By Gilda Fariñas Rodríguez
Photos Miguel Gutiérrez
Translated by Sabrina Johnson
In the iconic setting of Lenin Park, where there's the mausoleum to the heroine of the Revolution, Celia Sanchez, the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) awarded, on an exceptional basis, the August 23 Distinction to the Five Heroes, antiterrorist Cuban fighters who were recently released from their unjust imprisonment in the United States.
Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González (also on behalf of their other brothers René González and Ramón Labañino) received the medal from the hands of the national representatives of the women's organization. A tribute they received from the four million women who comprise the FMC in recognition and gratitude for "the delivery, firmness and capacity to resist, for their deep human and revolutionary qualities ...".
In pronouncing the main speech of the event, held on the morning of March 3rd, Teresa Amarelle Boué, the FMC's General Secretary, said that this March 8th, International Women's Day, will have a particular significance "because the first time in 16 years there will be no demand to free the Five absent children. Because the triumph of truth and justice, the strength of solidarity and the tireless battle of an entire people, encouraged by Fidel and Raul's firm conviction, has returned them to their homeland which gratefully welcomes them with pride".
In her speech, the female leader recalled how now remain the long hours of struggle where the voice of Cuban women rose in numerous national and international stages to demand justice, to promote truth, to accompany the pain of the families of the Five during throughout their long absence. A work which, in its early years, was led by the historic President of the FMC, Vilma Espín (now deceased).
"In this emblematic place, erected as eternal gratitude to the heroine of the Sierra and the Llano, Celia Sánchez, and inspired by her example, the new generations of Cuban women pay homage to the Cuban Five. We express our appreciation for the fulfillment of the sacred mission of risking their lives in defending our country against terrorism, with dignity and determination", said Teresa Amarelle.
After awarding the Distinction, Gerardo Herández, Fernando González and Antonio Guerrero provided the press with declarations in which they expressed their deep appreciation for the immense support and solidarity received from all Cuban women.
We consider this an important tribute because women were always in the forefront of the struggle throughout these 16 years. We were accompanied by the FMC and always had its support, said Gerardo who summarized his strong ties to the organization with an anecdote, recalling that after having bathed upon his return, he asked his wife Adriana for a T-shirt, to feel fresh, and she gave him precisely one that had the FMC logo and a picture of Vilma Espín. "We are very thankful to the Federation for all the support and love that we received and which we continue to receive. Now, at home, I have three members of the Federation because there's also my mother in law", joked Gerardo with the reporters.
For Fernando, receiving the August 23 Distinction proved to be an unexpected tribute "because I did not know that the FMC awarded the Distinction to men on an exceptional basis. Women have been an indispensable part of this struggle, there is no doubt that we would not have won without them. Once the history of the whole battle for our freedom is reviewed, they result occupying the greatest part with that particular sensibility they have".
Meanwhile, Antonio remembered José Martí, the Apostle of the country, by citing his conviction that without women, it is not possible to carry out a revolution; "Cuban women are who really make our people the way they are and it is to them that we owe everything and with them we have always defended and we will defend the work of the Revolution. They are the ones who helped us to resist during all these years."
As part of the ceremony of the awarding of the Distinction to the Five, a group of junior high school students consisting of young girls of up to 14 years of age, received the membership card that accredits them as members of the Federation of Cuban Women, right from the hands of Gerardo, Antonio and Fernando.