Posts Tagged ‘Antonio Guerrero’

Cuban 5 participation marks Havana book fair

February 28, 2015

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BY MARTÍN KOPPEL AND REBECCA WILLIAMSON
The Militant
HAVANA — The most notable feature of this year’s international book fair here has been the almost daily participation of the men known around the world as the Cuban Five and here as the Five Heroes.

The broad 11-day cultural event, attended by some 300,000 people, was marked by the confidence generated by the victory won with the return home in December of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, who spent more than 16 years in U.S. prisons. René González and Fernando González had been released from U.S. custody in May 2013 and February 2014.

Washington arrested the five in South Florida in 1998 and railroaded them to prison on trumped-up charges — including conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to commit murder — because of their actions in defense of the Cuban Revolution. They had been working undercover to alert authorities in Havana about plans by U.S.-based paramilitary groups to carry out bombings and other attacks in Cuba.

In discussions at the book fair, and in daily conversations with Cubans everywhere, the Five Heroes come up time and again as a source of pride. Everyone wants to tell you where they were and what they were doing Dec. 17, when millions stopped to listen to President Raúl Castro announce on TV that Hernández, Labañino and Guerrero were back on Cuban soil. Workers, farmers, students and others across the island poured into the streets in spontaneous celebrations.

Since the return of Gerardo, Ramón and Tony, as they are universally known here, the three of them — plus Fernando and René — have been involved in a whirlwind of daily activities. They are responding to the joy of ordinary Cubans who want to welcome them home and hear what they have to say, including lessons they draw following a decade and a half or more in U.S. prisons.

As Tony Guerrero told an audience of young people at the José Antonio Echeverría Polytechnic Institute, known as CUJAE, however, “No battle waged by revolutionaries ends with something you once did. You don’t live off what you did. No, you have to live from what you do every day.”

Many people here watching the news heard Gerardo, Ramón and Tony after they got off the plane when they proudly reported for duty “for whatever is needed.”

Range of events
One or more of the Five participated in many book fair events and related activities. These included presentations of a collection of Labañino’s prison poems, a CD of Guerrero’s poetry with musical accompaniment and The United States: The Price of Power by Alejandro Castro Espín, a colonel in the Interior Ministry. They took part in launching a new edition of Reto a la soledad (Challenge to solitude) by retired Colonel Orlando Cardoso Villavicencio, an account of his nearly 11 years as a prisoner of war in Somalia.

Several presentations centered on the new Pathfinder Press title Absolved by Solidarity: 16 Watercolors for 16 Years of Unjust Imprisonment. The book contains prison paintings by Antonio Guerrero depicting how the Five responded to the 2000-2001 frame-up trial in a U.S. court, plus an introductory photo section capturing the victorious return home in December.

One of these events was held at the science and technical university CUJAE. Another was sponsored by the Union of Young Communists at the Higher Institute for International Relations, which trains youth for Cuba’s foreign service and counts Hernández and Fernando González among its graduates. The book was presented by Mary-Alice Waters, president of Pathfinder Press and a leader of the Socialist Workers Party in the U.S., and Jacob Perasso, a worker and member of the Young Socialists.

One of the largest book fair events, held Feb. 17, was attended by 250 people. Among those present were Gerardo, Ramón, Tony, Fernando, René, family members of the Five and former Cuban Vice President José Ramón Fernández, a Hero of the Republic who led the main column that defeated the U.S.-organized Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Also attending were Cuban Book Institute President Zuleica Romay; Kenia Serrano, president of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples; and Andrés Gómez, a leader of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, a Cuban-American organization that supports the revolution.

The program included a panel of writers who discussed publishing activity in Cuba and worldwide in defense of the Cuban Five, and a presentation of Retrato de una ausencia (Portrait of an absence), a book about the Five by journalists Nyliam Vázquez and Oliver Zamora.

