doing
a favor, because we’re fighting for our own freedom.

And he ended with the words:

I was 23 years old when I climbed the stairs of the Capitol building in Washington. Today I’m 82, and I haven’t changed the way I think about anything. Except today I am perhaps a little more revolutionary—because I know the enemy better.

Today it’s we who must thank the Five. We thank them for the example they give us.

The Militant transcribed and printed Cancel Miranda’s speech, and Gerardo read it when he received that issue. A few weeks later we got a letter from Gerardo, commenting:

At the time of the September solidarity event in Washington, I had the opportunity to say hello to Rafael Cancel Miranda over the phone and reiterate the admiration of the Five for him; he has always been an example for us. We are grateful for the
’s valuable transcript of his remarks, remarks that should go down in history.

Gerardo went on to tell the story of the Puerto Rican patriots’ first visit to Cuba after their release in 1979, where they were welcomed, among others, by a group of Pioneers who presented them each with a scarf. “The young Pioneer who was asked to present the scarf to Rafael,” wrote Gerardo, “is my wife Adriana! As we Cubans say, ‘I get goose bumps’ just telling the story!”

Knowing that Gerardo’s words would mean a great deal to Cancel Miranda, we took the liberty of forwarding him Gerardo’s letter. The very next day came his reply:

Many, many thanks for sending me a copy of the heartfelt letter from compañero Gerardo. I draw energy from the Five as well. No power exists that can defeat the spirit of Gerardo and his four compañeros, since they represent the power of the heroic Cuban people. Even in prison they are contributing to the liberation of our peoples.

The empire crashes against the determination of the Five. I send them the warmest greetings of thankfulness and brotherhood.

I can only add, Cancel Miranda’s heartfelt words speak for us all.

Copyright ©2013 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

Related articles:

‘It is only through international solidarity and action that we will bring our compañeros home’

Among the participants

‘I’m proud of what our lieutenant did and of what he continues to do today’

‘Letting the people of the US know the truth about the Five’

‘Thank you, Angola, for allowing us to know our comrades better’

‘Diverse religious institutions are united behind Cuban Five’

Who are the Cuban Five?

Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home

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‘Letting the people of the US

know the truth about the Five’

(feature article)


I want to express to Mary-Alice [Waters] and the compañeros of Pathfinder and the Militant our appreciation for this book and the work the Militant has been doing over all these years. They are making an important contribution to letting the people of the United States know the truth about the case of the five compañeros, who were jailed nearly 15 years ago for fighting against terrorism.

This book also lets us get to know them as human beings—especially through their participation in the struggle of the Angolan people against the South African racists.

Our compañeros, who are Heroes of the Republic of Cuba, are also heroes of the Republic of Angola and of the Republic of Namibia, as well as heroes of the African National Congress in South Africa. The governments and political forces leading those countries are aware of the contribution they made to help Angola consolidate its independence, to help Namibia put an end to colonialism, and to allow the people of South Africa to finish off the racist system of apartheid and establish a democratic society. …

The five are an example—and they should be seen as an example here, within Cuba, as well—in our battle against racism. What greater way to fight racism than to face the South African troops themselves in the trenches, on the battlefield, and that is what they did!

I would also like to salute my brother Raúl Suárez and the very important work being done by the Cuban ecumenical movement and our churches to unleash a solidarity movement that goes beyond formulas and stereotypes. A movement that is able to reach the hearts of people both inside and outside Cuba. …

The center of the legal and political battle today is to force the U.S. government to reveal what it has been hiding for 17 years now. It refuses to release the U.S. satellite images of the incident of Feb. 24, 1996 [the shootdown of the Brothers to the Rescue planes that took off from southern Florida]. They haven’t done so for a very simple reason: the images prove that the incident on that date took place within Cuban airspace. Consequently, what the U.S. government has done to the five compañeros is not only unjust. Not only were their sentences excessive, but the court did not even have the right to accept the charge brought against Gerardo. The matter was beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

Now we are at a decisive, final stage in the legal process, the so-called habeas corpus appeals. The heart of Gerardo’s habeas corpus appeal is to demand that the U.S. government release the satellite images. And allow Gerardo to appear before the court to argue his case, to prove the so-called evidence used against him is absolutely made-up.

The appeals also demand that they be allowed to introduce evidence on the payments the U.S. government made to Miami journalists to create that “perfect storm” of prejudice and hostility against the five, as a U.S. court called it in 2005. …

What more can we do? That question should pursue all Cuban men and women like a gypsy curse. What more can we do to bring them home? All of them, including Gerardo. The other four compañeros at least have a release date, however unjust and far in the future it may be. Gerardo doesn’t even have that. …

We need to ask ourselves what more we can do in order to force President Obama to do what he is morally obligated to do, and what he is politically and legally able to do: to order the immediate, unconditional release of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, and Fernando, and to end the crude sequestration of René.

