Posts Tagged ‘cuban revolutionaries’

The historical context of the Cuban Five

June 17, 2014

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By Jane Franklin • Published on ProgresoWeekly

(What follows is a presentation given by Jane Franklin during the 5 Days for the Cuban 5 event held in Washington, D.C.)

Thank you all for being here in Washington to combat terrorism. I want to thank the other panelists and all the other internationalists who join us in the battle against this outrageous injustice. We need all the help we can get as we work here in the planet’s main base of terrorism to free these heroic anti-terrorists – Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, and Tony. I’ve been asked to put their heroism in context.

The basic problem is that this injustice is part of a system of imperial injustice. Simón Bolívar saw it coming in 1829 when he warned that the United States “appears destined by Providence to plague America with miseries in the name of Freedom.” The ideology that drives this plague is American exceptionalism.

The doctrine of American exceptionalism emerged dramatically alongside U.S. policy toward Cuba. The United States itself had hardly become an independent nation when Thomas Jefferson declared that with Cuba and Canada “we should have such an empire for liberty as she has never surveyed since the creation.”

As Cuban revolutionaries were on the verge of victory against Spain in 1898, the U.S. Congress declared that Cuba had the right to be free and independent, and then Congress declared a war against Spain in which Washington portrayed itself as the provider of that freedom and independence. Washington presented the Platt Amendment, which gave it virtual control of Cuba, as if it would shield Cuba against colonization, while using it to turn Cuba from a colony of Spain into a neo-colony of the United States.

When the Cuban Revolution turned Cuba from a neo-colony into an independent nation, the Eisenhower administration immediately launched the counterrevolution – the State of Siege that continues today. A State Department memorandum in 1959, the first year of the Revolution, speculated that depriving Cuba of its sugar quota privilege would cause “widespread…unemployment” and “large numbers of people thus forced out of work would begin to go hungry.” Eisenhower canceled the sugar quota and a full trade embargo followed.

Alongside the overt terrorism of the embargo, covert terrorist operations have continued for all these decades. Just a few weeks ago, Cuba arrested four infiltrators who planned to attack military installations. Perhaps agents such as the Cuban Five helped uncover this plot just as they uncovered a plot by Luis Posada Carriles and his gang in the year 2000 to blow up an auditorium filled with people listening to a speech by Fidel Castro in Panama City.

I think all of us here know about the record of Luis Posada, the most notorious terrorist in the Western Hemisphere. For nine years the U.S. Government has refused to abide by its extradition treaty with Venezuela, which requires that the U.S. either extradite Posada to face trial for the murders of 73 people aboard a Cubana passenger plane or prosecute him here in the United States for those murders. The U.S. Government in its White House right down the street is thus complicit in that mass murder.

Just two months before the arrests of the Cuban Five, Posada told the New York Times that “the CIA taught us everything – everything….They taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage.” He boasted of his exploits and bragged about his support from the FBI, the CIA and the Cuban American National Foundation.

Because U.S. intelligence agencies collaborate with the terrorists, Cuba has been forced to train agents like the Cuban Five to investigate terrorist groups. The first member of the Cuban Five to arrive in Florida was René González in 1990, just in time to help deal with the increase of terrorism that followed the disbanding of the Soviet Union and Cuba’s disastrous loss of more than 85 percent of its trade.

Cuba was perceived as vulnerable and the predators thought it was the time to bring it down. Overt terrorism escalated alongside covert activities. Congress worked closely with the Cuban American National Foundation to pass the 1992 Torricelli Act that intensified the trade embargo.

In that same year the Cuban American National Foundation created its secret military arm. Four years later, disappointed that Cuba was continuing to survive as an independent nation, the Foundation engineered the Helms-Burton Law, which became the law of the land. Helms-Burton aspires to be the Platt Amendment of the 21st century. But there is a key difference between Platt at the beginning of the 20th century and Helms-Burton a century later. Platt was U.S. law and then became Cuban law. Helms-Burton is U.S. law but Cuba is determined to keep it from becoming Cuban law. That is a major component of current relations between Cuba and the United States.

In 1999, Cuba, recognizing that Helms-Burton makes financing subversive activities part of U.S. economic warfare against Cuba, passed its own law that makes it a violation of Cuban law to introduce into Cuba, accept, or distribute materials from the U.S. Government that would aid in implementing Helms-Burton. Therefore, when a U.S. agent, such as Alan Gross, distributes such materials in Cuba, the agent is violating Cuban law.

