Danny Glover: The Cuban Five are Heroic Men
Enrique Ojito Linares
In an exclusive interview to Escambray newspaper and Radio Sancti Spiritus, American actor Danny Glover admits his admiration for the Cuban Revolution, and the human and ethic greatness of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero, and René González, on occasion of the 14th anniversary of their unfair imprisonment in the United States, this September 12th.
For American actor Danny Glover, solidarity is no anachronism as long as there are still noble soul men and women in the planet. He learned that from his grandparents, and from his parents, who were both postal workers. He knew that long before he got himself involved, an the end of the 60s, in the longest student strike in the history of the United States, while attending San Francisco State University, California, where he got a degree on economic science.
So, nobody asked why that one who had starred in the popular film Lethal Weapon, together with Mel Gibson, and also in Steven Spielberg’s The Colour Purple, among other movies and television series, joined the cause of the Five Cuban antiterrorist fighters, since he knew about them in 2003, when he attended the Porto Alegre World Social Forum, in Brasil.
From that moment on, he chose not to play the role of spectator in the world campaign for the return to the island of the Cuban Five, as Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero y René González are internationally known. They were arrested on September 12th, 1998, in Miami, and René is currently serving an unfair additional three year probation in Florida.
Danny Glover, who also co-founded Louverture Films in 2005, accepted to talk on the phone from New York, for an exclusive interview to Escambray newspaper and Radio Sancti Spiritus, on occasion of the 14 year imprisonment, by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, of those who were monitoring terrorist actions against Cuba promoted by groups in the south of Florida.
It could be said that you could rather be better enjoying your popularity as an actor, or spending more time with your family. So, why your concern about the struggle for the freedom of the Cuban Five?
Well, I have also my life been involved in issues around justice, and serving in some capacity, and working in movements of African liberation support, or movements of the rights of people in community, of homeless people, etc, etc, so there is always a part of my life for more than 40 years that I’ve been involved in the struggle for people to have more access for justice. And I underline the word justice because that’s all encompassing, that’s a great deal.
The Cuban Five are heroic men, five heroic men who made enormous sacrifices to ensure that their country not be the subject of terrorist attacks. They did a work, and in any other situation they would be men that would be awarded and considered heroes in this sense, and the trial that they received in a very hostile atmosphere in Florida was a tragedy and an act of injustice not only to the five men, but the Cuban people, and also those conscious people in America as well, and around the world who really want to have a war against terrorism.
These men were men who spend a great deal of their time away from their country, away from their families, and I wanna do everything possible that I can do to bring light to their case and this situation.
Why do you consider Gerardo as your spiritual brother?
That’s my brother, that’s my spiritual brother. He is someone that I admire enormously. The many times I’ve been able to visit him, in the conversations that we have he is a very caring man, he’s a very statesman, he is a statesman, and he’s someone that the Cuban people and the world should be proud of, and, when I accepted that responsibility, of having him as my spiritual brother, it is because I feel that I learned so much from him and that he’s also one of the greatest people I ever met.
You have been closer to Gerardo than to the rest of his brothers. Why?
(Laugh) Well, well, the proximity, unfortunately, it’s easier to get to Victorville from where I am, but I will find an opportunity to visit some of my other brothers as well. I’ve just said the time and the opportunity to have a growing relationship with Gerardo, you know, and it’s been one which strengthens me, and strengthens my results in doing everything that I can to make sure that all my brothers, all five of those men are home in their beloved country.
Feelings between Gerardo and Adriana have remained the same despite his 14 year imprisonment. What is that special thing present also in this lady, whom you met someday in Paris?
Well, what did they say? that great men also have great partners as well, and great men often have great wives, and she’s quite something extraordinary, and their bond, their love is deep, and it is a transparent love, it is a love, unconditional love, they’ve missed so much of their lives…but I hope with our work and all the work that’s being done around the world that they will be together.
In which way your defence of the Cuban Five case has brought you complications? Have you, by any chance, been ever accused of being a pro-Cuban or a pro-communist person?
Well, I’ve not been ever accused of that, and in fact often those terms are often used. I’ve supported virtually all my entire life the Cuban Revolution, and I’m not being apologetic to that. In supporting the Cuban Revolution I believe, I feel, the stronger that I support the true aspiration of the Cuban people. And so, I don’t know what the outcome or the consequences of that will be. And I’m not naif, so I understand there are some consequences with that, but I’m proud to be, or been on the side of what I think, of what I consider to be a just cause.
I’m proud to be associated with people from around the world who support people’s right for self-determination, and their right for sovereignty, and the ability to determine the course of their own nations, the history, without the interference of those who believe in their entitlement to interfere with their history and their lives. And that has been my thinking as I support the right of Venezuelans, the right of Ecuadorians, the right of Bolivians, the right of Brazilians, the right of Egyptians, and so made the right of Cubans. And who ever it is, in this atmosphere, in other places of the world as well.
As leader of the Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 campaign, have you ever been told by a colleague or a friend that you are fighting against the impossible, that you are losing your time, that you are out of your mind?
Well, when you are fighting for something and believe in something, you never lose your time, you know, because in the process of trying to find truth and trying to unveil truth, there is never loss of time; in the process of doing what is just there’s never loss of time. In fact I would believe that in the struggle and while accomplishing that, you grow and you become even more human and you understand others aspects of humanity, so there is never a loss or a waste of time in that sense, and everything, and all of this leads to something else.