The event also featured a presentation of Absolved by Solidarity. The book’s editor, Mary-Alice Waters, was joined on the platform by Tony Guerrero. Waters was introduced by Arleen Rodríguez, coordinator of the Mesa Redonda (Roundtable) TV program.

Waters noted that the catalog of Tony’s watercolors “is not a book that looks backwards. It is a book about the new battles ahead for all of us. About how those battles too will be won by men and women like Gerardo, Ramón, Tony, Fernando and René — the kind of men and women that only a deeply popular, proletarian revolution like Cuba’s can produce.”

Working people in the U.S. can identify with Guerrero’s paintings, Waters said, “because they connect so directly to the lives and struggles of millions,” including their own experience with class “justice” under capitalism.

“The victory represented by the return home of our Five Heroes,” Waters concluded, “also marks the opening of a new front in the decades-long battle to defend Cuba’s independence, its sovereignty, its socialist revolution. As we say in English, ‘The tiger has not changed its stripes.’ Imperialism’s tactics can shift, but the goal remains the same. Through one form of aggression or another, their objective is to overturn the property and social relations conquered by the working people of Cuba over 55 years of struggle and counting.” (The text of Waters’ presentation appears on pages 8-9.)

Guerrero said that when he and his four brothers were in prison, “every book Pathfinder sent us — they sent them in Spanish and English — gave us incredible strength, because they told us that ‘in the belly of the beast,’ to use José Martí’s words, there are people who know how to fight to build a better world.” Likewise, the Five were encouraged by the work of Cuban-American groups that campaigned for their release, such as the Alianza Martiana and the Antonio Maceo Brigade.

Guerrero said he was impressed that their supporters in Miami had organized an exhibit of his first set of 15 watercolors, titled “I Will Die the Way I’ve Lived,” despite threats by right-wing Cuban-American groups. Last August, as he contemplated a project to paint a new set of 16 watercolors, “what convinced me that I had to commit myself to do that was when they put up that exhibit in Miami.”

Today the book Absolved by Solidarity “is an important weapon to denounce the injustices of the U.S. judicial system,” he said. It helps expose how that system commits arbitrary actions “not only against us but against many other fighters, many other workers and ordinary people.”

Exchange with students
Two days later, Waters joined Tony, Fernando and René to present the book to an audience of 300 students and faculty members at the CUJAE campus. Julián Gutiérrez, the main organizer of the event, is a professor and coordinator of the University Network in Solidarity with the Five, which for years has organized a monthly cultural and educational event on campus in support of the Cuban Five — la peña, as it’s known. CUJAE rector Alicia Alonso also joined the platform.

“This is the first peña that is not for the Five but with them,” Gutiérrez announced to applause.

The afternoon turned into a lively exchange. Tony, René and Fernando immediately established a rapport with the students, exchanging light-hearted anecdotes about the school while giving serious answers to their questions.

Guerrero said that in prison they received the Militant every week. The Militant “never stopped publishing articles about us,” he said. Other prisoners would say, “Look, these people always appear in the paper,” and became interested in learning more about them and what they represented. The coverage of their fight helped protect them in prison.

Guerrero noted how the Militant reported on work in defense of the Cuban Five, including several dozen exhibits of the watercolors in cities across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other countries. “The paper would report that exhibits of ‘I Will Die the Way I’ve Lived’ were being shown in this city, this city, that city. And the following week it would be a new list of cities” — as far away as New Zealand, he noted.

Tony recalled how children at the Jackie Robinson Community Center in Harlem in New York City wrote letters to the Five after seeing an exhibit of his paintings there, and he wrote back to them.

Guerrero and his two comrades were peppered with questions by the students. Asked why he never stopped “being happy” while in prison, he replied, “Every morning when you get up, it’s a critical moment in your life — a new opportunity for you. But some moments are decisive.” If every day you prepare through what you do and internalize your convictions, “when that moment comes, you are ready, and at night you are able to go to sleep, at peace with yourself.”

