[Pnews] Freedom for the Remaining “Cuban Five”

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 19 11:25:20 EST 2014


    Freedom for the Remaining “Cuban Five”

By Arnold August <http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/arnold-august>
Global Research, December 18, 2014

*http://www.globalresearch.ca/freedom-for-the-remaining-cuban-five/5420555*

/On December 17, 2014, simultaneous public television announcements were 
made by Cuban President Raúl Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama. 
They both indicated that steps are being taken toward the normalization 
of relations between the two neighbours. In this context, the two 
presidents announced what is known commonly, if not diplomatically, as a 
“prisoner swap.” This includes the liberation of Alan Gross, held in a 
Cuban prisoner for illegal activities that violated Cuban laws and 
sovereignty, and one other prisoner held on the island. For the Cuban 
side, the governments announced the simultaneous release of the three 
Cuban Five who remained in prison: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and 
Antonio (Tony) Guerrero. All three prisoners were immediately 
repatriated to Cuba the same day./

This exchange of prisoners on humanitarian grounds is based on 
consensual agreements by two sovereign countries. This means that 
Gerardo Hernández – who had been serving two concurrent life sentences 
on the basis of false accusations that were never proven in court – will 
not die in prison. He is now free with his family and his wife, who was 
denied the right to visit him for the more than 16 years that he spent 
in U.S. jails and penitentiaries. This was the first thing that came to 
my mind when I heard the reports this morning. Gerardo will return to 
Cuba alive and not – had this swap not taken place – as a cadaver on a 
cold stretcher. While Ramón and Tony would eventually have been freed 
(on October 30, 2024 and September 18, 2017, respectively) – assuming 
they survived their lengthy sentences – Gerardo was in fact condemned to 
a tortuous and slow death within the walls of the savage jungle known as 
the U.S. penal system. He likely never would have seen his wife again, 
even under the coldest and most hostile of circumstances that constitute 
“visiting rights.”

The second emotion that swept over me was that Ramón and Tony are also 
now finally free and in the arms of their family members, who dreaded 
never seeing each other again. This was the case with Tony’s mother, who 
lived with and despaired at the thought that she would pass away without 
ever again freely holding her son in her arms. They are now together. 
Ramón’s wife will finally see the fruit of her long struggle over these 
many years in favour of the freedom of all members of the Cuban Five. 
Ramón’s daughters have finally been awarded a family atmosphere with 
their father back in Cuba, where he belongs.

The third thing that came to mind was the already freed Cuban Five 
members Fernando González and René Gonzalez. Whenever I have seen them 
on Cuban television, I have felt their emotions and appreciated their 
words: they would never feel free and in fact be free until the other 
three Cubans were back at home. It must have been gruelling for them to 
taste freedom, knowing that their brothers did not yet have it. Their 
cruel reality ended today.

And so, finally, the Cuban Five are free.

Special recognition must be given to the Cuban government, in addition 
to the millions around the world who have demanded that justice be done. 
The Cuban government and its foreign affairs ministry have been 
outstanding figures on the world scale since January 1, 1959. This 
tradition has been characterized, among other features, by the upholding 
of principles while being flexible on tactics. I have never seen the 
Cuban government give one inch on principle. However, they have also 
used flexible tactics to advance not only their cause, but also that of 
the peoples around the world. This prisoner swap, part of the wider 
context of normalization of relations between the two neighbours, will 
enter into the annals of Cuban foreign policy as another of its great 
triumphs.

However, let us make no mistake about this: the greatest heroes of this 
historical gain are the Cuban Five. This is so because they never gave 
in to U.S. pressures to have them surrender and denounce the Cuban 
Revolution for the sake of their own freedom. The Cuban Five thus won 
their personal freedom based on their own infinite courage and 
persistence as part of the Cuban Revolution.

/*Arnold August*, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of 
Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections 
<http://www.amazon.com/Democracy-1997-98-Elections-Arnold-August/dp/0968508405/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=> and, 
more recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion 
<http://www.democracycuba.com/>. Cuba’s neighbours under consideration 
are the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Arnold can be followed on 
Twitter @Arnold_August <https://twitter.com/Arnold_August>./

-- 
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863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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