With the Cuban people getting ready to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their revolution next New Year’s Day, the CPGB-ML recently hosted a meeting in solidarity with this heroic socialist island.
At the gathering, which took place at Saklatvala Hall in Southall, west London, participants viewed and then discussed a film highlighting the daily experiences of Cuban workers, students and farmers.
While some of the people interviewed in the film were understandably frustrated by the sacrifices they have been called upon to make as a result of the relentless 47-year blockade imposed on their country by US imperialism, the general tone was one of revolutionary optimism and faith in the future. Several of the older Cubans appearing in the film poignantly contrasted their current lives – living in a society free of the exploitation of man by man – with the situation as it was before the victory of the revolution.
A second aspect to the CPGB-ML meeting, which was attended by friends of the party as well as members, was a presentation by Comrade Steve Cook on the plight of five Cuban patriots – the so-called Miami Five – who are languishing in US prisons for the ‘crime’ of helping to unmask terrorist conspiracies against their socialist homeland.
In joining the call for the liberation of these Cuban patriots, we summarise here some of the more important themes raised by Comrade Cook in the course of his brief remarks:
US terrorism against Cuban people
After the disastrous (for US imperialism) attempt to recapture Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, and the subsequent resilience of the Cuban people in defending and extending their revolution, numerous terrorist conspiracies were hatched within the counter-revolutionary Cuban community in Miami. These had the full backing of the US government.
Perhaps the most famous outrage orchestrated from US soil was the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976, in which 73 people died.
Against this backdrop, it should surprise nobody that the Cuban revolution sought to defend itself. And it was ten years ago, in June 1998, that the Cuban revolutionary government handed over to the US political police, the FBI, a huge amount of material related to anti-Cuban activities conducted from US territory.
This included 230 pages of documents, five videos of material openly broadcast on US television about terrorist activities aimed against Cuba, and nearly three hours’ worth of audio cassettes detailing the links between jailed Central American counter-revolutionaries and their contacts among the Miami gusanos, the word – literally meaning ‘worms’ – used by Cuban patriots to describe their treasonous, counterrevolutionary countrymen.
The predictable response of the FBI was to ignore this evidence of state-sponsored terrorism originating from its own territory. Instead, in a series of dawn raids, five patriotic Cubans were arrested as “agents of a foreign power” – the same charge that was levelled against the top leaders of the US Communist Party during the notorious McCarthyite witch hunts of the 1950s.
These five men – René González, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández and Ramon Labanino – have since come to be known as the Miami Five, but few people outside of progressive political circles will ever have heard of them, since there has been an almost total media blackout on their case in the United States and beyond.
Flimsy evidence but harsh sentences
The five Cuban comrades, intelligence agents monitoring the preparation of terrorist acts among the Miami gusanos, were all given the maximum prison sentences allowed for their supposed ‘crimes’ – up to and including two life sentences plus 15 years.
The treatment of these Cuban patriots, whose only sin is to help protect their people and their socialist system, has been harsh in the extreme. Although the evidence against them was laughably flimsy, two of the Miami Five spent a full 18 months in a high-security holding cell designed for people – ordinary criminals such as murderers – to occupy for no more than 60 days.
As to this flimsy evidence, even the prosecutor in the case – the longest judicial proceeding in US history – had to make clear in his opening remarks to the jury: “We arrested these five men and we seized 20,000 pages of documents from their computers. But, ladies and gentlemen, from these 20,000 pages we cannot present one single page of classified information.”
There has been a concerted international campaign to free the Miami Five – including prominent billboard ads in New York, Los Angeles and even Miami – but, to date, our five Cuban comrades remain caged in US prisons.
We in the CPGB-ML fully associate ourselves with the campaign to free the Miami Five. These men must go free! Further, we reiterate our complete solidarity with the people of Cuba, their communist party and their revolutionary government as they forge ahead on the path of socialism – despite any and all obstacles.
Long live socialist Cuba!
Free the Miami Five!