Describing the day the five of them were arrested by FBI agents in 1998, he recalled, “A guy asks you to admit to something you didn’t do, and you have two options. If you go over to his side, you can get back all the material things you had. The other option [if you say no] is that things are going to get real tough. The man tells you, ‘Look, we’re going to give you a long sentence and you’re going to die in prison.’

“At that moment you have to be prepared. You have to have defined something inside you to know what to do. Then, after you passed that test and said no, you begin to realize you’re happier than everyone around you.”

René González added that when they were locked up, “the first target [of the jailers and prosecutors] was our dignity.” But each of them refused to give in to the blackmail. In prison they were deprived of the most basic material means, while the prosecutors “had everything” in terms of a comfortable existence. Nonetheless, “the most unhappy people throughout the trial were the prosecutors,” René said. “We made them miserable.”

A student asked when they were going to meet Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who from the beginning played a central role in mobilizing support for the Five Heroes. “We are certain we’re going to see Fidel, and that he’s interested in talking with us,” Guerrero replied. “But he doesn’t want to be the first one — he’s a down-to-earth person; that’s what’s great about him. So don’t despair, we’ll see him.”

“Right now we have work to do,” Guerrero said, coming back to a point he had made earlier. “My job, René’s and Fernando’s is not to keep coming back here every day. We can’t keep talking about the same things 37 times. We’re going to work, like everyone, and work together.” His response met applause from the students.

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Expo : 15 watercolors of Antonio Guerrero

November 15, 2014

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For the first time in Belgium . Expo : 15 watercolors of Antonio Guerrero . ” I will die the way I’ve lived “
From nov 14 till dec 11…

