intellectuals and artists sign the U.S.
petition to release the Cuban Five
Yenia Silva Correa
TWELVE years have passed since Antonio Guerrero,
Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino
and René González were imprisoned in U.S.
penitentiaries for defending Cuba against acts of
terrorism organized in that country and perpetrated
against the island.
After more than a decade of struggle to win
justice in the cause of the Cuban Five, a group of
U.S. artists and intellectuals are calling on
President Barack Obama to release the Cuban
The letter, sent to the U.S. head of state on
September 12 asking for the release of the anti-terrorist
activists, is an initiative of Actors and Artists
United for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, headed by
Danny Glover and Ed Asner.
Film world icons such as Oliver Stone, Susan
Sarandon, Martin Sheen and Elliot Gould immediately
supported the petition.
On a global level, response to the letter was
quick in arriving. Scarcely two days later, it was
supported by Nobel Peace Prize winners Mairead
Maguire (Ireland) and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
(Argentina). Friends of Cuba and defenders of the
Five like Noam Chomsky from the U.S, Eduardo Galeano
from Uruguay, Franco-Spaniard Manu Chao, and Puerto
Rican Danny Rivera immediately responded to the U.S.
Singers Daniel Viglietti (Uruguay), Víctor
Heredia (Argentina) and Roy Brown (Puerto Rico) did
likewise. Meanwhile, recognized media commentators
in Chile such as Pedro Lemebel, Manuel Cabieses and
Ariel Dorfman are also backing the missive.
To date the demand for justice has been joined by
the Nobel Literature Prize winner, Nigerian Wole
Soyinka; Olga Tañon, Puerto Rican singer; Miguel
Bosé, Spanish singer and actor; Rodrigo Santoro,
Brazilian actor; Cynthia MacKinney, former U.S.
Appealing to the executive faculties in the hands
of Barack Obama to finally close the case of the
Five, well known actors Benicio del Toro (Puerto
Rico) and Sean Penn (U.S.) have shown their
solidarity with the petition.
Playwright and anti-fascist fighter Alfonso
Sastre (Spain), sociologist Immanuele Wallerstein of
the United States; Frei Betto, Brazilian priest and
writer; Hildebrando Pérez, Peruvian poet and winner
of the Casa de las Américas Prize, together with
filmmaker Tristán Bauer of Argentina, are also
adhering to the cause.
The motion directed to President Obama is also
affirmed by Belgian singer Lady Linn, who gave a
concert supported by the Belgian Committee for the
Liberation of the Five.
Solidarity with the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters
brought together at the Brussels Palace of Justice
actors Joke Devynck and Dirk Tuypens, filmmaker
Jonas Geirnaert; deputies Sven Gatz, Celine
Delforge, Zoé Genot and Sfia Bouarfa.
The demand for the release of Gerardo, Antonio,
René, Fernando and Ramón, initiated by outstanding
U.S. figures in the movie world, has also been
seconded by the Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.
In just one week the network of solidarity that
has emerged in the United States demanding justice
for the Five was joined by Chico Buarque de
Hollanda, an emblematic voice in Brazil.
Highly regarded African-American intellectuals
such as Alice Walker and Amiri Baraka (Leroy Jones),
and Europeans Istvan Meszaros, Armand and Michelle
Mattelart and Luca Barbarossa have also added their
Gerardo, Antonio, René, Fernando and Ramón were
handed down excessive and unjustified sentences in
September 1998. This U.S. artists’ initiative with
broad international support is a new and forceful
demand to the president of the United States to
finally bring about justice.
ALICIA ALONSO DEMANDS JUSTICE FROM OBAMA
In Havana, prima ballerina assoluta Alicia
Alonso, together with other Cuban intellectuals and
artists, are demanding of President Barack Obama the
release of the Five.
During a meeting at the Muro por la Paz (Peace
Wall), the director of the Cuban National Ballet
advocated art as a language of understanding among
nations and called on the U.S. people to be aware of
the danger of a nuclear war that could extinguish
the human species.
Miguel Barnet, president of the Cuban Union of
Artists and Writers, thanked the U.S. cultural
figures who signed a letter calling for the
liberation of the anti-terrorists.
"We hope that President Obama has the good sense
and courage to exercise his authority so that the
Five can return to their country, their homes and
their families," he added.
In a symbolic act, visual artist Alexis Leyva
(Kcho), another of the panelists, released five
doves representing the incarcerated heroes and
declared that until they are released, Cuban art
will be there at the Muro por la Paz.
Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National
Assembly of People’s Power, also spoke at the event,
as did poet Nancy Morejón, who read out a poem
dedicated to the Five.