Friday, 7 June 2013

Report on LASC Coffeehouse, May 20, 2013

On May 20, the LASC coffeehouse  presentation was "Working to Free the Cuban Five!" with speaker Alici Jrapko, one of the national organizers for "5 days for the Cuban 5" events in Washington DC this year, between May 30 and June 5 of 2013.

Since 2006 Alicia has been the US coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, who are  political prisoners incarcerated since 1998 in the United States. Their plight began when Cuba sent them to America in the 1990's to monitor the terrorist activities of anti-Cuban exile groups in Miami. After gathering the information, Havana presented the evidence to the U.S. government, hoping Washington would stop the illegal attacks. Instead of nabbing the Cuban-American terrorists, Washington arrested the five Cubans for trumped-up charges that they were spying on the United States government and convicted the five Cubans in a rigged Miami federal court, in a region awashed with anti-Castro hostility. Their story is not well known in our country, but thousands of people worldwide, including 10 Nobel Laureates, have been pushing Washington to free them. Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5 who regained his freedom by renouncing his United States citizenship, after having served his sentence, urged President Barack Obama "to have the courage to pardon them by the powers conferred to him".

Our speaker Alicia was born in Cordoba Argentina, but came to the United States during the dictatorship of the 1970's that was responsible for the deaths of over 30,000 progressives, trade unionists and students there. She has been involved in many different struggles in the US, but her main focus has been the fight against hostile US policy toward Cuba. She has been participated in many of the Pastors for Peace caravans to Chiapas and Cuba, and in 1994 she became a leading organizer for the US/Cuba Friendshipment on the west coast, after making one of the early embargo challenges at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo! Alicia worked on the national campaign to return Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba and was on the committee that interviewed US students applying for scholarship to study medicine at the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba; and in October 2011 she was the organizer of the US tour of La Colmenita, the national children's theater group of Cuba.

She gave us up-to-date information on the work to free the Cuban 5, especially the planned activities in Washington this year. Along with calling for the freedom of the Cuban 5, the protest at the White House will include demands for ending the travel ban, removing Cuba from the list of countries that promote terrorism, ending the criminal economic blockade of Cuba and closing Guantanamo Prison.

Speakers were to include: Angela Davis; Ignacio Ramonet former editor-in-Chief of Le Monde Diplomatique; Dolores Huerta, co founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW); Fernando Morais, author of "The last soldiers of the cold war"; and Martin Garbus, American lawyer member of the legal team of the Cuban Five. Also participating: Cuban associations from Florida, , the Bolivarian Circle of Miami, the Christian Women Association in Defense of the Family, Jewish Solidarity, and  parliamentarians, jurists and organizers from Latin America and Europe.

Here is a link:

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