Category: Cuban Five
Discover the Five
| September 19, 2014 | 9:18 pm | Cuban Five | No comments

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Ailí Labañino in Australia tells about the Cuban Five
| September 2, 2014 | 8:03 pm | Analysis, Cuban Five, International | No comments

By W. T. Whitney Jr.


Ramón Labañino is in prison in the United State, in Kentucky. Ailí Labañino, his oldest daughter, was in Australia in August. Sponsored by labor unions and Cuba solidarity groups there, she toured six cities. She talked about her father and the impact of his imprisonment on her family.

She was talking too about the Cuban Five political prisoners. Ramón is one of them; others are Antonio Guerrera, Gerardo Hernández., Rene Gonzalez, and Fernando Gonzalez. She told Australians about the injustice done to them and asked for solidarity. To see and hear one of her presentations, in Perth on August 12 before 200 construction workers, go to:  Earlier in Adelaide, Communist Party Secretary General  Bob Briton interviewed Ailí.

The Cuban Five, arrested by the FBI in Miami on September 12, 1998, were political prisoners; three still are. Convicted on lesser charges, Rene and Fernando have left prison and are in Cuba.

After their trial and sentencing Cuban President Fidel Castro told the Cuban people the Five would only go free “When the enormous injustice committed against them is known throughout the whole world.” For years, Ailí and other family members of the Five have traveled the world, teaching and informing.

In Australia, Ailí reported on outlandish sentences. She indicated the Five had been in Florida at the behest of the Cuban government to monitor private paramilitary thugs responsible for terror, murder and mayhem in Cuba. The U.S. government deepened community bias through pay-offs to Miami-area journalists who produced prejudicial stories before and during the trial of the Five.

Bob Briton asked Ailí, “What has it been like to have your father imprisoned in such unjust circumstances?”

Ailí: “More than half of my life, as well as that of my sisters, has been spent in this battle for the return of my father. We are very proud to know what they did was not only for their families but for all Cubans. Anyway, it’s very painful not to have them, for instance at birthday parties, on Valentine’s Day, on Fathers’ Day and also the fact that we had to wait for a US visa in order to be able to visit him in prison. The experience we had during our adolescence was that of prison.

Briton asked about “solidarity of the Cuban people with the Cuban Five.” “From the very beginning,” Ailí replied, “our leaders as well as the Cuban people have been the main protagonists in this campaign … You can see throughout the whole of Cuba posters of the Cuban Five and different activities carried out in support of them. … This battle is very sensitive in Cuba because the Five are considered as family by all Cubans.

Asked about international solidarity, she indicated that, “Cuba’s efforts are reaching the world through the efforts of our friends in the world. If the mass media in the US has been able to raise a wall of silence about the injustice, international solidarity has been able to open doors in alternative media to let the case be known.

Ailí answered a question about Cuban youth: “The fact that the youth are proud of what the Five are doing and that they want to be part of this battle is a big support to us. In every university in Cuba there are committees in support of the Five. In our universities … there are a large number of foreign students studying alongside their Cuban counterparts. This has the advantage that, once the international students return home, they take the message about the Cuban Five to their respective countries.”

She concluded by pointing out that, “The main problem is that the mass media have silenced the case. That is why we have to knock on every door we can to take the message to every person. I can tell you the friends we have found here are sincere. The things they have undertaken to do, for example to write letters and postcards to the Obama Administration for the freedom of the Five, will be done….Gerardo [once] said “As long as there is just one person fighting for my cause and the cause of my brothers, we will remain strong inside these prisons.”

Ramón Labañino shares Gerardo’s optimism. He told a reporter recently that when he is discouraged he “goes back to another time, one of laughter and joys, of return and happiness, to the precious time of our future, free in Cuba … I see Cuba, a beach blue, clean, and dazzling. I see Eli, my daughters, all my family, my people. I see laughter, joy, eternity. That way I make my freedom tangible and real. And I know it’s certain.”

President Obama, let the heroes go!
| September 1, 2014 | 9:38 pm | About the CPUSA, Action, Cuban Five, International | No comments


By James Thompson


President John F. Kennedy wrote a landmark book called Profiles in Courage. He studied the lives of a number of political leaders in the United States who stood up to negative forces and did the right thing even though it may not have been in their best political interest.


President Obama is reportedly an admirer of John F. Kennedy. President Obama is also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.