If we are not in the business of searching for some truth about what are not the core capacities of our humanity, and what can we be as human beings, who can we be as human beings, then why be here?, why do we exist?, why do we do all this? I’ve been so fortunate in my life to grown up in a period of time to watch men and women make extraordinary sacrifices in the service of justice, in the service of truth, and they did not step back even when it meant that it might mean they would be physically harmed, and we need that kind of spirit more than anything else in the world.
What I believe an important aspect of the Cuban Revolution, and the accomplishments of that revolution it is that despite all the obstacles, even with those obstacles, and their limitations as human beings, all the obstacles that chase them with the illegal embargo, all the hostility that surround that, there’s an extraordinary will to find truth and to reveal the new human being, the new man and a new woman. The Cuban people made extraordinary sacrifices for that, in that sense and so, I believe there’s never, there’s no possibility of wasting time, in supporting the Cuban Five, in supporting justice, or supporting what we think is right in the world.
What project is Danny Glover involved in at the moment concerning the Cuban Five cause?
Well, I know there is certainly new information, and the briefs have been filed by Gerardo’s new lawyer, and we are excited about that. But different things happen from day to day, from talking to people, and finding, creative ways, imaginative ways in which can place it in front of the American people, and the people of the world to ply for the Cuban Five. So, that’s all I’m going. You know what I’m saying. I can’t tell you specifically. I tell you one thing: I can’t wait to see my spiritual brother again. I can’t wait to see Gerardo again.
Concerning your visit to the federal prison of Victorville, in the middle of the Mojave desert, what was the first though that came into your mind after you left the prison?
Well, after I left the prison, the difficult thing to go into such a hideous territory, and unappetizing…I’m trying to find the word so people can translate easily; such a cold, devoid of any kind of humanity space. You see the humanity of people there, the men there with their families, and I think that the families who come there bring some sort of light to this kind of monotonous existence.
So the period of time I’ve there, and I have been there recently from 5 to 6 hours visiting Gerardo, and with my political visit, myself and Saul Landau, I’ve been able to think. And the time you spend talking and all of that makes, when you leave it makes you feel stronger.
It’s funny, you know, I don’t know how that’s possible but it makes your resolve even stronger, and I think that’s one of the things that certainly I bring back, that I take back with me from that visit, once I leave the very cold atmosphere, the gray and the colors, and the inhuman conditions, that are even inhuman for the people who guard the prison, but that’s what I bring back from that, you know.
Hypothetically speaking, what would Danny Glover say to the world if Cuba and its Revolution would vanish off the face of the earth?
I would think it would be a very sad moment, if it did. I think that the Cuban Revolution lives in men and women who struggle in other places in the world. It resinates so powerfully, and the transformation and integration that has happened in Latin America, and how the emerging constituencies in the public space, the citizens, now take on the changes and the possibilities that are available to them.
There’s always a challenge. The strength that they exert against those forces which attempt to crush them, or to minimize them, or diminish them. And I think that the Cuban Revolution, its spirit lives in its own form, historical form, within this historical moment, and I think it’s gonna be very important as we begin to see the further erosion of systems which exist, which govern us, in other places, which govern the economic and financial life, which govern the life of the planet itself, the precious life of mother earth and all those things.
And I think that people are going to stand up and demand, … the Organization of American States in their last meeting, you know, when the question of involving, having Cuba there it was thirty to two, you know (laugh), thirty people who were in favour to two opposed, do you know what I’m saying?, and I think that in some sense that is a powerful message, you know, a powerful change that has allowed that it’s happened, but, how would you say?, the Cuban Revolution is at the centre of that.
Do you still believe that “it is often possible that people can hear with their hearts”, even more in a cause like this one, that demands so much world solidarity?
Well, I always like to say that when you open your heart you open your mind, and the more people open their hearts, the more I believe that people are going to open their minds as well.
Why do major media are still forbidden territory for the Cuban Five case?
Well, I think that major media is corporate media, and controls our thinking, our imagination, and certainly they are desperate to create lies and misinformation, and that’s what mainly, this is how they operate, this is how the game is played. Their game is to create lies and misinformation to avoid people from becoming involved, concerned. They want less democracy not more democracy. In fact, they would consider past moments in history that people had too much democracy, so the major media is not going to be a whistle blower; it’s not going to be someone that says the truth.
How would you define the following words or phrases?
Victorville federal prison: The antithesis of love and life.
The story of Gerardo and his Cardinal bird: Freedom and life. And also what the Cuban Revolution represents, the spirit, the spirit of freedom, and life. It’s a metaphor for that, and it’s a metaphor for the best of who we are as human beings.
Terrorism against Cuba: It’s happened the moment that the Cuban people disobeyed the supposedly master to the north; and from that moment on, it’s been attempted to undermine for more than fifty years, to subvert, undermine and destroy the world of the Cuban people.
Mothers of the Cuban Five: They are especial. Their hearts are the strongest of hearts, and while their sons are there, in this very difficult situation, they give us life.
Judge Joan Lenard, the one in charge of the Cuban Five cause: It’s incredible, amazing, what she’s been doing.
Solidarity: It’s the most important word in our vocabulary, in the human vocabulary.
Which of the charactersyou have so far perfomed on movies is closer to the Cuban Five?
Oh, God! I don’t think I’ve been able to create a character as extraordinary as the Cuban Five. (Laugh) That’s a road to be done. That’s something that I hope to do. I don’t have a character who could, in any way, be considered symbolic of the Cuban Five.
Remark: Escambray appreciates the contribution of Radio Sancti Spiritus managing staff, and Alicia Jrapko, coordinator in US of the International Committee for the Release of the Five.
Translation: Aracelia del Valle and Marlys Rodríguez.