I wrote this book review of Stephen Kimber's 'real story of the Cuban Five' for Science & Society. It is not due to be published until October 2014 (Vol. 78, No.4), but they have kindly given me permission to post it on my blog prior to publication. I wanted to post the review early to draw attention to an important event which takes place in London next month: the International Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five, on 7 and 8 March. The Commission website can be found here: The following day, Sunday 9 March, there will be a rally to demand justice for the Five in Trafalgar Square from 2pm. Details here:
Stephen Kimber, What Lies Across the Water: the real story of the Cuban Five, Winnipeg: Fernwood Publishing, 2014. 296 pages. $29.95 CAD. ISBN: 9781552665428
Review by Helen Yaffe*
According to the author, this book owes its existence to serendipity. In 2009 Stephen Kimber was in Havana researching for a love story he planned to write when, he explains, he ‘got sideswiped by the truth-is-stranger-but-way-more-interesting story of the Cuban Five.’ (1) Thanks to serendipity, Kimber has produced the first full-length book in English about the case of the Cuban Five. During his research, the Canadian writer, broadcaster and professor of journalism read 20,000-pages of court transcripts, and a mass of books, media reports and documents. He conducted interviews and established correspondence with the Five in prison. The book is organized chronologically into sections which are sub-divided by diary-like entries providing updates on the entire ‘cast of characters’. This work is meticulously researched, factual without being dull and written with sensitivity and honesty - warts and all. It is as gripping as an action-packed movie and deeply moving.
Message from the Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouve
"To you, our eternal gratitude for your immense and constant support that makes us continue to be resistant and makes us taste our inevitable freedom each day." - Antonio Guerrero
Dear friends in the struggle to free our 5 Cuban Heroes,
The year 2013 has passed with great victories in the continued struggle to free our 5 heroes. As we look together towards 2014, we are sure that there will be many more victories and challenges in our campaign for justice.
Vancouver will honour our 100th consecutive monthly picket action in front of the U.S. Consulate for freedom for ALL of the 5 Cuban Heroes on March 5, 2014. On this important day, the Free the Cuban 5 Committee - Vancouver invites you to join with us by organizing an event in solidarity with the 100th picket and the Cuban 5 in your community. We know that with more unity, coordination and action , we are ever closer to the day when ALL of the Cuban 5 will be free.
René González, former Miami Five prisoner to attend London event 7 and 8 March 2014:
Alongside international personalities including Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker, actors Martin Sheen and Emma Thompson
René González, the first and only member of the Miami Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence in the United States, has announced that he will come to London to give evidence to an International Commission of Inquiry on 7 and 8 March 2014.
The Miami Five are five Cuban men who were jailed in the US in 1998 for attempting to prevent terrorist attacks against the Caribbean island.
René will be joined in London by family members of the Five, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world, including Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize winning author of the Color Purple.
The Commission will hear testimony from around 20 key witnesses, including US defence attorney Martin Garbus, representatives from international human rights organisation Amnesty International, and from Miami Five family members such as wives of the Five, Olga Salanueva and Elizabeth Palmeiro.
The Commission will be presided over by distinguished international jurists, including former Chief Justice of India Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob, and Philippe Texier, the former Chair of the Supreme Court of France.
There will be testimony from specialists on the range of measures taken to defend Cuba against the threat of terrorist attacks, as well as testimony from Cuban and international victims of US-based terrorism.
In his New Year message René González urged support for the International Commission of Inquiry and said:
“When we were imprisoned 15 years ago, our captors never imagined that from all corners of the world people like you would take up our cause. Instead of suffering defeat we have become stronger. During this time we have suffered hardships and lost people close to us. But our spirits never broke, because we knew we could count on people from all over the world like you. Your solidarity and sense of justice has kept us and our families strong.”
Supporters say Hernandez and four others wrongfully convicted
Reprinted from Victorville Daily Press
Victorville Prison, where Gerardo Hernández is incarcerated, was in "lockdown" in November. To raise local awareness and help build local support for Gerardo, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five contacted the local media, which had never covered Gerardo's case. The Victorville Daily Press published this excellent article.
VICTORVILLE • An inmate housed at the United States Penitentiary-Victorville has drawn support from a wide range of dignitaries as he serves a double-life sentence at the maximum security facility.
Gerardo Hernandez, 48, was arrested by FBI SWAT team members in 1998 along with four other men: Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez.
The men, who have come to be known as the Cuban Five, were Cuban intelligence agents who were tried and convicted in Miami on numerous counts including failing to register as foreign agents, using false identities and conspiracy to commit espionage. Hernandez, the leader of the network, was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder for his alleged involvement with shooting down two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft.
