Comité Nacional por la Libertad de los Cinco Cubanos

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Jimmy Santiago Baca, famous Chicano poet and author,
headlines event to free the Cuban Five

Large turnout and enthusiastic response boosts freedom campaign

by Frank Meade
Dec. 15, 2009
Reprinted from

Billed “As an evening with Jimmy Santiago Baca,” the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five held an extremely successful fundraiser in San Francisco Dec. 11. The event raised funds for the Cuban Five’s freedom campaign and spread the word of their unjust political imprisonment in the United States for stopping Miami-based organizations that have carried out multiple terrorist attacks against the Cuba.

Since the Cuban Revolution over 50 years ago, right-wing anti-Castro organizations, with CIA backing, have financed and trained terrorist cells, murdering and maiming over 3,400 Cubans and blowing up a Cubana Airlines passenger plane. The Cuban Five’s mission was to monitor these terrorist cells and warn Cuba of impending attacks. With their brave sacrifice, they saved two civilian planes from suffering a similar fate as Cubana flight 455, which was blown up on October 6, 1976. Seventy-three people died.

The terrorists Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch were the architects of that attack. Yet, due to a deliberate U.S. government refusal to extradite Carriles to Venezuela, where he plotted the plane bombing, he and Bosch walk the streets of Miami freely, while the Cuban Five heroes languish in U.S. prisons.

The Cuban Five were arrested by the FBI, falsely indicted with espionage-conspiracy and related charges, and tried in Miami, where a fair trial was impossible. After their 2001 convictions, they were unjustly sentenced from 19 years to two consecutive life terms, exposing the hypocrisy of the U.S. justice system. Recently through appeal, three of the five were re-sentenced; however, they are still required to serve long sentences—17 years and 9 months for Fernando González, 21 years and 10 months for Antonio Guerrero, and 30 years for Ramón Labañino.

Baca, a world-renowned, Chicano poet and author, learned about the Five recently and has thrown his support to their cause, spreading the word about their unfair convictions and imprisonment. Since learning of their case, Baca has headlined two events to raise awareness and support—one in Colorado Springs and the most recent at the Mission Cultural Center in San Francisco.

The Friday night event drew an enthusiastic crowd of almost 200 people to hear Baca and learn of the struggle of the Cuban Five. The renowned poet shared his passion about freeing the Five, reading poetry by Antonio Guerrero and Gerardo Hernández, and selected poems and excerpts from his new novel “A Glass of Water,” which is a beautiful and moving story about an immigrant Mexican family living in the United States.

Jack Hirschman, a San Francisco Bay Area celebrity and former San Francisco Poet Laureate (2008), read poems written by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban Five who has become an amazing poet and artist while incarcerated, and shared his own work as well. The attendees were also treated to the musical stylings of Ronald Rosario, a revolutionary musician involved in the Puerto Rican independence movement.

Baca and Hirschman were featured on an hour-long live Flashpoints program of KPFA Pacifica radio in the Bay Area, the same evening of the cultural event, reaching tens of thousands of listeners.

This has been an important year for the fight to free the Cuban Five. As word of their imprisonment and fight for justice continues, well-known personalities like Baca truly help the cause to win their release. Baca is one of many such personalities who have dedicated their time and talent to get the word out and put pressure on the U.S. justice system to release the brave anti-terrorist heroes. Others include Danny Glover, Alice Walker, Martin Sheen, Desmond Tutu, hundreds of Mexican, British, Canadian, European Parliamentary members and many, many other organizations and individuals.

Jack Hirschman

Ronald Rosario

Jimmy Santiago Baca reads from his latest book, A Glass of Water


The crowd listens to Jimmy Santiago Baca

Jimmy Santiago Baca reading from Desde Mi Altura by Antonio Guerrero






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