Vol. 73/No. 30 August 10, 2009
July 26 event celebrates
Cuban Revolution in N.Y.
BY DOUG NELSON
NEW YORKAbout 140 people attended a meeting here July 25 at the Service Employees International Union Local 1199 hall to celebrate 50 years of the Cuban Revolution, on the eve of the 56th anniversary of the opening salvo in the revolutionary armed struggle led by Fidel Castro.
On July 26, 1953, some 160 revolutionaries under Castro's command launched an attack on two army garrisons in eastern Cuba. While the attacks failed, and more than 50 of the captured revolutionaries were killed, the action marked the beginning of a popular armed struggle against the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.
The revolutionary organization led by Castro, which five and a half years later led the victorious popular insurrection against the Batista tyranny, took its name from that datethe July 26 Movement.
The meeting was chaired by Nancy Cabrero, president of Casa de las Américas, and Frank Velgara, of Pro Libertad, a group that campaigns for the release of Puerto Rican political prisoners in the United States. Casa de las Américas, originally called Casa Cuba, was founded in 1957 by members of the New York chapter of the July 26 Movement to win support for the revolutionary struggle in Cuba.
The featured speakers were Anet Pino, chargé d'affaires of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, and Leonard Weinglass, an attorney for five Cuban revolutionaries who have been held in U.S. jails for nearly 11 years. Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, René González, and Antonio Guerrero, internationally known as the Cuban Five, were framed up and convicted by the U.S. government in 2001 on false charges of "conspiracy to commit espionage." They are serving sentences ranging from 15 years to life.
Last month the Supreme Court declined to review the case, Weinglass explained, despite unprecedented condemnation of the conviction and sentences. Among those who have condemned the trials, he said, are 10 Nobel Prize winners and the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
The next steps in the legal defense of the five, Weinglass said, includes a resentencing trial in mid-October, which will remove life sentences for Labañino and Guerrero, and new legal arguments on behalf of Hernández, who is serving two life sentences. A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court ruled in June 2008 that the life sentences for Labañino and Guerrero were excessive.
"We have found out recently that some reporters in Miami who wrote scurrilous attacks against the five prior to and throughout their trial were on the payroll of the United States government," Weinglass said. "That has not been revealed before. I can tell you we have proof of that fact, and we will be arguing that as well."
The young revolutionaries led by Castro who carried out the heroic assault on July 26, 1953, Pino said, referred to themselves as the "Centennial Generation" in recognition of their revolutionary continuity with the legacy of José Martí, who was born in 1853 and led Cuba's war for independence against Spain. These revolutionaries left "a generation determined to eliminate the injustice of this world, and willing to die if necessary," she said.
Pino stressed the importance of unity in action among forces that support the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban Five. This unity must be as "compact as the veins of silver that lie at the roots of the Andes," she said, quoting from Martí's "Our America."