Archive for October 21st, 2010

Messages from the Five to US Embassy Vigil in London

October 21, 2010

Three of the Miami five, Rene, Gerardo and Fernando sent special messages to CSC to be read out at the US Embassy Vigil on 19 Otober 2010. Rene’s daughter Irma Gonzalez is pictured here reading out a the message from her father reproduced alongside the others below:

MESSAGE FROM RENE

Dear friends of Cuba and the Cuban Five:
If principles, justice and political honesty had any place in the hearts of those who rule the country represented by this embassy, none of you would be here tonight. Unfortunately principles, justice and political honesty have nothing to do with the spirit of revenge that have guided, for too long, the policies of the United States towards Cuba.
Only such vengeful spirit can explain the brutality of the punishment imposed on the five of us and our families; but the fact that such a punishment and the shameful support of terrorism it implies, can be sustained in the face of the whole world with total impunity, owes to a complicated system of complicit silencing, cooptation and opportunism that goes well beyond the vindictive and inhumane policies of a single government, no matter how powerful.
The sad reality is that after twelve years we are still confined to U.S. prisons; the terrorists we were protecting our country from enjoy all the benefits of safe heaven in Miami; after imposing death and destruction on our people for five decades, the government represented by this embassy has the guts to certify Cuba as a terrorist country; the victims of such crimes claim for justice and the world’s corporate press, by its silence, gives applause to the abuse.
Fortunately principles, justice and political honesty have a place in the hearts of many decent people, all over the world. They are represented here tonight, as well as all the people of the United Kingdom who, since the very beginning of our ordeal, gave us a show of massive support that makes us feel honored, overwhelmed, accompanied and committed.
For all that support, that touches us in our deepest fiber, we extend to all and any of you our gratitude in the name of the five, in the name of our families and in the name of the Cuban people.
We also take the liberty of thanking you in the name of the staff at this embassy. Even the representation of the cruel establishment that has poured so much hate on us, can surely benefit somehow from the decency and human spirit that you bring, by your presence, to its air.

A big hug to all.
With gratitude.
Gerardo, Ramon, Antonio, Fernando and Rene.

……………………….
MESSAGE FROM GERARDO

Dear Friends attending the Vigil for the Five in London:
Once again you are reunited outside the U.S. Embassy to show solidarity with the five Cubans imprisoned in the United States for defending our country against terrorism.
Once again the functionaries of that embassy will ignore your claim or will say that the Five are in prison for the very serious crime of having committed espionage.
Once again we can tell anybody, plain and simple: that is a lie.
I would like to share some information with you: last June the U.S. administration nominated retired General James R Clapper Jr as Director of National Intelligence, also known as the ‘Intelligence Czar.’
For those of you not familiar with the records of our long trial, let me say that the arguments proving that the Five had not committed espionage were not presented by the defence, but by high-ranking U.S. military officials, including Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll, of the U.S. Navy, Major General Edwards Breed Atkinson, of the U.S. Army and Lieutenant General James R Clapper, of the U.S. Air Force. General Clapper testified on behalf of the Government, and this is part of what he declared under oath, responding to the questions of my trial lawyer Paul A McKenna:
Question: “Would you agree on saying that having access to public information is not an act of espionage?” Answer: “Yes.”
Question: “Would you, with your experience in intelligence matters, describe Cuba as a military threat for the United States?”
Answer: “Absolutely not. Cuba does not represent a threat.”
Question: “Did you find any evidence indicating that Gerardo Hernandez was trying to obtain secretinformation?” Answer: “No, not that I remember.”
I wonder if any official of the U.S. Embassy in London would dare to say that General Clapper, the nominated Intelligence Chief of the United States, didn’t know what he was talking about when he testified in the trial of the Cuban Five!
As you know, the other very serious accusation, conspiracy to commit murder, was made only against me. By the time this message is read, the Habeas Corpus appeal on this count should finally have been filed. The document contains very strong arguments demonstrating that the accusation is simply outrageous and the evidence was manipulated by the Government, but I’m sure that once again the corporate media will ignore it. That’s why I exhort you to read the document and to help us spread the truth that others want to silence.
A few weeks ago I was taken to a punishment cell for no reason, something that could happen to any of the Five at any time. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our friends in Britain for your many efforts to secure my return to the general population. I’m sure that, if it weren’t for your support, I would still be in ‘the Hole.’ Many thanks to you all!
There will be a day when these vigils for the Five won’t be necessary.
There will be a day when you will have a gathering like this one and no message from the Five will be read.
There will be a day when the Five will be here with you, to express personally our deep appreciation to our British friends for your continual and outstanding solidarity, the solidarity that – we are certain – will make such a day possible.

Thank you!
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo
U.S. Penitentiary, Victorville September 2010
…………………………..

MESSAGE FROM FERNANDO

Dear Friends:

Twelve years have passed since our arrests on September 12th 1998. These years of injustice could only be understood in the context of a greater injustice committed by the United States Government against Cuba for the last 50 years.
The Cuban Five are hostages in a criminal war waged by the US authorities for half a century against Cuba in an attempt to make our people pay for its decision to be independent and free.
We thank you all, participants in this vigil to demand our release from prison and safe return to our families and country.
Since the beginning of our ordeal we have always had the support and solidarity of many friends in England. From the workers represented by their trade unions, from Members of Parliament, from Cuba Solidarity Campaign, from different and diverse political organisations, and from those who express their solidarity as individuals.
Our gratitude goes to all of you in England who have stood in support of the Cuban Five, and who will continue to stand with us, as we are sure until the goal of freedom for us is attained!
As you have done all these years, and as you will continue to do, we will remain in the struggle for as long as it takes, encouraged by your solidarity and support and certain that sooner or later, thanks to efforts like yours, we will gain our freedom.

