Worldwide call grows for release of Cuban 5

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The international campaign to free the Cuban Five — five Cuban nationals who were arrested by the U.S. for monitoring Miami-based exiles trying to bomb and otherwise wreak havoc on Cuba — has sparked solidarity actions in more than 80 countries.

Over 300 solidarity committees worldwide have organized demonstrations, protests and petition campaigns to “break the silence” and to demand the immediate release of Gerardo Hernández, Fernando González, René González, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labañino. Community-based solidarity committees and trade unions have taken the lead in this effort.

An “International Month of Action” for the Cuban Five was kicked off on Sept. 12, marking eight years since their unjust arrest and incarceration. The campaign will continue until Oct. 6, the 30th anniversary of the bombing of a Cuban passenger plane by anti-Cuba terrorists.

Solidarity actions with the Five have varied in form. In Latin America, cultural events have been combined with protest actions outside U.S. embassies and offices in Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Bolivia’s Parliament has demanded their immediate release. The Lawyer’s Association of Brazil has pledged to submit an international plea for their release to the UN Committee for Illegal Incarceration.

In Europe, support for the Five is building. In Portugal, the General Trade Union Association has initiated a solidarity campaign. In Turkey, the Cuban Friendship Association-Jose Marti is organizing informational events. In Russia, new solidarity committees are being set up in several cities while the state Duma (parliament) will soon consider a vote demanding their release.

In Britain, delegations visited the U.S. Embassy and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Sept. 12. The issue is also being taken up at caucus meetings of the Labor Party and Trade Union Congress later this month. Six MPs wrote a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair calling on the government to apply pressure on the U.S. to act against anti-Cuba terrorists in Florida and to immediately release the Five.

In Cyprus, a large demonstration was held in Lefkosia Sept. 13. In Italy, activists are building for a Sept. 30 demonstration. A Sept. 15 meeting of Balkan Communist parties in Thessaloniki, Greece, issued a statement pledging full support and active participation.

The World Federation of Trade Unions, meeting in Athens on Sept. 10, threw its support to the campaign, noting, “The Cuban people have been the victims of barbaric aggression for more than 46 years. The U.S. not only has imposed a brutal economic and trade embargo, but has also promoted and funded thousands of organized terrorist actions against Cuba. Cuba has the right to defend itself from terrorist actions that have already cost the lives of 3,478, injured 2,099 and cost Cuba more than $54 million in economic damage.”

The trade unionists signed an international petition that has already been endorsed by nine Nobel laureates, more than 12,000 people of arts and letters, and numerous elected officials worldwide. The petition calls on the U.S. attorney general to free the Cuban Five.

In Greece, world-renowned composer Mikis Theodorakis was the first to sign the petition. He condemned the U.S. for its terrorist actions and urging the people “to be vanguards in the struggle against war and violence, to stand up for peace and life, the dignity of humankind, respect for international law and to make international solidarity a daily practice.” The Greek-Cuban Friendship Society has pledged to circulate the petition in every workplace and neighborhood.

Laura Petricola (laurajopetricola@yahoo.com) writes from Athens, Greece.