The Cuban Five are for the World
by Tom Whitney
Five Cuban men, in U.S. jails for six years, have gained support
throughout the world because of the justice of their cause - defending Cuba
against terrorism; the enormity of their sentences - life sentences for three
of them; and hideous irregularities in their trial. Attention necessarily
has been focused on their appeals and on easing their lives in jail and those
of family members. But increasingly the men themselves are becoming the story.
Their supporters soon realized that they are exemplary human beings. Letters,
poems, and other writings circulating on the Internet, and the book ‘Sweet
Abyss" published last year in Cuba, demonstrate the extraordinary love, concern,
and seriousness they bring to their roles as fathers and husbands.
Now their words and example – their teaching – are going out to a wider
world. The prisoners have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and European
solidarity groups are canvassing legislators, academicians, and past winners
of the Nobel Peace Prize to support the nomination.
"To fight for the liberty of the five is a duty of all the forces that
are against terrorism in any part of the world. It’s to struggle for the
cause of many other prisoners that, like the five, are serving out unjust
jail terms in U.S. prisons." Angela Davis was speaking in Germany January
15, on the 86th anniversary of the assassination of Rosa Luxemburg. She was
there, joined by 1000 people, to accept an award for protecting human rights.
Antonio Guerrero, one of the prisoners, sent greetings. That his observations
and analysis were read at the gathering goes along with an expanding role
for the prisoners as teachers, or more precisely, as combatants in Cuba’s
"battle of ideas." From a prison "lockdown" in Colorado he summarizes for
listeners in Germany data from the UNESCO report "the State of the World’s
Children 2005." 15 million children have been orphaned because of AIDS. Half
of the 3.6 million war dead since 1990 have been children. 640 million children
are poorly housed, if at all. More than 120 million don’t attend primary school.
He quotes from the report: "’Poverty, war, and AIDS make life miserable for
one billion children.’ " He asks why facts like these are relegated to the
back page of the Economist, where he found them. In fact, he knows.
He blames wealthy nations for demanding debt repayments from poor countries,
contributing almost nothing for aid, and wasting 900 billion dollars on arms.
Through the Cuban Revolution, he, the child of working parents, could study
civil engineering in the Soviet Union. One billion people today are illiterate.
If they could read and write, they could understand humanity’s crisis. They
could "unite to construct a system in which justice, peace, and solidarity
reign…We possess transforming ideas like those of Rosa Luxemburg, and we say
with total conviction ‘A better world is possible.’"
The European-Cuban Solidarity Conference, meeting November 20 in Luxemburg,
took up the prisoners’ cause. Representatives of 21 nations called upon European
nations " to increase pressure on the government of the United States to free
the five Cuban political prisoners" and to respect families’ visiting rights.
Fr. Geoff Bottoms, who was there, reports that a petition to the EU Human
Rights Committee calling for the their freedom is being circulated throughout
Europe. German solidarity groups have initiated a motion on their behalf
in the European Parliament, and a campaign throughout Europe has started up
to secure members’ support. Geoff Bottoms, who leads prisoner support efforts
for the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in the U.K., reports that European worker
solidarity for Cuba and the five prisoners is strongest in Britain because
of labor unity there.
Meanwhile, the wait is still on for the 11th District Court to hand down
a decision on the prisoners’ appeals of their convictions and sentencing.
And U.S. solidarity groups are continuing their campaign to press Congresspersons
to intervene with the State Department so that Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva
may visit their husbands in jail. Of special note are advertisements in behalf
of the wives placed in major newspapers by the Seattle-Cuba Friendship Committee
and paid for by donations from all over the country.