One of Pathfinder’s Books of the Month for January is Absolved by Solidarity: 16 Watercolors for 16 Years of Unjust Imprisonment of the Cuban Five, a bilingual edition in English and Spanish, by Antonio Guerrero. The Cuban revolutionaries had been gathering information to help the Cuban government prevent attacks from Miami by rightist Cuban exiles sponsored by successive U.S. administrations. The Cuban Five were framed up and jailed with long sentences. Guerrero said their “harsh and unjust sentences had only one purpose: punishing Cuba.” On Dec. 17, 2014, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Guerrero were freed under the pressure of the “jury of millions,” joining René González and Fernando González in Cuba. The excerpts are from the introduction by the editor, Mary-Alice Waters, and remarks by Guerrero. Copyright © 2015 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
THE JURY OF MILLIONS HAS SPOKEN!
THE CUBAN FIVE ARE FREE!
On December 17, 2014, more than sixteen years after the battle began, Cuban president Raúl Castro informed the world that Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, and Antonio Guerrero were home. They join René González and Fernando González on Cuban soil.
Across the island Cubans poured into the streets from factories, schools, and offices expressing their joy. Supporters around the world joined in celebration.
Gerardo Hernández gave voice to the sentiments of each of the Five when he told a national television audience in Cuba, “We’ve turned the page on the pain and abuses of prison. We’re on a new page now,” ready for new battles. “You can count on us for whatever is needed,” he told President Castro, who welcomed them.
Above all, it was the firmness, dignity, courage, and discipline of the Five that made possible the hard-fought victory won by the people of Cuba, their government, and a “jury of millions” around the world.
As Washington moves toward establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in more than half a century, a new front has now opened in the decades-long battle to defend Cuban independence and sovereignty. Raúl Castro explained it unflinchingly in his message to the Cuban people: “In no way has the heart of the matter been solved. The economic, commercial, and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damages to our country, must cease.” The battle to advance and defend Cuba’s socialist revolution continues as it has since January 1, 1959.
Absolved by Solidarity was on its way to press the day its principal author and artist was freed from prison. The printing was postponed long enough to record that victory on the cover and add these few words and photographs. Publication of this powerful portrait of sixteen years of struggle could not be more timely. In its pages you will find not a backward glance at the “pain and abuses of prison.” You will find the dignity, strength, and humanity of the Cuban Revolution and the five unbowed soldiers who have become the face of that revolution the world over.
Absolved by Solidarity, indeed. As promised by Fidel, they have returned.
December 20, 2014
I decided several months ago that the paintings would focus on our frame-up trial in Miami. This project grew out of the fifteen watercolors I did in 2013, which sought to tell the horrendous story of our seventeen months in punishment cells. In essence, this is a continuation of that story. …
We hope this work will serve in some way to provide a picture of those days when, with the dignity we learned from our people, the five of us defended truth against colossal injustice.
We never felt defeated. We knew we would be acquitted by the honest men and women of the world, who have today become a growing wave of solidarity that won’t break until it carries us home.
Federal Correctional Institution
August 29, 2014