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Outline of my artistic development
BY ANTONIO GUERRERO
Nov. 15, 2007
At the beginning of 2003, when I had just completed my first year of imprisonment in
this penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, I searched, anxiously, for something that would
occupy my time, far from the tense and violent atmosphere that reigned in this prison.
Poetry had been an effective weapon to overcome the long periods of unjust punishment
in the cells of the so-called “hole,” as well as the prolonged “lockdowns,” which the
whole prison population here was subjected to after any violent incident. But with the
constant commotion during the “normal” routine of the prison, my muse, sometimes
startled, would fade away and fail to inspire me.
So, one fine day, I went to the so-called “Hobby Craft,” (Department of Recreation) and
I found a prisoner giving pencil drawing classes; basically everyone was making a
portrait. I was impressed above all by the work of the instructor and I asked him how I
could participate in his class. It turned out this person was very enthusiastic about
teaching what he knew, and even more fortunate, he was in my dorm unit.
He gave me some materials and by the following day I had decided on my first project:
a portrait of my beloved mother.
Before I even finished this first work, that sudden and vile punishment came in which
we were isolated in cells in the “hole,” the five of us in our five prisons. It was the result
of the application of the Special Administrative Measures (SAM), ordered by the U.S.
Attorney General. International solidarity and the energetic demands of our attorneys
made it possible for that unjust punishment to be lifted in one month.
It so happened that upon returning to my dormitory unit I had “lost” my placement and
they had no cell in which to put me. I noticed that the inmate who gave the drawing
classes was alone in his cell, and I told the guard: Put me with him. He was surprised
because that prisoner was Black, what they call here Afro-American, and here it is
rarely seen (nor is it accepted by the prisoners) that prisoners of different races or
groups (or gangs) live together.
As I hoped, Andre accepted me into his cell. Living together my interest in drawing
grew and we formed a good friendship.
Every day I dedicated several hours to drawing. My first five works required the help of
the instructor. But I remember we were locked down for almost a month, and Andre
told me, “Now you are going to do portraits on your own.” And it was during that
lockdown that I made the portraits of José Martí and Cintio Vitier on my own. When I
finished I realized that I could now continue my independent course, and it was the right
moment because Andre was transferred to another penitentiary in California as soon as
that lockdown was lifted.
A Native Indian, also imprisoned in my unit, took Andre’s place as instructor. We also
became good friends. Every night we worked together on different projects. The
combination of Andre’s and the new instructor’s teachings allowed me to create my
own method of work.
On some occasions I was able to finish a painting in one day. Up to now I have created
more than 100 works with pencil.
In 2005 I met a prisoner who offered to teach me calligraphy. I was interested in making
a clean copy of all the poems I had written in these years of imprisonment. I acquired
some essential materials, but I realized that the watercolors that I used as ink were not
good, nor was there enough. Looking for something that could take the place of the ink
(which they don’t authorize for purchase) a bunch of watercolor paint tubes fell into my
hands from another prisoner. But using it for the calligraphy proved to be another
disaster and I asked myself, “What do I do with all this?” I decided to try them out with
small paintings. Nobody here painted with that technique, so I could only count on the
help of some books I had bought with the paintings. Little by little I was gaining
confidence in my strokes with the handful of brushes that I had and I started setting
bigger goals.
Color gave another life to my creations. Painting made me happy. In one or two days
now I finished each work.
With the help of a great friend of Cuba and the Five, Cindy O’Hara, who sent me books
and photos, I was able to finish two interesting projects in watercolor: the birds that are
endemic to Cuba and the species of Guacamayos. Other caring friends in the United
States, like the tireless Priscilla Felia, have sent me books that have been very useful for
my self-taught progress in these and other techniques.
At the end of 2005 a prisoner arrived from Marion in Illinois, who began to show
impressive pastel photo works. They placed him in my dormitory unit and right away I
became interested in this new technique. I acquired some materials, following his
instructions. He had a great will to teach, but soon he had problems and was taken to the
“hole.” He never returned to the general population.
Once again I found myself wondering what to do with the painting materials I had
acquired and once more I returned to the books to immerse myself in an unfamiliar
technique. I decided a portrait of Che would be my first work in pastel and after that I
undertook a project of 14 portraits of the most relevant figures of our history. I have
continued using pastels without interruption in my artwork. The most recent with this
technique are a group of nudes which I have used to study the human figure and the
different skin tones under the effect of lights and shadows.
Just two months ago, also being self-taught, I broached painting in acrylics, using an air
gun (in English this technique is known as “airbrushing”).
And oil painting didn’t escape my interest either. Here they only authorize a type of oil
paint that is soluble in water and although it is not the traditional paint it is similar
enough in its use and results. Up to now I have completed five works with this
technique.
Without a specific plan or guide, I believe that it was the right path to first do pencil
portraits, and then to take on watercolor, pastels, and finally, oils. Of course, all of these
works have been without benefit of the professional instruction that an art school would
give, or the guide of an instructor with real knowledge of plastic arts.
What is most important, I think, is that I have overcome imprisonment with a healthy
and useful activity like plastic arts. Each work expresses not only my human essence
but that of the Five, united by unbreakable principles.
The little I have learned I share unselfishly with other prisoners, and, at times, with
great patience. “Truth desires art” as José Martí said, and truth reigns in our hearts,
forged with love and commitment to the just cause of our heroic people: That is my
motivation for each work of art!

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October 1, 2014

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Mr. President Obama October first, 2014
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington DC 20500 (USA)

Mr. President

For how long, Mr. President, are you going to keep the three Cuban patriots, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino et Gerardo Hernández, locked up in prison?
For how long, Mr. President, are these three men who, without weapons, risking their lives, worked to thwart terrorist attacks committed against their country, with the guilty complaisance of the United States government, going to be imprisoned?
For how long, Mr. President, will Nobel Peace Prize holders, members of Parliament, jurists, intellectuals, artists, political leaders, union officials, clergymen and simple citizens, all over the world, have to solicit you for you to finally finish by liberating these three Cubans?
For how long, Mr. President, will we have to demonstrate to you, by “a+b”, the innocence of these three men, when you know fully well that they are not at all guilty?
For how long, Mr. President, are you going to keep Gerardo Hernández’s wife Adriana, who he hasn’t seen since he was arrested sixteen years ago, from being able to visit him?
For how long, Mr. President, is your country going to continue, in total impunity, playing worldwide policemen, scoffing at the Cuban people’s sovereignty?
This sinister farce, in which the victims are the five Cubans René González, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, is continuing today, with the last three. It has been going on for too long.
You cannot keep Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Gerardo Hernández locked up in prison any longer. The Cuban government has thrown you a line with the opportunity of a humanitarian exchange – wise up and catch it while it’s still time!
Please receive, Mr. President, the expression of my most sincere humanitarian sentiments.

