November 22, 2018
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, one of the five Cuban heroes who was imprisoned in the United States for 16 years, spoke to Sputnik about the constitutional process the island is going through and the departure of Cuban doctors from Brazil’s “More Doctors” health program.
Hernandez, who was in Buenos Aires for the Claco Forum in preparation for the G20 Summit, told a large audience that the popular consultation that took place in Cuba on the draft Constitution “is a genuine act of democracy. The corporate media likes to criticize Cuba for its system, but I don’t know of any other place in the world where a country’s constitution is so widely consulted with the entire population.”
Elected as deputy to the National Assembly, Hernandez participated in the discussions in the initial preparation of the constitutional project as a proposal for the popular consultation that took place throughout Cuba from August 13 to November 15.
“I can say that the preliminary draft and then the constitutional project was discussed a great deal in the Parliament where we are the elected representatives of our people, but that was not where it ended. Once the document was formed it was submitted for discussion and exchange with all spheres of the population, students, workers, housewives. All ranges of the Cuban population have had the opportunity to give their input, opinion and have contributed and have proposed changes and modifications to that text,” Hernandez said.
He added that, “It is an honor for me to have been part of this process, and I think all of us Cubans feel proud to be actively participating in the preparation of a document that will be our constitution for years to come.”
To the question of whether the U.S. economic and commercial blockade continues to be the main obstacle to Cuba’s development, he said, ” Yes, the Cuban Revolution is about to turn 60 and we have had no break.”
“Since the Revolution came to power with aspirations, with dreams of building a country different from the one we had, our plans have been hindered by the eagerness of the United States, 90 miles away from our coast, to not allow us to demonstrate that a better world and a better system are possible,” Hernandez said.
In his opinion,” the U.S. government criticizes Cuba because it has not been able to accomplish this or that, and yet they keep us bound by the blockade, a criminal act that we have suffered under for more than half a century.”
“I was born in 1965, I’m 53 years old and I don’t know what it’s like to live in a country that isn’t blockaded,” said Hernandez, an international relations graduate.
Contrary to what various U.S. administrations have said about the blockade being against the Cuban government, Hernandez said that, in reality, it directly affects the Cuban people in all spheres, both in health and education.
“There is not a single social aspect that is not affected by that criminal act. But what I can tell you is that we Cubans have the firm will to continue resisting as we have done during all these years,” he said.
Hernandez also spoke with Sputnik about the withdrawal of Cuban doctors from Brazil’s More Doctors health program, which he believes is a “regrettable” situation.
“When you see a ruler who is supposedly elected to respond to the interests of his people and who, incidentally, has his medical care guaranteed, but acts with disdain for the medical care of a good part of his population, it is regrettable,” he said.
The Cuban hero told me how he experienced one of the most emotional moments of the annual Clacso Forum when a young Brazilian girl came up to him crying to tell him that she knows the Cuban doctors and that it hurts her that Cuba was forced to withdraw its doctors.
Hernandez went on, “For us, it’s a matter of principle. Cuban doctors have been in the most remote places in the world when they have been needed, including Pakistan, many African countries, in the jungles of Latin America etc…. and I am convinced that our doctors will continue to be willing to go anywhere they are needed. This situation is regrettable because I think that who will be affected will be the poorest of the Brazilian people,”
Gerardo Hernandez was one of five young Cubans who infiltrated anti-Cuban groups in Miami who were organizing terrorist actions against his homeland. His arrest in 1998 initiated one of the largest waves of solidarity in the world that began after one of the longest trials in U.S. history.
In the current context, when right-wing forces gain political ground in Latin America, Hernández believes that education and unity should be the key to the actions of progressive movements.
“Unfortunately, we live in a world where the big corporate media have great influence, they keep the masses in darkness, confuse them. Hundreds of billions of dollars are devoted to it every year, and the effects are sometimes palpable,” he said.
“The case of the Five united many leftist forces and solidarity groups that were not united for other causes and the objective was achieved and I say modestly that there is a lesson to be learned in that.” Hernandez concluded.
Gerardo Hernández was released from US Federal Prison on December 17, 2014, (He had been sentenced to 2 life’s and 15 years) along with his comrades Ramón Labañino, and Antonio Guerrero. (René Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez were already back in Cuba after completing their sentences) as part of a humanitarian agreement reached between the governments of the United States and Cuba, in exchange for the release of Alan Gross, a CIA collaborator.
The release was announced simultaneously by then Cuban President Raul Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama in two communiqués that also reported the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Their arrival back home was met with great joy from a population who considered the Cuban 5 their sons of the Revolution. No matter what the current administration does to intensify the failed blockade of Cuba they can never take back this historic victory.
Source: Sputnik News