Cuban students celebrating the release of the remaining three members of the Cuban Five — Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero — who were freed and arrived on the island today. They are now with their families, and according to all local reports, are well and enjoying an emotional reunion. Two others, René González and Fernando González (no relations), have already been released — the former in 2011, when he was paroled, and the latter in February of this year, when he completed his sentence.
All five men were accused and convicted of espionage, although none of them were what one could properly call spies; all were antiterrorist agents of the Cuban government, and had uncovered terrorist plotting on the part of right-wing anti-Castro organizations in Miami. Rather than receive their shared information with the gratitude it deserved, the FBI colluded with the wrong side, and sent them to prison instead. It was one of the worst miscarriages of justice in international history, and today it was finally put right. The US has straight-up admitted that its anti-communist Cuba policy has been an epic failure, and is now seeking normalized relations with its island neighbor. Hence the freeing of the three remaining members of the Five, in exchange for Cuba releasing USAID agent Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned there for five years. It’s a nice goodwill gesture on both parts, and one dares hope it will lead to a whole lot more in future. (I, for one, would really love to see the permanent closure of Gitmo. Get on it, you guys!)
Meanwhile, actual spies and terrorists who have never been punished are still walking free. Chief among them is an ugly old coot named Luis Posada Carriles, a.k.a. the CubanaBomber. Before September 11, 2001, he was the author of the worst airline terrorist incident in history, along with the late Orlando Bosch; together, they planted a bomb on a Cubana jetliner that killed 73 civilians. Posada is still stinking up the gutters of Miami, despite being in the US illegally. He remains a national embarrassment, and one that’s gone studiously unaddressed by at least two administrations. Will he now be handed over to Venezuela or Cuba, both of whom want him for crimes against humanity? No word yet; stay tuned. If His Barackness is smart, he’ll hand the old motherfucker over. Two countries have been waiting long enough to finally bring him to justice, so here’s hoping he picks one. (I’m guessing he’ll pick Cuba, since the current policy in Washington is still to punish Venezuela by isolation and sanctions for not selling all its oil to the Texas barons for a song. Venezuela is no more isolated than Cuba — in fact, it’s been THE key player in bringing Cuba back into the Latin American fold — so this is just way too fucking funny.)
Meanwhile, in Colombia, something even more momentous has happened: The FARC have announced a unilateral, indefinite ceasefire, following the news of this sudden thaw in US-Cuban relations. Given that they’ve been at war with various more or less right-wing governments there for over 60 years, pretty much ever since the Bogotazo, this is HUGE.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that they came to this decision, and made this announcement, during a peace summit in Havana? El Narco must be steaming like a well-brewed cup of coffee, having been denied his victory in office, and having failed at his repeated putsch attempts ever since. All those paramilitaries and peasant massacres and false positives for nothing, boooooo hooooooooo.
So yes, Cuba is the big winner today, and on multiple fronts. The US has admitted that its unnaturally prolonged Cold War isolationist policy has failed. The bulk of Latin America, with one or two shameful exceptions (ahem, Colombia and Peru) has pulled behind Cuba, offering solidarity and fair trade through the ALBA alliance, as well as Mercosur. The dire climate of the post-Soviet Special Period, which the Miami mafia terrorists were hoping to capitalize on at the time the Cuban Five infiltrated their various rats’ nests, is long gone. Cuba is still surviving and thriving, albeit on a modest scale. They’re exporting doctors and educators and locally-made medicaments, and receiving Venezuelan oil (and Venezuelan oil expertise, too, as Cuba is sitting on some very promising offshore deposits that it’s looking to tap into).
Moreover, they have the political support of all the key Latin American leaders, while those who have tried to isolate Cuba remain isolated themselves, and are looking increasingly foolish for having done so. The Cuban government remains as it is, despite all US talk of “freedom” and “democracy” and “change” (note the quotes, there for a reason). Not one elected Cuban leader has been sacrificed in the making of this deal…and yes, they are all elected! This island nation will not end up like Puerto Rico, annexed and stripped of rights in exchange for — what, exactly? Creeping gringoization? The privilege of housing US naval bases? The fun of having to clean up after them, as the Puerto Ricans have had to do with Vieques?
Nope. Can’t happen. Won’t happen. The test of time has been stood. The Revolution has triumphed. Cuba is still Cuban, no matter what.
And that’s the way it’s going to stay, whatever comes next.