Watch: A special interview with Gerardo Hernandez recorded for the Cuba Solidarity Campaign
News from Cuba | Wednesday, 22 April 2015
“To everyone reading this, I say one word. THANKYOU”
Gerardo Hernández, a member of the Miami Five who was unjustly imprisoned in a US jail for 16 years, gave a special interview to CubaSí magazine in March when he spoke to CSC Director Rob Miller in Havana.
Click on the link at the bottom of this article to watch the video, or read the transcript below.
On coming home to Cuba and the reception he received from the Cuban people:
“You have to realise we spent 16 years dreaming and waiting for that day, and when it finally came, we couldn’t believe it. Everything happened so fast. We were moved from one place to the other very quickly. One night we were sleeping in the cell, and the next morning we were greeting Raúl Castro and our families. It was very emotional.
“We are still experiencing a huge welcome from the Cuban people wherever we go. Sometimes I go to a place and think nobody recognises us, and suddenly they are all calling our names. It is a lovely experience.
“Somebody asked me recently: ’Do you still think or have dreams about the prison?’ And I said, after receiving the first three or four hugs from my people on returning to Cuba I forgot about prison. We don’t think about it anymore. We just receive a lot of love and give a lot of love back too.”
On his new baby daughter Gema who was born to him and his wife Adriana, just weeks after his return home following IVF treatment:
“She is great. She’s a light in our lives. Adriana, myself and all the family are very happy. Cuba is very happy too. The other day some photos of Gema appeared on Cuban TV and afterwards a lot of people on the street were calling out to us ‘I saw the photos. She’s beautiful.'
“She’s a lovely girl. I know every dad will tell you that but in her case it’s for real. She’s no trouble at all, she’s very well behaved, she doesn’t cry too much. We are both very, very happy.”
On the role of women family members in the struggle for their freedom:
“Our mothers, our wives, our sisters and daughters played a big role in this campaign and they touched people that otherwise would not have been moved. Even those who were not friendly to Cuba or not political got involved after hearing about the tragedy through our wives and mothers. I used to tell Adriana she was my best lawyer, and I believe all the women in our families were good lawyers for us.”
On the role of international solidarity:
“Some friends have said: ‘Well you know, we fought very hard, but at the end what brought you back to Cuba was a political solution.’ But I don’t agree with that. For things to happen there must be a lot of work contributing to it. I don’t believe that there would have been a solution like there was for us if the Five had been five unknown people that nobody cared about. I believe the solidarity movement made that difference.
“When you talk about solidarity, you can not only see it in terms of results. You also have to think about it in terms of our every day lives in prison. When we woke up in a prison cell every single day for 15/16 years, we had to have something to think about. Something to encourage you; to give you strength to resist that day. You don’t think about tomorrow or yesterday. You have to face whatever is coming to you that day. Sometimes that ‘whatever’ would be complicated: like seeing someone getting killed, or getting a shakedown, or almost being involved in a fight - many of the things that happen in every prison.
“You have to have something that tells you, ‘Hey. You have to resist. You have to be strong.’ And that something many times was the knowledge that we had comrades like you.
“I can give you a concrete example of this. When I was taken to the hole in Lompoc, there was a basement below the regular hole that they called the cage. I was in this cell with just two doors, with the lights on 24 hours a day, only in my underwear, with no book to read, nothing. I didn’t know if it was day or night. When someone flushed the toilet in the upper cell it used to run down my wall and the thing that encouraged me; that stopped me getting crazy in such conditions was the knowledge that I could count on people like you; that you were fighting for us out there, - not only the Cuban people and the Cuban government, but friends, like you, all over the world.
“ When I read the stories about our elderly friends going to demonstrations outside on cold nights and days, in rain and snow, and the people, who even with economic problems, would raise money for our cause, this encouraged me a lot. It gave us the strength we needed to resist for 16 years. This solidarity helped us every single day, and it was a lot.”
On the blockade and the state of US-Cuba relations:
“First of all the blockade is still here. I know they have been talking about easing this or that, and one day we hope it will be lifted, but it’s still there and we have to keep fighting for it to end.
“It’s about time that this war situation ended and the Cuban people were given the chance to live in peace. But, in my opinion, the US is not just going to give up and say: ‘Alright, we couldn’t destroy the Revolution through 50 years of blockade, or through this or that aggression, or through terrorism,’ and admit that we Cubans have the right to choose whatever path we want.
“Imperialism doesn’t just change from one day to another. In this regard we are going to have to face many new dangers, and of course we are still going to need solidarity from our friends around the world. Probably even more now because there are going to be many fake friends, so it’s going to be important for our real friends to stay right with us.”
On US attacks on Venezuela:
“As an observer I can’t understand it. Maybe Obama was ill advised by someone, because to me it seems stupid. It’s something that even international observers don’t understand. But on the other hand, I believe that the US has to live in confrontation with someone. It’s the way their system works. They have to pick a fight with somebody.
“The fact is, for imperialism, we are just the bad sheep that got away from the herd and they will never forgive us for that. They will never let us be. So they have to punish Cuba and they have to punish Venezuela for that. No matter what the rhetoric is. No matter how they change a little bit here and a little bit there, the system has it inside. They are not going to decide overnight to say, ‘OK, let’s be good neighbours now.’
“That’s why I say that we have to remain vigilant. They will never forgive the Venezuelan Revolution the same way they will never forgive the Cuban Revolution.”
A special message for CSC members and supporters in Britain:
“The country from where I received the largest amount of letters through the 16 years in prison was Britain. We have very good friends all over the country and we would like to come there and meet them.
“Over the years our families visited Britain many times, particularly Adriana my wife. She always let me know how well they were treated and about all the love, support and solidarity they received from you, and for that I want to thank you.
“But I was myself witnessed this too through the many, many letters that I received. I used to read CubaSí magazine and was well informed about all the solidarity work you did there. And I was moved so many times by so many gestures coming from people from Cuba Solidarity Campaign members all over the country. I wouldn’t have enough words in any language to thank you enough for all the work that you have done through all these years.
“You are an example of an organisation and an example of how, when you set a goal and work hard towards that goal, it can be achieved. We really admire and appreciate everything you have done for us.
“I also want to thank the unions and every single friend that encouraged us with their support and that kept struggling through the years, no matter what. The solidarity we received from Britain was constant and it was outstanding.
“To everyone reading this, I say one word. THANKYOU”
This interview appears in the Spring 2015 issue of CubaSi magazine, the magazine of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.