From November 13 - 17 about 300 delegates from 51 countries gathered in the city of Holguin Cuba to participate in the IX International Colloquium for the Freedom of the Five Cuban Heroes and Against Terrorism. The IX Colloquium was rewarded with the presence of the Hero of the Republic of Cuba René González, relatives of the Five, relatives of the victims of Barbados, the President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, Kenya Serrano, authorities of the province of Holguín and other distinguished guests.
Photos Bill Hackwell
During the Colloquium a number of activities took place including a bicycle marathon, an exhibit of photos of the actions carried out in Cuba and around the world to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the arrest of the Five, plenary sessions, meetings by geographical areas, workshops on the optimization of the use of social networks, visits to schools, universities, cultural galas, and meetings with the population in different neighborhoods and municipalities. A highlight of the colloquium was a large rally on November 16 in a park featuring a statue of Che where once again the love of the Cuban people towards the cause of the Five was on display. One could see their deep love as they reached out to shake Rene's hand demanding the return of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando.
Another significant part of this event was when former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark was awarded the Order of the Solidarity of the Republic of Cuba.
During the plenary sessions of the Colloquium, Rob Miller Coordinator of the Campaign in the United Kingdom officially announced the organizing taking place in Europe for the International Commission of Inquiry in the case of the Five, which will be held in London on 7 and 8 March. Alicia Jrapko Coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 in the U.S. announced the 3rd "5 days for the Cuban 5" that will take place in Washington DC, June 4- 11, 2014. The President of ICAP, Kenya Serrano, called for massive participation in the 3rd World Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba and the X Colloquium to be held in Havana October 27 - 31, 2014. These proposals received unanimous support from all the delegates.
For his part, Sergio Marinoni, President of the National Association of Friendship Italy-Cuba announced that 55 personalities including Martin Sheen, Ascanio Celestini, Angela Davis and Carla Fracci recorded messages with the common goal of asking Obama to end the injustice that has lasted 15 years. To see the messages visit http://www.vitadura.it/
Jorge de la Nuez, family of victims of Barbados
Also within the framework of the Colloquium Edith Glaif, legendary Argentine fighter, member of the Argentina League for Human Rights and founder of the Argentine Committee for the Freedom of the Five was awarded the Medal of Friendship.
The Colloquium was closed with the reading of the Final Declaration, which will serve as a guide to solidarity actions in 2014 by friends and committees from all over the world who fight for peace, justice and the freedom of the Five.
FINAL DECLARATION OF THE COLLOQUIUM
For nine consecutive years we have gathered here in the city of Holguin that since the beginning has served as the headquarters where solidarity friends from all over the world find a common space to discuss actions in this battle for the lives and the freedom of the five Cuban patriots.
This IX Colloquium is taking place in a different context from previous ones. We have had the great joy of having with us the presence of René Gonzalez, who served every single day of his wrongful conviction and then having to serve an absurd additional year and a half under supervised freedom in Florida.
His presence marks a decisive milestone in the battle for the freedom of the Five and encourages us to continue this fight even more than ever to put an end to this injustice.
September 12th marked 15 years of wrongful imprisonment, 15 years of violations, and 15 years of political revenge that extended through the prisons holding Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando and to the Cuban people for their audacity to be sovereign and free. This anniversary also marked 15 years of resilience of the Five and their families, to whom the 272 delegates here in attendance, representing 51 countries and every continent, have come to honor.
Entering the 16th year of their arrests places on us a greater challenge to ensure that the return to their homeland happens before they have to complete their sentences.
Even though Fernando has a release date of February 27, 2014 there is a chance he may have to go to an immigration prison for an undetermined amount of time before he can be deported to Cuba. Antonio's release date is scheduled for 2017 but because he is an American citizen he could be forced to remain in the U.S. for up to 5 additional years of supervised probation. Ramón's release date is not until 2024 and Gerardo, the most punished of all, has no date to return since he was sentenced to two life sentences. The intentions of the U.S. government are that Gerardo dies in prison.
The extraordinary Habeas Corpus appeal filed by the defense remains unanswered. The outrageous payments by the U.S. Government to journalists, to create an atmosphere of guilt before and during the trial, remain unanswered. For 17 years now the U.S. has also kept hidden satellite images that could demonstrate that the shooting down of the aircraft in 1996 occurred in Cuban waters. Meanwhile, with total impunity, the international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles lives freely in Miami despite a 2005 extradition request from Venezuela for crimes against humanity.
