I would like to show our appreciation to Ana Margarita González and Rafael Hojas Martínez for this different book, which is a figment of the authentic commitment and an example of what revolutionary journalism should be. By means of interviews to families, friends and persons linked to the case, this literary work falls far from routine, schematism and shallowness to depict Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Fernando González Llort and René González Sehwerert to us in their exact human dimension.
This approach to them and their close relatives as what they are, - flesh and blood human beings of our times, who have shared with us the same dreams, difficulties, joys and frustrations- does not deny their heroism at all. It puts them where they should be, among us, with their people. True heroes are not honored with the mechanical repetition of mass produced phrases and slogans, but through conscious revolutionary action.
When reading this book I thought of Abracadabra, a beautiful play by children’s group La Colmenita, whose director, Mr. Carlos Alberto Cremata, defines it as “an action of justice and life”. In ancient Hebrew, Abracadabra means “surrender your fire to the end.”
We should all watch this play and not only once, but many times until the fire penetrates and burns us, see how those children imagine them freeing the Cuban Five with children’s games and tricks, watch their emotion and tears when they pose a direct and simple question: ¿What else can we do?
A person who is able to walk out of the theater in the same emotional conditions he entered, without seriously committing to find an answer to that question, may be anything but a consistent revolutionary.
We understand. You can only surrender your fire if you have any. And the fire we are talking about is love and solidarity.
That is an energy that drives the book we are presenting now. Its title, “La historia que me ha tocado vivir”(The History that has fallen my lot), is a phrase used by Adriana, Gerardo’s wife, referring with natural modesty to her true heroic youth.
Coming to accept the history that has fallen to our lot is a personal, inescapable and ethical challenge; especially for those of us who are not in prison, who have not known of years of solitary confinement without seeing the sun light, far from the loved wife, the beloved mother and the close daughter. We, who live freely because the Five gave their youth so we can live in freedom. If we truly come to terms with our history, we cannot be satisfied with the repetition of ceremonial routines and a rhetoric that is as incessant as it is void.
I would like, once more, to call upon my colleagues and the militants to meditate together for the Homeland and the truth.
In his introduction, Mr. Rafael Hojas Martínez highlights: “The path has been long, tortuous and had both satisfactions and rough times. There were times in which the information treatment towards the case of the Cuban Five paled in our media. It was difficult for us to look for the piece of news …”
You can endorse those words or say something similar in a different way. That appreciation led him and Ana Margarita to look for other paths and that’s how they arrived at this excellent result.
But allow me to invite you to go further. The battle for the Cuban Five is won with the masses – that jury of million Gerardo talks about – or simply lost without them. Either we are capable of wining in the field of information, where there is what people call public opinion, or we just collect defeat. René, Fernando, Tony, Ramón will someday recover their freedom, but only after they serve their unjust sentences and Gerardo would die in prison.
The main hindrance for the solidarity with the Cuban Five is the media silence surrounding their case. This is not an accidental silence, but the result of the Empire’s decision to impose absolute censorship to the case, which the big media observe without protest.
That reality compels us to the deepest reflection. In the contemporary world, people normally don’t find out of what has happened directly, for themselves, less do they find out for themselves of events taking place outside their country. Between the person who wants to be informed and the reality there should be an intermediary that is supposed to be the channel through which news circulate, reason why this is called “the communication media”. The total control that the most powerful entities exert upon those media is one of the main fortresses supporting the imperialist hegemony.
A progressive and revolutionary press, including Cuba’s, also works within the same context. Save at the national level and where we have correspondents, we are likewise consumers of the product disseminated by the large media corporations and should act also in the information shadows they impose.
I am aware of the efforts that our journalists make daily to swim among the waves of lies and misinformation to give a just interpretation to the news circulating through the information networks and to place them in a truthful context.
But the news circulating are only those that owners of media corporations allow to circulate. Let us not forget when we sit down each day at the drafting table, that the menu has been prepared by them and not by us. Save we are capable to strive to look further, to use the alternatives there are and above all, to have a creative spirit, we will be condemned to move exclusively within the space tolerated by those who think of themselves as the masters of the planet.
The case of the Cuban Five is a very distressing case. It is the longest trial in the US history, an appealing battle still underway and a mountain of documents containing the truth of which near to nothing transcend to the public. It not strange that, too frequently, the issue pales among us and information in this regard fails to reach us. We will hardly find it if we don’t look for it outside the menu offered by the enemy.
