RATB hosts international rally in London
The sun was out in London, as members of Rock around the Blockade (RATB) were joined by activists, writers, musicians and academics from around the world to demand freedom for the Cuban Five and to show solidarity with socialist Cuba. The rally was held in support of the International Committee of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five, which took place in London over the previous two days.
Supporting organisations included the US National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver, The Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), London Guantánamo Campaign, Cubainformación TV, Marcha Patriotica (Colombia), Cuba Solidarity (Barcelona, Dublin, and Copenhagen), Revolutionary Communist Group, Hands Off Venezuela, Cubanos en UK, Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist), MERU Verdadero, Communist League, Movimento Micaela Bastidas (UK), Coordinadora de Cubanos Residentes en Francia, Colectivo entre Amigos (Francia).
The rally was opened with a speech from Kenia Serano from ICAP, who thanked RATB for the initiative of organising the rally and inviting those representatives who had travelled to London for the Commission. Other important speakers included Gloria La Riva (National Committee to Free the Cuban Five), Janine (Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver), Bill (Ireland Cuba Solidarity), Jairo (Marcha Patriotica), as well as speakers from the Revolutionary Communist Group, which set up RATB in 1995.
At Trafalgar Square an enormous Cuban flag made by supporters was unveiled, accompanied by banners and placards highlighting imperialism’s role in trying to undermine Cuban self-determination and efforts to build socialism throughout Latin America.
The protesters condemned the British government’s refusal to grant a visa to Rene Gonzalez, the first of the Cuban Five to have been released, and consequently preventing him from attending the Commission of Inquiry in London. Rene returned to Cuba in 2013 after serving his sentence in the US and is now a tireless campaigner for the release of his three comrades (Antonio, Ramon, and Gerardo) who face much longer sentences. Fernando Gonzalez was the second of the Cuban Five to have been released and returned to Cuba just days ago.
During the two days preceding the rally, RATB members were among 300 people who attended the International Commission on 8 and 9 March to hear from witnesses and experts about the case of the Cuban Five and about the six decades of terrorism against the Cuban people, launched from the US, which the five Cuban agents set out to prevent. Family members of the Cuban Five were present, as well as Cubans whose loved ones had been killed in such terrorist attacks.
RATB activists in Newcastle and Glasgow also held vibrant demonstrations in support of the Cuban Five. They explained the Five’s case and the need to defend socialist Cuba to the public and argued that the social benefits of the Cuban Revolution should serve as an example in the fight against cuts and privatisation in austerity Britain.
RATB will continue to contribute to the international movement demanding justice for the Cuban Five and redouble its commitment to support and defend Cuban socialism. The rally was a great forum to strengthen our links and unity with other groups from around the world to consolidate future collaboration and solidarity.
Who are The Cuban Five?
Fernando, Ramon, Antonio, Gerardo and Rene are five Cuban men arrested in Miami in 1998, convicted on trumped up charges and condemned to long prison sentences. They were in fact trying to prevent acts of terrorism against Cuba by infiltrating violent anti-Cuban groups in Miami. None of the charges against them involved violence, weapons or damage to property. Since 1959, nearly 3,500 Cubans have died and over 2,000 have been injured as a result of terrorist attacks or aggression – mainly launched from Miami. To read more about the history of the Cuban Five click here.
15 years of incarceration and injustice!
Coordinadora de Cubanos Residentes en Francia
Colectivo entre Amigos (Francia)
Late on Monday 3 March, just a few hours before he was due to fly from Havana to London, René González, was refused a visa to enter in the UK.
René González is the principal witnesses for the International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five which takes place at the Law Society in London on 7 and 8 March.
In its letter of refusal, the UK Immigration and Visa Office states that it is due to point 320 (2b) of UK immigration law, which says entry can be denied to a person who has been sentenced to more than four years in prison. Although, dispensation can be granted in exceptional circumstances, the UK government states that it does not consider Mr González’s attendance at the International Commission to be reason enough to justify this or “outweighed by the public interest in maintaining a refusal.”
Whilst the eventual release of Fernando Gonzalez was celebrated worldwide, the Guardian published the derogatory article 'Cuban Five' spy ring member released from US prison, straight from the associated press in Miami, hotbed of reactionary Cuban exile politics.
Not content with such biased journalism, the Guardian then censored a post by Rock Around the Blockade (RATB) in support of the Cuban 5.
Fernando and the other brave Cuban heroes have suffered 15 years of injustice.