Hernandez was convicted in 2001 and was transferred after his trial to Lompoc U.S. Penitentiary. In 2004, he was transferred to Victorville.
Supporters say Hernandez is innocent and is the victim of political persecution by the U.S. government.
“The idea that anyone could live through this and maintain a sense of dignity is remarkable,” Hernandez’s attorney, Martin Garbus, said in a telephone interview.
Important that we remain alert and ready to act to assure Fernando's return home to Cuba
On February 27, 2014, when Fernando González is released from Safford federal prison in Arizona, he will have completed
15 years, 5 months and 15 days of an unjust imprisonment imposed after a U.S. government political prosecution.
Each day has been a cruel punishment for Fernando and his Cuban Five brothers, who courageously sacrificed their well-being to defend their homeland and people of Cuba from the scourge of terrorism that emanates from Miami, with the full knowledge and protection of Washington.
But Fernando will not simply walk out of Safford on Feb. 27. As one of his appeals attorney Richard Klugh explains, since Fernando is not a U.S. citizen, he will be detained temporarily by Immigration authorities.
"In order to facilitate his immediate return to Cuba, he has quashed any pending appeal or Habeas proceeding, so that it cannot be used as a basis to keep him here. And he has waived any right to contest his deportation to Cuba. Fernando has that paperwork completed and negotiations are taking place for what we hope is an immediate return to Cuba and his wonderful family."
Fernando's sentence was reduced to 17 years from the original 19-year term, after his resentencing in 2009, and 13% credit reduction is given for good behavior in federal prison. "Fernando has been a model prisoner in everything, he has never had any incident whatsoever."
As Fernando's freedom approaches, Klugh says, "Everyone on the defense team has always had strong feelings and a bond with Fernando. He is an extremely sensitive and caring person, extremely mild-mannered, strong and honorable."
We are hopeful for the return of Fernando to his family and to Cuba. We honor his integrity and the commitment to the freedom and security of his people. We pledge to keep fighting to ensure that justice is done and that Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio can join Fernando and René and return to their families in Cuba as soon as possible
Havana, Jan 30 Prensa Latina
Cuba has exported its medical-pharmaceutical and biotechnological products to more than 50 countries, Granma newspaper reports today.
Executives from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment also told the daily that in 2013, of 880 items of the country' s basic medicines, the sector has produced 580, among them are eight of the 13 vaccines of the immunization program.
The number of Videocolposcopy produced in the country for early detection of cervical cancer amounted to 121. It displays real-time enlarged images of the uterine tube to detect any malignant or pre-malignant lesion in its initial phases, Granma states.
The application of this technology ensures the implementation of mass screening programs of the disease, which is the most frequent kind of cancer in Cuban women in ages between 20 and 59 years old.
By Helen Yaffe*
On 28-29th January 2014, Havana hosts the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC in Spanish), with the participation of the heads of states, chancellors and other representatives of all 33 independent nations in the region. The Summit rounds off Cuba’s one-year presidency of CELAC, which focussed on combating regional poverty, hunger and inequality. Cuba is part of CELAC’s three member troika, along with Chile, which held the presidency in 2012 and Costa Rica which takes over in 2014. Over 30 documents are being drawn up for discussion and analysis, including a Plan of Action, and standards and principles which will govern cooperation. The Summit was preceded by two days of discussions by national experts on 25-26 January and a meeting of chancellors on 27 January. The Summit is expected to emit specific statements, for example, demanding that Britain return Las Islas Malvinas (the Falkland Islands) to Argentina and that the US blockade of Cuba be lifted.
Havana, Jan 21 (Prensa Latina) The International Commission taking place in London on March 7-8 will strengthen the call of the release for the Cuban antiterrorist fighters unjustly condemned in the United States, Belgian activist Katrien Demuynck said today. This is a meeting that due to its dimension and massive support not only of figures but also of great audience can be an important impact, although at the same time is an enormous challenge, said Demuynck, European coordinator of the campaign for the freedom of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando Gonzalez.
We start saying that they have spent 15 years of unjust imprisonment and we have the dissatisfaction we have done a lot in the world campaign, but it is not enough to achieve their release, she noted.
(Watch out watch out, the youth of the world are marching for Latin America!)
This was the chant and message ringing out around the World Festival Of Youth & Students, held in Quito, Ecuador, this December. Our organisation the Revolutionary Communist Group, fundraised to send a delegation of three comrades from London, Newcastle and Glasgow. They were able to speak with and interview anti-imperialists from around the world and bring back with them awealth of information and inspiration for the fight against the cuts and imperialism here in Britain, the belly of the Beast.
