By Vinnie Molina,
At the invitation of the MUA, the CFMEU and supported by the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS) Aili Labañino, the daughter of Ramon Labañino one of the Cuban Five serving time in a US prison since 1998 shared the pain inflicted on the Cuban Five and their families with our members and the community in general.
Aili’s father Ramon and 4 others were found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage and sentenced to very long terms that range from 15 years to double life terms in prison.
They infiltrated anti-Cuba terrorist groups in Miami. The men, known internationally as the Cuban Five are heroes in their homeland. Their actions were able to forewarn authorities in Cuba about terror attacks from the ruthless expatriate groups in spite of the US administration’s unwillingness to assist. The Five were taken into custody on September 12, 1998, accused of espionage and other politically motivated charges and subjected to a very flawed trial. It took place in the toxic anti-Cuba atmosphere created in Miami by anti-Castro Mafia groups. Appeals have been dismissed and a media blackout kept over the injustice.
Two of the Five have completed their long sentences and returned to their families but Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino remain in separate US prisons.
While in Perth she was welcomed by workers at the Old Treasury building site. They all listened to her message with attention and signed a petition to President Obama to release and send all of the Cuban Five back to Cuba with their families.
In her address to workers and the community Aili told of the life experiences shared by herself and her sisters. They have practically grown up without their father. Aili was only 11yo when he was arrested. Aili told her audience “More than half of my life, and most of my sisters lives, has been spent in this battle for the return of my father”.
Aili, her two sisters and all the families of the Cuban Five feel very proud knowing the sacrifice made by the Five was not only for their families but also for all Cubans. Aili expressed the pain of the families in not having their fathers with them, for instance at birthday parties, on Fathers’ Day and any other event when it is normal to have your dad there.
To add salt to injury the relatives have to wait often for extended periods for a US visa to be able to visit their relatives in prison. For Aili’s sisters memories of their father is of him dressed in prison uniform.
We asked Aili how important has international solidarity been in the case?
She says: First of all, I would like to extend my thanks to the Australian trade unions. They were the ones who financed my tour through six cities in Australia. Unfortunately, as in many other countries in the world, not a lot is known about the case of the Five. While the media ignores the case we are convinced that the unions and others who know about the case are working very hard in solidarity for the freedom of the Five.
Truly, international solidarity is vital in this battle. Cuba’s efforts are reaching the world with the help of many 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 truth of the case be known.
The main problem is that the mass media has 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.
Aili Labañino’s father Ramon is due for release on 2024 but together we can ensure that Obama signs an executive decision to free them before he ends his term in office.
On 12th September millions around the world will join their voices calling on President Obama to release the Cuban Five.
For more information visit: www.freethecuban5.org