They are in U.S. jails for well over eight years, yet international support for the Cuban Five is growing. Their story highlights U.S. hypocrisy, and the example they provide of dedication to principle has gained increasing respect.

Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, René González, Gerardo Hernández and Ramon Labañino were providing information to Havana about the anti-Cuba terrorist schemes of private, right-wing paramilitary groups in Florida when they were arrested. Their aim was to help foil such schemes before these groups committed additional crimes against the Cuban people.

The worldwide campaign for their freedom is alive. Students in Moscow staged a conference Jan. 26 attended by the Cuban ambassador. He invited them to an international conference on the Five in Havana April 29-30.

On Feb. 2, the Dominican Republic’s Human Rights Commission presented the Five an award for contributions to human rights. Audiences in Lisbon, Portugal, attended a play dramatizing their story. In Kiev, Ukraine, students handed out flyers calling for their release. On Feb. 21, the Russian Duma called on the U.S. Congress to act on their behalf.

In Andalucia, Spain, the fourth regional Cuba solidarity conference urged a stepped-up campaign. Ecuadorian young people held a Feb. 27 bicycle run and rally in Quito. The next day, in Moscow, protesters demonstrated at the U.S. Embassy, the Belarus Youth Union released a declaration for the Five in Minsk, and Paraguay’s speaker of the house called for a new trial.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, 200 women met in Lisbon on behalf of the prisoners. Five days later the World Federation of Democratic Youth, meeting in Hanoi, demanded their release. In Chile, 5,000 thousand people attending concerts given by Cuban singer Silvio Rodriguez signed petitions.

Geoff Bottoms of the U.K. Cuba Solidarity Campaign expects the BBC to broadcast interviews with the Five soon. On March 15, he praised 135 members of the European Parliament for a recent motion calling on Washington to allow family visits.

An international campaign for solidarity with the prisoners’ families began March 8 and will end on May 14, Mother’s Day. It focuses on Olga Salenueva and Adriana Perez, who are denied the right to visit their husbands in jail.

Salanueva, wife of René González, told an interviewer March 8, “Our love goes much farther than a couple. We are a family that was created 25 years ago.” She characterized terrorist Luis Posada’s upcoming trial for lying to immigration officials as “the best example of U.S. hypocrisy on the issue of fighting terrorism.”

On March 9, Detroit Archbishop Thomas Gumbleton visited Fernando González at the Oxford, Wis., federal prison. Gumbleton reported afterwards that González spoke mostly about Cuba’s struggle for independence and sovereignty. The church leader expressed admiration for his commitment and self-sacrifice.

Those qualities were also apparent in an interview with Ramon Labañino appearing recently in the Cuban magazine Bohemia. The prisoner asked that his daughters “see me as a father who, although he is far from them, has not abandoned them. We defend a totally just and noble cause,” adding, “We count on the support of many brothers and sisters in the world.”

He continued: “I have confidence in our people, in the Revolution, in our humane socialism. … Cuba represents the dream of many people in the world. We cannot commit the grave error of failing humanity.”

Philip Agee, former CIA operative and whistleblower on plots against Cuba, recently likened the case of the Five to the “legal lynching” of Sacco and Vanzetti, calling them “among the most shameful injustices in U.S. history.” On an Irish solidarity tour, Agee pointed out that 300 cities and towns in 90 countries now have committees for the Five.

U.S. groups are organizing a national day of action for the Cuban Five in Los Angeles and New York for April 7.

atwhit @ megalink.net

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