Cuba: On Freedom and Political Camps

Janis Hernandez

Raúl Castro welcomes home Fernando Gonzalez. Photo: Estudios Revolucion.

HAVANA TIMES — Freedom is one of the most precious of human rights and, of its many different forms, freedom of conscience is doubtless one of the most valuable civil rights we can aspire to. I therefore convey my respects to those who endure prison for their ideas, whatever their political views may be.

On Thursday, former Cuban agent Fernando Gonzalez Llort was released from prison, arriving in Cuba on Friday. He is the second of the Cuban Five who, having completed his sentence in a US prison has returned to the island.

Nearly 16 years after his arrest, the Cuban State Security agent was welcomed at the Jose Marti airport by President Raul Castro and a retinue of high government officials.

Following a military salute, the men embraced in a classic, “mission accomplished” moment. This is the manner in which the original mission will continue to be accomplished by these five men who, owing to a strategic error of the Cuban government, which provided information to the FBI, ended up blowing their cover and being caught.

In my opinion, neither side has ever properly told this story. US authorities handed down excessively cruel convictions and the trial wasn’t very transparent. Cuban authorities, on the other hand, have always wanted to conceal their status as spies with the euphemism of “anti-terrorist activists.”

The truth of the matter is that these men have been and continue to be prisoners of conscience. The political differences between Cuba and the United States are the true reason behind their long convictions.

On Friday, Gonzalez was finally able to hug his aged mother and his wife. He is free, enjoying the greatest and most valuable right a person can have. Magalis Llort and Rosa, his wife, are also Ladies in White. They are not, however, attacked on the streets. Ultimately, it is a question of freedom and what side you stand on.

Janis Hernández

Janis Hernandez: I don’t seek to change the world, much less give recipes on how it should or shouldn’t be. I don’t have the gift of oratory or that of the letters. I’m not an analyst or a philosopher. I am just an observer of the things that happen around me and I feel obligated to speak about my country without a muzzle, just write and that’s what I do in my diary.


12 thoughts on “Cuba: On Freedom and Political Camps

  • March 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm
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    Readers of these Comments, please take note of the style of arguementation. The articles present opinion and observatons, sometimes with a few varifyable facts. The Comments are gnerally split between those praising or trying to add to the content of the articles and those who want the Cuban revolution and government to vanish and see little or no culpability for Cuba’s or other peoples’ problems in the actions and policies of the US government and international corporations.

    You may know the cliche, “History is written by the victor.” When I and others have tried to put our opinions on Cuba today and the past into a context that includes the US actions designed to overthrow the Cuban socialist government, we are usually accused of hating the US and seeing no wrong with the Cuban effort.

    For example, as an American who hates war, oppression, and especailly covert, illegal and murderous activities designed to control indigenous and other peoples fights against oppression, my primary responsibility starts with the government my taxes go to and which claims to act in my name. Therefore when I saw the US government, local and national support segregation, I was apposed to it. Problem I was a child and most (white) adults didn’t want to change anything. I was taught “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.” These things gradually began to be less accepted, but during that time, the US government crushed unions, held women back, ignored or punished the poor and sent troops, money and clandestine forces to dictatorships all around the world. Eventually, the people in the countries the US was happy to rip off, got it together and rebelled. They often tried socialism, but starting in the 1800’s wealthy and powerful interests in government an industry knew they had to make sure none of these “reds” succeeded. My grandfather, innocent of world politics and unemployed, earned a few dollars supporting the slaughter of “rebels” in the Philippines. Other Teagues were on all sides of the many struggles in the US, Europe and elsewhere. Few were in charge of any of this and many were victims too. A very few profited and most took a long time to figure out how they were being used and lied to. They were told God was on the side of the rich and the rulers and anyone who resisted was either a devil or a dangerous foreigner. Fortunately these many lies are less effective with the young of the world.

    I’ll skip to the present and point out that yes, the US government officials and the Pentagon would like you to believe only the bad guys use terror. We (meaning the US government etc.) never do. We didn’t terrorize the (fill in the blanks) because it is only as Moses says below, the weapon of the weaker force. Nonsense. That definition rationalizes all the wars, invasions, slaughter, and general and specific terror that sadly US taxpayer money continues to pay for.

