Ramon, Antonio and Rene: The Best Possible Fathers

Enrique Ojito

Despite being thousand kilometers away, in the United States, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and René González, three of the Five -as they are internationally known-, have tried to never be apart from their children.

William Shakespeare, the most famous among English writers, once said that a wise man is the one who  knows his own child. And believe me; it will be is easier for you to write a tragedy or to solve an algorithm, than understanding the deep well of feelings of the inheritor of your genes.

In the distance imposed by the stigma of injustice, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and René González, three of the Five -as they are internationally known-, must agree with the words said by the English genius.  That’s why, despite being thousand kilometers away, in the United States, they have tried to never be apart from their children.

“My daughters are my life, my essence, my virtue, and also my responsibility -said Ramon to a colleague, from the Jesup prison, in Georgia. I tried to use every possible way to get up to date with them. (…) Thanks to the excellent mothers they have, who help me so much to try to be the best possible father despite the hard distance. It might be that I am too concerned in every moment, but this is the way I am with them; this is my way to tell them that I’ll be always there for them, especially in the hard times they could be faced with”.

When Gabriel Guerrero saw his father come into the visitors’ room in the Florence prison, Colorado, he said to himself: “It’s true that I look like him. Will I be like him when I get older?”

Antonio greeted him without any protocol. Gabriel, 19, hardly knew his father, who departed from his home in Panama when the kid was only 4. Long time after that, his aunt Maria Eugenia, told him the story of his father being in prison, and showed him a photo where Antonio was dressed with a blue uniform.

Gabriel, Antonio’s second son, had never thought of studying in Cuba. When he joined college in his homeland, he was offered the possibility of going to study in Europe.

His mother Niccia wondered about what he would do in the Czech Republic, but Antonio advised her to listen to the boy. Then, he asked his son to think about the possibility of coming to Cuba.

“He said it to me very nicely”, Gabriel said when interviewed by Trabajadores. And it was the end of it; he changed plans and came to Havana to study engineering.

Like Gabriel, Olga Salanueva and Rene Gonzalez’s younger daughter Ivette, has grown taller. One Saturday, last May, she got consent from her mother to attend a rock concert.

When Olga went to the place to pick the 14-year old up, she was upset to find young people holding bottles of rum -Cuban journalist Arleen would tell the story afterwards. Olga anxiously looked for her daughter in an ocean of faces and decibels. Right at that moment, Rene -who at the time was already under supervised release in the United States-, tried to reach them on the phone. But Olga was not answering, so he got concerned. Finally, Olga found the girl, who was dripping with sweat, and oblivious to what was happening.

Some years ago, Irmita told us that when she gave her presentation to get the psychology degree, her father asked to be informed about every detail. “I have missed him very much in my everyday life. I lack the presence of that person who either helps with the chores, or cares for Mom when she has a headache”.

Rene’s elder daughter considered that if Gerardo and Fernando would have been fathers themselves, they would have behaved the same way. I agree with her, and I’m sure that tomorrow, in their respective prisons in California and Arizona, they would have listened to their children quarreling to get the phone to tell them: congratulations!

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