Convention Discussion: Fight to Free the Cuban 5

BY: Richard Grassl| February 20, 2014

Submitted for discussion by Richard Grassl of Washington

It is impossible to talk about normalizing relations with Cuba without first mentioning that the unjust incarceration of the Cuban Five violates every ethical and moral standard defined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights of 1947.  

An embargo is any prohibition imposed by law upon commerce for the collection of debt or to recover punitive damages.  According to international law, the Naval Conference of London in 1909 established that a blockade is an act of war.  The problem with US policy toward Cuba, today, apparently stems from the fact that the US government remains unwilling to recognize the revolutionary government of Cuba.  

The reverberations felt after the triumph of the Cuban revolution were not shared equally by sovereign countries around the world.  For example, the US Foreign Assistance Act of 1964 ignored Cuba’s compensation law (no. 861) of July 6, 1960 that stipulated the amount of compensation to property owners and governments for nationalizations to be paid by Cuban Republic bonds at 2% annual interest for no less than 30 years.  This offer was nullified when President Eisenhower reduced Cuba’s sugar quota to zero in December 1960 and repudiated permanently by President Kennedy, February 7, 1962.

Political motivations aside, it could be argued that any move to normalize relations with Cuba requires a serious change in mentality by the US government.  Ramon Sanchez Parodi, Cuban diplomat, stated in an interview, Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, that the United States has a policy toward Cuba whose goal is “to restore its domination” and noted that “if they don’t give up that idea, there will never be normal relations.”  Recent polls by the Atlantic Council show 56% of US population favor normalization with Cuba (63% in Florida) with an emphasis on incremental change as the best approach to end US isolationist policy.

The Latin American Working Group (LAWG) contends starting dialog with the Cuban government on areas of mutual interest would “lay the groundwork of trust and mutual respect” necessary for substantive talks.  Granting general licenses for all categories of travel and therefore eliminating the specific license category has been a bone of contention for the anti-Castro exile leadership in South Florida.  Yet, does it not seem a more plausible course of action for the State Department to remove Cuba from a spurious list of nations supporting terrorism when it is not a threat to US security?  Second, an opportunity exists to swap Alan Gross, a US contractor imprisoned in Cuba, in exchange for the release and return to Cuba of Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino and Antonio Guerrero, also known as the Cuban 5.

On June 15-18, 1998, Cuban State Security supplied an FBI delegation with extensive documentation, memos, transcripts of telephone calls etc. about violent activity directed against Cuban territory.   Instead of a measured response, US government officials arrested 5 Cubans for exposing terrorist groups in Florida.  Sadly, Cuban overtures concerning cooperation and diplomacy were derailed and 5 innocent men were convicted in a rigged trial in Miami.  Eventually, a wall of silence provoked by a complacent media around the case was broken when defense lawyers for the Five discovered through FOIA requests that the US government maintained “paid agents” planted in Miami to influence public opinion and prejudice the jury pool to convict the Cuban 5 as spies without a shred of proof.  Incredibly, the State Department continues to refuse to release satellite photo images that would exonerate these 5 innocent men.  

At the recent CELAC summit in Havana attended by every Latin American nation, President Raul Castro referred to “creation of a common political space … toward the achievement of peace and respect among nations.”  Clearly, this is an open invitation to President Obama to initiate dialog with their neighbor(s) after his handshake with the Cuban president at the memorial for Nelson Mandela, Dec.2013, in South Africa.  

There will be many occasions to express solidarity with Cuba this year as we observe the 52nd anniversary of the US blockade of Cuba.  An especially important item concerns Pastors for Peace tax exempt, not-for-profit status which is under attack by the IRS.  See for details.  

An International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five will be held in London, March 7-8, 2014.

The Third “5 Days for the Cuban 5” in Washington DC is scheduled June 4-11, 2014, sponsored by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.

In conclusion, a quote from Stephen Kimber, distinguished author of the book WHAT LIES ACROSS THE WATER: The Real Story of the Cuban Five, seems appropriate.  “Nothing will change between Cuba and the United States until they resolve the issue of the Five.”

The views and opinions expressed in the Convention Discussion are those of the author alone. The Communist Party is publishing these views as a service to encourage discussion and debate. Those views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Communist Party, its leading bodies or staff members. The CPUSA Constitution, Program, and all its existing policies remain in effect during the Convention discussion period and during the Convention.

For details about the convention, visit the Convention homepage
To contribute to the discussion, visit the Convention Discussion webpage

30th National Convention, Communist Party USA
Chicago | June 13-15, 2014


    Richard Grassl is a member of the Carpenters union in Washington state.

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