    Drones and torture are not just convenient assassination weapons, they are intended to terrorize and do. The US governments violent acts against Cuba have always meant to terrorize. And there are many on the Right in the US who would be happy to unleash any of the many terror weapons the US has used and continues to use around the world – whenever they think they can get away with it.

  • March 10, 2014 at 10:36 am
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    Oh, please. The Cuban Five are the real terrorists. One of the spies gave the order to shoot down two Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996. Also, leave COINTELPRO out of this. That program doesn’t exist anymore. Meanwhile, your beloved Cuban Communist empire has been trying to dominate the Western Hemisphere today in 2014. Get your facts straight.

  • March 10, 2014 at 10:31 am
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    So the Brothers to the Rescue is a terrorist organization in your totalitarian mind? The Cuban Five are spies. They were seeking to harm U.S. interests. You are a Communist propagandist who doesn’t like to learn from facts.

  • March 9, 2014 at 9:11 pm
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    You seem confused about the meaning of words “terrorist activities”. It is widely accepted that terrorism is a tool used by a lesser power to provoke “terror” among both combatants and non-combatants of a greater or larger power. Terror is typically used because direct military or police action is not practical or is unlikely to achieve the desired results. The use of military drones is not “terrorism”. You may disagree with their use but to mischaracterize US drone use as terrorism is intellectually beneath intelligent debate. The US does not target public train stations or marathon races to fight our enemies. You are also wrong to say it is “legal” for paramilitary or civilian groups to plan military assaults. It is a complex issue to prosecute Americans allegedly planning activities to take place outside the US. Finally, there is a difference between a suspected “terrorist” walking the streets and one is has been convicted based on a fair trial. Again, you obvious anti-US bias clouds your judgment.

  • March 7, 2014 at 10:44 am
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    Bob,
    The USA CREATED the environment in which the BTR planes were shot down .
    The flights were made as part of the U.S.’s propaganda war on Cuba’s revolution and the planes were launched from U.S. territory .
    Secondly BTR flights I would imagine were intended to save the “balseros” who took to unsafe craft to float to Florida because of the “Wet Foot, Dry Foot) clause of the CAA .
    This WFDF Clause was part and parcel of the U.S propaganda effort to defame the revolution and the victims who risked their lives are all dupes and victims in that war being used by the GOUSA and the BTR crowd to get capitalism back into Cuba.
    The BTR pilots were not Boy Scouts,. They were and are part of a U.S. war on the people of Cuba.
    If you’d like to award them some medals for service to humanity, for their part in that immoral imperial war, go to it.
    You must realize that there were a great many good Germans who fought for the Nazis but we don’t thank them for what they did.
    The BTR are on the wrong side of imperialism and history .

  • March 7, 2014 at 10:27 am
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    You can read my response to Disinformed Consent above .
    Given the 100+ year old interventionist foreign policy of the U.S., given that they assisted in the invasion at Playa Giron, given that they are attempting to economically crush Cuba it is just plain STUPID on your part to imagine that the GOUSA is not openly aware of all these counter-revolutionary (read: anti-socialist) and does not give them large amounts of financial aid AND free and protected operating bases from which to launch their often terrorist attacks on Cuba.
    The U.S. openly gives $14 million dollars to opposition political arties in Venezuela to overthrow a democratically elected government there.
    To ignore U.S. foreign policy history, to ignore the 54 year old embargo, to ignore the hotel, plane and plantation bombings, the Bay of Pigs invasion and all that to say that the U.S. is not up to its ears in helping the Florida based terrorist groups is …well ignorant .
    As for the New York Times.
    Please understand that the NYT is good for wrapping fish and training puppies.
    It is not a source for reliable information as regards foreign affairs as their lying Iraq war coverage should have told you years ago.
    I invite you to read Mark Weisbrot’s article at today’s ZNet entitled: ” NYT Violates Standards Of Basic Economics And Journalistic Procedures” . You can also Google it anytime.
    Weisbrot’s article clearly demonstrates what I’ve been telling you for a while now and that is that your primary source for information is not telling you the truth .

