The Fabio Di Celmo Committee for the Five, (CFDCF) of Quebec-Cuba Solidarity, has been organising picket lines in front of the US Consulate in downtown Montreal the first Thursday of every month for more than three years in solidarity with the Cuban Five.
The five are Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, and Ramón Labanino and Fernando Gonzalez. They were arrested 12 years ago on September 12, sentenced to long prison terms and held in terrible penitentiary conditions.
Their crime was infiltrating terrorist organisations operating in the south of Florida targeting Cuba. The goal of the five was to provide information to the Cuban government to help it prevent terrorist attacks, including providing the information to Washington so it could act.
The cruel conditions imposed on the five in US jails includes the fact that Gonzalez and Hernandez have been prevented for almost 12 years from seeing their respective wives Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez.
Neither the rain, cold nor snowstorms have stopped the monthly pickets in Montreal. Important Quebec trade unions, federal parliamentarians from Quebec and well-known cultural figures have added their voice to the demand put forward by the CFDCF.
The first Thursday of September was September 9, when the picket line was held as part of the global solidarity movement to mark the 12th anniversary of the five’s jailing.
September 4 was also the 13th anniversary of the assassination in Havana of Fabio Di Celmo, the victim of a terrorist campaign organised against Cuba by, among others, Luis Posada Carriles.
Posada was responsible for blowing a plane up in mid-air over the coast of Barbados on October 6, 1976, killing 73 people. The US government has refused requests from Venezuela and Cuba for Posada to be extradited from the US to face trial for this atrocity.
On the occasion of these anniversaries, I spoke with Fabio Di Celmo’s brother, Livio Di Celmo, who lives in Montreal.
I asked Livio what his feelings were on the anniversary of his brother’s murder, as well as that of the Cuban Five’s jailing for trying to stop such crimes.
Livio answered: “I came to realise that at one point, when we seek justice, the concept of time becomes obsolete because human affairs are evolving in their own timeframe. As the truth comes out, more and more people enlighten themselves and contribute to accelerate events that eventually render justice for past deeds.
“Fabio’s death and the jailing of the five are so closely connected that I can tell you that if the worldwide solidarity movement manages to free the five, then somehow justice will have been rendered to Fabio as well.”
The anniversaries highlight the fact there are several families seeking justice. There are the families of the Cuban Five, who in the course of the common struggle have virtually forged themselves into one family — as part of the entire Cuban people.
The Cuban Five, despite the complete lack of contact between them as part of the ongoing psychological personal torture, have become virtually a family of five brothers. For those thousands of us corresponding with them, while their letters reflect distinct personalities and talents, we are left with the impression we are in contact with the same person.
They are all driven by the same motivation to resist all the pressures; they are all driven by the insatiable desire to be true to their families and their people.
At the same time, they all exhibit that remarkably unique feature of the Cuban society and government: concern for the future of their country and humanity, over and above their individual well-being.
And there is the family of Fabio Di Celmo: his brother in Montreal, his father in Cuba and other family members in Italy. They are also demanding justice.
Their political closeness to the Cuban Five and their families is such that Livio believes the freedom of the five will render justice to Fabio even more than if Posada is tried and convicted for his crimes that include Fabio’s murder.
By October 6, the families of the Barbados incident will have been seeking justice for 34 years. Nothing can bring back those 73 people, whose families are living with the abominable fact that the confessed mastermind of the bombing is walking the streets of Miami.
The Barbados’ family committee members have been seen side by side with the families of the Cuban Five in Cuba on many occasions.
Over the years the different families of the victims of the US government-sponsored attacks on Cuba have united as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters — all demanding that justice be done, not tomorrow, but now.
US President Barack Obama holds in his constitutional power the right to free the Cuban Five and open the juridical doors for Carriles and others to be tried and convicted for their crimes.
Does Obama want to have these flagrant violations of justice as part of his legacy? Or does he want to be remembered as someone who stood up to the pressures of the extreme right–wing in the US and allowed justice to be done?
[Arnold August is a member of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five and the CFDCF.]