For that reason we thank the compañeros of Pathfinder and the Militant and all those in the U.S. who persist in this effort to spread the truth.

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Vol. 77/No. 13 April 8, 2013

(feature article)

‘Thank you, Angola, for allowing

us to know our comrades better’ 1perez13.jpgPrensa Latina/Vladimir Molina Adriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo Hernández, at Feb. 21 Havana book fair event. “These five men weren’t bred in a laboratory,” Pérez said. “They are men with the heart and courage to do what they did—and are still doing.”

2perez13.jpg“When Gerardo is put in the ‘hole’ in prison,” said Adriana Pérez, “my mind returns to when he and the other men slept in an underground dugout in Angola and had to take baths outdoors in the middle of the night.” Above, Gerardo Hernández, right, in front of dugout.

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Appeal is issued demanding visas for wives of Cuban militants in U.S. prisons


logo-cinco.gif"We are urgently requesting your support to help win the right of Olga Salanueva, wife of René González, and Adriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo Hernández, to enter the United States for the purpose of visiting their husbands, who, as you know, are wrongfully imprisoned in the U.S.," says a July 8 appeal by the San Francisco-based National Committee to Free the Five. "Olga and Adriana were recently denied entry visas for the third time."

The appeal asks for letters to that effect to be sent to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Homeland Security Director Thomas Ridge, and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The five men—Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, René González, and Antonio Guerrero—are Cuban revolutionaries serving draconian sentences in U.S. prisons on frame-up charges brought by the U.S. government. The Cuban Five, as they are known, had been carrying out an internationalist mission to gather information on ultrarightist organizations with a record of violent attacks on Cuba carried out from U.S. soil with Washington’s complicity. They were arrested by FBI agents in 1998, charged with conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent. Hernández was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder. They were convicted in June 2001, given sentences ranging from 15 years to a double-life term, and sent to five federal prisons in different regions of the country.

On February 28 the five men were thrown into solitary confinement after an order by the Justice Department charging that the extensive solidarity they had received in the form of correspondence and the few visitors they were allowed made them a "national security risk." An international campaign of protests was launched against this unsuccessful attempt by Washington to break them. They were released from the "hole" a month later. They are now in the process of appealing their convictions and sentences.

On July 25, 2002, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and FBI agents detained Pérez upon her entry into the United States at Houston Intercontinental Airport. She had arrived from Cuba that day with a visa issued by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to visit her husband, Gerardo Hernández, in a federal penitentiary in Lompoc, California, whom she has not seen for five years. After holding Pérez for 11 hours and interrogating her, the INS—now reorganized under the Homeland Security agency as the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement—revoked her visa and deported her to Cuba.

Earlier last year U.S. authorities also revoked a visa they had issued to Salanueva. The action stopped Salanueva and her daughter from visiting René González, who is imprisoned in Edgefield, South Carolina. Washington had deported Salanueva to Cuba during her husband’s trial.

"As they wait for the appeals of the cases of the Cuban Five, which could take years, the families should not be denied the right to stay together," reads the July 8 appeal by the Committee to Free the Five, which is among the U.S. groups organizing the campaign to release the five men.

Letters demanding that visas be granted to Pérez and Salanueva can be sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2201 C St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20520, tel: (202) 647-4000, fax: (202) 261-8577; Homeland Security Director Thomas Ridge, Washington, DC 20528; and Attorney General John Ashcroft, 950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001, tel: (202) 353-1555, e-mail: askdoj@usdoj.gov

As part of this effort, we reprint below a June 23 letter that Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez sent to Mary-Alice Waters, president of Pathfinder Press.


We write you as two Cuban women who have been unable to communicate with our husbands because our entry into the U.S. has been prevented. Our husbands have been imprisoned in U.S. jails since Sept. 12, 1998, receiving long prison terms for being fighters against terrorism.

My name is Olga Salanueva Arango, wife of René González Sehwerert, sentenced to 15 years in prison, with whom I was living when he was arrested. Since that time our family has been subjected to humiliation and to blackmail against my husband. This treatment has been utilized as a form of psychological torture against him.

In November 2000, faced with my husband’s refusal to plea bargain in exchange for his family’s remaining in U.S. territory, I was arrested and jailed for three months, separated from my daughters, and deported to Cuba.

On repeated occasions the U.S. government has denied my request for a visa so I could visit my husband. In this way they have prevented us from seeing each other physically, and they have prevented communication between René and our young daughter Ivette González, who is five years old. The child was four months old at the time of the arrest. For that reason, the only face of her father she recognizes is that in photographs. She does not even remember the feeling of a fatherly embrace and kiss.

