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article imageChe Guevara’s Children in South Africa To Lobby For 'The Five'

By Christopher Szabo     Oct 12, 2009 in Politics
Che Guevara’s children have arrived on a two-week lobby campaign to drum up support for releasing five convicted Cuban spies held in America.
The Star newspaper said the two, Camilo Guevara March and Aleida Guevara March were guests of the South African organisation Friends of Cuba Society (FOCUS-SA).
Their father, Ernesto “Che” Guevara was killed after his capture in Bolivia on October 8, 1967, while attempting to foment a Marxist revolution.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution and the 42nd anniversary of Guevara’s death. October also marks the 15th anniversary of bilateral relations between South Africa and Cuba.
Cozy relations exist between South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and Cuba. The Guevaras said South Africa was special to them since a small contingent from the ANC’s armed wing took part as observers in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola in 1988, which Cuba hailed as a victory. A street in the port city of Durban has been renamed after Guevara.
FOCUS-SA Secretary General Chris Matlhako severely criticized the U.S. for denying visitation rights to the five Cuban prisoners, held in maximum-security prisons. He said this denied their basic human rights. Aleida Guevara said:
It is very important that the people must be made aware of this case. If people re not made aware of it, they cannot react to it. We are trying to make people aware…They will decide whether to support us.
The Star article did not state who the five prisoners were, but a report in the Washington Post names them as Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Rene González and Gerardo Hernandez. Lawyers have been urging re-sentencing hearings for three of the five. Guerrero’s re-sentencing hearing is due today. His lawyers are seeking to have his life sentence reduced to 20 years.
The report said the men were spies for the Cuban government. They operated the ”Wasp Network” in Miami in the 1990s, set up to infiltrate Cuban exile groups in the U.S. This included the group Brothers to the Rescue, two of whose aircraft were shot down by Cuban jet fighters in which four American citizens were killed.
The five Cuban nationals were convicted in 2001 of espionage and conspiracy to murder. They received sentences ranging from 15 years to life.
The Cuban government is reported to be linking the release of ”The Five” to closer ties with the Obama administration.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports the number of political prisoners held in Cuba has gone up to 208, saying the Cuba had the worst human rights record in the Western Hemisphere.
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