By making Helms-Burton U.S. law, President Bill Clinton and Congress provided a legal front for the legitimization and normalization of terror. But a turning point came in 1998, the same year that the Cuban Five were arrested, when Hugo Chávez was elected president of Venezuela. From the time he took office in 1999, he championed Latin American and Caribbean unity, especially with regard to Cuba. Thanks to his leadership, by the time of his death last year, there was a paradigm shift of historic importance, dramatically represented by the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). When the 21st century opened, the Organization of American States (OAS) included all 35 nations of the Western Hemisphere, but with Cuba suspended. By the end of the first decade of the 21st century, CELAC members included all 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations of the Western Hemisphere, with the United States and Canada excluded.

At West Point last week President Obama once again called the United States “the one indispensable nation.” But CELAC has definitively decided that the United States is not indispensable. Earlier this year Cuba hosted the second CELAC Summit where every member opposes the trade embargo. (Canada also opposes the embargo so the United States is alone in its support of its own embargo.)

Yet, as if oblivious to the consensus of Latin America and the Caribbean regarding the status of Cuba, President Obama declared in September 2011, “It’s clearly time for regime change in Cuba.” At a fundraiser last November in the home of Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation, President Obama said the United States can help bring “freedom to Cuba.” He said, “we have to be creative” and “we have to be thoughtful.” Those words, “creative” and “thoughtful”, gave some analysts the idea that Obama might be ready for a positive step toward Cuba. But we need to pay attention to what he said next and I quote: “the aims are always going to be the same.” He spoke of the need to relate to the “age of the internet”, perhaps thinking that social media programs like ZunZuneo might do the trick by creating another color revolution of “smart mobs” in the streets of Havana.

Obama seems just as oblivious to the opinions of U.S. citizens. A recent Atlantic Council poll shows a majority of Americans want normal relations with Cuba and 61 percent believe Cuba should not be on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Yet all the Cuban Americans in the House and Senate down the street oppose any sign of rapprochement, including the idea that the President agree to negotiations without preconditions with Cuba. Such negotiations are the key to unlocking the prison doors for the three heroes who remain in U.S. prisons. So here we are again in the belly of the beast with a huge job to do because we have to find a way around the barriers of imperial injustice.

August 5th for the 5 – U.S. Historian Jane Franklin Asks Obama to Free the Five

August 2, 2013

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Historian Jane Franklin has written two books about Cuba: “Cuban Foreign Relations 1959-1982” (Center for Cuban Studies, New York, 1984) and “Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History” (Ocean Press, Melbourne, Australia, second edition 1997). She is co-author of “Vietnam and America: A Documented History” (Grove Press: New York, 1985, enlarged edition 1995). Her chronology of the history of Panama is in “The U.S. Invasion of Panama” (South End Press: Boston, 1991). She has published numerous articles, poems and film reviews and has lectured extensively about Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. She is a frequent speaker and radio commentator about U.S.-Cuba relations. Some of her work can be accessed at http://www.janefranklin.info,

August 5, 2013

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
USA

Dear President Obama,

You were born in 1961 so you were not old enough to experience in person the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and the Anti-War Movement, all flowing together in a beautiful wave of change. You were only six years old (coming up on seven) when came the shocks of the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy, changing the politics of a crucial presidential election that had held the possibility of real change.

If you had been a decade older, I think you, as an African-American, might now be in a position to better understand the Cuban Revolution and why its destruction has been a persistent goal of U.S. foreign policy ever since 1959 when Cuban revolutionaries won their battle for independence and sovereignty.

The State of Siege began under President Eisenhower with the trade embargo explicitly designed to starve the Cuban people into submission and has continued to this day. When invasion failed to overthrow the Cuban Government in 1961, the year of your birth, the CIA and the FBI trained thousands of Cuban operatives for the covert war against Cuba — more armed attacks including the buildup to a planned second invasion timed for October 1962 (Operation Mongoose), infiltration, propaganda, arson, and murders. A network of terrorists continues to thrive in Florida and New Jersey.

