By Tom Whitney
Solidarity with the Cuban Five political prisoners was evident this year at the Left Forum held March 18 – 20 at Pace University in New York City. Under the auspices of the Louisville (KY) Committee for the Five, Cuban Five supporters from New York, Pennsylvania, Maine, and Kentucky were on hand at a table for the Five in the Forum’s busy exhibit space.
This year, over 5000 students, teachers, researchers, and activists attended the Forum which featured plenary sessions along with some 300 workshops and 800 speakers. It’s the largest annual gathering of progressives in the United States. This year’s themes was “Toward a Politics of Solidarity.”
Many of those filing by the table picked up literature relating to the case of Fernando Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labinino, and Rene Gonzalez. As of September 13, 2011, they will have been imprisoned for 13 years. Information was available covering legal aspects of their case and the background of anti – Cuban terrorism that brought the men to Florida. Passers-by expressed concern over how the men were surviving the rigors of incarceration in widely scattered federal prisons.
Solidarity activists attending the table centered their discussion with those stopping by on connections between injustice done the Five and half a century of U.S. war against Cuba. They also drew attention to U.S cruelty in denying visiting rights for two wives of the prisoners.
Signatures were sought for a recently developed petition on behalf of the Cuban Five. In October, 2010, Amnesty International (AI) issued a report detailing legal and judicial shortcomings in U.S. handling of the case. AI requested that the Obama administration consider clemency for the prisoners. The petition offered at the Left Forum utilized AI arguments to ask President Obama to liberate the Cuban Five.
Readers may go on line to sign the petition to free the Five. It’s accessible at: http://www.change.org/petitions/free-the-cuban-five-president-obama#?opt_new=t&opt_fb=f