It is puzzling to many why the president has not responded to the mass movement demanding the release of the Cuban 5 (a.k.a. Miami 5). The mass movement is very large and is international in scope. Many high-ranking celebrities and political leaders both in the United States and around the world have united with a single demand “Free the 5!”


The Cuban 5 are five heroes who came to the United States to gather information on right wing terrorists located in Miami who were plotting violence against Cuba. Indeed, they carried out many attacks on this sovereign nation and killed many people and destroyed much property. The Cuban 5 were successful in gathering crucial information which they supplied to the Cuban government so that they could prevent these violent attacks. These courageous men fought international terrorists toe to toe and saved many innocent lives.


On September 12, 1998, the Cuban 5 were arrested. They received a trial which many maintain was unfair and they received astronomical sentences compared with others convicted of similar charges. One of the 5 completed his sentence in 2011 and was released and returned to Cuba. Another completed his sentence and returned to Cuba in 2014. Three remain in prison and have been there since 1998.


A US government operative, Alan Gross, was apprehended by the Cuban authorities for attempting to incite Cubans to overthrow their government. He has been languishing in prison for many years now and has been ignored by the Obama administration. The Cubans appear eager to make a swap of the three remaining Cuban 5 for Alan Gross. However, the effort of the Cubans has fallen on deaf ears.


President John F. Kennedy was faced with a similar situation when he took office. A high-ranking leader of the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), Henry Winston, had been apprehended during the McCarthy era and was imprisoned for a number of years before Kennedy took office. There was an international outcry at this injustice and there were demands to release Mr. Winston. On June 21, 1961, President Kennedy granted Winston executive clemency and he was released. This was at the height of the Cold War and there was great reactionary pressure to leave Mr. Winston in prison inzzz-cuban5 spite of his serious medical problems. President Kennedy demonstrated his courage and fairness in reversing this injustice even though it was not in his best political interest.


In a few days, we will reach the 16th anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban 5. This would be an excellent time for President Obama to demonstrate to the world that he has the courage that President Kennedy had by releasing the 5 and arranging for a swap for Alan Gross. The world could then see that President Obama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner not only in name but also in action. He could follow this courageous act by working with Congress to end the blockade of Cuba and lift travel restrictions so that US citizens could travel freely to one of our country’s closest neighbors. President Obama campaigned for office on themes of “Change” and “Progress.” Mr. Obama, show us some Change and Progress!

Father Geoffrey Bottoms sends a letter to President Obama
| July 4, 2014 | 4:09 pm | Cuban Five, International, Latin America | No comments

Father Geoffrey Bottoms is a British Catholic priest. He is an executive member of the British Cuba Solidarity Campaign and has visited Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, and Fernando González in their various US prisons and met regularly with their families. He also leads Group Study Tours of Cuba each year on behalf of the British campaign. Father Bottoms is a follower of liberation theology and is actively involved in the labour and trade movement. He is a member of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union in the UK.

July 5, 2014

Dear President Obama,

As a Catholic priest in Britain I have followed the case of five Cuban prisoners in the United States known as the Cuban Five since 2002. They were convicted in Miami of charges ranging from failure to disclose themselves as foreign agents to conspiracy to commit espionage and even murder and were given sentences stretching from fifteen years to double life. In reality they were defending their people against acts of terrorism by certain Cuban-American groups in Miami hostile to Havana that have killed almost three thousand five hundred people and injured over two thousand others.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the recommendation of its Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and Amnesty International have both raised concerns as to the fairness and impartiality of a trial that took place in such a hostile environment as Miami where there were irregularities in the due process of law. An International Commission of Inquiry held in London in March of 2014 led by three internationally renowned judges reached a similar conclusion.

I have attended three appeals on behalf of the Five in Miami and Atlanta and heard the arguments for myself. I have also visited three of the prisoners and met with their families and am convinced that there has been a gross miscarriage of justice.

Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez have both returned to Cuba having served their sentences but I am appealing for the release of Gerardo Hernandez serving double life in USP Victorville, California, Antonio Guerrero serving 22 years in FCI Marianna, and Ramon Labanino (known as Luis Medina) serving thirty years in FCI Ashland. The appeal process has now reached the stage of Habeas Corpus with fresh evidence having come to light of journalists in the pay of the US government writing biased reports both before and during the trial itself.

