South Africa welcomes the Cuban Five.
June 29, 2015 South Africa’s ruling party, ANC has welcomed The Cuban Five, five men who were jailed in the U.S. on spy charges, as they arrived the country on June 21st. Reports have it that the visit will last almost two weeks, and that the men came to thank South Africa for its support during their imprisonment.
The men, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Rene Gonzalez and Fernandez Gonzalez are honored as Heroes of the Republic in their homeland for spying on anti-Castro groups in the United States and serving from 13 to 16 years in U.S. prisons.
In December of 2014, the final three– Hernandez, Guerrero and Labañino– returned home when Cuba and the United States completed a prisoner swap as part of the deal restoring diplomatic relations after more than five decades of confrontation. The other two men had already returned home after completing their sentences.
In exchange, Cuba freed a Cuban man who spied for Washington and spent nearly 20 years in jail, as well as an imprisoned American aid worker Alan Gross, plus 53 people that the US considered political prisoners.
ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe is happy that both countries now see eye to eye:
“We are celebrating but we are committing ourselves that the struggle continues, because yes the Cuban five are free, yes diplomatic discussion on establishing democratic relations are underway, yes we must still call for the lifting of the illegal blockade on Cuba, and that is the commitment we should be making here today as we welcome these comrades here,”.
The five men paid homage to the late South African anti-apartheid leader Oliver Tambo by placing a wreath on his tomb.