The other case is mine, Adriana Pérez Oconor, wife of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, who is serving two life sentences plus 15 years.

Each time I’ve requested authorization to enter the United States to visit my husband, the government of that country has denied it to me. On the first occasion, it reached the point where they granted me such authorization, letting me travel as far as Houston. There they detained me for 11 hours, submitting me to a humiliating interrogation, and forcing me to return to Cuba without being able to fulfill the objective of my visit, which was to visit my husband, who was anxiously awaiting my visit to the jail.

Every human being who is imprisoned has a right to be treated with dignity and with the appropriate respect for his rights. Among the most elementary of these is the right to receive visits from his closest family members such as his wife and young children. These cannot be denied him as a form of torture and as an additional punishment.

We know that in you we have a friend who has shown warmth and support for our people and for all just causes. For that reason, we come to ask for your support and collaboration in denouncing this inhuman violation of our rights. For any information on the case, or to communicate with us, you can contact us through familia5h@hotmail.com

Certain of your understanding and support,

Sincerely, Olga Salanueva Arango and Adriana Pérez Oconor

Edited by John Dolva
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Havana. April 5, 2013

The disobedience revolution

Manuel E. Yepe

THE triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 was the first case of a sustained act of disobedience to U.S. imperialism that managed to successfully resist retaliation, revealing the cause of the aggressiveness, intensity and persistence of the United States' policy against this small Caribbean country, lacking any other possible explanation or reasonable theory.

Cuba has been able to resist innumerable aggressions by the U.S. government: mercenary invasions like the Bay of Pigs, terrorist acts against commercial flights, cargo ships, hospitals, schools, hotels and other civilian facilities; more than 600 attempts on the life of Fidel Castro and other revolutionary leaders, as well as the longest economic, financial and trade blockade ever imposed on a nation in history. All of this along with a sustained disinformation campaign in the U.S. and world corporate media.

The victory of Cubans over the Batista dictatorship by means of a popular armed struggle inspired patriots in many countries on the continent to take the same road to the liberation of their countries from foreign domination.

However, under the direction of the United States, and with the assistance of military advisors from the superpower, Latin American dictatorships ruthlessly repressed actions inspired by the Cuban victory. Tens of thousands of suspected young revolutionaries were - without trial - tortured, murdered or disappeared in the 1960's and 70's.

Operation Condor, the most outrageous operation of Latin American dictatorships in those years, was designed and promoted by the CIA in its role of global covert organization practicing state terrorism against Latin American popular movements. It was an intelligence plan coordinated with the security services of the military regimes in Argentine, Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia, but its criminal effects were felt in all countries of the region.

Paradoxically, the repressive role of the armed forces to protect oligarchic interests gave origin to many dignified actions within military barracks. Officers and soldiers promoted revolutionary and patriotic ideas among their ranks to counter the shameful prevailing situation.

There then came a time when these military dictatorships at the beck and call of the empire, having lost prestige in the management of government, gave way to processes of so-called "representative democracy" with the presumption that the traditional oligarchic parties could recover their control and, in conjunction with their subordination to Washington, continue the implementation of the neoliberal globalization scheme initiated on the continent through the dictatorships.

The street fighting and electoral struggles that followed the retreat of the military provided the framework for the people to impose their numbers over the fortunes of the oligarchies.

The disobedience to Washington's dictates that Cuba has practiced without interruption since 1959, as a reaffirmation of its independence, was stimulated by the successes of the Bolivarian Revolution which in turn laid the basis for a proliferation that today includes most Latin American and Caribbean nations.

With sufficient motivation to confront imperialism, and the Cuban Revolution steadfastly showing the feasibility of breaking down the fatalistic mechanism of geopolitical subordination to the United States, the young Commandante Hugo Chávez, inspired in Venezuela by the liberationist and integrationist ideals of Bolívar – after a failed military uprising – adopted the political strategy demanded by the circumstances and, with a government platform of advanced social content, won three consecutive presidential elections.

The coming to power in the early years of the 21st century of several popular leaders, committed to the self-determination of their countries and regional integration as a fundamental resource to make this viable, marked the emergence of several integrationist projects that culminated in the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean (CELAC) as a new hemispheric organization excluding the United States and Canada, as an alternative to the U.S. dominated Organization of American States (OAS).

This has been the high point of a process that could be called "the Hemispheric Revolution of Disobedience".

To come this far, several methods of struggle were necessary, but the final goal remains to achieve a truly democratic and independent Latin America, with its own regional identity and full social justice.

(CubaNews translation)

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Things are happening at quite a pace at the moment, Steve.



Havana. April 25, 2013

Freedom for the Five demanded in Canada

cinco1.gifAdriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo Hernández, one of the Five Cuban anti-terrorists convicted and imprisoned in the United States, called on the Canadian religious community to support demands for the Five to be returned to their homeland.

