Nuria Barbosa León
THE Cuban people closely followed the midday arrival and reception of Fernando Gonzáles Llort, on Friday, February 28, enjoying the smile and furrowed brow of the man who spent 15 years, five months and five days in prison for defending his country from terrorist attacks, orchestrated by anti-Cuban groups based in Florida.
Fernando was arrested by U.S. authorities September 12, 1998, along with his brothers in struggle René González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero. This February 27, he completed his sentence imposed by the South Florida District Federal Court, which found him guilty of charges which were never proven during the lengthy prosecution of the Cuban Five, who were in fact working to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba being planned.
President Obama has the authority to immediately release the Five, for not only humanitarian reasons, but as an act of justice, given the many documented irregularities which took place during the trial, involving constitutional and human rights violations.
“It is an honor for me to be received by the President of Cuba, Raúl Castro,” Fernando said upon his arrival, “A gesture which strengthens my commitment to the struggle for my brothers’ return. It is a gesture which feels one with humility and gratitude.”
Demanding freedom for the five Cuban anti-terrorists, thousands of students gathered for a moving concert on the University of Havana grand stairway March 1. Bearing the message, “We want them home now,” singer-songwriters
Gerardo Alfonso, Eduardo Sosa, Tony Ávila and Vicente Feliú, repentistas Hectico and Aramís, as well as the popular groups Los Van Van, Havana D'Primera and Yoruba Andabo welcomed Fernando and René - the first of the Cuban Five to complete his full prison sentence.
Prior to the concert, in a few, perhaps hastily written words, Fernando said he was excited to be back and thanked the Cuban people for their support over the many years of his imprisonment.
“Many thanks to the Union of Young Communists for organizing this concert, the youth of today are the inheritors of our tradition of struggle,” he commented, and added, “Not even my most creative imaginings could have prepared me for what I have experienced since I descended the stairs of the airplane which returned me to the homeland.”
A variety of activities including talks, panel discussions, poetry readings and concerts are taking place across the country in schools and workplaces, to express the Cuban people’s commitment to continuing the struggle to free the Five.
March 7-8 in London, an important gathering entitled Voices for the Five, is being held with many renowned figures participating. The main event is an International Tribunal which will hear evidence about anti-Cuban terrorism and the rigged trial to which the Five were subjected.
The Tribunal’s findings will be submitted to U.S. authorities and directly to President Barack Obama, during another event set to take place in Washington in June.