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Vol. 78/No. 23      June 16, 2014

Cuban 5: ‘our example of dignity
and standing up to imperialism’
(front page)
WASHINGTON — “Millions of people in this country have the same experience as Antonio, living like an insect trapped in a box,” said Patricia Carbajal, who works two jobs as a housekeeper and banquet worker, after viewing prison paintings by Antonio Guerrero, one of five Cuban revolutionaries framed up and imprisoned by the U.S. government in 1998. “But Antonio is our example for standing up to imperialism with dignity and for defending the Cuban Revolution with his life.”

Seventy-five people attended the May 17 debut here of “I Will Die the Way I’ve Lived,” a collection of 15 watercolors by Guerrero.

“These watercolors scream out how unjust and unfair Antonio’s imprisonment is,” Rev. Brian Hamilton told the Militant. “The American people are victimized by the U.S. government policy toward Cuba. It leaves us out.”

Hamilton is a co-pastor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church on the city’s southwest side, which hosted the evening event. The DC Metro Coalition to Free the Cuban Five co-chaired the event, which included refreshments, speakers and a performance by jazz vocalist Denyse Pearson.

“This is eye-opening for me,” said Xirui Zhang, 23, a pharmacy student who came with three friends and is new to the fight to free the Five. “I learned much more than in a classroom.”

“The rose growing out of iron is an example of the Cuban Five fighting for their freedom,” added his friend Jason Lee, 25, commenting on the painting titled “The Air Vent.”

“I’m moved by each of these pieces, how he gives the mundane meaning,” said Gloria Kirk, a photographer and mixed media artist. “These watercolors need to be more widely disseminated.”

“During the trial, it was impossible to prove the charges against the Five, no evidence was produced, not a single secret document was found,” Juan Lamigueiro León, deputy chief of the Cuban Interests Section, told participants. “Yet Gerardo Hernández was given a double life sentence.” Along with other speakers, he urged participation in the upcoming June 4-11 “5 Days for the Cuban 5” in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.

Jose Pertierra, an attorney representing the Venezuelan government in its effort to bring Luis Posada Carriles to trial in that country, also spoke. Posada is wanted for masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airline flight that killed all 73 people on board — the type of murderous attack the Cuban Five were in the U.S. to prevent.

“Our task is to bring this case to the people of the U.S.,” Pertierra said about the Cuban Five.

“We should always remember that Gerardo Hernández, Fernando González, and René González, were young fighters for the liberation of Angola and the defeat of the South African racist armed forces,” said Oscar Ordenes of the DC Metro Coalition to Free the Cuban Five.

Between 1975 and 1991, some 425,000 Cuban volunteers took part in Cuba’s internationalist combat mission in Angola to defend the newly independent nation from invasions from apartheid South Africa. Cuba’s aid was decisive in defeating the South African army and weakening the racist regime, which fell shortly thereafter. In 1991 Nelson Mandela called Cuba’s mission “a contribution to African independence, freedom and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character.”

“This case is political not judicial,” said Omari Musa, a member of the Socialist Workers Party who also spoke for the DC coalition. “It’s meant to punish the Cuban people for making a revolution. Working people identify with and know the experience of our Five comrades in prison and solidarize with them. Let’s have more exhibits and build a jury of millions.”

Banbose Shango, a co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, also spoke.

“The picture of the chains reminded me of the slave trade,” said Paul Sankara, originally from Burkina Faso in West Africa. “Giving you a number dehumanizes your human value,” he said, referring to “The Number,” another painting by Guerrero. “From the sad to the sarcastic, the watercolors are well done. The little holes in the grill with the rose show the perseverance, that it’s not completely lost. That’s necessary for fighters.”

Participants bought seven copies of I Will Die the Way I’ve Lived; two copies of Voices From Prison: The Cuban Five; four copies of Cuba and Angola: Fighting for Africa’s Freedom and Our Own; three copies of The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should Be Free. Another top seller was Women in Cuba: The Making of a Revolution Within the Revolution, with three copies.
Related articles:
Actions in Puerto Rico demand: ‘Free Oscar López!’
Omaha Malcolm X center hosts Cuban 5 paintings
Who are the Cuban Five?
Castro in NY: Spurned by gov’t, welcomed by Malcolm X
Exhibits of paintings by Antonio Guerrero
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