From November 16-20 and with the participation of 413 delegates from 50 countries, the VII International Colloquium for the Freedom of the Five Heroes and against Terrorism took place in Holguin, Cuba.
This annual meeting brought together a number of union leaders, jurists, members of international solidarity groups, the catholic priest from England Geoffrey Bottoms, a delegation of Haitians legislators, and ALBA ambassadors and diplomats accredited in Cuba.
Photos: courtesy of the Uruguayan photographer Albino Moldes
The main goal of this gathering was to share experiences and to make working plans among the participants, to continue the international campaign for the freedom of the Five in each community of every country represented by the delegates.
This year René Gonzalez should have been there. On November 7 he was released from federal prison having served out his unjust sentence but is now ordered to spend his 3 years of probation in the US. Rene's wife Olga continues to be denied a visa to visit him under these unprecedented terms. Rene will only enjoy full freedom when he returns to Cuba to his loved ones and his people.
The Colloquium started with a bicycle parade for the Five through the streets of Holguin and continued for four consecutive days with a great number of activities. These included plenary sessions, inauguration of a Tents for Peace, exchange between delegates and the family of the Five, visits to Holguin municipalities, and a visit to the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution, as well as art exhibits and cultural galas.
In a pre recorded message, President of Cuban National Assembly of People's Power, Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, addressed the delegates on the current legal situation of the case and he thanked the participants for all the work they do for the freedom of the five antiterrorists.
The delegates got to hear the pain and frustration of the unpunished crimes, from the statements of the family of the victims of the bombing of the Cuban airliner in Barbados in 1976 that killed 73 innocent people. They also listened intently to Giustino DiCelmo, father of Fabio, assassinated by the explosion of a bomb in the hotel Copacabana in Havana in 1997 that was planted by a mercenary paid by the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. Equally heart wrenching were the statements of 2 Venezuelan sisters, Marlen and Brenda Ezquivel, who told about the tortures that they endured at the hands of Luis Posada Carriles, who still enjoys total impunity, protected by the Obama administration and living free in Miami.
In a powerful display of solidarity for the cause of the Five Cuban Heroes, thousands of women from Holguin, representing all Cuban women, marched through the Avenida Libertadores along with delegates to the Colloquium to the monument of Che Guevara.
One of the most emotional moments at the end of the march was when the known US pacifist Cindy Sheehan, after talking to the people of Holguin, gave the mothers of the Five a chain with a medal she wore around her neck. "this is the only material memory that I have of my son Casey, and I want to give it to you today, only with one request...it is a loan. You will give it back to me the day that your sons return to the Cuban homeland."
The delegates approved by ovation the final declaration of the Colloquium and they made the commitment that upon the return to their communities they will work harder for the return to Cuba of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.
THE CUBAN 5 PRESENT AT LABOR CONFERENCE IN TIJUANA
From December 2-4 the VIII Labor Conference US-Mexico-Latin America took place in the Hotel Palacio Azteca in the city of Tijuana, México. Union leaders from Brazil, Uruguay, Cuba and México along with Mexican and US workers met to debate about the world wide crisis that affects the region and how the unions and workers are preparing to respond to the problems they face.
As was the case in previous years, the Cuban 5 were present in this annual gathering. On Saturday December 3rd, an evening event in support of the Five took place. The program started with a cultural piece when two young women from Tijuana Yara Lina Soto García and Midalia Soto García interpreted three beautiful songs.
Following the music, Cristina Vázquez, Western States Regional Joint Board Regional Manager Workers United/SEIU, Reymundo Navarro, Member of the Secretariat of the Central of Cuban Workers (CTC) and Alicia Jrapko, US coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 informed those in attendance about the current situation of the case and the actions taking place in the struggle to free the Cuban Heroes. The evening ended with the presentation of the new documentary done by Saul Landau "Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up"