Deysis Francis Mexidor
• THE chance to kiss Rosa – his wife with the immense, blue eyes – is what Fernando González Llort is wishing for right now. He won’t get it. He can’t. Just as he has not been able to wake up at her side for many years.
It is a longing that grows stronger as the day he will return draws closer.
His return will come after an unjust incarceration, an unjust sentence, an unjust trial in Miami which in December of 2001 condemned him, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and René González Sehwerert — five brothers united in the struggle against terrorism — to long terms in U.S. prisons.
"My 50 years give me the satisfaction of having lived according to my convictions, those instilled in me by my family and the Revolution. They allow me to understand that the road continues, that my work to improve myself as a human being, as a man, as a revolutionary, as a son, as a partner, is work that one can never consider completed. That is the perspective that this birthday brings to me."
These are words which arrived from a penitentiary in the state of Arizona, though not in an interview; that is impossible. They arrived in the context of a brief exchange with this reporter.
What are 50 years in the life of a man?
Nothing, if your point of view is the history of human beings as a biological species, not even from the perspective of the history of the country in which you live and carry out your activity.
Now, 50 years for a human being, in terms of one’s personal life, are popularly considered "halfway around the wheel."
Although I always jokingly say that my cogwheel has more than 150 teeth, so I’m still far from halfway around.
I believe that what is most important is feeling happy with what one does, which doesn’t imply a degree of satisfaction that prevents you from taking on goals or assuming new challenges or plans.
Neither does it mean that you’re always right or have taken maximum advantage of the time you have lived.
Prison offers the opportunity to think, to evaluate, to grow - if one takes advantage of the time positively.
A 50th birthday in the life of a man can therefore be a good time to take stock and gain experience, with a view toward continuing along the road ahead. One which is still lengthy and one which, with the development of science and medical advances, and of culture as well, could be even longer.
Your role models?
Che and Camilo [Cienfuegos] are my paradigms. I think that among revolutionaries of my generation, they are role models for the majority.
This opinion is not the result of a survey or a sociological investigation, I could be wrong.
But they are the figures in our most recent history who have profoundly marked our development. Of course, I didn’t meet them personally, but since I was a little boy in school, the things we were taught made a strong impression.
Later, during my youth, reading and listening to those who had known them and shared the danger with them, the tasks of the Revolution, work - a deeper understanding of this image, established in my childhood, emerged.
Subsequently, as an adult, knowledge of their work, their histories and personal characteristics, with a bit more depth, I confirmed and reinforced that which had been instilled in me as a child.
Look, and I believe that no one has brought together, as Che did, the capacity to put principles into action and the capacity to sacrifice everything for the ideas one believes in, determined to change the world in which we live for the better.
A human being in whom characteristics such as principled behavior, ethics, theoretical understanding, intrepid action are interwoven and a deep love for humanity which was his motivation, which drove him throughout his life.
It is no accident that we see his photo in demonstrations in every corner of the world, no matter how far away geographically from the places where Che carried out his struggle.
It is possible that some of those carrying his picture in these demonstrations do not have the same degree of detailed understanding that we Cubans have of Che’s life and work, his ideological legacy, theory, etc.
But, Che’s principled behavior, his capacity for sacrifice and his revolutionary ethics have an impact and have left the world a message, a message which reaches the hearts of human beings. A message which mobilizes people.
And when I mention names such as Nelson Mandela?
A giant of perseverance and dignity. He survived 27 years in prison without declining at all and his stature grew so much that, in any corner of the world, he is recognized, just saying his name, Mandela.
His universal prestige makes him one of the indispensable figures of our times. He was the first Black President of South Africa, a man who was able to win many battles, the most recent, for his life.
Even from his hospital bed, he continues the battle. A vast number of people honored this icon of the struggle against apartheid on his 95th birthday, simply because Mandela inspires.
I would like to take advantage of your question about significant contemporary figures to mention that I have had the privilege of sharing years in prison with Oscar López Rivera. López Rivera is another giant of perseverance and dignity, who has spent more than 30 years in U.S. prisons as a result of his struggle for the independence of our sister island of Puerto Rico. I would also like to offer a well deserved tribute to this compañero, from whom I have learned so much during the years we have shared in prison.
And Mahatma Gandhi?
A visionary. A man who was able to decipher the psychology of an empire, the British empire, which was falling apart, in order to confront it with great effectiveness and reach the goal of independence for his country.
He had the immense courage to confront the police and military forces of that empire and its repressive forces, with only the protection of his convictions and his morality, which proved to be superior to all the power and arrogance of the British empire.
A political giant, a man with great intelligence, but more than anything a moral giant. One of the greatest political figures of the second half of the 20th century and the 21st.
Good fortune for Cubans who have relied, and rely, on his presence and his action. He finished what Martí was unable to do, given his premature death in battle. Achieving and maintaining Cuba’s independence is an historic accomplishment of singular complexity.
You have only to look at a world map and see the geographical location of our country; a small island just 90 miles away from the most powerful empire in history, which has dreamed of appropriating this island for more than 200 years.
Fidel was able to achieve independence in the most difficult historical conditions; maintain and consolidate it under even more complex conditions.
He taught us how to overcome the most difficult conditions, how to turn a negative event, or even an apparently fatal one, into a victory - think about Alegría de Pío or the collapse of the socialist camp, for example.
The ideas, the concepts and the way to confront difficulties which Fidel has taught us are today part of the ideological and cultural legacy we rely upon to face the world’s current complexities, to move forward despite any situation, as difficult as it may be, and overcome.
Some people say you are the most intelligent, that you write beautifully, are quiet and, at the same time, a regular Cuban joker. What do you say?
René is the most intelligent among us. Any one of us would say the same thing, without thinking twice. I don’t know where this ‘beautiful prose’ business comes from. I never heard that opinion about what I’ve written, which isn’t much.
Yes, some have commented to me on occasion about my habit of summarizing, which I consider a good one, although it isn’t always.
There are times when it can become an obstacle. But it is true that, for better or worse, it is a habit of mine.
The rest of what you mention, the quietest and a Cuban joker, I think I am a little of both. I tend to be reserved, to observe quietly and enjoy that, developing my opinions before expressing them, not expressing them frivolously.
I am not an extroverted person, but I do like a joke, a rumba, the latter not only in the sense of a musical genre, which I also enjoy, but in its more general acceptance.
October 13, 2009, the re-sentencing process ordered by the 11th Circuit Court of appeals in Atlanta began in Miami, to review the cases of Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, and concluded two months later, December 8. At that time, Fernando’s original sentence of 19 years in prison was reduced to 17 years and nine months. He will complete this sentence in February of 2014.
The son of Magali Llort and Fernando Rafael González, Fernando was born in Havana in 1963. He studied International Relations, graduated with honors and like many of his generation, served in Angola. His final comment engenders even more admiration for this man – for the Five who our people recognize as heroes. Despite the pain, he declares without hesitation, "At 50 years of age, I am happy and, at the same time, understand how much more I have to learn."