Havana, Dec 22 (Prensa Latina) Cuban antiterrorist Ramon Labañino pointed out that he had always believed in the time for their return and happiness, because he never lost the conviction that he would return to his homeland, to his family and his people.
Labañino, Gerardo Hernandez and Antonio Guerrero, the three Cuban antiterrorist fighters who still remained held in US prisons 16 years after their arrests in the city of Miami, arrived in Havana on December 17.
“I’m still levitating. There have been so many emotions,” confessed Labañino in an interview with Prensa Latina, in which he narrated his last moments in captivity.
Our exchange was sudden, he said. “At three in the morning on December 17 we still were prisoners and suddenly at five in the morning we were taking a plane and at eight we were free,” he pointed out.
We abruptly went from prison to freedom, and that transitional process barely allowed us to react emotionally, he noted.
It has been so shocking and reality goes way beyond expectations, pointed out the Hero of the Republic of Cuba, a title that he holds, along with his comrades Hernandez and Guerrero, and Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, who were already in Cuba after fully serving their prison sentences.
Regarding the moment of arrival on Cuban soil, when he strongly hugged his relatives, his daughters and especially his wife, Elizabeth Palmeiro, Labañino stated that he enjoyed a unique experience, endless tenderness. He added that the relationship between them “grew within adversities”.
We had very difficult times, he recalled, and my wife was always by my side, in the good and bad times, when I still had to serve a life sentence plus 18 years, she told me, “With you to the end and I will go to see you to the end of the world.” I can’t forget that phrase.
Later, “when I was given 30 years, it was the same, Elizabeth repeated to me that she would continue with me to the end, “we will be two old people and we will be fighting”, and here we are today, Labañino stressed as he glanced at the woman who was in the rearguard during all these years.
He also thanked the movement of solidarity for its perseverance and struggle for the cause of the Five, as they are known worldwide.
He recalled that the first direct contact he had with solidarity friends was in 2009, when he was sentenced again in the Miami court. “I wanted to jump over the barriers of guards and the chains and hug them all.”
But the only thing he could do was to send a kiss to his wife and raise one of his arms “in a signal of victory, the victory of dignity and courage, and that one never yields.” With that undefeated spirit, the Five returned home.
On February 28, the Cuban people welcomed Fernando Gonzalez, who had left a federal prison in Arizona a day before. Upon arrival in Havana, he stated that his freedom was incomplete as long as his “brothers Gerardo, Ramon and Tony (Antonio)” were not in Cuba.
Ten months later the freedom of the Five is complete. “From now on, there is love and other challenges, the new tasks to be assigned by the Revolution. We returned and the most important thing: ready to whatever is necessary,” concluded Ramon Labañino.
The Five were arrested on September 12, 1998, in Miami as they were monitoring terrorist plans by US-based violent groups against Cuba.
During a rigged trial with no guarantees, according to experts, they were found guilty and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2001.
Gerardo Hernandez was serving the most severe sentence, consisting of two life terms plus 15 years.