Jacqueline Roussie
64360 Monein (France)

Translated by William Peterson

Copies sent to: Mrs. Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Kathryn Ruemmler and to Mr. Joe Biden, John F. Kerry, Rand Beers, Harry Reid, Eric Holder, Denis MacDonough, Neil Eggleston, Rick Scott, and Charles Rivkin, United States ambassador in France.

We Will Never Give up Denouncing the Injustice, Says René Gonzàlez

September 10, 2014

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Lisbon (Prensa Latina) Cuban hero René González, who is attending today a Festival of the Communist journal Avante, said his priority is to fight for the release of his three comrades still in U.S. prisons.

Rene, along with Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino and Gerardo Hernandez, were arrested in the United States in September, 1998, and subject to a trial plagued with irregularities and given unfair, harsh prison sentences for monitoring Miami-based violent groups operating against Cuba.

Rene and Fernando are back in Cuba after fully serving their prison sentences, but Ramon, Gerardo and Antonio remain in prison.
“We wil never give up the right to continue denouncing the injustice that has been committed,” said Rene in an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina, the full version of which we are posting here now:
PL: The Cuban Five were arrested nearly 16 years ago in Miami and given harsh sentences. Could you refer to the circumstances under which the trial was conducted?
Rene: The trial was carried out in an atmosphere that could be compared to a Roman circus. A frightening atmosphere of overwhelming propaganda against The Cuban Five which was orchestrated by journalists secretly paid by the U.S. government. It was held in Miami, which was wrong, as this is the only place in the world where you were unable to get an impartial jury to have a fair trial.
This has been acknowledged by human rights bodies, which said the trial was in violation of all international regulations, including the U.S. Constitution.
PL: What has helped you be so firm through all these years?
René: I think it is the morale. Knowing that we had morale in facing the prosecutors that they will never have gave us strength. Besides the justice of what we had been doing. You cannot judge anyone for protecting human life, which is the most valuable asset.
That combination of factors has given us the necessary strength and will continue doing so, plus our formation as a result of our Revolution that taught us a commitment to human dignity.
PL: You and Fernando Gonzalez returned to your country, but three of your comrades are still in prison. What is their legal situation?
Rene: The legal solution rests on the judge to rule about the motion 2255 or habeas corpus that later, if needed, would go all over the winding road from the district court to the supreme court.
This is an extrajudicial appeal because all judicial appeals have been lodged already. The process got to the end when the supreme court arbitrarily refused to revise it.
What is important for the people to know is that this is a case determined by political reasons and their solution will be motivated by the political calculations to be made by the judge and the U.S. government.
Hence the importance we attach to solidarity and to demand the U.S. government to do justice.
As the case becomes a burden to them and keeping our comrades in prison turns into a heavier burden to them they will make the right political decision, which is to apply their laws to the 2255 and in this case the comrades will return to Cuba.
PL:Regarding world solidarity, what is your opinion about the fact that so many world figures and movements support the release of The Cuban Five?
René: First we have to thank all these people for all their solidarity. After hard work for many years the wall of silence of the media has been broken and many honest people worldwide have joined the cause of The Cuban Five. We need to boost solidarity, multiply it and above all launch it over Washington, over the U.S. establishment that in the end will have to make a decision and we need all that energy to focus on them so they make the right decision.
PL: If your attitude has been brave, so has been your family’s. I think this has also given you plenty of strength all this time.
Rene: Of course, the role of the family is invaluable. The wives, the children, our parents and siblings, all have played an important role in this struggle.
They have represented the cause abroad. We cannot forget that I left prison just a year and a half ago, but for 15 years our relatives fought the political and public battles.
And they have done it good, with great dignity. Every success has been a source of resistance for us. I think they are heroes in this story.
PL-¿How do you feel back in your country?
René: I feel happy, fulfilled, honored, also because of the privilege that the Cuban people offer me every time we walk the streets of Havana and they come to us and greet us. I also feel committed to my three brothers who were in fact defending the Cuban people.
P: ¿What is your mission now?
Rene: My priority is to fight for my three comrades to be released and sent back to Cuba.