During a visit to Toronto, Pérez met Dr. Michael Thompson, General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada and Reverend Canon Stuart Pike from the Niagara diocese.

Both, in the name of those present, expressed their willingness to undertake action locally directed toward the United States, to support the worldwide appeal for the release of the five Cuban antiterrorists, according to a press communiqué submitted to Prensa Latina.

She also met with Chris Levan and a group of representatives from the United Church of Christ where again she won the support of those present to demand of U.S. President, Barack Obama, the immediate release of the Five.

She was interviewed on the radio station CIUT-FM, a University of Toronto community broadcaster, according to the communiqué.

Pérez, who is not allowed by U.S. authorities to visit her husband, took part in a solidarity event for the Five, organized by the Toronto Steel Workers Union in conjunction with other Cuba solidarity groups. (PL)


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René is free and at home with his family

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We are Five


Havana. May 11, 2013

A new standard-bearer

HE could have taken advantage of the same pretexts used by those who very quickly decided to plead guilty and cooperate with authorities. After long years of separation, he finally had Olga and Irmita at his side, and was able to enjoy the newborn Ivette for barely four months. What to do? Hold firm to his principles, leaving the three of them alone in a foreign country and once again confront years of separation? Or ‘negotiate’ and give them what they asked in exchange for a pardon and a new life? There was never the slightest doubt in his mind, nor the slightest vacillation in his conduct.

The prosecution lawyers knew that they had very little against him, and tried to get him out of the way with offers. It pained them that he sung “El Necio” [The Fool, Silvio Rodríguez] to them and they vented their anger on him. Nobody saw him weep when they separated Olga from the girls and threw her in a cell. He would have done it in silence, as we all did out of indignation and pain when the news hit us, but we never noticed in him the least weakening. He served every day of his sentence with dignity and came out with his head held as high as when he went in, but would still have to suffer alone the loss of his brother and his father.

Today we heard that René is in Cuba, to stay. Today, each one of the Five is somehow freer. Part of us is walking through the streets of the island, and we can almost breathe its air, burn ourselves with its sun.

Somebody has asked me what we will say now that we are not five, but four! Error! We are five and will continue being five! If today we must continue the struggle it is not only for the other four, it is also for René, because we know each other and know that he will not really be free until we are all back in the homeland. The difference is that this battle, which will be for the Five to the end, now has a new standard-bearer.

Congratulations René! Your four brothers are celebrating with you, with pride!

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Gerardo Hernández Nordelo

Victorville Penitentiary, California

May 3, 2013

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Havana. June 7, 2013

Solidarity and demands in Five event

Fefita Gutiérrez Ferrer

cinco1.gifTHE 5 Days for the Cuban 5 event which took place in Washington, U.S, from May 30 through June 5, exceeded that of last year, with the participation of parliamentarians, lawyers, trade unionists, public figures and friends in solidarity with this cause from more than 23 countries.


"We think that things have advanced a lot this year, and there are still other activities for the Cuban anti-terrorists to come. International support has increased, as has respect for the people and government of Cuba," affirmed Alicia Jrapko, coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.

She noted the wide-ranging participation in the U.S. event and the need for the facts of the case of Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández and Fernando González – given that René González is now in Cuba – to reach the U.S. people, thus increasing the international demand for their liberation.

Jrapko said that the event began with an Internet conference led by René González. "It was very moving, because it was the first time that we saw René without a prison uniform, outside of prison."

She commented, "We think that the U.S. government has to respect Cuba’s self-determination and sovereignty, and change its 50-year policy of aggression, a policy which the majority of Americans are against."

In Havana, U.S. Reverend Joan Campbell advocated the release of the Five during a press conference at the Cuban Council of Churches.

Campbell’s commitment to the cause of the Cuban anti-terrorists was expressed in a letter sent to President Obama last September, asking for their release.

"President Obama, the people of the United States and Cuba wish to live in peace, harmony and brotherhood. There is no reason for our country to continue such an inhumane policy towards the island nation. Releasing the Cuban 5 undoubtedly will help in the restoration of relations between both countries," she wrote.

African-American fighter Angela Davis described the ongoing incarceration of Ramón, Antonio, Gerardo and Fernando as scandalous and stated the need to create a mass movement for their liberation.

"Supporting the cause of the Five is also supporting Palestine, the struggle against sexism and racism, for health and education," affirmed Davis, currently a professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who also called on Obama to end the U.S. blockade of Cuba.

Likewise, U.S. experts participating in the 31st Latin American Studies Association (LASA), expressed the need for a review and change of their country’s policy on Cuba.


Edited by John Dolva
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