Mr. President, I know that you are a man of peace having won the Nobel Peace Prize and that you are also a man of faith who attempts to put his Christian principles into practice in public life. I therefore appeal for the release of the remaining three Cuban prisoners in the interests of furthering relations between the US and Cuba and world peace. Surely a humanitarian resolution to this case can be found?

The world has moved on since 1959 and it is obvious that US policy towards Cuba since then has failed to achieve its objectives. Meanwhile much suffering has been caused not least to these men and their families and especially Adriana, the wife of Gerardo Hernandez, who has been consistently denied a visa to visit her husband since 1998. I believe that they are victims of this failed strategy.

Both your country and Cuba stand to benefit from a relationship of mutual respect and co-operation and your presidency could be defined by ending decades of this sterile policy towards a noble and heroic developing country on your doorstep that only wishes to pursue its humanitarian future free from outside interference.

Can you do it? Yes you can!

With the greatest respect,

Fr. Geoffrey Bottoms
Sheffield UK.

Parliamentarians from Costa Rica ask Obama for a Humanitarian Solution to the Case of the Cuban 5

On June 2, 23 Parliamentarians from Costa Rica sent a letter to President Obama asking him to free Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, 3 of the Five Cuban antiterrorists imprisoned in the United States for more than 15 years. In the letter they mentioned the request made by Uruguayan President José Mujica and advocate for a humanitarian solution to the case of the Cuban 5. They also urge the U.S. Government to “seriously consider a humanitarian exchange of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, by the American contractor Allan Gross”.

June 2, 2014

San José Costa Rica, Central América

President Barack Obama

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500 USA.

Your Excellency Mr. President Obama,

This year, September 12 will mark 16 years since Five Cuban citizens were imprisoned in the United States and sentenced without any proof to long terms in prison ranging from 15 years to two life sentences. The trial in Miami lacked all guarantees to due process.

Since, September 12, 1998, these men have become recognized internationally as the “Cuban Five”. They are considered Cuban anti-terrorist patriots by the Cuban people and the peoples of our America, since their actions were to prevent terrorist acts against the people of Cuba and the United States.

The Presidential administrations of former Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush and your own time in office, have witnessed that since that time of their incarceration people from all over the world have rallied on their behalf. There has been a nonstop chorus of voices demanding that your government release immediately Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, three of the five Cubans who still remain in prison.

Mr. President, it is time that you put an end to this terrible injustice that during three administrations has shadowed the ideal of democracy and justice of your country. It reveals that double-speak and double standards prevails in this case and that concerns us.

You have in your hands the power to grant the executive pardon that they deserve so that they can return to their Cuban homeland to be with their families and their people.

Mr. President Obama, we members of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, today join the cry of the solidarity and social movements from all over the world, to support the proposal submitted to you by one of the most worthy Presidents of Latin America, his Excellency Mr. President of Uruguay José Mujica. He has expressed to you his deep concern in the case of the Five and the Guantánamo prisoners, cases which constitute two major embarrassments to humanity. On the other hand, we urge you to seriously consider the humanitarian exchange of Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, for the American agent Alan Gross.

Mr. President, we hope that you pay attention to our request and put an end to this shameful injustice committed against the Cuban Five anti-terrorist patriots.

Sincerely yours,

Costa Rican Deputies to the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica

Ligia Elena Fallas Rodríguez

Jorge Arguedas Mora

José Corrales L

José Antonio Ramírez Aguilar

Ronald Vargas Araya

Carlos Hernández Alvarez

Gerardo Vargas Varela

Edgardo Vinicio Araya Sibaja

Humberto Varas Corrales

Patricia Mora Castellanos

Javier Francisco Cambronero Arguedas

Marvin Antonio Delgado

Nidia M Jiménez Vásquez

Laura Garro S.

Marlene Madrigal Flores

Marta Arauz Mora

Jorge Rodríguez

Franklin Corella U

Rosibel Ramos Madrigal

Rafael Ortiz

Emilia Molina Cruz

Víctor Hugo Morales

Natalio Guerrero Campos

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

Interview with Ramon Labañino

“I did what’s right and have never endangered anyone.”

That’s the assertion of Hero of the Cuban Republic Ramón Labañino Salazar who was unjustly
sentenced to 30 years in prison that he is serving in a federal prison in Kentucky, in the United
States. Now 51 years of age, he was 35 years old when they arrested them that early morning on
September 12, 1998.

Author: Deisy Francis Mexidor, June 9, 2014. !

