From left the Cuban Five: Fernando González, Ramón Labañino, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and René González with Cuban President Raúl Castro, in uniform, Dec. 17, day that Hernández, Labañino and Guerrero arrived in Cuba after 16 years in U.S. jails. Image: Granma
As this issue was going to press, we and millions around the world learned with joy that the Cuban Five are all now together — in Cuba. It is a great moment of celebration for all those who have fought for the past 16 years to win their freedom. Readers of the Militant, who have been an active part of this international campaign from the very beginning, are among those to be saluted. The great Puerto Rican revolutionary Rafael Cancel Miranda accurately pointed to the stakes in this fight some two years ago when he asked, “Why do we fight for the Five?” He answered: “Because we are fighting for ourselves, for our own freedom.” Today we can say the victory that has been won puts working people in the U.S. and around the world on a stronger footing to defend and advance our interests. We are now in a stronger position to broaden the struggle to end Washington’s brutal, more-than-half-century-long economic war against Cuba, to fight for the normalization of relations with Havana, and to end the violation of the right of U.S. residents to travel to Cuba. We are in a better position to prevent those opposed to such measures from using the congressional purse strings to block the establishment of an embassy in Havana for the first time since early 1961, or to deny confirmation of a U.S. ambassador. Above all, the victory freeing the Cuban Five reinforces all those, from Ferguson, Missouri, to Staten Island, New York, and beyond, who are taking to the streets to demand a halt to cop brutality and killings. The courage, dignity and discipline of the Five throughout their 16-year incarceration has helped shine a spotlight on the class-based character of capitalist “justice” experienced firsthand by millions of working people in the U.S. — from the brutality of cops and prison guards carrying out “the law,” to “plea bargains” and the denial of any semblance of presumption of innocence and trial by a jury of your peers. The fight for the Five reinforced, and was reinforced by, struggles of workers at Walmart and elsewhere for dignity, full-time work and a union, and of rail workers to defend life and limb against the rail bosses’ ruthless drive for profits. From the beginning of the frame-up and the fight against it in the late 1990s, the Militant has helped, week in and week out, to get out the truth about the Cuban Revolution and the fight to win freedom for the Five. We’ve reported on their activity on the front lines of the class struggle in U.S. prisons, and on the ongoing proletarian internationalist course of the Cuban Revolution they were imprisoned not only for defending but for being in the vanguard of advancing — and will now continue defending on different terrain. Many of these articles from the pages of the Militant are now parts of books in many languages distributed around the world that eloquently convey the truth about the Cuban Revolution and the Five. Among them are Cuba and Angola: Fighting for Africa’s Freedom and Our Own; Voices From Prison: The Cuban Five; I Will Die the Way I’ve Lived; and the soon-to-be published Absolved by Solidarity: 16 Watercolors for 16 Years of Unjust Imprisonment, with paintings by Antonio Guerrero. These “defense case” titles won’t have to be consigned to cartons like so many outdated brochures. They remain invaluable tools for struggles and political activity — for political example — by growing numbers of working people who are resisting assaults by the capitalist rulers and their political parties and governments. Workers are looking for alternatives to the dog-eat-dog values of the capitalist system, to the deadliness that results from the workings of exploitation and oppression. The stories of the men and women who made the Cuban Revolution, and who fight today to defend and strengthen it, are needed more than ever. Across the United States and other parts of the world, fighters who have campaigned to free the Cuban Five will be gathering on or around Jan. 1, the 56th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution, to celebrate the victory all of us have won. We urge readers of the Militant to help initiate and build these events. They are part of expanding what Gerardo Hernández, just released from a double-life sentence without parole, has called the “jury of millions” — not just the jury that was necessary to free the Five, but the only jury that can defend and emulate the example of the Cuban people.