I wonder if you know much about Operation Mongoose. It led directly to the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was pregnant with my third child when that happened, and you cannot imagine how it felt to be a mother of two young daughters and an unborn son when the whole world was threatened with annihilation. My five-year-old woke me up one morning to ask, “Mommy, is the world going to end?” You can read all about that invasion plan in my book, Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History, in case you need a reminder.

In order to combat the terrorism, Cuba has spent precious resources on developing an amazingly effective State Security Department and assigning agents like the Cuban Five to investigate terrorist groups. But Cuban intelligence agents were not able to stop terrorists from blowing up a Cubana passenger plane in 1976, the first time in the Western Hemisphere that a passenger plane was used as a terrorist weapon. That didn’t happen again until 9/11. Both the CIA and the FBI knew at that time that Luis Posada and the late Orlando Bosch masterminded the bombing. Yet I’m sure you must be aware that Bosch walked free in Miami until his death and of course you know that Posada continues to live as a hero in Miami despite Venezuela’s request for his extradition for trial on 73 murder charges after killing 73 people aboard that plane. As Venezuelan President Maduro has recently pointed out, it’s hypocritical to demand that nobody give asylum to Edward Snowden while at the same time refusing to respond to Venezuela’s request for extradition of Luis Posada.

Just two months before the arrests of the Cuban Five in 1998, Posada told New York Times reporters that “the CIA taught us everything – everything….They taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage.” He prided himself on his long years of support from the CIA, the FBI, and the Cuban American National Foundation. He bragged about masterminding the bombing campaign that struck Havana hotels and restaurants in 1997 and 1998, killing one Italian businessman and injuring other people.

Cuba charged that those responsible for the Havana bombings were based in the United States. The U.S. State Department responded that it would investigate if Cuba would provide “substantive information” to support its contention. That was in September 1997.

Nine months later, in June 1998, Cuba gave the FBI reams of “substantive information” gathered by Cuban agents. Then in July, a month later, came those confessions of Posada himself on the front pages of The New York Times for two days! Yet nevertheless, with all that information and the confessions in hand, instead of investigating the terrorists, as the State Department had said it would, the FBI arrested the investigators.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero, and René González were put in solitary confinement for 17 months even before trial. Thus began the long story of their unjust trial and incarceration. You hold in your hands the power to release them to Cuba as lawmakers from around the world have urged you to do.

Think of the carnage if all the Cuban agents had been imprisoned by the U.S. Justice Department. For example, in the year 2000, even as the Cuban Five were going to trial, Cuban intelligence agents foiled a major assassination plot in Panama where Posada and his co-assassins planned to use plastique to blow up the auditorium in which President Castro was to speak. Those Cuban agents not only saved the life of Fidel Castro but saved from danger about 2,000 people who filled the auditorium to hear him speak.

Cuban agents have even saved the life of a U.S. president. In 1984 Cuba informed U.S. United Nations Mission Security Chief Robert Muller that an extreme right-wing group was planning to assassinate President Ronald Reagan during a planned trip to North Carolina. The FBI consequently arrested several people and Robert Muller thanked the Cuban official who had given him information that included the names of the would-be assassins; the date, time and hour of their plan; the location of their weapons; etc.

The Cuban Five are counterterrorists whose investigations were to expose terrorist plots against Cuba and perhaps even against the United States. Please use your power to release the Cuban Five.

Sincerely,

Jane Franklin
Born and raised in North Carolina and now a resident of New Jersey

REMEMBER ON MONDAY AUGUST 5TH TO CONTACT PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TO JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND FOR
THE FREEDOM OF HE CUBAN 5

DIFFERENT WAYS TO REACH THE WHITE HOUSE

By phone: 202-456-1111 (If nobody answers the phone leave a message)
If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code
+ 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111

By Fax: 202-456-2461
If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area

Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461

To send an e-mail: president@whitehouse.gov

To send a letter:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
United States

SEND AN ONLINE MESSAGE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA (http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments,)

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Fight to free Cuban 5 pressed at week of activities in Washington

June 9, 2013

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(Militant/Seth Galinsky – White House rally June 1 demands freedom for Cuban Five. “We need to reach the American people,” said René González from Cuba during week of activity in Washington, D.C.)

