Letter from Olga Salanueva
Posted to Facebook, January 24, 2018, 9:39 PM
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
This is corrected from the previous posting of this letter.
Since his return, as soon as I leave the house or any other place with my husband, I am witness to the many and continuous displays of affection, admiration and also gratitude shown by all those who feel patriotic and come across Rene. I always get this impression, because of the way they approach him, that it’s like when you suddenly meet on the street a childhood friend or a brother that you have not seen for a long time but is always on your mind. Some call him ‘brother’, some [women] ‘handsome’; some say, ‘take care, we love you, we love you, ‘you are us’, ‘God bless you’, ‘Cuba needs you’. So, what can I say… There was even one who wanted his wife to kiss him. And photos… so many of them.
I say all this because I am very sure that these people feel represented in them [the Five] and that is how they express it.
For several days many people on the street, and some from the media, have been asking us – and others taking for granted– that the Five would be candidates for deputies at the Assembly in these elections. I want to clarify that I say US because they also ask me daily. I guess this also happens to the rest of the family members of the Five.
Since the list of candidates was posted, an explosion of opinions and questions have reached us, and I can assure you that I have no answers to many of the questions.
Thus I have decided to answer the ones I can, and tell you all I know about René González Sehwerert and these elections.
I would like to clarify to some friends who are putting forward explanations for the non-inclusion of three of the Five [in the list of candidates] that they are mistaken.
René González returned to Cuba in 1961 and since then, under Cuban law, he is Cuban because that was the decision, first of his parents, and then his own.
As a Cuban, he spent three years in military service and then voluntarily spent 2 years in Angola as a soldier for his country. As a Cuban he was called to fulfill his mission in the United States and he remained there as a US citizen by birthright. We all remember that he renounced his US citizenship in order to return to his country, his people and his family 23 years later. Having explained this there is no reason to think that René is not Cuban.
Others have had doubts about [some of the Five] not willing to be deputies and representing their people at the Assembly.
It hurts deeply just thinking that someone may have come up with such an idea. René never hesitated a second to prove his readiness to represent his people in the bowels of the Miami mafia, risking his life, and leaving his wife and six-year-old daughter in 1990 with the shame of being [considered] a deserter’s family. The rest of the story is well known.
One day a representative of the Culture Workers Union (the Union Rene belongs to as he works as Vice-President of the José Martí Cultural Society) came to see him at the office. He left him a model-form to fill out with his personal data and explained that he had been proposed by this Union to be a candidate for deputy at the Assembly. Rene filled it our and handed it over. The rest of the Five were approached in the same way in different places.
This is as much as we know. He was not consulted again, or called, or approached to ask for an opinion or view.
René continued working as he has always done, in the way I have seen him do for 35 years in each task that has been assigned, giving body and soul; with the tremendous joy and optimism that everyone who knows him well recognize always accompany him; with his great transparency taking action against things done wrong. All in spite of the fact that this present task has nothing to do with his vocation, and that he cannot exercise the profession he loves.
So far [that is] all I know. Yesterday, suddenly, the list of candidates was made public and the avalanche of questions came.
My answer: Please ask the commission. I cannot find any reason why all Five cannot be deputies. In the first place they deserve it; they are more tested than chocolate; Cuba needs them too. It is in very bad taste to try to establish differences between the Five, when the Empire tried with all its might and failed. They will always be brothers and proven revolutionaries.
A friend on Facebook says: “I doubt that any candidacy committee has excluded them just because…for no reason at all. These commissions are made up of good people. I doubt anyone can ignore the Five, because they are the very heart of this Island. There must be, I suppose, some other reason … “
Compañera, I’m sorry to tell you that there is no mistake. Three of the Five were ignored by the commission. This represents, in my opinion, a new and great injustice against the Five Heroes of the Republic of Cuba.
Olga Salanueva Arango.