After so much injustice in this case how can we rely on a judicial system that punishes the innocent and provides immunity to terrorists? Sadly the case of the Cuban five shows how small right wing groups can influence not just the judicial system but U.S. foreign policy in general.
Once again after this lengthy passage of time we collectively ask what will be the long term consequences on the physical and mental health of the Five and their families? As former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark said: "You cannot ignore the evil that has been done with this arbitrary decision. Evil detained these people and today the harm to their families and bad relations between the United States and Cuba continues. Some day in the United States will have to account for this misjudgment."
Let's take the words of Ramsey Clark so the damage already done does not continue any longer. Let us multiply the actions of solidarity that have taken place for the Cuban Five. We need to forge our movement in a unity of actions to take advantage of our collective capacity to be effective around the world in the struggle for their freedom.
The 272 delegates of 51 countries participants of the IX International Colloquium for the Freedom of the Five and Against Terrorism have agreed:
1) To intensify the support from all our countries the actions in the United States, with financial support from organizations and individuals who are in solidarity with the Five, to focus on the demand that President Barack Obama exercises the power given him by his country's constitution to release the Five and return them to Cuba without any conditions.
(2) To support and disseminate information about the organizing in Europe of the International Commission of Inquiry supporting the case of the Five being held in London on March 7 - 8, 2014 and help promote the presence of important personalities.
(3) To support the Third "5 days for the Cuban 5" in Washington DC June 4-11, 2014, and holding actions and demonstrations in front of U.S. embassies in all countries with actions and demonstrations in front of U.S. embassies in all countries on coinciding dates.
(4) To encourage mass participation to attend the third world meeting of solidarity with Cuba and the X Colloquium to be held in Havana October 27 - 31 2014. The meeting will be convened by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), the Cuban social organizations, and the Cuban Chapter of the Network in Defense of Humanity. There we will continue demanding the immediate release of our Five brothers and the lifting of the genocidal, economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the Government of the United States.
(5) To intensify the work with parliamentarians from around the world to make a strong statement to the U.S. Congress and President Obama. In particular elected representatives from Europe, Latin America and Africa, as well as encourage these parliamentarians to attempt to visit the Five.
(6) To continue the campaign of actions on the 5th day of each month by sending letters, making phone calls and sending messages to the web site of the White House, as well as organizing rallies in front of embassies and consulates of the United States, and other actions of visibility. It is important to add personalities from each country that will write to Obama on the 5th of each month and make it public.
(7) To request that religious leaders of different congregations, creeds and cultures of the world interact with their counterparts in the U.S. and Canada in favor of the Five, and to urge President Barack Obama to find an humanitarian solution to this case.
(8) To work with union leaders and members from all continents so that they interact with their counterparts in the United States to arrange actions in the struggle for the release of the Five.
(9) To continue and increase the use of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs and alternative media to insist on the reporting and dissemination of information about the case.
(10) To expose the criminal conduct of the U.S. Government in this case that has undermined the impartiality of the legal process in Miami by making secret payments to journalists before and during the trial of the Five, as well as to use this information so that lawyers and journalists in the United States and around the world will concur with the demand that the U.S. Government immediately release the Five.
(11) To summon the youth of the world to organize concerts and educational forums about the Five in schools and universities, marathons and other actions in support of this cause. Extend support to the OCLAE and the World Federation of Democratic Youth, as well as the macro regional networks that are taking initiatives in youth conferences, especially in the 18th World Festival of youth and students to be held in December of this year in Quito, Ecuador. This festival has a particular emphasis on the participation of youth and students from North America.
(12) To increase the support of intellectuals, artists and sports delegations participating in national and international events with informative projections, especially audiovisual materials on the Five, whose messages are shared and multiplied through social networks and other channels of information.
(13) To demand that the U.S. Government extradite the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, whose government wants him for human right violations under the laws of that country.
Fifteen years of wrongful imprisonment to five innocent men compromises their right to life as well as the sovereignty and the dignity of the people they were defending. It is not only Cuba that is being punished with the continued incarceration of the Cuban Five it is each one of us.
For Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando, and René they will always be the Cuban Five until they are all free. We must work tirelessly until this is realized.
¡Unconditional Freedom Now!
Holguín November 17, 2013