I would like to greet all of you who are participating in this meeting which I believe to be very important because solidarity always is, and will always continue to be, the fundamental principle, the fundamental motivation that should guide revolutionaries. I would say that for human beings it is, in fact, the antithesis to a world which seeks to institutionalize injustice, outrage, and war – in short, what we daily see happening on the planet.
Our five compatriots are matchless examples of human solidarity because the essence of their dilemma is that they sacrificed their own lives for those of others, because they were carrying out their mission in the United States — a mission separating them from their families, from their land, where they ran major risks entering the jaws of the very worst of the empire: that of the terrorist right- wing.
They are worthy, therefore, of our support, of our concern, of our interest in the cause that they represent and the circumstances that they are currently suffering.
I would say that in these moments we have to multiply the effort in two particular directions. First, to raise the demand for the immediate freedom of our five compañeros who are today still incarcerated in maximum security prisons in the United States of America, although it has already been more than two months since a high court — the Atlanta Court of Appeals, not a Miami judge, but three appellate judges — ruled on August 9th of this year to annul the judicial farce that took place in Miami against them.
They declared that the accusations and sentences imposed upon them had no value, and that in any event it would be necessary to hold a new trial in another location. What does that mean in juridical terms? That they are innocent, that they have not been declared guilty of anything. An innocent person cannot continue completing a sentence that has been invalidated. Much less when, we must not forget, we are talking of five people that have been imprisoned for seven years — given very harsh, unjustifiable punishment for charges without merit.
What does this mean in legal terms? Simply that they are kidnapped by continuing to be arbitrarily held in prison, and this we must repeatedly and exhaustively condemn until the U.S. authorities are forced to free them.
The other point that I believe to be very important is that which relates to their families — to the human dimension of the dilemma. There are some relatives who, by facing major difficulties, have been able to visit the prisons. Let us not forget that they must travel to a foreign country with another language beginning with obtaining a visa from the United States government. To obtain this visa they must spend many hours trying to communicate with the U.S. Interests Section here in Havana, so that they may be given an appointment, fill in an application, and await months and months before finally receiving an answer.
They also need permission, an authorization from the prison authorities who sometimes don’t authorize the visits because there are occasionally certain situations that involve a lock-down etc.
All this signifies traveling to a foreign country alone — imagine what is to travel now as winter approaches, with snow in many places. In short, they have heaps of anecdotes that illustrate how hard this experience has been for them. But above this, as if that wasn’t enough, there are two families which are especially affected.
There’s the case of Adriana Pérez O’Connor, the wife of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, who has not seen her husband in more than seven years. Gerardo was condemned to two life sentences plus fifteen years in prison. They are two young people — very young seven years ago and who continue to be young — who are being inadmissibly punished in a manner that is equal to torture, because it is cruel, inhuman and unusual treatment.
And at this time she is prevented from visiting her husband in prison, although a high court says he should not be in that prison.
The other case is that of Olga Salanueva and her daughter Ivette, the wife and daughter of René González. René was condemned to 15 years in prison. He was born in the United States and is, therefore, a U.S. citizen by birth — the same as Ivette, a little girl who is aljost the same age as the time her father has spent in prison, as she was only a few months old when he was arrested.
She cannot see him because her mother is systematically being denied a visa after they had to leave the United States when Olga, having been imprisoned over a three month period, was expelled from the United States back to her home country.
There is not only here a violation in both cases of the rights that a prisoner has to communicate with his family, but in the case of Olga and Ivette there is also the violation of the rights of a child. A child who is entitled to communicate with her father, and a father who is entitled, indeed has the obligation, to communicate with his daughter.
In practice this little girl doesn’t know her father and he doesn’t know his daughter — they only know each other through photos. This is inhuman and intolerable — far more so now that the Atlanta court has declared that the Five were not guilty.
I think it necessary to keep repeating this message, to make this denunciation, as I know there are those participating in this event in Holguín who are compañeros, friends, brothers and sisters of other nationalities that have relatives, ties and friendships in their countries of origin.
I believe that a lot of people don’t know about this case — are not informed of its fundamental aspects. It is very important to multiply efforts to communicate, to make this known, so that this injustice does not continue with impunity.
For this reason I welcome an event such as this. I congratulate the organizers and I wish them the greatest success.