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Issue #1656      September 17, 2014

16 years is too long!

Since the very onset of the Cuban Revolution, Cuba has been subjected to an inhumane blockade that amounts to an act of war. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was left under two economic blockades, the loss of a major trading partner in the former Soviet block and the US 50-year long economic, financial blockade.

Perth: Australia Cuba Friendship Society calling on President Obama to release the Cuban Five, Friday September 12. (Photo: Alex Bainbridge of Socialist Alliance)

In the first half of the ‘90s the US and several groups in Miami thought Cuba’s socialism would collapse following the experience of the Eastern European countries. However, Cuba’s revolutionary leadership and people managed to implement measures to adjust to the special period created by difficult economic situation.

At that time Cuba stimulated its economy by encouraging tourism to the island. This meant foreign investment in hotels and other infrastructure and services for the industry. The US responded by strengthening the US blockade by sanctioning third countries from trading with Cuba. At the same time terrorist groups in Miami planned and carried out terrorist attacks on hotels in Cuba killing an Italian tourist at the Copacabana hotel on September 4, 1997.

Cuba exercised its right to defend itself, sending volunteers to infiltrate and gather information about plans for terrorist activities being hatched by the terrorist groups in Miami. Their activity has been strengthened by the US desire to bring about regime change in Cuba. US administrations have allowed and often funded terrorists’ activities against Cuba from US soil.

Cuba sent the information gathered by the Cuban Five to President Clinton who organised FBI officers to visit Havana to receive the information about these terrorist plans. It was expected that Clinton would intervene to arrest the terrorists and end their activities. However, the FBI instead detained the Cuban Five on September 12, 1998. They were kept in solitary confinement for 17 months and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage and tried in the hostile city of Miami. The Five were sentenced to very long terms from 15 years to double life plus 15 years.

Sydney: Marking the 16th anniversary of the jailing of the Cuban 5. (Photo: Tom Pearson)

Two of them, Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, are back in Cuba after completing every last minute of their unjust sentences. On September 12 millions of people around the world including Perth, WA and Sydney protested the unjust incarceration of the three remaining prisoners, calling on President Obama to release them.

In Australia we all demand their freedom and pledge to continue the struggle until their return to Cuba with the families.

The Communist Party of Australia joins millions of voices calling on President Obama to release the other three of the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero. Sixteen years is too long!

Next article – Letter from Cuba

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