A concrete and current example. As it is known, we are fighting an extraordinarily difficult battle in order to reopen the case of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo. It is his last chance. But time is running out as well for those of us who feel the need to do something decisive to save the one who gave his life for us.
The Habeas Corpus is based, among other things, in the discovery that the media in Miami, which fabricated the environment to condemn him, acted on behalf of and were paid by the same government that pressed the most infamous charge against him. It is also based on the hiding and manipulation, on the part of that government, of the evidence related to the most unjust charge brought against Gerardo.
The organizations of the US civil society that contributed to discovering payments made by the government to “journalists” from Miami are involved, since five years ago, in litigation with Washington to force it to deliver all the information related to that scandalous conspiracy. Those organizations have frequently denounced the official resistance to reveal what the Government conceals and try to spread their efforts with the limited resources they have available. Obviously, nothing about that battle is mentioned by the large media and regrettably, its echo does not reach far.
The most serious offence faced by Gerardo – conspiracy to commit firsts-degree murder– is based on a vulgar manipulation of the regrettable incident that took place on 24 February 1996, when the air force shot down, on Cuban airspace, two light aircraft flown by a terrorist faction devoted to systematically violate our sovereignty. Gerardo had absolutely nothing to do with that event and the federal government itself acknowledged the lack of evidence to incriminate him, but despite of this he is serving a cruel and unjustifiable sentence.
Regardless of Gerardo’s total innocence, there is a contradiction since that date between the positions of the two countries with regard to the place where the shooting down took place. I reaffirm that it took place on our territorial sea, much near to where we are meeting now. The United States argue that it was in international waters, although near our boundaries. However, since US radars did not offer conclusive information during the trial in Miami, a US expert proposed that NASA and other agencies operating the sophisticated satellite systems of that country were requested to provide the relevant images registered on that day. The defense agreed with the idea and proposed a motion so that the images were presented. The prosecution objected and the Judge sustained the governmental objection. That happened ten years ego.
Ever since, the defense continues to insist on the presentation of the images. That request is an integral part of the Habeas Corpus in favor of Gerardo.
So far, all the US agencies refuse to submit the images. ¿Doesn’t such an obstinate refusal seem suspicious to you?
This curious and revealing dispute will be 10 years old, but has never been mentioned by the large media. The attitude of that government is an additional proof, one more, of Gerardo’s innocence. The silence of the large media is comprehensive, but it is difficult to understand the paucity of information that we find many times in the media of declared revolutionary affiliation.
The truth about the case of the Cuban Five is written. It is part of many documents that are not secret and can be found on the official website of the Federal Court of the Southern District of Florida, under the case of “The United States vs Gerardo Hernández et al”. Also, there has always been updated information on www.antiterroristas.cu and on the sites of the US committee (www.freethefive.org) and of the international committee (www.thecubanfive.org) for the freedom of the Cuban Five. There are also organizations, groups and persons who do what they can by using traditional means, the electronic mail and other modern technologies. Interacting with those organizations, using them as a source and, at the same time, supporting them and expanding their efforts is a duty of the revolutionary press and also an essential medicine to cure the dependency to the Empire’s propagandistic system.
It would be easier, of course, if the large media corporations did us the favor to spread the necessary information. But that miracle seems very unlikely.
Then ¿What are we going to do? ¿Contenting ourselves with reporting the creation of another solidarity committee and with the issuing of a new declaration in favor of their cause?
It is true that the solidarity movement has increased in the whole planet and that its freedom request pose a concern for Washington as publicly recognized by the prosecution on the occasion of the resentencing hearings of Ramón, Tony and Fernando.
The work of those who fight for the Cuban Five in the United States is admirable. They take the main credit in describing that the media campaign against our comrades in Miami was paid by the federal budget and are the ones fighting the solitary battle to make Washington reveal all the details it still conceals on that dirty and illegal maneuver.
The decisive battle is over there, in the United States, where little is known about the case of the Cuban Five despite the selfless endeavors of those who try to mobilize a people that is the first victim of the media dictatorship and that is not allowed to know the truth.
In order to achieve victory, that battle must be won so that the US people be the one claiming to their Government to free Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René immediately and without pre-conditions, to free all and each one of them, to free the Cuban Five, without leaving none of them outside.
The responsibility we all have is big. No one can tell our children to have done all he or she could.
There is much to be done to rise to the occasion of what this time demands. Let us assume the history that has fallen to our lot. We have no other after all.
February 17th, 2011
Presentation of the book La Historia que me ha tocado vivir by
Ana Margarita González and Rafael Hojas (Political Publishing House).
XX International Book Fair of Havana