BY SETH GALINSKY
WASHINGTON — A week of activities here to advance the international campaign to free five Cuban revolutionaries held in U.S. prisons drew hundreds of participants from the United States, Canada and several countries in Europe and Latin America. In addition to a June 1 rally of 250 in front of the White House, the “Five Days for the Cuban Five” included panel discussions, workshops, cultural events and lobbying.

“We need to reach the American people, and that is the importance of these events,” René González told an opening press conference May 30. González, one of the Five, spoke via Internet from Havana. Having won his battle to return to Cuba in May, he continues to fight to free his four comrades, who are serving sentences from 17 years and nine months to a double life term plus 15 years. (See “Who Are The Cuban Five?” below.)

“The American people have been denied knowledge” about the trial and frame-up, González noted. He emphasized the need to win broad support — a “jury of millions” — in the political fight to free the Cuban revolutionaries.

Despite the U.S. government’s efforts to isolate and break them over the past 15 years, González said, the long stints of solitary confinement and other abuses meted out to the Five in federal prison have “made us stronger.” And “the political nature of the case helped us with the general prison population,” he said. They have “a lot of respect for us.”

The press conference was chaired by Alicia Jrapko, coordinator of the International Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Also making remarks were journalist Ignacio Ramonet, former editor of Le Monde Diplomatique; Wayne Smith, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana during the James Carter administration; and Dolores Huerta, a founder of the United Farm Workers.

Cuban Five in Angola
That evening more than 100 people participated in a panel discussion on the “Role of Cuba in Africa and the Cuban Five in Angola,” held at the Howard University Hospital auditorium.

Three of the Five — René González, Fernando González and Gerardo Hernández — were among 375,000 Cuban volunteer combatants who between 1975 and 1991 helped the newly independent nation of Angola defeat invasions by the white-supremacist regime in South Africa, with U.S. backing. That internationalist mission was key in forging the generations of Cuban revolutionaries the Five are part of.

The event was opened by Howard University students Daina Lawes, speaking on behalf of students and faculty in the Political Science department, and Nishaun Battle from Students Against Mass Incarceration. Eugene Puryear, a leader of the ANSWER coalition and 2008 vice presidential candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, gave brief remarks and introduced the panel. The featured speakers were Alberto do Carmo Bento Ribeiro, Angola’s ambassador to the U.S; José Ramón Cabañas, chief of the Cuban Interests Section; Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report; and Mary-Alice Waters, a leader of the Socialist Workers Party and president of Pathfinder Press.

Ford noted Cuba’s record of internationalist aid to Africa, from the column of Cuban fighters led by Ernesto Che Guevara that joined the liberation struggle in the Congo in 1965 to the tens of thousands of Cuban doctors, teachers and other volunteers working throughout Africa today. The shared historical and cultural legacy of Cubans and Africans, he said, was underscored by the name the Cuban government gave the Angola mission — “Operation Carlota,” after a Cuban slave who was executed for leading a rebellion in 1843.

Angolan Ambassador Bento Ribeiro said Cuba’s support was decisive to preserving Angola’s independence. It also led to the independence of Namibia, he said, and gave impetus to the mass struggle that won Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and overturned apartheid in South Africa.

“We had powerful enemies,” Bento Ribeiro said. In 1975 forces backed by Zairean President Sese Seko Mobutu, “a puppet of the Americans and an instrument of its policies,” invaded Angola from the north, while South African forces moved in from the south. Their aim was to block the government led by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola from declaring independence.

“The myth of the invincibility of the apartheid regime was definitively defeated” in the victory of Cuban and Angolan forces over South Africa’s army at the battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1988, the Angolan ambassador said. Expressing gratitude for Cuba’s aid he said, “My small contribution is to be here to help liberate the Cuban Five.”

The nearly 16-year internationalist mission had a deep impact in Cuba itself, said Mary-Alice Waters, noting remarks by Raúl Castro, then head of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces, at a 1991 ceremony welcoming home the final volunteers.

“Without Angola we would not be as strong as we are today,” Castro told the Cuban people.

“That is the most important understanding we can take from this meeting,” Waters said. “Those not willing to fight for the freedom of others will never be able to fight for their own,” she said, quoting Fidel Castro, the longtime central leader of the Cuban Revolution.

None of the volunteers “thought we did anything special,” said Cabañas, who was himself a combatant in Angola in 1987-89. The experience René, Fernando and Gerardo had there “helped them face what they’ve been facing in jail these 15 years,” he said.

