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    2012 was another year of struggle for freedom and dignity!
    Free the Cuban 5 Now!

    By Azza Rojbi

    “Brothers and sisters in the struggle:
    Our solidarity multiplies
    like leaves in springtime.
    You will deliver us victory.
    You will be with us
    on the great day of our return.”

    -Antonio Guerrero

    Those are the words of Antonio Guerrero, one of the five Cuban heroes unjustly imprisoned in U.S. jails. Those words of courage, hope and struggle echoed from Antonio's prison cell and resonated in the hearts of activists in Vancouver as they gathered on Wednesday December 5th, 2012 outside the U.S. consulate for the 85th monthly picket action to free the Cuban 5 heroes. This monthly picket action was organized by the Free the Cuban 5 Committee—Vancouver as part of the international “5th of the month for the Cuban 5”campaign.

    Cuban Five supporters filled the sidewalk in front of the U.S. Consulate with colourful banners and picket signs. Chants like “Hey Obama! Free the Cuban 5!” and “Justice for the 5 Now!” filled the cold air with a passionate and unified voice for dignity and justice.

    In between rounds of picketing participants heard from a number of speakers who gave updates on the case of the Cuban 5 and emphasized the importance of the Cuban 5 struggle for freedom and dignity. Among the speakers was David Whittlesey, a long time social justice activist who shared some of his experience from his time as an organizer during the anti-Vietnam War movement and the Civil Rights movement in U.S. Alison Bodine, co-chair of Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO), Vancouver’s antiwar coalition, spoke about the necessity for a strong, united and consistent international campaign for the freedom of the five Cuban heroes and the need for the antiwar movement to join in the fight for their freedom.

    Thomas Davies, an organizer with the Free the Cuban 5 Committee—Vancouver, spoke about his recent trip to Holguin, Cuba, where he attended the 8th International Colloquium for the Freedom of the Cuban Five. Thomas warmed the crowd with a strong message of unity and struggle from the Cuban people and the over 340 delegates from 47 countries who gathered there from November 28th through December 1st to discuss the case of the Cuban 5 and how the international community can work to advance the struggle for their freedom.

    Who are the Cuban Five?

    Since the triumph of the revolution on January 1st, 1959, Cuba has been the subject of terrorist attacks orchestrated by terrorist organizations operating out of Miami, Florida. Those mafia organizations were responsible for criminal acts against the Cuban people such as the bombing of Cuban tourist hotels and the blowing of a Cuban airliner on October 6, 1976. Over 3,400 people in Cuba, including one resident of Canada, Fabio di Celmo, were killed in those terrorist attacks.

    Five brave Cuban men were sent to Miami to collect evidence on those committing such terrorist attacks. After turning the information they have gathered over to the FBI, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González were arrested and sent to jail. They were wrongly accused and convicted in a U.S. Federal Court of “conspiracy to commit espionage” and other fabricated charges. They are currently serving outrageously long sentences, including even a double-life sentence plus fifteen years. Four of the Five unjustifiably remain behind U.S. bars today, while René Gonzalez, who was released from prison last year for having completed his sentence, is being forced against his will to remain on parole in Florida for three years without being allowed to return to his homeland and visit his family in Cuba.

    ¡Volverán! (They will return!)

    As 2012 comes to a close, January marks the beginning of a new year of struggle for the freedom of the Cuban 5 heroes. The Free the Cuban 5 Committee—Vancouver would like to urge everyone to get involved in the fight for dignity and freedom and to join us on January 5th for the 86th monthly protest action to free the Cuban 5. We will begin the new year with the energy and determination that 2013 will not be only the beginning of yet another year of struggle, but a year that the Cuban 5 will return home to their families and loved ones in Cuba.

    After 14 years of being unjustly kept behind U.S. prison bars, the Cuban 5 have not given up hope in the fight for their freedom and the struggle for a better world! Neither will we!
    Louder than ever, we will demand:


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