Photo: Cuban Five
Cuba’s Communist government is urging a display of yellow ribbons on Sept. 12 in an appeal to the United States to release four Cuban intelligence agents who have been in custody since 1998, official media said Wednesday.
The “special day” coincides with the 15th anniversary of the agents’ arrest in Florida.
Yellow ribbons are meant to resonate with the “average American,” Rene Gonzalez, the only one of the so-called Cuban Five who has returned to the island, said.
Gonzalez, who directed a music video of prominent Cuban artists performing the 1973 hit “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” said yellow ribbons have been used in the United States since the 19th century to express longing for soldiers away at war and other absent loved ones.
“I want the country to fill with yellow ribbons Sept. 12 and that the visitor or foreign correspondent who is on the island cannot ignore it ... cannot fail to report to the world that the Cuban people are waiting for four of their sons who are prisoners in the U.S.,” he said.
Gonzalez and four colleagues - Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez - were arrested in 1998 and convicted three years later by a federal jury in Miami.
The Chicago-born Gonzalez, 57, was paroled after serving 13 years and was allowed to return to Cuba earlier this year after renouncing his U.S. citizenship.
The other four spies remain in prison and one of them, Hernandez, is serving two life sentences for Cuba’s downing of two small aircraft belonging to Miami-based exile group Brothers to the Rescue, which resulted in four deaths.
The Cuban Five insisted they were spying on Miami’s Cuban exile community, not the U.S. government.
Cuba says the men were sent to Florida in the wake of several terror bombings in Havana allegedly masterminded by anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative.