Address by René González, anti-terrorist fighter and Hero of the Republic of Cuba, on Cuban television, September 3, 2013
FIRST of all, please excuse me for interrupting at this moment. I know what this space means to Cuban families and I promise to be brief, but it is important that this message reach the largest audience possible.
As we know, this September 12 is the 15th anniversary of our arrest. Every year, there is a national and international demand that justice be done in our case, but we want this year’s event – from September 5 through October 6 – to be a unique event, a special one, led by you.
Fifteen years in the life of a human being is a lot of time. Children grow, become adults, adolescents; family members die and are no longer with us; and part of the Cuban population has been born during these 15 years.
I completed my sentence in full, but we must prevent that happening to my four brothers, given what that implies. Although it is hard to say, we must remember that for Gerardo [Hernández], this implies that if the designs of the United States government are fulfilled, he will die in prison.
Over these years, the affection of the Cuban people has played a leading role. This affection has been expressed in all possible ways: in letters, messages, in children’s drawings, and this affection is what we want as protagonist in the event.
I have had occasion to feel it, to live it, to palpably feel it, to experience in it the streets of Cuba in all possible forms and at all geographical points on the island, and this is the affection that we are asking you to display on this occasion, wherever you do it and in the manner you choose, with all the diversity that characterizes us as Cubans, and in the best way that each one of you thinks it can be displayed, in your classroom, in your workplace, in your neighborhood, in your community project
Initiatives being planned for the day will be announced, but we believe that the most important thing is that each of you join in these initiatives in your own way, in the manner you consider most appropriate.
I have only one personal appeal for the people, which requires a story. This September 12, I would like an earthquake to happen in the country, a beautiful earthquake, an earthquake of love, a message from the Cuban people to the American people via a symbol which, in the U.S. environment, is a symbol of love, a symbol of affection, and a symbol that they can understand in their own language; and this symbol is a yellow ribbon.
On September 12, I want this country to be filled with yellow ribbons, so that visitors and foreign correspondents in the country cannot ignore them. That on this day, Cuba is shaken and yellow ribbons appear on trees, balconies, on people, however it occurs to anyone to use them, on pets, as you decide, but that these yellow ribbons fill the country and cannot be ignored, that it cannot fail to be reported in the world that the Cuban people are waiting for four of their sons who are prisoners in the United States.
The yellow ribbon is a symbol which has entered into U.S. culture, one which began during the War of Independence when wives of those fighting waited for them with yellow ribbons.
Then it was transmitted to the American Civil War and over time, with ups and downs, has gradually changed its meaning until, in the 70’s of the last century, a song which became a landmark once again, placed it within American culture.
The song is a beautiful story of a prisoner who is about to leave prison and the only thing he asks of his sweetheart, is that, if she still loves him, to tie an yellow ribbon around a tree. Through the words, the song’s lyrics, one sees the growing anxiety of this man who is going to leave prison and must wait to see if the yellow ribbon is tied around the tree. When he reaches the place, what he sees on the tree are 100 yellow ribbons.
From that time on, this ribbon has become a symbol for Americans waiting for someone on a mission abroad, waiting for a soldier, waiting for a loved one, and this is the message which we want to send to the American people: so that they know that the Cuban people are waiting for four of their sons unjustly incarcerated in the United States.
We are counting on you for this, we have confidence in you. We want this to be a different event and we want it to be the last event. I believe this is the moment to bring them home and for that, we are counting on your support.
Thank you very much.