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Vol. 78/No. 9      March 10, 2014

‘René opened my eyes to
what really exists in world’
Miami Militant Labor Forum: ‘Free Cuban Five!’
MIAMI — “I learned a lot from René González about my country. Now even some of my family and friends call me a communist, they say I was brainwashed,” Rodolfo “Roddy” Rodríguez told participants in the Militant Labor Forum here Feb. 15. “He didn’t wash my brain, he opened my eyes to see what really exists in this world today.”

Rodríguez, who came to know González while they were both in federal prison in Marianna, Fla., was speaking on a panel about the case of the Cuban Five. The new book Voices From Prison: The Cuban Five includes an interview with him.

Also on the panel was Enrique Rodríguez, a member of the Alianza Martiana, an organization of Cuban-Americans who oppose Washington’s hostile policy toward Cuba and its socialist revolution. He described decades of bombings, sabotage and assassinations carried out against Cuba since the 1959 revolution by rightist paramilitary groups operating from U.S. soil, with support from Washington.

In the 1990s the Cuban government assigned a group of men to monitor and penetrate such organizations. Among them were René González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labaniño, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando González. “The five were part of a larger group,” Enrique Rodríguez said, “but they were the ones who didn’t break after their arrest.”

Naomi Craine of the Socialist Workers Party spoke about the “character and integrity of the Five and what this tells us about the Cuban Revolution, and the men and women who are part of it. And why the fight to free them is part of the fight of the working class, here in the U.S. and around the world, to build the solidarity, confidence and leadership it will take to put an end to the dictatorship of capital.”

Roddy Rodríguez talked about how René González respected his fellow prisoners. “I’m a Christian and a pastor. He’s a man from Cuba with socialist ideals. But I noticed those who had nonsocialist ideals, like I used to, were less tolerant” than González. “He never tried to impose his thinking on me or anyone else. But if you asked his opinion he would tell you.”

He described how he responds now to the endless negative propaganda against the Cuban Revolution. “They say there’s no food in Cuba. I say, ‘Wow, Cubans must be supernatural. There’s no food, so we eat stones. There must be a lot of protein in those stones!’”

“I thank God that all these things I can share with you today I learned through René,” Rodríguez concluded.

A participant asked about the 2012 arson attack at Airline Brokers, a Miami travel agency that organizes trips to Cuba. “To this day the FBI says they can’t find the culprits,” said Enrique Rodríguez.

“I know why they haven’t found them,” Roddy Rodríguez added. “They were never lost.”

A lot of the discussion centered on how to work together to defend the Five. “We should organize a picket or demonstration in favor of the Five, to get outside the four walls,” suggested Enrique Rodríguez.

“We do need public activities as part of a broad education campaign,” said Craine. “The exhibits being organized with Antonio Guerrero’s paintings are an excellent way for more people to learn about the case.” (See ad page 3.)

Craine also talked about how supporters of the Militant “find a lot of receptivity among working people going door to door with the Militant and books on the Five like Voices From Prison and I Will Die the Way I’ve Lived.”

About 20 people attended. “It’s clearly an injustice, and I want to do my part to help it be better known,” said Gloria Gilmore, who like several others was just learning about the Five. She subscribed to the Militant and bought copies of The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should Be Free and Voices From Prison.
Related articles:
UK meeting launches art exhibit for Cuban 5, builds London event
International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five
Who are the Cuban Five?
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