That day in September, 2009 when they proceeded to resentence him in Miami, in the United
States, Ramón Labañino Salazar, who was still carrying a life sentence plus 18 years in prison,
entered the judicial chamber with his hands held high, as a victory symbol.

Glancing around, he looked at all those present in the audience until he found his beloved
Elizabeth. He smiled at her as if he were the happiest of mortals and with his look covered her
with kisses. It was a fleeting moment but at the same time almost eternal.

There were so many things being said at that moment! It was just like the one that happened
later when he learned that his new sentence, no less unjust, would remove 30 years of physical
liberty from his life. Then too his captors couldn’t lock up his soul and spirit.

“I am by nature an optimistic man,” confessed Labañino, one of five Cuban anti-terrorists
sentenced to long terms in U. S. prisons.

In response to a questionnaire, the Hero of the Republic of Cuba pointed out that, “I have
always found reasons for taking a positive point of view of everything happening around me,
including the fights, the injustices, and the hard things one lives with and sees in prison. He
shares that title with his comrades Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González,
and René González. (The last two are now in Cuba but not before they satisfied all sanctions
against them.)

The Five are brothers in the same struggle, although they are confined in prisons far apart from
each other. They took to using “us” instead of “I” and what was important for one took on a
collective nature.

They did this from the beginning and every time a message arrives from them, the farewell
invariably finishes with “five hugs.” That’s how Ramón ended these replies sent from the
penitentiary in Ashland, Kentucky.

The son of Nereyda Salazar Verduy (deceased) and Holmes Labañino Cantillo, Ramón was born
June 9, 1963, in the Havana district of Marianao. He graduated with top academic recognition,
qualifying in economics at the University of Havana.

His greatest treasures are the daughters he adores, Aili (from his first marriage) Laura, and
Lizbeth, as he tirelessly repeats.

When he left home to work abroad, precisely in February, 1992, Elizabeth Palmeiro, his wife,
was barely eight weeks pregnant with Laura. He could not enjoy that period or the arrival into
the world of Lizbeth whom he only came to know in February, 1997, just after she was born.

His comings and goings in and out of the country and then prison made it so that despite being
married for 23 years, Ramón and Elizabeth have only lived together, without being apart, for
barely two years. They’ve been separated the rest of the time.

Nevertheless, they built a family together, and she, behind the lines, waits for him dealing with
the family project that came about despite obstacles. There they are, “his beautiful women,”
as he proudly says.

Question – How does a man succeed in overcoming great adversities? Where does one find
such strength?
Answer – Above all, when one is convinced that what he is doing is always correct, just, and
legal, that one defends a humane cause, that one has never put anybody or any thing in
danger, and that, on the contrary, he has sacrificed everything for the common good, for
people’s lives – innocent people – then those ideas themselves lend enormous force of will and
persistence against all adversities and “adversaries.” The fight is just. Victory will indeed have
to be sweet.

Q. – What do you recall about Ramón as a boy and young university student?
A. – I think I am an eternal child. That’s what my wife Elizabeth, my daughters, and whoever
knows me say. I don’t know if that will always be true, or if they say it through the love they
show me, but I do believe I’ve never lost (nor ever will) that youthful, smiling, cheerful, and
optimistic spirit that helps one so much to live and struggle. I was that way as a child: smiley
and very timid, very much so, I would say. And I always was enthralled by studying and doing

I remember from childhood that my little sister Laide began calling me “Papi.” I think that was
because I took care of her a lot, and my mother instilled in us the idea that the family’s oldest
brother is like a second father. And I think I accepted that role quite seriously, so much so that
even today, many call me “Papi.” And that’s something my daughters resent, because they
want to be the only ones saying that to me, but they know very well that I am the unique, the
one and only “Papi,” from the soul to infinity, and that’s important.

I really enjoyed my university years. As I said, studying and doing sports captivated me, and I
could do both there fully. Also I was a student assistant in statistical mathematics beginning
with the second year of the course. Sometimes I gave review courses and classes to comrades
in the lower years or in our own year. It’s something I always liked a lot, teaching. I could
practice judo and karate in the university, which was my dream in sports. It was a period of
learning, but above all of growth. It helped me a lot in my formation and in my convictions in
every sense, something for which I am infinitely grateful to Cuba, to our Revolution, to our
socialist system.

