Cuba: Speeches, Parades and Yellow Ribbons

Dariela Aquique

Rene Gonzalez on the Round Table TV program.
Rene Gonzalez on the Round Table TV program.

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?

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

4 thoughts on “Cuba: Speeches, Parades and Yellow Ribbons

  • “The Cuban blue ribbon campaign for freedom”

    In Sancti Spiritus, some Cubans have rejected the yellow ribbons promoted by the regime, by instead adorning the front doors of their homes with a blue ribbon to demonstrate their support, their demand, for freedom for Cuba.

    The choice of blue ribbon can be traced to Jose Marti, who in a letter to the wife of fellow Cuban hero Maximo Gomez told her to tell her daughter “that in the most difficult of times, I touch the blue ribbon in my pocket.”

  • The abuse of this American symbol for blatant propaganda in support of vulgar spies shows that the Cuban regime – and Mr. Gonzalez – have nothing but disdain for the US people.

    Shame on them.

    The pressure put on schoolchildren and other people in Cuba through the institutions controlled by the regime (school, CDR, …) shows again the regime’z weakness: only with pressure “mass mobilization” can be achieved. If left alone most Cubans wouldn’t take part in this charade.

    For the facts on the 5 Cuban spies see:
    “The lie behind the “5””

  • It’s not really “5 Cuban Spies/Anti Terrorists”!! The Castro “government” is really bad at math! Or should I say, keeping secrets from the Cuban people!

    WASHINGTON POST: Ana Montes did much harm spying for Cuba. Chances are, you haven’t heard of her. – by Jim Popkin

    “It was 1998, and the Miami field office had uncovered a Cuban spy ring
    based in Florida, the so-called Wasp Network. More than a dozen members strong,
    the Wasp Network was infiltrating Cuban exile organizations and making inroads
    into U.S. military sites in Florida upon its capture.”


  • The ‘yellow ribbon’ campaign is a nice idea. However, it will likely fall victim to poor timing. The day before on September 11 marks the ignominious anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks in the US and this year will also be the first day the US House of Representatives will begin debating a military strike against Syria. The US and international news has been and will continue to be dominated by this issue. I would be surprised if this national show of support in Cuba for the four remaining Cuban spies is even covered by the international media, let alone given air time abroad, especially in the US. Like most issues concerning Cuba, the Cuban ruling class always seem to want to think that what is important to them is important to people outside of Cuba. The truth is very few people outside the Cuban diaspora care about what happens in Cuba. Proof of this is that the one day every year when the UN vote is nearly unanimous against the US embargo against Cuba is always followed the next day as business as usual. Nothing changes. My advice, send the Castros packing, if real change is to take place.

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