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Note: Usually we meet in Brunswick, but ocassionally at other locations around the state, so contact us just to be sure.
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Let Cuba Live
Cuban Five - When words matter
By Tom Whitney, March 6, 2010
[also see: CNN News video on a Cuban field hospital in Haiti]
Words from people who are engaged go deeper sometimes than attempts to summarize or report or analyze.
The words below are from Bill Hackwell in California (photographer and solidarity activist) as copied by Cuban Five prisoner Gerardo Hernandez. Then in order come words from Gerardo to me (accompanied by Bill’s words written to him), words from Richmond California Mayor Gayle McLaughlin taken from a Prensa Latina interview in February, and words from Cuban Five prisoner Rene Gonzalez during a BBC interview in February.
Bill Hackwell: “Dear Gerardo, Last night I watched a new Showtime movie on Nelson Mandela’s time in prison on Robbins Island. It coincides with his 91st birthday. It is amazing he has lived that long considering the conditions he had to endure for 27 years of hard labor on that rock. The movie was excellent and focused on his relationship with the prison guard who monitored his mail and was generally assigned to him. One of the more touching moments in the movie was when he finally got to visit with his family in a room and not by phone through a glass. Through out his imprisonment his wife Winnie was allowed to visit him on a regular basis. When you think about the harshest prisons in the world Robbins Island under apartheid South Africa comes quickly to mind. I could not help but think as I watched the movie that even under this most cruel and inhumane system Mandela was still allowed to see his wife. How is it that the U.S. that promotes itself as a champion of human rights can be more punitive and cruel than apartheid South Africa when it comes to visitation rights for you and Adriana?”
Gerardo Hernandez, U. S. Penitentiary, Victorville, California, March 1, 2010:
“Dear Comrade Tom, Thank you very much for your letter of January. I wish you – on behalf of the Five – a very successful 2010 to you and to all of our comrades of Let Cuba Live, the People’s World and your Maine solidarity group and express again our appreciation for your continual support. (I haven’t received People’s World for a long while. Maybe the subscription expired or it might be the change of my PO box…) The one on top is a fragment of a letter by Bill Hackwell. Not only I’m not allowed to see my wife like every other prisoner, but they don’t even let me write an E-mail to her, like any kind of criminals here can do…Regards and very best wishes (signed) Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo”
Gayle McLaughlin: “[K]nown political causes in my country were resolved only when there was massive support of public opinion, as it happened with Angela Davis….This hypocrisy [regarding the Cuban Five] proves that the war on terror is really not about protecting people from harm but is actually about maintaining US hegemonic power and control. The sad irony is that in order to do so the US perpetrates and supports a whole host of terrorist acts such as those committed by Cuban exile groups in Miami against the Cuban population.”
McLaughlin explains why she supports Cuba and the Cuban Five: Traveling to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade in 1986 “was a transforming experience because the people of Cuba touched my heart, soul and mind. I took home with me from that trip a visceral understanding that went beyond my intellectual understanding, of what it means to be part of a changing world that puts people first.” In addition: “The 10 years of Sister City relations between Regla in Havana and Richmond provides an additional reason to show our solidarity with our Cuban brothers and sisters”
Rene Gonzalez: “And nobody in Cuba would agree to any re-establishing of normal relations with a country that has five of their sons in jail for defending the country.”