Q. – Do they see you as the big one of the group?
A. – That’s one point of view of those who see me. I don’t see myself as strong, rather I work to
be “considered” thin. Of course, that continually costs me much effort to believe it myself. I
do sports for pleasure, also because I need to get rid of so much stress, and because I feel
much better and useful after each workout. I try to keep myself healthy in spite of the
heartaches, since it’s our way of fighting and overcoming, of not letting ourselves fall apart or
be destroyed. Now I myself am doing weights and long walks inside the prison, some handball,
a lot of chess. That makes me feel healthy, vital, and ready for everyday struggles and ones in
the future that surely will come.

Q. – Who did you want to resemble?
A. – I myself sought guidance through example from the great ones, not to be them, since it’s
impossible to attain icon status. But I have greatly admired and would try to be like Che, like
our immortal Antonio Maceo, like José Martí, like Fidel, like Raúl, like Bolívar, like Sucre, and
now a lot like our Hugo Chávez. They are in essence my everyday examples. I would be very
pleased, simply, to be like every man who has decency and honor, but that would make this list
too extensive.

A. – Could you let us know what you like by way of reading – historical personalities, fiction,
[even television] series…?
A. – I am going to reduce the list to five for each category. I don’t want to bore you or be too
exhaustive, but, look, among my favorite readings are: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and
“Love in the Time of Cholera,” by Gabriel García Márquez; “The Kingdom of this World,” by
Alejo Carpentier: “Simple Verses,” by José Martí; and “The House of the Spirits, by Isabel

From television series I can name “In Silence It Had to Be” and “Julito the Fisherman,” two
excellent Cuban productions; and from another area – adventures – where I saw “The
Commandos of Silence.” And I take the occasion to ask why they don’t make new versions of all
these series on Cuban television. As to films, I point to “Strawberry and Chocolate” and
‘Undercover” (“Clandestinos”), where our much-admired Isabel Santos took the lead role.
In regard to fictitious characters, there are these: Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, David in “In
Silence It Had to Be,” interpreted by the late actor Sergio Corrieri; “Julito the Fisherman,”
immortalized by René de la Cruz; and Bruce Lee in some of his films on martial arts, to mention
a few.

Historical figures that I feel are examples for imitation are: Simón Bolívar, Ernesto Che
Guevara, Antonio Maceo, José Martí, and Fidel Castro.

P. – They arrested you when you were 35 years old. What is your concept of time?
A. – Time is a relative concept. If I think about myself, I think time does not pass. When I think
of my daughters becoming women, when I look into the eyes of my beloved Eli, time becomes
infinite for me, cruel, implacable. On that score, I go back to another time, one of laughter
and joys, of return and happiness, to the precious time of our future, free in Cuba – and with
that (my optimism), I stop. You already know I am a huge optimist, that I am going to remain
that way, and so I am happy.

P. – Imagine you are a poet improviser and they give you a “forced foot” that says, “…I am
this kind of guy.” (1)

A. – I am this kind of guy
exactly how you see him
not right not wrong
simple, no frenzy.
With Cuba free I learned
That the way is to love struggle
And this threatening fight today
Is for the truth I knew
And I will continue being like this,
A simple guy with decency
That is worth much more than gold,
One who is honored to die as I lived.

Q. – If you close your eyes now, what do you see?
A. – I see Cuba, a beach blue, clean, and dazzling. I see Eli, my daughters, all my family, my
people. I see laughter, joy, eternity. That way I make my freedom tangible and real. And I know
it’s certain.

(1) A “forced foot” (pie forzada) is a usually ten-line bit of improvised poetry that must end
with a proposed verse, or as with Ramon, begin with it.

Translated by W. T. Whitney Jr. for

Terrorism as a weapon of hegemony – The Cuban 5


June 17, 2014

Terrorism As A Weapon Of Hegemony

The Cuban Five


Once again, the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) joins hands with the people of Cuba and justice-loving people in every nook and cranny of the planet, in demanding the immediate release of the three remaining prisoners from the Cuban Five who are still languishing in US jails, after 13 years.

Two were released after completing their prison terms — Rene Gonzales on the 7th of October 2011, and Fernando Gonzales on the 27th of February 2014. It is important to emphasize that they walked to freedom with their dignity intact. The three who are still in jail — Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labanino — deserve our fullest support and solidarity. We should continue to campaign for them with all our heart and soul.

To reiterate, the imprisonment of all five is a travesty of justice. The Cuban Five were monitoring Cuban exile groups in the US in the nineties who had a proven record of committing terrorist acts against the Cuban people. They were gathering information about the terrorist missions that these groups were planning and had informed the US authorities about what they (the Cuban Five) were doing. And yet they were arrested and jailed after an unfair and unjust trial.

