by César Omar Sánchez
On a cool breezy morning I walked out my apartment on my way to see my 7 year old nephew play his first soccer game tournament. I was so excited seeing him run out to the green field and made me smile with such joy and happiness as he was pretending to be the Argentine soccer player “Leonel Messi”. I remind myself almost every day how lucky I am to have him close to me. There is no doubt in my mind that I will do anything to protect him from anyone or anything that might put his life in danger. There is no doubt I will protect my family and friends who are so dear and close to me. There is no doubt that anyone with a clear conscious won’t do the same for their families. However, sometimes there will be huge obstacles that gets in your way between the ones you love. There will be times when something as large and compassionless as the U.S. Government can stand between you and everything you love.
We all have stories how about our own family; some are sad, joyous, distressful and unforgettable moments that stay with us for a long time….
On a book I came across reading around 2008, there was one page, a letter from a father to his daughter struck me with such sadness;
“By the time I was arrested, On September 12, 1998, you were barely four and a half months old. The night before, your mommy had gone to work and I was taking care of you. When I finished giving you your milk you fell asleep on me and I decided to leave you there while I watched television. When your mommy arrived, she thought you were so cute sleeping like that – sprawled over me looking contented – so she couldn’t resist taking a picture of us. That’s the last one where we’re together. Then they arrested me and I could not even kiss you goodbye. When they were taking me out of the house handcuffed, all I could do was look at your mommy and give her a smile, confident and optimistic.”
The letter was from René Gonzalez, a father and husband who is currently being held here in U.S. He is one of the FIVE political prisoners, known as THE CUBAN FIVE. Though René is out of jail, American officials now insist he serve his post-prison parole in Florida… why? These five heroic Cuban men went to Florida to monitor terrorist organizations based in Miami. The Omega 7, Alpha 66, Commandos F4, which are just a few of the more infamous Cuban-American groups that have devoted themselves to try to destroy the Cuban Revolution, which today is the continuous battle between Cuban people and U.S. Imperialism.
The book “Letters of Love and Hope: the story of the Cuban Five” tells the story on how even though far apart from their loves one and incarcerated behind steel bars, they still continue to maintain the LOVE between them. In the case of René’s letter to his daughter, it shows these precious documents are evidence that, though out of their fathers’ presence, they were never out of the fathers love.
To be revolutionary means, by definition, to be willing to sacrifice. But when it comes to family and especially the children, what child can understand the absence of a parent who – in trying to save the lives of all the citizens of one’s country – is missing from the birthday party given when one is 10 years old?
“This is the Unknown War” says Keith Bolender who wrote a book called “Voices from the Other Side” in which he describes the non-stop terrorist’s attacks against Cuba and the people who suffers from it. These heinous and cowardice acts are forever scared on the hearts and mind of the family’s victims; especially those who survives these attacks.
Families near a beach resort called Varadero, tells Keith of one night in where four children were brutally murdered in a terrorist attack in the late 1960s. The mother, Nicolas Diaz, recalls that deadly night at around 11:30pm. She remembers a group of men demanded entry into their home, and without any warning they started shooting in which resulted the death of five cuban citizens; Felicia, Gregorio, Fermin, Yolanda, and Josefita. Less than a week later a group of Cuban-Americans who had infiltrated the area from Florida were arrested for the crimes.
Another incident takes place In the northern tip of Cuba, on a very quiet province called Holguin. Boca de Samá was a prime target for the ant-Castro terrorist group called the Alpha 66 in which for them, it was an ideal place to store weapons and supplies. From there, the Aplha66 will launch their deadly assaults at night; spraying bullets into the homes, school, and anything else they can hit. The result ended in two residents getting killed after a fierce gun battle.
That same night at Boca de Samá, a 15-year-old girl name Nancy lost her right foot due to gunshot wounds. After more than 30 years, today she copes with a different kind of horror these days. It is the reality of having to deal with the loss of her foot, the endless therapy, and the understanding that the older she gets, the more she’ll have to endure.
On the same book, Keith mentions the following,
“Terrorism can take many forms – the most dramatic is a bomb in the hotel lobby, the explosion of an aircraft, the destruction of the buildings. But terrorism can also be psychological”
During these difficult times, Five Cuban men acted in the self-defense of their nation and their families. Their plan was to monitor possible more attacks to Cuba coming from within U.S. soil; who for over fifty-year has been attacking Cuba and supporters of the Cuban Revolution.
Framed on charges that included conspiracy to commit espionage; Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, and Rene Gonzalez received harsh sentences. They were separated from their family which was devastating and no doubt bring psychological pains for many years to come.
How can it be possible, that here in the United States, the government continues to tell us that we are fighting against the “War of Terror” but yet we fund these mercenaries to go on with these massacres campaign against our neighborly country Cuba?
I find it very disturbing, especially the following:
“…provided by the Treasury Department, reporting to Congress in April 2004 on the activities of its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), responsible for investigating suspicious financial transfers, a central component of the “war on terror.” OFAC informed Congress that of its 120 employees, four were assigned to tracking finances of Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, while almost two dozen were occupied with enforcing the embargo against Cuba.”
Today, Saddam and Bin Laden are gone, but Cuba still remains listed as a country that sponsors terrorism according to the United Sates. IT”S SHOCKING and UNACCEPTABLE! The Cuban Government on August of 2012 issued the following statement responding angrily to the U.S. still blacklisting Cuba as a State Sponsors of Terrorism:
“The only reason for keeping Cuba on the list, is to try and justify the trade embargo with the aim of strangling the Cuban economy and imposing a regime which responds to the interests of the United States. Cubans don’t support any kind of terrorism. We just want to be free and defend ourselves as we can and fight for our independence. The Americans always inventing ways to annoy Cuba. It’s a thorn in our side. But it doesn’t work because truth is on our side.”
The Cuban Five’s underground activities in the United States were exclusively directed against organizations in the United States that were viscerally opposed to the Cuban Revolution, committed to the overthrow of the sovereign Cuban government, and with a clear history of violent action in violation of US law. These activities were not simply past history, but were precisely stepped up in the 1990s as Cuba reeled economically from a devastating economic contraction.
These brave men, which I come to admire, paid a heavy price to defend what they treasure the most…their nation and their families. I cannot even begin to imagine being separated from my own family for that long period of time.
Now it is TIME…TIME is of the essence,… TIME to Act, Time to FREE THE CUBAN FIVE!
Letters of Love & Hope: The Story of the Cuban Five, by Author Nancy Morejon, Editor Alice Walker
Voices from the Other Side: An Oral History Of Terrorism Against Cuba, by Author Keith Bolender