Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dec. 4 at SIXTH U.S./Cuba/Venezuela/Mexico/North-South America Labor Conference, Dec. 4-6, 2009 Tijuana, Mexico

wwphoto credit: Bob McCubbin,
Friday Evening Session Demands Freedom for the Cuban Five - unjustly held in U.S. prisons

By Alicia Jrapko

Just a few days before the resentencing hearing for Fernando González and Ramón Labañino, an international event in support of the Cuban Five took place in the city of Tijuana, the largest border entry point into the United States. This activity, a Friday evening event, was the beginning of the weekend-long Sixth Cuba/Venezuela/Mexico/North American Labor conference organized by the U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange, which brought together union representatives from Latin America, the Philippines, Canada and the U.S. One of the reasons this conference has been held in Tijuana for the past six years has been to enable Cubans to participate. People attending the conference came from cities across the U.S. including New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Oakland, San Diego, Houston and others. Many residents of Mexico also came from several Baja California cities including Mexicali, Ensenada, Tijuana and towns throughout northern Mexico.

The Cuban Five solidarity event started with messages of solidarity from the families of the Cuban Five and an update of the case by Silvia García, representing the Cuban National Assembly of the Peoples Power. Carmen Godinez from the Confederation of Cuban Workers (CTC) talked about the support for the Cuban Five within the organized labor movements worldwide. Claudia Morcom, a former Michigan county court judge, talked about several projects that are taking place in the city of Detroit in support of the Five. Alicia Jrapko from the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five presented a short video about the case featuring Alice Walker that brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience. Jrapko also talked about the expanding worldwide solidarity campaign to free the Cuban Five heroes as well as the struggle to gain visitation rights for Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez, the wives of René González and Gerardo Hernández, who have been continuously denied visas by the U.S. government.

The event received considerable media coverage that helped raise awareness about the case of the Cuban Five including interviews on four radio stations and three television channels. On Thursday, Dec. 3, a press conference was held in Mexicali and brought the information to a wide audience from cities across Baja California as well as cities and towns on the other side of the border. A program from KPFK Pacifica in Los Angeles featured an update on the case and announced the Tijuana evening event and the weekend conference.

Two Mexican members of the International Commission for the Right of Family Visits, Cuauhtémoc Amescua Dromundo, professor of Political Sciences of the Autonomous University of Mexico and Hilda Venegas Negrete, sent solidarity messages to the event. Hilda Venegas Negrete, a member of the National Council of the Union of Jurists of Mexico and the League for the Defense of Human Rights concluded her message with a saying from a sacred book of the Mayan people, "They ripped out our fruits, they cut off our branches, they burned out the trunks of our trees but they could not kill our roots."

The Tijuana event for the Cuban Five was organized by the US/Cuba Labor Exchange
and the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five.
wwphoto credit: Bob McCubbin,