“Usually when people talk about the mission, they mention the men, but don’t forget the women,” Cabañas, added, to applause. “There were a lot of women who fought in Angola.”

During the discussion after the presentations, Waters responded to a comment from the audience about the disproportionate numbers of Blacks in U.S. prisons today. “What the Cuban Five faced through the entire ordeal,” she said, “is what millions of working people in the U.S. face — the 2.5 million who are today incarcerated, the 5 million living under one or another form of supervised release, as René was.

“There is hardly a working-class person, especially among African-Americans, who haven’t themselves been in jail, or have a family member, close friend, or coworker who has experienced the reality of the U.S. courts and prisons,” Waters said.

“When they learn the facts and see how the Five conduct themselves, they identify with them and gain respect for their integrity, steadfastness and principles,” she said. “These ordinary working people, men and women ‘from nowhere,’ whose capacities are so discounted by the powers that be — they are the ones we can count on as part of the ‘jury of millions.’”

The next evening the Cuban Interests Section hosted a reception. Among participants were parliamentarians, attorneys, artists, political activists, and others, a number of them from other countries, including Canada, Brazil, Ecuador, Cuba, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Greece.

Protest at White House
Joining the June 1 action outside the White House were two busloads from New York and dozens of demonstrators from other cities, including vanloads from Montreal and Chicago.

Speaking at the rally, Andrés Gómez, president of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, said a contingent of 38 Cuban-Americans organized by the Alianza Martiana had come from Miami to participate in the activities to free the Cuban Five.

Other speakers included Alison Bodine from Vancouver Communities in Solidarity With Cuba; Santos Crespo, president of Local 372 of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in New York; Denis Lemelin, president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Omari Musa of the Socialist Workers Party; Gloria La Riva from the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five; Meches Rosales from the May 1 Immigrant Rights Coalition; Gilberto Villa from Casa de las Américas in New York; and Gail Walker, co-executive director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO)/Pastors for Peace.

“More people have to be made aware of the injustice,” Belinda Banks, who came on a union-sponsored bus, told the Militant. “The same government that keeps the Cuban Five in jail puts hardships on families.” Banks works for the New York City school board and is a member of AFSCME Local 372.

“I wasn’t surprised our government would do a frame-up job,” said Michael De Barra, an unemployed worker from Chicago attending his first such demonstration. “I’m learning about the Five and the Cuban Revolution at the same time.”

“I went to Cuba in 2009 on vacation and there were billboards about the Five everywhere,” said Myriam Marceau, a university student from Montreal. “That’s how I first found out about them.” Marceau was active in student protests against tuition hikes in Quebec earlier this year.

The fight to free Oscar López Rivera, a fighter for Puerto Rican independence jailed in the U.S. for 32 years, “is the same as the fight for the Five,” said longtime independence supporter Rita Rodríguez.

Later that evening, nearly 300 people crowded into Saint Stephen’s Church for an event that included several religious figures and featured Angela Davis, who in the 1970s was framed up and jailed by the U.S. government when she was a leader of the Communist Party USA.

Also joining events during the Five Days for the Cuban Five were a number of participants in the annual congress of the Latin American Studies Association, held here May 29-June 1. An information booth on the defense campaign was staffed throughout the congress. Among the 4,000 people at the gathering was a delegation of more than 70 from Cuba; 12 Cubans were denied visas by the U.S. government.

Next week’s Militant will carry further coverage on the week of activities for the Cuban Five.

Related articles:
Actions in Puerto Rico, Cuba, US demand ‘Free Oscar López’
Puerto Rican political prisoner in US jails for 32 years
Raising literacy, culture of Cuba’s toilers began in Rebel Army
Who are the Cuban Five?
Chicago meeting concludes ‘32 days for 32 years’ events

The Militant Vol. 77/No. 23 – June 17, 2013

René González, 1 of Cuban 5, wins battle to return to Cuba

May 13, 2013

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“I urge people to publicize our cause in the U.S.,” said René González, above with wife Olga Salanueva at May 6 press conference in Havana. “We will continue the battle until the other four are returned.”

BY LOUIS MARTIN

In a victory for the international campaign to free five Cuban revolutionaries jailed in the U.S. since 1998, René González returned to Cuba. Since González was paroled in October 2011, he had been forced to remain in the U.S. to serve a three-year term of supervised release.