Fighting terrorism and defending socialism is not a crime!
The Cuban 5 were falsely tried - Free the Cuban 5!
Add your voice to the call - Join the weekend of action for the Cuban 5
Join us on Wednesday 5 March for a day of solidarity with the Venezuelan people who are under attack from US imperialism, private media agencies and Latin American right-wing extremists who distort the truth about what is happening in Venezuela.
Receiving Fernando at the airport was President Raúl Castro and high level figures of the Cuban Government. This was followed by an emotional embrace of Rene who he had not seen since the time of the trial in Miami in 2001.
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
Today Fernando Gonzalez Llort will end the last day of his unjust 17 years plus 9 month sentence in prison.
During his long captivity he has remained in cold and distant prisons in various parts of the American geography. As an additional punishment Fernando was banned from receiving visits from friends and supporters. During all these years only his mother Magali Llort, his sisters Lourdes and Martha, his wife Rosa Aurora Freijanes and other family members were able to visit him. And even they averaged only one visit a year.
The lone exception was a single visit from the former Bishop of Detroit Thomas Gumbleton in March 2007. Despite this form of isolation Fernando, like his 4 brothers, received on a daily basis volumes of mail of solidarity that filled the mail rooms of the prisons.
Even though Fernando has fulfilled everyday of his sentence he will still have to go through a process of undetermined time before he will be able to enjoy his freedom surrounded by his love ones. This Thursday 27 February he will be taken from the Federal Correctional Prison in Safford Arizona to a federal immigration prison until his deportation back to Cuba.
Along with his family, the heroic people of Cuba, and the thousands of people in the international solidarity movement for the Cuban 5 we advocate that this last bit of injustice ends as swiftly as possible.
All the love, pride and respect of the entire island of Cuba is waiting for Fernando, a true Hero of the Republic of Cuba. His return will give more strength to the solidarity movement as he joins forces with Rene in leading the struggle to demand the freedom of Gerardo, Antonio and Ramon.
We will share a moment of joy with the family of Fernando upon his return and then we will multiply our commitment to continue the fight until the final return of the Five to Cuba.
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
I wrote this book review of Stephen Kimber's 'real story of the Cuban Five' for Science & Society. It is not due to be published until October 2014 (Vol. 78, No.4), but they have kindly given me permission to post it on my blog prior to publication. I wanted to post the review early to draw attention to an important event which takes place in London next month: the International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five, on 7 and 8 March. The Commission website can be found here: The following day, Sunday 9 March, there will be a rally to demand justice for the Five in Trafalgar Square from 2pm. Details here:
Stephen Kimber, What Lies Across the Water: the real story of the Cuban Five, Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2014. 296 pages. $29.95 CAD. ISBN: 9781552665428
Review by Helen Yaffe*
According to the author, this book owes its existence to serendipity. In 2009 Stephen Kimber was in Havana researching for a love story he planned to write when, he explains, he ‘got sideswiped by the truth-is-stranger-but-way-more-interesting story of the Cuban Five.’ (1) Thanks to serendipity, Kimber has produced the first full-length book in English about the case of the Cuban Five. During his research, the Canadian writer, broadcaster and professor of journalism read 20,000-pages of court transcripts, and a mass of books, media reports and documents. He conducted interviews and established correspondence with the Five in prison. The book is organized chronologically into sections which are sub-divided by diary-like entries providing updates on the entire ‘cast of characters’. This work is meticulously researched, factual without being dull and written with sensitivity and honesty - warts and all. It is as gripping as an action-packed movie and deeply moving.
Message from the Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouve
"To you, our eternal gratitude for your immense and constant support that makes us continue to be resistant and makes us taste our inevitable freedom each day." - Antonio Guerrero
Dear friends in the struggle to free our 5 Cuban Heroes,
The year 2013 has passed with great victories in the continued struggle to free our 5 heroes. As we look together towards 2014, we are sure that there will be many more victories and challenges in our campaign for justice.
Vancouver will honour our 100th consecutive monthly picket action in front of the U.S. Consulate for freedom for ALL of the 5 Cuban Heroes on March 5, 2014. On this important day, the Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver invites you to join with us by organizing an event in solidarity with the 100th picket and the Cuban 5 in your community. We know that with more unity, coordination and action , we are ever closer to the day when ALL of the Cuban 5 will be free.