Onward to victory!
Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez

Morning Star Interview with Irma Gonzalez

October 21, 2010

The daughter of a Cuban anti-terrorist fighter on the fight to free her father 
19 October 2010
Until the age of six, Irma Gonzalez led the life of an ordinary Cuban child. She lived with her parents and spent weekends with grandparents in Havana. Suddenly in December 1990 everything changed.
“I woke up one morning and my dad wasn’t there. I was used to him being away for one or two nights, but this time he just didn’t come back.”

Growing up, Irma never questioned the explanation that he was “studying abroad.”
Letters and phone calls every few months were enough to keep the inquisitive six-year-old satisfied.
Despite Olga’s best efforts to keep her daughter’s spirits up, Irma sensed something was wrong.
“I saw my mother growing sad. She was trying to stay happy for me, but she was not well or happy in herself.”

Six years passed and then in December 1996 Olga told her now 12-year-old daughter they were leaving to join Rene in Miami.
“Me and dad had been very close when I was younger and seeing him again was like the years had never passed. He was exactly the same smart, talkative and loving father who had left.”

What Irma didn’t know was that Rene had spent their six years apart infiltrating Miami terrorist groups which were carrying out attacks against the Cuban people.
Nor was she aware that he had hijacked a plane to leave Cuba in 1990 in order to convince them he was genuinely against the Cuban revolution.
“There would be meetings at our house with men I didn’t like. They would get together to talk lies and plot against Cuba.
“Their words caused me a great deal of confusion as they went against everything I knew to be true.
“After each meeting my parents told me not to worry, not to take it too seriously, to hold on to my own memories and the truth I knew for myself about my country.
“At 12 I realised there was something beyond what I knew about my father. He was not full of lies and hatred like the men he mixed with, but I didn’t know what he was doing and I sensed it best not to ask.”

At school, Irma also faced conflict.
“I got really mad when kids repeated lies about Cuba they’d seen on TV, especially those kids who had just arrived from the island and knew they weren’t true but repeated them to fit in.
“Although I was angry, I didn’t say what I was really thinking.
“My father was part of the group telling lies, but deep down I knew he didn’t believe it and if I spoke out at school I might cause him trouble, so I chose to keep quiet.”

Less than two years after moving to Miami, Irma’s father was suddenly violently snatched from her again. This time it was by FBI agents who stormed their home and arrested him early on the morning of September 12 1998.
While Rene was being held in the hole, Irma and her mother were being hounded by the press for being communists. A hammer and sickle was graffitied across their door and school friends were instructed by their parents not to speak to her.
Because Rene refused to inform on his four comrades, Olga was deported and so in 2000 Irma found herself living back in Cuba.
“After the trial, the case became public at home and almost immediately I started campaigning for their freedom and doing things like this UK tour.
“I am the oldest of all the children of the five – there are seven in total, aged 12 to 26 – so was speaking on their behalf from 16.”

Irma has spoken in many countries but was particularly touched by a visit to Angola, where Rene fought against apartheid forces for three years.
She has met world leaders including South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
She balances campaigning with a career as a clinical psychologist which she also teaches at Havana University.
“The campaign is like hope for us. It is important to keep doing something for someone you love, not just sit at home waiting for something to happen. I feel that I’m useful standing up for my father and my four uncles. It’s something I believe in, not just the five, but what they represent too.”
Although Irma has never met Antonio, Gerardo, Ramon or Fernando she feels that they are part of her family and refers to them affectionately as her uncles.
“We speak by phone and they are always present in our lives, sending cards and letters on birthdays and special occasions.”

Rene, who is serving the shortest sentence, is due for release in October 2011 – although it is likely he will have to serve three years probation in the US. “This would be really hard because he would still not be able to see my mum.” Olga has been refused a visa by the US authorities 10 times and been told never to apply again.
“When he is released it will still be very sad. No justice will have been done. He will have served the full sentence and it will not feel like real freedom to be home if his four brothers are still in jail.”
“The situation is hard. One more year goes by, then another. When I started university I was sure my father would be back when I graduated but he wasn’t. The children of the five are growing up, and the children that Fernando and Gerardo might have had will never be born.
“But we are still here, still strong, still fighting. And when we see so may people like you, getting together to help, it really does give us hope and make us smile.”

Irma is looking forward to attending the Cuba Solidarity Campaign vigil outside the US embassy tonight which this year includes Tony Woodley, who is recently back from visiting Miami Five prisoner Gerardo Hernandez, Billy Hayes, Tony Benn, Bob Crow, Christine Blower and many more.
The five have often referred to reading about the British campaign in the Morning Star and have sent special messages to the vigil which Irma will read out this evening.
“It is great to see so many people who turn up to support us and speak on our behalf with so much spirit and courage. And the five know about the support in the UK and it helps to keep them strong.”
“I really hope that next time I am in the UK the five will be with me, thanking you in person for everything you have done.”

http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/news.asp?ItemID=1903,
– Original story in the Morning Star : http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/96563,


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