Two days before Fernando González’s release from prison in Safford, Ariz., Gerardo Hernández, who was given the longest sentence of the Cuban Five — double life plus 15 years — sent this message to supporters of their fight for freedom. The translation from Spanish is by the Militant.
Among the Five, each of us is obviously the “most” or “least” of something. For example, Ramón is the tallest, followed closely by René. Fernando happens to be the smallest in physical stature, while I took second place in that category, beating out Tony by a hair (although “hair” is just a manner of speaking). Because of Fernando’s “title” in this category, we would sometimes call him “the little guy” — partly out of affection, but also due to our deeply rooted professional habit of avoiding names.
What I have said here may seem irrelevant and even a little frivolous, but in these days of joy and anxiety, with only a few hours separating Fernando from his freedom (and hopefully also from his return), as I recall our brother’s many demonstrations of greatness, I have thought about the irony of calling this giant a “little guy.”
When we were arrested, Fernando had additional reasons to feel anguish, pain, frustration. To use the terms of baseball, which Fernando likes so much, he sometimes pitched entire games, but this time his mission in Miami was that of a short relief pitcher. He was supposed to return to Cuba soon. His wedding was rapidly approaching. His bride, the warrior Rosa who sacrificed everything in her life for him, almost had her wedding dress on. Even with all this, we never heard a single lament from the giant.
I was witness to Fernando’s response when his trial lawyer, Joaquín Méndez, offering him his best professional advice, told Fernando that because the charges against him were less serious, any competent defense attorney would choose to separate his case from the rest as the best legal strategy. The reply by Fernando — as well as by René, who was given similar advice — was decisive and unequivocal.
Fifteen and a half years later, Fernando will leave prison with his head held high, as René did. They conceded nothing to him either. His sentence was the maximum possible. The time off for good conduct was earned, and by law they had to give it to him.
Today those of us who love him and admire him will celebrate. Confident that our struggle is now reinforced by another standard-bearer, we send him a strong embrace and say:
Thank you for your example!
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo
Victorville Federal Penitentiary, Calif.
Feb. 25, 2014