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People from the U.S., Canada and Europe are calling on President Obama to listen to the international community and release the Cuban 5 immediately, during the 5 days for the Cuban 5 in Washington DC. The actions initiated by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 have been endorsed by 272 U.S. and International organizations, and more than 2000 individuals.
During the first and second day, 25 international and U.S. supporters visited 12 of the 100 Senators and 14 members of congress’ offices to discuss the issue of the Cuban 5. The lobbying effort over the past two days marks the first time that the case of the Cuban 5 has been taken to Capitol Hill. The high number of responses to the request for appointments was seen by the supporters as a positive sign.
Louis Wolf, from Washington DC said “Lobbying Congress about the Cuban Five or any Cuba-related issue is definitely a challenge. But when a senior foreign policy aide to a Senator told us yesterday ‘U.S. policy toward Cuba is stuck in the Middle Ages’, we knew our work is not done in a total vacuum.”
Katrien Demuynck, the European coordinator of the campaign, brought with her a letter signed by two Belgium senators and five members of the chamber asking their U.S. colleagues to intervene with President Obama to resolve the issue of the Five. “I was happily surprised with the response to the letter. We should look for the same kind of initiatives from Parliaments of other European countries,” said Demuynck. At the end of both days, the supporters felt energized and ready to continue the world-wide campaign for the release of the Cuban 5.
Other activities of the second day included a presentation by Stephen Kimber, a Canadian journalist and author of a soon to be released book What Lies Across the Waters, and comments by Arturo Lopez-Levy, Cuban American professor at Denver University. The event was hosted by Wayne Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Kimber surprised the audience with a number of new facts about the case. People left with a better understanding of the injustice committed against the Cuban 5.
During the evening the film Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up was shown at the Nyumburu Cultural Center at the University of Maryland. During an event on the same university campus, Angela Davis, political activist, scholar and author, encouraged people to participate in the next days of activities in support of the Cuban Five.