HAVANA TIMES — A recent national television broadcast included what they called a speech by René González , known by the epithets of antiterrorist fighter and hero of the Republic of Cuba .
The reason for the haranguing was to exhort the Cuban people to join the activities of the national and international campaign demanding the Cuban Five be set free, to be held between the 5th of this month through October 6.
Within the campaign, September 12, as the date that marks 15 years since the Cuban agents were arrested, is intended to have a special connotation and the population is being asked to wear yellow ribbons.
Here is a paragraph from Gonzalez’s TV statement:
“On September 12, I want this country to be filled with yellow ribbons, so that visitors and foreign correspondents in the country cannot ignore them. That on this day, Cuba is shaken and yellow ribbons appear on trees, balconies, on people, however it occurs to anyone to use them, on pets, as you decide, but that these yellow ribbons fill the country and cannot be ignored, that it cannot fail to be reported in the world that the Cuban people are waiting for four of their sons who are prisoners in the United States.”
He explained that the yellow ribbon is a symbol that entered North American culture during the English Civil War, worn by the wives of soldiers. They were later used during the United States Civil War.
Then in the 1970s, a song brought back the memory of this old custom. The lyrics tell the story of a prisoner who asks his fiancée that if she still loves him to put a yellow ribbon on a tree. When upon his release he arrives at the place, there were hundreds of yellow ribbons .
Except from learning about the history of the song, and the use of yellow ribbons as a symbol of hope for US citizens, everything else seemed trivial, especially when I realized that this was no spontaneous talk, but Gonzalez was reading on a teleprompter, or something similar.
Immediately afterwards, came a video clip of the song in English, played by Kiki Corona, Silvio Rodriguez and Amaury Perez, among others.
The next day all the official Cuban media published articles about Gonzalez’s request. An entire TV Round Table program was dedicated to him and actions would follow.
In schools, all students have been told they should attend class on the 12th wearing yellow ribbons. The unions also began to “invite” their members to do the same at workplaces. I imagine that soon the CDR neighborhood defense committees will ask residents to put ribbons on their doors or hang them on balconies.
What ultimately results is something highly planned and far from being spontaneous.
The self employed that sell garments have seen the yellow ribbon campaign as an opportunity to make some money. I don’t know in the other provinces, but here in Santiago de Cuba they are selling them for 15 and 20 pesos.
And despite the massive campaign there is always someone unaware of what is happening. Since yellow is the color of Cuba’s patron saint, they asked if the yellow ribbons were to be worn yesterday (Saturday) in the procession of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre whose day is observed today?