If the Cuban Five working under the direction of the Cuban government was determined to expose terrorist activities being carried out against their motherland from US soil, it was mainly because Cuba and its leadership had been victims of US sponsored terror and violence for decades. In 1976, a Cuban commercial plane with 73 passengers on board, a number of them school children, was bombed, killing everyone. The alleged mastermind of this terrorist act, Luis Posada Carriles, is still alive, protected by the US government. There was also an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba by groups in the US in 1961, the infamous ‘Bay of Pigs’ fiasco. A series of terrorist attacks targeting hotels and tourists in the nineties sought to cripple the Cuban economy. And there have been innumerable attempts to assassinate the Leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, right through the 47 years that he was in power. Add to all this the crippling economic sanctions imposed upon Cuba by every US Administration since 1961 and we will get a complete picture of how a small nation of 11 million people has had to endure the terror unleashed against it by its superpower neighbor.

Why has Cuba been the target of terrorism in all its manifestations for so long? The reason is simple. The US elite will not accept in its neighborhood, a nation which is determined to choose its own path to the future without being dictated to, or dominated by, the US. It will not tolerate a people who are committed to defending their independence and sovereignty. To put it in another way, the US drive for hegemony does not permit another nation— especially a nation with a different worldview — to preserve and enhance its dignity.

This hegemonic attitude is borne out by the US’s treatment of other countries in Latin America. Whenever a nation steps out of line, the US line, it is clobbered. Sometimes through terror and violence. Look at Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, at different times and in different circumstances. Even in West Asia, terror has been employed to both undermine governments which want to maintain a degree of independence from the US and the West and to create instability and chaos in society. This is the story of Somalia and Sudan, of Libya and Lebanon, of Iraq and Syria. In Southeast Asia too, the Vietnamese, the Cambodians and Laotians have all experienced US terror, just as the people of the Philippines had in the past. Weren’t the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki also exposed to a US “rain of terror” in 1945?

Let’s be clear about this. Terrorism is a tool for dominance and control. Terrorism is a weapon of hegemony. The US — like some other states too—uses this weapon in both ways. It employs terror when it suits its interests. It also fights against terrorism when it serves its agenda. This is why for the US there are “good terrorists” and “bad terrorists.” It is quite happy to collude with the former and crush the latter.

This was obvious in Iraq following the Anglo-American occupation of the land in 2003. In the initial phase the occupier encouraged the Shia militias to fight the Sunni remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime. Once the Shias got into power through the democratic process and moved closer to Iran, the US became worried and backed Sunni militias fighting the Shia dominated government. Now of course, Sunni-Shia clashes, compounded by various other forces, have assumed a life of their own.

In Syria, it is an open secret that the US and other Western and regional actors have been actively involved in supporting the armed rebels against the Bashar al-Assad government in Damascus. Some of the rebels are favored more than others by the US just as other rebels are linked to some of the other external players. The good terrorists from the US perspective receive a lot of assistance including weapons and funds through channels connected to US allies in the region. Are there bad terrorists in the Syrian conflict? While the US may not approve of the tactics used by some of the rebels, it has refrained from strong denunciation of them since it shares their overriding objective of eliminating Assad. So it is Assad who is the bad terrorist in the eyes of the US. Assad is bad because he has been consistent in his opposition to US-Israeli hegemony over West Asia.

There is parallel of sorts to the Cuban situation. All those individuals and groups opposed to the Cuban government, however violent they may be, are good terrorists and have been bestowed with all kinds of aid by US agencies through various conduits. Fidel Castro, and his successor, Raul Castro, are the bad ones. Fidel in particular was demonized in the mainstream Western media as few other leaders had been. Needless to say, it was because of his principled position against US helmed hegemony, articulated with such depth and clarity, that a grossly negative image of the man was disseminated through the media.

But Fidel Castro and the Cuban Five have demonstrated that in the ultimate analysis truth will triumph. Today, Fidel commands a lot of respect and affection among ordinary men and women everywhere for what he has accomplished for his people and indeed for the people of Latin America and the Global South. Similarly, the cause of the Cuban Five has become one of the major rallying-points in the worldwide struggle for human freedom and human dignity because it symbolizes the struggle of the powerless against the powerful.

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), an NGO based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.