René González, former Miami Five prisoner to attend London event 7 and 8 March 2014:
Alongside international personalities including Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, actors Martin Sheen and Emma Thompson
René González, the first and only member of the Miami Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence in the United States, has announced that he will come to London to give evidence to an International Commission of Inquiry on 7 and 8 March 2014.
The Miami Five are five Cuban men who were jailed in the US in 1998 for attempting to prevent terrorist attacks against the Caribbean island.
René will be joined in London by family members of the Five, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world, including Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winning author of the Color Purple.
The Commission will hear testimony from around 20 key witnesses, including US defence attorney Martin Garbus, representatives from international human rights organisation Amnesty International, and from Miami Five family members such as wives of the Five, Olga Salanueva and Elizabeth Palmeiro.
The Commission will be presided over by distinguished international jurists, including former Chief Justice of India Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob, and Philippe Texier, the former Chair of the Supreme Court of France.
There will be testimony from specialists on the range of measures taken to defend Cuba against the threat of terrorist attacks, as well as testimony from Cuban and international victims of US-based terrorism.
In his New Year message René González urged support for the International Commission of Inquiry and said:
“When we were imprisoned 15 years ago, our captors never imagined that from all corners of the world people like you would take up our cause. Instead of suffering defeat we have become stronger. During this time we have suffered hardships and lost people close to us. But our spirits never broke, because we knew we could count on people from all over the world like you. Your solidarity and sense of justice has kept us and our families strong.”
Supporters say Hernandez and four others wrongfully convicted
Reprinted from Victorville Daily Press
Victorville Prison, where Gerardo Hernández is incarcerated, was in "lockdown" in November. To raise local awareness and help build local support for Gerardo, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five contacted the local media, which had never covered Gerardo's case. The Victorville Daily Press published this excellent article.
VICTORVILLE • An inmate housed at the United States Penitentiary-Victorville has drawn support from a wide range of dignitaries as he serves a double-life sentence at the maximum security facility.
Gerardo Hernandez, 48, was arrested by FBI SWAT team members in 1998 along with four other men: Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez.
The men, who have come to be known as the Cuban Five, were Cuban intelligence agents who were tried and convicted in Miami on numerous counts including failing to register as foreign agents, using false identities and conspiracy to commit espionage. Hernandez, the leader of the network, was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder for his alleged involvement with shooting down two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft.
Hernandez was convicted in 2001 and was transferred after his trial to Lompoc U.S. Penitentiary. In 2004, he was transferred to Victorville.
Supporters say Hernandez is innocent and is the victim of political persecution by the U.S. government.
“The idea that anyone could live through this and maintain a sense of dignity is remarkable,” Hernandez’s attorney, Martin Garbus, said in a telephone interview.
Important that we remain alert and ready to act to assure Fernando's return home to Cuba
On February 27, 2014, when Fernando González is released from Safford federal prison in Arizona, he will have completed
15 years, 5 months and 15 days of an unjust imprisonment imposed after a U.S. government political prosecution.
Each day has been a cruel punishment for Fernando and his Cuban Five brothers, who courageously sacrificed their well-being to defend their homeland and people of Cuba from the scourge of terrorism that emanates from Miami, with the full knowledge and protection of Washington.
But Fernando will not simply walk out of Safford on Feb. 27. As one of his appeals attorney Richard Klugh explains, since Fernando is not a U.S. citizen, he will be detained temporarily by Immigration authorities.
"In order to facilitate his immediate return to Cuba, he has quashed any pending appeal or Habeas proceeding, so that it cannot be used as a basis to keep him here. And he has waived any right to contest his deportation to Cuba. Fernando has that paperwork completed and negotiations are taking place for what we hope is an immediate return to Cuba and his wonderful family."
Fernando's sentence was reduced to 17 years from the original 19-year term, after his resentencing in 2009, and 13% credit reduction is given for good behavior in federal prison. "Fernando has been a model prisoner in everything, he has never had any incident whatsoever."
As Fernando's freedom approaches, Klugh says, "Everyone on the defense team has always had strong feelings and a bond with Fernando. He is an extremely sensitive and caring person, extremely mild-mannered, strong and honorable."
We are hopeful for the return of Fernando to his family and to Cuba. We honor his integrity and the commitment to the freedom and security of his people. We pledge to keep fighting to ensure that justice is done and that Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio can join Fernando and René and return to their families in Cuba as soon as possible
Havana, Jan 30 Prensa Latina
Cuba has exported its medical-pharmaceutical and biotechnological products to more than 50 countries, Granma newspaper reports today.