  • March 7, 2014 at 10:13 am
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    If you do not believe that the government of the USA was, is and will be knowledgeable of all the Cuban counter-revolutionary movements located in the United States , you’re a fool.
    The US has something like SIXTEEN intelligence services and doubtless have infiltrated all groups with any significant terrorist capabilities .
    When I was an activist back in the 60s and 70s the group I was affiliated with was infiltrated by COINTELPRO, a government spy program aimed at LEGAL protestors. If they had that capability then with far fewer intelligence services and fewer terrorist-type threats, than now, they sure know what just about any and every subversive armed group is up to.
    In the case of the Cubans, I have no doubt that as in Venezuela they are giving these groups millions in aid as well as allowing them to carry out what are internationally recognized acts of terrorism executed from U.S. territory.
    The Cuban Five were out to fight terrorism against their country that originated in the U.S.
    History will not only absolve them, it will make them heroes.

  • March 4, 2014 at 11:44 am
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    What world do you live in? Cuba actively shares intelligence information with Russia (specifically the GRU) and the Chinese. The Red Avispa network attempted to pass coded reports on activities at Boca Chica naval air station, such as plane counts, base remodeling, or changes of command. Attempted to infiltrate Southern Command Headquarters in Doral Florida and were directly responsible for the shoot down of two civilian Cessna planes in International waters

    …full knowledge and approval of the USA? Please!!!

    I guess as usual there are no facts you can’t twist and change to fit your warped world view.

  • March 4, 2014 at 11:34 am
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    You never cease to amaze. You write ¨with the full knowledge of and approval of the government of the USA .¨ This is patently false. In fact, for failing to register as a foreign agent, the original 12 Cuban spies known as the ¨Wasp Network¨ committed their first of many federal offenses, I do join you in admonishing the writer to confirm her facts however, She is also very incorrect when she writes, ¨the trial wasn’t very transparent.¨ There were quite a few stories printed in the New York Times, among other international media, and the trial was open to the public. Can´t get more tranparent than that!

  • March 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm
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    Janis Hernandez
    Janis, it is good to observe and important to comment, but since you are commenting on more than what you personally observed, it would be good to do more research. The long and complicated story of the “Five” and all the individuals and government agencies involved has long been in the world press and in great detail. If you take a moment and look at US government and military history, you will see that there are thousands of examples of terrorist actions against many countries. In fact, the US president has declared that even US citizens will be assassinated by drones in violation of the US constitution if they meet several criteria – which only the US president gets to fully determine. Then there are the long series of actions designed to punish the citizens of Cuba and many other countries for being in violation of US policies! Terrorism by anyone’s definition is putting civilians at risk for political reason. That is US policy in many instances and it is just what the “Five” were trying to prevent. In Florida and other US states, it is legal for clandestine civilian groups to prepare for and practice militarily assaults against Cuba and other countries as long as they are disliked by the US. Self-admitted and proud terrorists walk the streets legally in the US, as long as their past and present terrorism are against a country or regime the US dislikes. If you were unaware of these facts, perhaps you should check them out. If you just can’t believe the US would allow these things to happen, I can’t do much except to suggest you look up the past and current budgets and laws targeting these sorts of actions.

  • March 3, 2014 at 9:46 pm
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    and continue on about how their “anti-terrorists activities” were involved in 2 Cuban MIGs shooting down 2 unarmed American Cessnas in international airspace (Brothers to the Rescue incident).

    Do you think that was one of those “with the full knowledge of and approval of the government of the USA ” events?

  • March 3, 2014 at 7:35 pm
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    “Cuban authorities, on the other hand, have always wanted to conceal their status as spies with the euphemism of “anti-terrorist activists -”
    Excuse me BUT the Cuban Five were in the U.S. specifically to infiltrate counter-revolutionary terrorist groups operating out of the U.S. and with the full knowledge of and approval of the government of the USA .
    They were not spying in the sense that they were seeking out U.S. military secrets to harm the United States. They were after information about these U.S. based terrorists so that they could prevent or neutralize future TERRORIST attacks .
    “Anti-terrorist activists ” are EXACTLY what they were .
    Please , get your facts straight.

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