NNOC Participation in Washington DC on the 16th Anniversary of the Arrest of the Cuban 5

Sep 16, 2014 by

A series of activities organized by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 took place in Washington DC from September 9 through September 13, under the theme:  “16 years is enough! Free the Cuban 5 now!”

The National Network On Cuba (NNOC) was well represented in Washington with the participation of members from various areas of the U.S. and from many member groups.  Three co-chairs of the NNOC participated in all the events.

20 meetings took place with Representative and/or staff of Representatives and Senators over the course of 3 days. During the meetings they were presented with information about the necessity of the Cuban Five infiltrating terrorist groups operating in the United States, irregularities in the trial, unjust sentences, and U.S. government interference with the process. Many areas of U.S./Cuba relations came up during these discussions and several asked for additional information on areas of interest.

At noon on September 12, the anniversary of the arrest, over 50 people participated in a picket at the White House, holding signs and banners and chanting demands for the immediate freedom of the Five.  The demonstration was covered by both print and television media.

On Saturday, September 13, a special program of solidarity took place in the SEIU union hall in DC.  We were welcomed by officials of SEIU in DC who talked about their visits with the family of the five and their organizing work in Washington. Luci Murphy and DC Labor Chorus members sang union songs from the U.S. and Cuba.  Two young slam poets had the audience on their feet applauding their performance. The highlight of the evening was the opening of an exhibit of Antonio Guerrero’s latest work:  “Absolved by Solidarity”.  The ambassador to the Cuban Interests Section, José Ramón Cabañas opened the standing room only program of over 200 people and introduced the paintings with these words:  “The 16 watercolors by Tony belong to the 5 and to the millions of Cubans who cry out for their freedom. The 16 watercolors are 16 cries against injustice.”

Also offering remarks were Piero Gleijeses, author and professor at Johns Hopkins University who talked about Cuba’s critical role in South Africa and the sacrifice of Cubans including three of the five who fought in Angola.

Yeidckol Polevnsky, former vice president of the Mexican Senate spoke movingly about the values, principles, and moral example of the five and suggested creative ways to use social media in the campaign to raise awareness of their case.

Stephen Kimber, author of “What Lies across the Water” The Real Story of the Cuban Five talked about the increasingly positive responses of audiences in the three years since the publication of his book.

Ann Wright, former U.S. Army Colonel and anti-war activist, planned to speak via Skype and sent a written statement criticizing the many irregularities in the charges, trial, and sentencing.

Miguel d’Escoto, President of the UN General Assembly, 2008-2009 sent a message to the Colloquium in Havana a portion of which was read in Washington; including:  “I urge all U.S. citizens to take up the banner of the Cuban Five. The U.S. has so much to gain and so little to lose by granting freedom to these Cuban patriots.”

People both familiar with and new to the case of the Five were able to enjoy an evening of culture and information and left with a message of the importance of demanding justice for all of the Five.

 

Here is a link of  photos taken in Washington DC during the activities to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban 5.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/16954978@N05/sets/72157647235435059/

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