FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Finally, Freedom for the Remaining “Cuban Five”

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
Printcold 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 and, more recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion. Cuba’s neighbours under consideration are the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August.

SOURCE: Global Research: http://www.globalresearch.ca/freedom-for-the-remaining-cuban-five/5420555

 

 

 

More articles by:

Arnold August, a Canadian journalist and lecturer, is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections and, more recently, Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion. Cuba’s neighbours under consideration are the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Arnold can be followed on Twitter @Arnold_August.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail