“The Cuban Five” on America’s Rooftop


On January 10th, three young Argentinean climbers from Neuquén province reached the summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain on the American continent, with an elevation of 22,831 feet above sea level. This extraordinary feat, accomplished by Santiago Vega, a radio and television journalist, Aldo Bonavitta, a bank clerk, and Alcides Bonavitta, a social activist, had a political objective as clear as it was noble: expressing the solidarity of the Argentinean people with the cause of the five Cuban anti-terrorism fighters, held by the empire in its prisons for eleven years, under conditions that are not even applied to the worst serial criminals in that country. Moreover, they were condemned in an absolutely flawed trial that makes their incarceration an affront to due process and the rule of law. Ramon Labanino, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez were unjustly and illegally imprisoned and their case constitutes an emphatic denial of the so-called war on terrorism that Washington claims to be waging.

The case of the “Cuban Five” reveals like few others, the scope of the empire’s moral decadence. If they are being held as prisoners in the United States of America, it’s precisely for having fought against terrorism. On the other hand, proven and confessed terrorists such as Orlando Bosch Avila and Luis Posada Carriles, responsible for blowing up a Cuban airliner and killing 73 people onboard, with the former being the beneficiary of a presidential pardon, because Washington protects and shelters terrorism, as it also protected Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Jorge Videla, Augusto Pinochet and the shadowy network of mercenaries that tortured and disappeared almost half a million Latin Americans under Operation Condor, back in the day.

The imprisonment of the Cuban anti-terrorist heroes is a scandal whose immorality cries out that the United States is not interested in the least in fighting terrorism and that its preaching in this sense is a monumental hypocrisy. If Barack Obama wants to be faithful to the memory of the person who he mentioned in his speech at Oslo as one of his mentors, Martin Luther King, he ought to pardon the “Cuban Five” right now and with dignity and firmness, reject the wailing from the terrorist mafia enmeshed in the major offices of the three branches of the U.S. government. It is a mafia, furthermore, connected to the radical right-wing and the enormous interests of the military-industrial complex; intransigent opponents of any halfway progressive initiative that someone who arrived at the White House by seducing an electorate with promises of change and the slogan “Yes, we can!” might wish to put into practice.

If Obama does not pardon the anti-terrorist fighters, as the international community demands, and as called for on the flag placed by the heroic Argentinean climbers at Aconcagua’s summit, it’s due to the fact that either his moral integrity is consumed by fatal weakness (something extremely serious in a Nobel Peace Prize recipient) or because he lacks the audacity and courage necessary to confront the “permanent government” of the United States: the doomed military-industrial complex that truly rules the destiny of that country, turning the highly exalted U.S. democracy into a bloody mockery. The incurable moral degradation of the empire and its new rulers overflowed like infection from a wound, when several months ago the U.S. State Department denied a temporary U.S. visa for Adriana Perez O’Connor, the wife of Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo. In that legal farce put on in Miami with the consent of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and now, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Gerardo was sentenced to two life sentences plus 15 years in prison. As if such a penal monstrosity were not in itself sufficient, U.S. “justice” has prohibited him a visit from his wife, for eleven years, something that is not denied even the worst criminal confined in any of its prisons. In this infamous episode, worthy of inclusion in a new chapter of that remarkable book by Jorge Luis Borges, A Universal History of Infamy, the current Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, as a way of justifying the unjustifiable, said that a visit by Adriana “constitutes a threat to the stability and national security of the United States.” Few expressions could surpass this one as timely proof of the moral rot of the empire. One would hope that the achievement of Santiago, Aldo and Alcides at Aconcagua might serve to help Obama realize the universal discredit into which he is falling by continuing the policy of his predecessors in relation to two key issues: the unjust incarceration of the “Cuban Five” and the maintenance of the criminal blockade against Cuba.


Atilio A. Boron