As we mark the 15th Anniversary of the unjust incarceration of the Cuban Five, I pause to reflect on the many millions of people of all backgrounds across the United States and around the world who have come to understand, to empathize, and to support Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González‘s quest for freedom to return to their homeland, to embrace their families, to stand securely with fellow citizens in enjoyment of their national achievements and in defense of their independence.
Throughout my adult life I have worked with thousands of people across the United States to demand that our justice system uphold its highest standards to humanely treat the incarcerated and to openly, and quickly correct its failings. This is the character of civilized nations that our leaders and institutions should urge other nations and peoples around the world to uphold. I join millions calling for my nation, the United States of America to live up to its supreme principles.
I was first introduced to the Cuban Five wives in 2003 in Porto Alegre, Brazil at the World Social Forum. But not until my great friend and comrade, Saul Landau, engaged and involved me in their struggle did I feel I could be useful in increasing the awareness and support of their plight. Reading the poetry of Antonio Guerrero, visiting Gerardo Hernández with Saul on numerous occasions at the federal penitentiary in Victorville, CA, and developing creative messaging in support of the Five through YouTube and other social media platforms, have been just a few examples of the ways in which we have been able to engage and inform others about the Five’s struggle. Saul Landau’s resounding and steadfast commitment to the freedom of the Cuban Five continues to energize and deepen my own commitment, and has strengthened my resolve to advocate for the release of these brave men.
Each time I meet with the wives and family members of the Five I am seared by the inhumanity of the injustice my country’s court system has condemned them to. But I am inspired and rededicated by the self-sacrifice of the Five to the independence, self-determination, and security of their nation and its people. I am moved by the love and commitment of their parents, wives, children, neighbors and government representatives who ensure that the Five are sustained by respect, love, and unfailing support for their freedom and return. I am very encouraged by the expanding support of my fellow citizens and peoples around the world (students, jurists, ordinary people, artists, athletes, and children) who communicate directly with the Cuban Five, who petition for their governments to support the release of the the Five and their return to Cuba. Nothing could be more rewarding than this show of humanity for the Five except their unconditional release.
In this 15th year of heroic courage and fortitude shown by Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González the Cuban people and their government, and the millions of Americans and others across the world who have steadily and increasingly come to understand, question, and confront the unconscionable prison terms, I call upon mainstream media to bring this case before the American people. I call upon governments and civic organizations around the world to make the case of the Five a priority point of justice and just resolution in international affairs. I call upon the justice system of the United States of America to stand forth pride fully and correct the injustice of the incarceration of the Five.
And to the Five, I send the respect, hopes, and support of millions of Americans and millions more around the world, and the message that we will not be moved from working for and achieving your release and return to your beloved homeland Cuba.
September 10, 2013