Executives from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment also told the daily that in 2013, of 880 items of the country' s basic medicines, the sector has produced 580, among them are eight of the 13 vaccines of the immunization program.
The number of Videocolposcopy produced in the country for early detection of cervical cancer amounted to 121. It displays real-time enlarged images of the uterine tube to detect any malignant or pre-malignant lesion in its initial phases, Granma states.
The application of this technology ensures the implementation of mass screening programs of the disease, which is the most frequent kind of cancer in Cuban women in ages between 20 and 59 years old.
By Helen Yaffe*
On 28-29th January 2014, Havana hosts the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC in Spanish), with the participation of the heads of states, chancellors and other representatives of all 33 independent nations in the region. The Summit rounds off Cuba’s one-year presidency of CELAC, which focussed on combating regional poverty, hunger and inequality. Cuba is part of CELAC’s three member troika, along with Chile, which held the presidency in 2012 and Costa Rica which takes over in 2014. Over 30 documents are being drawn up for discussion and analysis, including a Plan of Action, and standards and principles which will govern cooperation. The Summit was preceded by two days of discussions by national experts on 25-26 January and a meeting of chancellors on 27 January. The Summit is expected to emit specific statements, for example, demanding that Britain return Las Islas Malvinas (the Falkland Islands) to Argentina and that the US blockade of Cuba be lifted.
Havana, Jan 21 (Prensa Latina) The International Commission taking place in London on March 7-8 will strengthen the call of the release for the Cuban antiterrorist fighters unjustly condemned in the United States, Belgian activist Katrien Demuynck said today. This is a meeting that due to its dimension and massive support not only of figures but also of great audience can be an important impact, although at the same time is an enormous challenge, said Demuynck, European coordinator of the campaign for the freedom of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando Gonzalez.
We start saying that they have spent 15 years of unjust imprisonment and we have the dissatisfaction we have done a lot in the world campaign, but it is not enough to achieve their release, she noted.
(Watch out watch out, the youth of the world are marching for Latin America!)
This was the chant and message ringing out around the World Festival Of Youth & Students, held in Quito, Ecuador, this December. Our organisation the Revolutionary Communist Group, fundraised to send a delegation of three comrades from London, Newcastle and Glasgow. They were able to speak with and interview anti-imperialists from around the world and bring back with them awealth of information and inspiration for the fight against the cuts and imperialism here in Britain, the belly of the Beast.
The gains and achievements of socialist Cuba, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and the movement for socialism in Ecuador and Bolivia show in practice that socialism is the only system capable of meeting the needs of humanity. This lesson must be taken up in Britain where thousands are being punished by cuts to welfare while the ruling class plan their next imperialist venture abroad. To successfully resist the war on welfare and peoples abroad we must support the struggle for welfare and freedom from imperialism taking place across Latin America.
2014 will be a key year in the fight for socialism in Latin America. From the Colombian Peace talks and upcoming elections in Bolivia and Ecuador, to the student movements in Chile and the fight for against economic sabotage on the streets of Venezuela, Latin America is on the frontline of the battle for socialism globally. These social movements are fighting for a real alternative to racism, war and poverty-for a collective socialist society. Their fight is our fight! Another world is possible! Another world is being built!
Come to the meetings listed below, get involved, get active in Britain as real solidarity with Cuba and the revolutionary movements internationally is building a movement for socialism here.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Details of a six million dollar plan by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), intended to destabilize the government of Cuba, were accidentally discovered when the documents were sent unclassified and over an unsecured line to officials of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
As was mistakenly revealed in USAID´s initiative SOL-OAA-13-000110, launched on 10 July 2013, the sum was earmarked to finance the work of at least 20 counter-revolutionary organizations that had requested funds to carry out the subversive tasks entrusted them "to overthrow the communist regime."
As the capitalist crisis bites in Britain, spreading war, poverty, austerity and despair worldwide, To successfully resist the war on welfare and peoples abroad we must support the war for welfare and for people’s freedom taking place across Latin America.
We will be blogging from the festival, putting you in contact with activists from all over the globe, gaining an insight into the citizens’ revolution in Ecuador and the movement towards socialism across Latin America today.
Visit the blog at:
Please share widely. We will organise report-back meetings in January, details will be posted here soon.
During a radio broadcasted speech before a packed audience at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Oct. 18, 2013, Bill Richardson was confronted by Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, demanding freedom for the Cuban Five. You can see La Riva's intervention in the video above.