González traveled to Havana April 22 under a two-week court-ordered release to attend a memorial for his father Cándido González, who died April 1. On May 3 U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard ruled he could serve the remaining half of his supervised release in Cuba on condition he renounce his U.S. citizenship and never return to the United States.

“Fighting to free Fernando [González], Antonio [Guerrero], Gerardo [Hernández] and Ramón [Labañino] will be the priority of my life,” González said May 6 at a press conference in Havana. “There can be no justice. We endured a long trial plagued with irregularities and absurd sentences. But we will continue the battle until they are returned to Cuba.”

González holds dual U.S. and Cuban citizenship, having been born in Chicago before moving to Cuba with his parents when he was five.

His first motion to serve supervised release in Cuba, filed while still in prison, was rejected by Judge Lenard on the basis of his dual citizenship, in spite of the fact that released prisoners with dual citizenship are normally allowed to serve parole in the other country.

The U.S. government urged rejection of his second motion filed last June, despite a long-standing offer by González to renounce his U.S. citizenship. Lenard granted the motion May 3 after the U.S. Justice Department reversed its position and said it would accept the offer.

“The Justice Department explained its turnabout,” an Associated Press dispatch reported May 3, “by saying that since González was already in Cuba, there was no longer concern that he would use a promise of citizenship renunciation to improperly return to the island.”

On May 6 González went to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to begin the paperwork for renouncing his U.S. citizenship “as bystanders in the streets and on apartment balconies above applauded and called his name,” Reuters reported. Known internationally as the Cuban Five, they are called the Five Heroes in Cuba, deeply respected by millions there for their example of determination and steadfastness in defense of the Cuban Revolution.

The Five were living and working in southern Florida where, at the request of Cuban security services, they monitored and kept Havana informed of activities by armed Cuban-American counterrevolutionary groups with a long record of violent attacks on Cuba and supporters of the Cuban Revolution.

After “stealing” a crop-duster plane in Cuba and ostensibly defecting to the U.S. in December 1990, González was welcomed into counterrevolutionary circles and integrated into paramilitary groups dedicated to the overthrow of the Cuban Revolution, a goal shared by Washington.

González became a pilot in Brothers to the Rescue, an organization established in 1991 by CIA-trained operative José Basulto. In the mid-1990s the group began organizing flights penetrating Cuban airspace designed to provoke a confrontation with Washington.

Despite repeated warnings from Havana that the incursions would not continue with impunity, the U.S. government did not stop them. In January 1996 a Brothers to the Rescue operation dropped counterrevolutionary propaganda on the island. The following month, after repeated warnings to turn back, Cuban fighter jets shot down two of the group’s planes that had once again entered Cuban airspace.

The Five were arrested in FBI raids in September 1998 and framed up on various conspiracy charges. René González received the shortest sentence — 15 years on charges of failure to register as a foreign agent and conspiracy to act as the unregistered agent of a foreign government.

“I did it as a Cuban patriot and I have no regrets,” González is quoted as telling Associated Press in a recent interview. “I’ve never doubted myself for a second.”

González has family in Cuba, including his wife Olga Salanueva, two daughters Irma and Ivette and his mother Irma Sehwerert. Salanueva had been barred entry into the U.S. to visit González while he was in prison, as is Adriana Pérez, the wife of Gerardo Hernández who was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years.

In mid-April Pérez spoke at meetings in Canada organized by the United Steelworkers, one of the largest unions in the country. An example of growing support for the Five, the 650 delegates attending the Steelworkers national convention unanimously adopted a resolution pledging to campaign for the Five’s release.

The coming “5 Days for the Cuban 5,” which will take place May 30-June 5 in Washington, D.C., are being built as an opportunity to broaden the campaign to free the remaining four revolutionaries. The series of events includes an international rally June 1 in front of the White House.

“The only thing lacking is for people in the U.S. to know the case well,” González said at the Havana press conference. “That’s why I urge those here to help publicize our cause in the United States.”

Related articles:
Why revolutionaries condemn terror methods, from Boston to Colombia
Join, build ’5 days for the Cuban 5’
Cuba’s Rebel Army and peasants became ‘unbeatable force’

The Militant Vol. 77/No. 19 May 20, 2013
http://www.themilitant.com/,


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