Sunday, September 15, 2013

Free the Cuban Five - 15th anniversary marked in Perth

Yellow ribbons in solidarity

Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS) members in Perth picketed the US consulate on September 12 wearing yellow ribbons in solidarity with the call for the return home of the Cuban Five who have been held for 15 years in US prisons. Members expressed their outrage at the disgrace of the unjust incarceration.

The Cuban 5 are five Political Prisoners incarcerated for trying to avert terrorist attacks organized by right-wing CubanAmericans based in Miami against their homeland, Cuba.

Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and René Gonzalez were arrested on September 12, 1998 in Miami.

For 15 years, the Cuban 5 have suffered physical and psychological torture! They have been denied visitation rights of friends and family. They have endured solitary confinement and mistreatment and often been hindered in accessing their legal counsel.

ACFS members in Perth joined thousands of others globally to call on the Obama administration to end the injustice now. Members shared leaflets about the Five with people passing calling on them to help fight the media blackout in the US by posting the leaflet to friends and relatives in the US.

One of the Five, Rene Gonzalez, who completed his sentence but remained in the US because of an unjust order to serve 3 year probations in the US has finally returned to Cuba but says he will never truly be free until he is joined there by his four brothers.

The ACFS called on the Obama administration to immediately release the Five and allow them to return home to Cuba. The protest was closely monitored by consulate and state security personnel.

Tiles of Solidarity, Perth Western Australia

On Saturday 14th September, the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society, ACFS Perth unveiled the Tiles of Solidarity, a monument to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the unjust incarceration of the Cuban Five.

Under inclement weather conditions, friends in solidarity with the Cuban Five gathered at Solidarity Park in West Perth to unveil 5 Tiles of Solidarity. Solidarity Park has a long history for workers in Western Australia. The public land in front of the Western Australian Parliament was claimed by workers as a workers Embassy and five trade unionists involved in the occupation to claim the land were arrested.

The tiles have been placed on the back of the “Fountain of Youth” for permanent homage to the struggle of Five Cuban men unjustly held in US prisons since 1998.

Joe MacDonald, National President of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union CFMEU Construction Division unveiled the five ceramic tiles given to his union by the Cuban Construction Union, SNTC in 2009.
For years both the CFMEU and the ACFS searched for a home for the ceramic tiles featuring the faces of the Cuban Five. “Solidarity Park” (opposite Parliament House in West Perth, WA) that represents the unity in struggle of the trade union movement in Western Australia was chosen for this permanent homage to the Cuban Five. At great risk to themselves the Cuban Five are workers whose job was to monitor criminals in anti Cuban terrorist organisations operating out of Miami; groups that have been operating from US soil since 1959 and responsible for the deaths of over 3,400. The fight of the Cuban Five against terrorism in defence of their homeland made them victims of the US imperial policies on Cuba.

The only path to their Freedom is through a people’s movement and mobilising efforts that will free the Five Cuban heroes. Workers and their unions around the world can play an important role in this struggle.
Tie a yellow ribbon was played and yellow ribbons featured at the event to honour the call from Rene Gonzalez to use the ribbons that resonate for the average person in the US as a way to express longing for soldiers away at war and other absent loved ones.