THE FIVE IN VENEZUELA
Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René are traveling together for the first time, to the homeland of the Bolivarian leader, one of the leaders in the struggle for their definitive return to Cuba
Author: Laura Bécquer Paseiro | firstname.lastname@example.org
CARACAS.— The intense heat did not stop people from gathering on the runway when the plane touched down on Venezuelan soil. The expectations gave way to reality for those who, on behalf of thousands of Venezuelans and Cubans, welcomed their Heroes. The plane door opens and the first thing we see is a man carrying a little girl in his arms.
Gerardo is the first to come down and brings with him his most precious “gem”. Neither the sun nor the flashes of the cameras, or the excitement of the moment seem to scare the baby of almost four months, who smiles throughout. Beside Gerardo, Adriana, his compañera in struggle, his heroine. Then one by one, Ramón, Antonio and his sister, Fernando, René and the other relatives of the Five emerge from the plane.
“Today Comandante Chávez’s dream was fulfilled, the Five Cuban heroes are in the homeland of Bolívar: welcome brothers!” President Nicolás Maduro tweeted.
This is the first time the Five are traveling together and precisely to Venezuela, where they are paying homage to and remembering Hugo Chávez, one of the leaders of the struggle for their definitive return to Cuba.
“Since setting foot here I already felt a part of this people,” says René, speaking at a brief ceremony that took place in the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Vargas, north of Venezuela.
There, in front of the Ambassador of Cuba in the South American nation, Rogelio Polanco; the head of the Office of Cuban missions, Víctor Gaute, and other authorities, René recalls that he and his compañeros were arrested “in 1998 on a very dark night.”
“Those were the days of the corrupt oligarchies that ruled Latin America and imposed the neoliberal model while we grew pale in five prisons, where all the hatred of the U.S. government was revealed,” he continued, whilst highlighting that, “in the midst of this tremendous darkness, here in Venezuela, the reincarnation of Bolívar appeared: Hugo Chávez.”
René spoke on behalf of his brothers and an entire country when he said that the South American country “can count on us for anything, in any scenario.” “Today it is Venezuela that is under threat, it is the focus of the hatred of the empire that for so many years has wanted to govern us, to control our destinies and postpone the dream of Bolivar,” he added.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodríguez described Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, as “giants of dignity,” and their return as a “defeat for the U.S. empire and a victory for the peoples of the world.” Rodríguez described how “in every corner of the world, people learned your names, a single demand rang out, which was for your freedom because this was an act of justice.”
The Five then traveled to Plaza Bolívar, in central Caracas, where they paid tribute to the Liberator and were surrounded by both Cubans and Venezuelans who had gathered to share the moment with them. Jorge Rodríguez, mayor of the Libertador municipality of Caracas, gave them the keys to the city “so that you know that the gates of Caracas and of this homeland will always be open to you.”
In turn, Ernesto Villegas, head of government in the Capital District, stated that the dignity and courage of these men and “the resistance of the Cuban people against the criminal U.S. blockade, are a demonstration that when the people fight for peace and independence, they deserve victory.”
“This city of Caracas is proud to have you here and see you free,” he added. The heroes continued their visit traveling to the Cuartel de la Montaña, the final resting place of Comandante Chávez, nestled in the populous neighborhood of 23 de Enero, “where it all began.” Here they expressed their eternal gratitude to a man who never gave up hope for their freedom.
After nearly 17 years in prison, these five Cubans never lost faith that they would return to their country. In this struggle, which at times seemed to be at a standstill, the Venezuelan people contributed their bit. The words of René on Monday on behalf of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando, synthesize all the symbolism that their presence in Venezuela represents, “When I came to Venezuela a year ago, I said that I wanted to come back and bring with me my compañeros. Today, on my return, I realize that I did not bring them, you did.”