The Institute for Policy Studies applauds the just-announced dramatic shifts in U.S.-Cuba policy— shifts that IPS public scholars have been advocating for many years.
Key to the policy shift, which includes full normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, was a prisoner swap. U.S. contractor Alan Gross, who was jailed in Cuba for espionage, was released in exchange for the release of three members of the Cuban 5, a group of Cuban men sent to Miami to infiltrate right-wing terrorist organizations. IPS Fellow Saul Landau had suggested just such a swap in a 2010 commentary.
Landau devoted his last film “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up?” to raising awareness of the plight of the Cuban 5. When they turned over evidence of U.S.-based terrorism to the FBI, they themselves were arrested and convicted while the anti-Castro terrorists continued to live freely in Florida. Landau, who died in September 2013, made six films about Cuba and wrote countless articles and books criticizing U.S. policies towards the island nation and calling for full normalization of relations.
For the past three years, IPS has also been an active supporter of the annual advocacy events called “Five Days for the Cuban 5,” led by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5. These events included rallies at the White House, visits to Members of US Congress and Senate, and public and cultural events with well-known personalities from the United States and abroad.
“The release of the remaining imprisoned Cuban 5 is a long overdue act and we’re hopeful about the possibility of a new relationship between the United States and Cuba,” said Netfa Freeman, IPS Events Coordinator, as well as an organizer in the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5. “We will continue to work in solidarity with the people of Cuba to change over 50 years of unjust U.S. policy toward Cuba.”
Several times in the last years of his life, Saul Landau joined actor Danny Glover in driving hours across the California desert to visit Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, one of the Cuban 5 prisoners involved in the prisoner swap announced by President Obama today as part of a major shift in U.S. policy towards Cuba.
In a letter read at Landau’s memorial program, Hernández insisted that Saul had not died, but was merely “on a journey.”
“Do you think that you will not be there when someone sees ‘Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up?’ and will get to understand the case of the Five?” Hernández wrote. “Don’t even mention that my friend!”
After 16 years in prison, Hernández reportedly was released and flew home to Cuba today.