The gains and achievements of socialist Cuba, the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela and the movement for socialism in Ecuador and Bolivia show in practice that socialism is the only system capable of meeting the needs of humanity. This lesson must be taken up in Britain where thousands are being punished by cuts to welfare while the ruling class plan their next imperialist venture abroad. To successfully resist the war on welfare and peoples abroad we must support the struggle for welfare and freedom from imperialism taking place across Latin America.
2014 will be a key year in the fight for socialism in Latin America. From the Colombian Peace talks and upcoming elections in Bolivia and Ecuador, to the student movements in Chile and the fight for against economic sabotage on the streets of Venezuela, Latin America is on the frontline of the battle for socialism globally. These social movements are fighting for a real alternative to racism, war and poverty-for a collective socialist society. Their fight is our fight! Another world is possible! Another world is being built!
Come to the meetings listed below, get involved, get active in Britain as real solidarity with Cuba and the revolutionary movements internationally is building a movement for socialism here.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Details of a six million dollar plan by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), intended to destabilize the government of Cuba, were accidentally discovered when the documents were sent unclassified and over an unsecured line to officials of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.
As was mistakenly revealed in USAID´s initiative SOL-OAA-13-000110, launched on 10 July 2013, the sum was earmarked to finance the work of at least 20 counter-revolutionary organizations that had requested funds to carry out the subversive tasks entrusted them "to overthrow the communist regime."
As the capitalist crisis bites in Britain, spreading war, poverty, austerity and despair worldwide, To successfully resist the war on welfare and peoples abroad we must support the war for welfare and for people’s freedom taking place across Latin America.
We will be blogging from the festival, putting you in contact with activists from all over the globe, gaining an insight into the citizens’ revolution in Ecuador and the movement towards socialism across Latin America today.
Visit the blog at:
Please share widely. We will organise report-back meetings in January, details will be posted here soon.
During a radio broadcasted speech before a packed audience at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Oct. 18, 2013, Bill Richardson was confronted by Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, demanding freedom for the Cuban Five. You can see La Riva's intervention in the video above.
Julian Assange's videoconference in a cloud journalism (ciberperiodismo) workshop held by the José Martí International Institute of Journalism, in Havana. The event, hosted by Pedro Miguel Arce, involved young cuban bloggers from different cities.
Assange wears a yellow ribbon in solidarity with the cuban five -- Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González.
www.venezuelanalysis.com 30 October
Venezuela condemned the United States embargo against Cuba on Tuesday, as the United Nations General Assembly again called for an end to the 53 year-old trade restrictions.
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) voted for the 22ndconsecutive year to reject the US embargo, with 188 nations opposed the embargo and three abstentions. Only the US and Israel voted in favour of the continuation of the embargo, which has been in place since 1960. The UNGA resolution is non-binding.
“Such measures are in violation of the right to peace, development and security, while contravening the rules of the multilateral trading system,” Venezuela's permanent ambassador to the UN, Samuel Moncada, stated. Moncada also argued that the embargo is impeding the pursuit of the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Moncada called on the US to comply “with the resolutions that the General Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted since 1991, that lead to immediate and definitive lifting of this inhumane blockade implemented for more than fifty years”.
Arnold August, Zed Books 2013, £16.99
In Cuba and its neighbours: democracy in motion, Canadian journalist Arnold August demolishes the bourgeois propaganda that socialist Cuba is somehow ‘undemocratic’ by examining the very idea of what we mean by democracy.
The first part of this comparative study, ‘Cobwebs around democracy’, is an analysis of the US system. August exposes the deceptive character of the US two-party system as a cover for what he describes as an ‘oligarchic’ state but we would call imperialist. Using Barack Obama as a case study, he shows how a cautious ‘benefit of the doubt’ attitude towards Obama by Latin America faded in the face of a military coup in Honduras, perpetrated with US backing. August points out that ‘a new face’ changed nothing in US relations with Cuba: ‘His role, based on the illusion created regarding the two-party system, was to change tactics because they had failed to reach the same goal of regime change.’
August argues that Obama recreates the chimera of the American Dream at home, while promoting war abroad. The two-party system ‘constitutes the lifeline of maintaining the status quo and averting a crisis in the US political system.’ August shows that this system excludes up to half the voting age population, including convicted felons – the majority black – and those without official papers, such as many Latino immigrants. Thus large numbers of the most oppressed sections in US society are disenfranchised.
What lies across the water, Stephen Kimber, Fernwood Publishing 2013, Can$19.95
Stephen Kimber’s remarkable work is both a forensic expose of anti-communist terrorism and the definitive guide to the story of the Cuban Five. With in-depth analysis of the activities and motivations of many key players in US-Cuban relations over the last 50 years and a detective-thriller writing style it is both highly readable and politically explosive.