Media Silence on Cuban Anti-terrorists” Case Denounced

January 14, 2014

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Havana, Jan 14 (Prensa Latina) Cuban antiterrorist fighter Rene Gonzalez posted at the website Voices for the Five that the legal process he and his four compatriots have lived through since 1998 is one of the most silenced events in the history of the United States.
Gonzalez stated in his message that the trial against him, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando Gonzalez was deliberately hidden from the U.S. people by large media corporations.

The trial was minimized despite being one of the longest ever in the United States, related to issues such as terrorism, charge of conspiracy to commit murder, and the direct implications for relations between Washington and Havana, Gonzalez stated.

The sentences of the Cuban Five, as these men are internationally known, are described as unjust by more than 3,500 messages posted at http://www.voicesforthefive.com, responding to the fact that they were punished for preventing terrorist actions against Cuba sponsored by groups based in Miami.

Rene Gonzalez, who is in Cuba after completing his prison sentence and renouncing his U.S. citizenship, thanked the website’s subscribers for their support to the case of the Five and the initiative to organize an International Commission of Inquiry in London, to investigate the case.

The commission, to be held on March 7-8, will be essential to breaking the wall of silence built around the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, and to showing the world the violations and injustice committed during the judicial process, he said.

This project is supported by 100 figures from various walks of life around the world, who will try to show the world the reality about terrorism and the real struggle against it.

Among the activities scheduled for those days are statements by Rene Gonzalez, relatives of his four compatriots who remain imprisoned, and a review of the evidence in the case by a panel of recognized lawyers.

The ideals and the statement that will remain with us forever

October 20, 2013

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One of the five Cuban anti-terrorism fighters unjustly held in US prisons, Antonio Guerrero, expresses his gratitude for all the support and love he received on his 55th birthday which coincides with the 60th anniversary of Fidel’s historic self-defense submission known as History will Absolve Me.
By: Juventud Rebelde

Dear friends:

It’s noon on October 16th.
Countless Happy Birthday messages have been arriving via regular mail and via this other way, the email.
With these short lines, I would like to express my gratitude to everyone for their beautiful words of love, solidarity and support.
My son Gabriel is turning 21 today.
Today is also the birthday of my close friends at the airport of Santiago de Cuba Carlos Vizcay and Marietta; and the birthday of the sister of my classmate in Kiev, Ramonita Ontivero. May my message of congratulations get to them and to all the friends who share this same birthday.
I’ve just written a decimal poem, let me know what you think of it.

Fifty-five
Life and its seasons,
like a ship and its ports.
Life, the living and the dead
among poems and songs.
Life and its reasons,
its good dose of determination.
And, all of the sudden, it takes a leap
over walls and guards
towards the horizon, far away.
Oh, good heavens, fifty-five!

Today marks the 60th anniversary of Fidel’s self-defense submission after the events of the Moncada, which is known as History will Absolve Me. Marti’s just ideals collected in that statement have always been with us and we know that our people will defend them at any price.
Five strong hugs.

We shall overcome!

Tony Guerrero Rodríguez
Marianna Federal Prison
October 16, 2013

Translated by ESTI


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