Gabo, his good friends Fidel and Bill… and the Cuban Five

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the famed Colombian novelist who died April 17, 2014, played a fascinating cameo role in the story of the Cuban Five. In the spring of 1998, he carried a secret message about a terrorist plot against Cuba from Fidel Castro to Bill Clinton. That session led to an unprecedented sit-down between the FBI and Cuban State Security in Havana in June 1998. And it was those meetings that triggered the events that ultimately led to the arrest of the Cuban Five on September 12, 1998. You can learn more about that backstory in this excerpt from What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuba Five by Stephen Kimber.

CHERRY BLOSSOMS: Gabo and the case of the Cuban FIve

Gabriel García Márquez, a well recognized friend of Cuba and of the leader of its Revolution, was travelling soon to attend a conference at Princeton and expected to meet President Clinton, a reader and admirer, like many millions, of the Nobel Laureate in Literature. On April 18, Fidel personally drafted a message to Clinton and gave it to the Colombian writer who arrived to the US Capital on May 1st. Unable to receive Gabo personally, President Clinton arranged for some of his closest associates to meet him at the White House on May 6. According to Gabo’s report Fidel’s message was taken very seriously. Articles written by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada for www.counterpunch.org, from August 11th to October 23rd, 2009, on the Gabriel García Márquez role in the case of the Cuban Five.

Statement by Josefina Vidal Ferriero, head of the USA Desk at the Cuban Foreign Ministry

The Cuban government reiterates its willingness to seek, in conjunction with the US government, a solution to the case of Mr. Gross, acceptable to both parties, that addresses Cuba’s humanitarian concerns related to the three Cubans (of the Cuban Five) that continue unjustly imprisoned in the US for over 15 years.

The Cuban 5: Obama is in the wrong side of the history

The test for leaders like President Obama is not to avoid inheriting such scandals. No, the test is whether they right them when they have the chance. Failure to do so leaves administrations such as his open to accusations of complicity in injustice and at the moment, President Obama has failed to act as only he now can. Maybe when the International Commission’s report is filed it will help him to realise that if his style as President is ever to be matched by substance then it’s time to free the Cuban 5. Or, as European Parliament Vice President Miguel Angel Martinez told the Commission, ‘President Obama, yes you can’!

Global Exchange's 2014 People’s Choice Award for the Cuban Five

The Cuban Five are heroes to the Cuban people, well known to many around the globe, but to most in the United States, their case is unknown. Their capture, detention, trials, and sentencing has been widely criticized, including calls for their release by eight international Nobel Prize winners and Amnesty International. Selection of the People’s Choice Honoree was based on the following evaluation criteria: The number of votes from the public each candidate receives; Evidence of contribution to human rights struggles and; Demonstration that the People’s Choice Award honor will strengthen and advance the candidate’s efforts and work.

Sandra Levinson, Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies in New York, Sends a Letter to Obama

I write you today to urge that you look at the case of the three Cubans still held hostage to our outworn and dangerous foreign policy towards Cuba. I understand far too well the urgency that led the Cuban government to send these very brave men to infiltrate the Cuban exile terrorist organizations. "Terrorist" is not too strong a word to describe the groups these men infiltrated in Miami. For decades they have ignored the laws of the United States which gave them new lives and protection. These groups were left alone by U.S. authorities to carry out a war against both Cuba and these with whom they disagree on U.S. territory. Many of them were U.S. citizens. I am one of these victimize by them.

Words of Fernando at the Cuban National Assembly session

To the Cuban people, who are represented here by all of you, is not only the gratitude of ourselves and of our families for the support and solidarity manifested during all these years, but also thanks for the countless displays of affection and respect that we have received since our return to the country, spontaneous acts, full of patriotism and Cuban identity, heartfelt expressions of happiness for our return and of a determination to continue struggling to win the return of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio.

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René González Fernando González Antonio Guerrero Ramón Labañino Gerardo Hernández

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