In September 1998, five Cuban intelligence agents – Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez – were arrested in Miami. The story of the necessity of their presence on US soil, infiltrating terrorist networks amongst the febrile world of Miami’s rightwing Cuban exile groups, reveals a hidden history of CIA-assisted intrigue. Their trial and the conditions of their imprisonment demonstrate the ruthlessness of the imperialist state and the thinness of the veneer of fairness that covers its oppressive ‘justice’ system.
HAVANA, Cuba, 11 October Granma
Cuban workers have issued over 160 thousand proposals during debates on the new draft labour code, which was submitted for consultation with the workers last July; the process is now about to conclude, according to a report by Granma newspaper.
Some 67 thousand 367 workers' assemblies have thus far been held till this week, which stand for 98 percent of all scheduled meetings, including the debates on the draft code by workers abroad. Some 1, 400 meetings are still to be held, the paper reported.
The consultation process is aimed at having a feedback from millions of workers about their criteria on the law that rules labor activity.
According to Granma, there was generalized consensus in all meetings about modifying the current code, which has been in force since 1985, given the ongoing transformations in the country in tune with the current economic and labour scenario.
All opinions have been collected and analyzed by commissions based at municipal, provincial and national levels, said Xiomara Enriquez, an official in charge of labour and social issues with the Cuban Workers' Confederation (CTC).
We live in a world dominated by crisis, imperialist war and exploitation. We are told there is 'no alternative' to cuts, privatisation, hunger and homelessness. In October 2012 Venezuela faced a choice: whether to deepen the Bolivian Revolution that under the leadership of Hugo Chavez, has brought dignity, health, education and hope- or to return to a brutal, unequal neo-liberal society where oil wealth lined the pockets of multinational companies and Venezuelan elite.
The people of Venezuela voted for Chavez, voted to fight for socialism. The Revolutionary Communist Group was on the streets of Caracas throughout the presidential elections. We joined hundreds of thousands as they thronged the city, braving torrential rain or baking sun, to express their support.
The Bolivarian Revolution illustrates what can be achieved when governments and people, working together, put human need before capitalist profits. Despite Chavez's death in March 2013, the process is being built every day by millions of Venezuelans, working to create a society built on collective, socialist organisation and production. In that conscious struggle the spirit of Hugo Chavez lives on.
As the capitalist crisis bites in Britain, Venezuela provides an inspiring example of how the fight against austerity can develop into a fight for socialism. This film takes you on that journey, through the barrios, universities and workplaces to meet the militants, students and workers who are changing their future.
Alongside the achievements of socialist Cuba, Venezuela illustrates that not only is another world possible, but this world is being built today in Latin America
Saturday 12 October. Part of an FRFI Dayschool 'Paying to be poor' 10.30-4pm
Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street M21NL
Saturday 19 October, 2 – 4pm
Upstairs at The Piper on the Square bar,
57 Cochrane Street, George Square, G1 1HL
Sunday 20 October 3-5pm
Room G2 Dundee University Tower
LONDON FILM PREMIER:
Friday 25 Oct 2013 7:00pm
Bolivar Hall 54 Grafton Way W1T 5DL
Tuesday 29 October 6.30pm
Barloco 22 Leazes Park Rd NE1 4PG
If you would like to organise a screening of the documentary in your area contact
Documentary will be available free online at www.vivavenezuela.co.uk from 1 November 2013
DVD also available to buy. £3 plus P+P
Send cheques payable to Larkin Publications to FRFI, BCM Box 5909, London WC1N 3XX together with your postal address.
Yellow ribbons for the Cuban 5!
September 2013 sees the fifteenth year of the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five. Incarcerated after infiltrating right-wing groups in Miami in order to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba, the Five and the injustice forced upon them by the US exemplifies imperialist hypocrisy at its finest. More than 3,400 Cubans have been murdered since 1959 as a result of US attacks, but whilst Obama is free to continue the blockade and conceal these acts of terror planned, funded and launched by his government, the Five, under convictions of espionage, remain in US gaols for defending their people. Anti-terrorists, their freedom is being denied by a state that actively promotes terrorism.
The Cuban 5 are innocent! Free them now!
In London on 14 September, comrades and supporters of Rock around the Blockade a campaign of the Revolutionary Communist Group held a street rally demanding justice for political prisoners, 'the Cuban 5'. The event marked the 15th anniversary of their unjust incarceration in US prisons and joined hundreds of solidarity actions as part of the international campaign to release the Cuban 5.
With a Cuban revival of the 1970s hit song 'Tie a Yellow Ribbon round an Old Oak Tree' about a prisoner returning to his loved ones, Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5 recently freed from gaol in the US and back in Cuba, called for people to wear yellow ribbons to ‘make it impossible for visitors and the foreign media to ignore the fact that the Cuban people are still waiting for four of their sons who are imprisoned in the United States.’