Why the Cuban Five and not the Four?

Daisy Valera

Rene Gonzalez, top right, is now back in Cuba after serving his sentence.

HAVANA TIMES — I want to begin my post by saying that I am in favor of the release of the four Cubans who continue to serve sentences in US prisons and Alan Gross, currently incarcerated in Cuba.

They are, after all, only victims of the poor relations that exist between two States and of their respective forms of terrorism. My position also stems from a number of opinions regarding prisons I will expound on elsewhere.

On May 9, when Rene Gonzalez renounced his US citizenship and thus effectively invalidated the remainder of his parole, I asked myself:  Will they continue to speak of the Cuban Five?

“The 4” is the name of a reggaeton band which most streetwise Cubans know well, and it doesn’t exactly evoke the solemnity of prison life. One associates it, rather, with carefree partying.

When I read the letter in which Gerardo Hernandez (one of the four remaining prisoners) congratulates Rene and declares that the group will continue to be referred to as “the Five”, I tried to find an explanation for this devoid of romanticism. I thought of a number of things, which I would now like to share.

Were they to change the name used to refer to this group of agents, the names of many Internet domains would also have to be changed. Then, all the links to news published in other sites, and so on and so forth.

Wikipedia entries in many different languages, the highly-popular Twitter labels and the names of pages administered by groups with thousands of followers in social networks, would also need to be changed.

Here are a handful of examples:


The thousands of banners, cards and postcards hung at workplaces and schools across Cuba would also need to be thrown out and re-printed were the name to be changed.

Posters, T-shirts, images, symbols, objects showing the clever catchphrase “Obama: Give me Five”, or the suggestive design which situates each of the Five at a different tip of a five-pointed star, would become meaningless and new promotional strategies would have to be conceived.

Briefly put, all of this has cost Cubans and people who support the cause of the Five a lot of money and effort, and it would be a huge strain on the Cuban state to undertake a new, similar investment.

The whole affair could also have a sinister side: since everything in private or State capitalism becomes merchandise, changing the contents of the campaign surrounding the Five would create jobs for designers and printers, and government functionaries could thus continue to leech off economic benefits from these activities.

This is, of course, mere speculation. If this hypothesis were right, the State would again be keeping Cubans in the dark, using the misleading rhetoric that makes it resemble a father who conceals a disquieting truth from a small child.

Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

5 thoughts on “Why the Cuban Five and not the Four?

  • Dear Moses, Griffin, Cubaqus, et al,

    Guess venemous posts like yours were too much even for Mercy, since she has closed down Greenscreen Cuba!
    Once again, I’m amazed how you manage to turn even the most innocuous subject into a bitter rant! Don’t you have a life outside of making negative posts? While I’m sure in some cases the local C.D.R. reps. are far from paragons of virtue, nevertheless, like those up here who are essential to their communities, most of those who volunteer for the C.D.R. offices are pillars of their communities, the folks who organize block clean-ups, fund-raisers for neighbors in need, or to raise funds for athletic equipment for the neighborhood teams, etc.. I was able to observe the many bario block-parties held for the 50th anniversary of the C.D.R.’s during my visit to Sancti Spiritus last October, and they were all about building community, and not the sinister reason you portray.
    You folks need to get a life, get out of your darkened basements where you spend all day–and nights–posting negative stuff. As for me, I’m logging off, and returning to my garden where I’m planting veggies.

  • Moses asks, “How else do you explain the countless billboards and posters inside of Cuba?”

    I just assumed it was revolutionary commitment to tacky graphic arts design. You mean there’s a purpose to the ridiculous things? It’s a testament to the cluelessness of the government that they plaster the halls of Veradaro Airport with the hideous posters. Do they really think the tourists enjoy seeing these banal propaganda messages? Do they think tourists actually give a sh*t? I can tell you they don’t care.

    The Cuban government would do better to put up posters of picturesque scenes and lovely beaches. Those are things the tourist cares about. The Cuban Five posters only serve to remind the tourists that Cuba is indeed a totalitarian Communist police state. That is a fact the average tourist spent a week drinking copious quantities of rum trying to ignore.

  • Why the Cuban 5 to start with. the red avispa had a lot more members.

    the Castro propaganda always acted as if they didn’t exist as their testimony exposed the regime’s propaganda lies.

    “The lie behind the “5””

  • The entire “Free the Cuban Five” effort is little more than propaganda to unite the Cuba people against an external enemy and distract them from their internal problems. How else do you explain the countless billboards and posters inside of Cuba?

  • Free the Cuban Five?

    I propose a more meaningful slogan: “Free the Cuban People!”

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