This is an honorable country
Nuria Barbosa León
CHALLENGING U.S. government restrictions, San Diego resident Jurg Hinderling, recently visited Cuba as part of the 21st Ernesto Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade, comprising friends of Cuba from Canada and the United States.
Talking to Granma International, he stated that in his first visit he wanted to find out more about the history and achievements of Cuban society, but that his main objective is to understand and convey his experiences to other people around the world.
Married to a Bolivian, Hinderling speaks Spanish. He studied electrical engineering, and worked for more than 30 years in Qualcomm, a producer of integrated circuits, before retiring.
Why did you want to be in Cuba for May Day?
I’m interested in experiencing this day together with the Cuban people. I was born in Switzerland and I have taken part in May Day events in Europe. There, it is a day of solidarity among workers. In Switzerland it was declared a national holiday and people march in the streets. In the United States the labor unions organize activities like political events and talks, but the press doesn’t take a lot of notice. In Cuba it is an event of magnitude, because millions of people march in support for the Revolution.
How would you describe the current situation in the United States?
Difficult. President Barack Obama is into his second term in office. We are still awaiting unfulfilled promises. We want a just policy implemented, in which wealth is distributed to the benefit of the majority and not just to enrich the oligarchy.
We have been in crisis for five years and this has caused many problems. Unemployment is growing and we are far from being a balanced society. We have seen in the press that acts of violence with firearms are occurring in schools. These attacks, the Boston bombs, I don’t think they are connected to terrorist organizations, but that they reflect a break down in society.
Are you aware of the U.S. government’s inhumane blockade policy toward Cuba?
I wasn’t really aware of the magnitude of this injustice until a year ago. This type of policy makes it difficult for a country to manage its economy. The blockade makes financial operations via international banks difficult, but it also delays imports to Cuba and, as a result, supplies in its markets. My government prohibits normal trade with Cuba, steals its brands and patents, and punishes other governments which defy these impositions.
Is the blockade issue known about in the United States?
Older people remember that U.S. President John F. Kennedy publicly announced this outrage in 1962, but most people probably don’t know about it, because the corporate media doesn’t talk about the issue. In fact, there are doubts about the administration’s travel ban, people don’t know the specifics of this law. Nor the anti-Cuban legislation promoted by Senator Robert Torricelli, or those sponsored by his colleague Jesse Helms and Congressman Dan Burton after the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe. I’m an optimist. I think that the next generations can change this situation. The United States is a neighbor which must learn how to coexist with and offer other countries equal conditions and have respect for the way of life of others. Ironically, the bitterest opponents of Cuba in my country are people of Cuban origin disaffected with the Revolution, who do not want a return to normality in bilateral relations.
Are you familiar with the situation of the five Cuban anti-terrorists unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for fighting terrorism?
I found out about it two years ago through personal interest. I read a lot about the proceedings. I have seen that celebrities like actor Danny Glover, filmmaker Saul Landau and various Nobel Prize winners support the cause of freedom for the Five. This issue does not appear in the U.S. press because of its potential impact on public opinion. I am aware that these five Cubans acted to prevent acts of terrorism in their country and in the United States itself. It is very hard knowing that Gerardo Hernández is serving two life sentences plus 15 years for averting the death of many people. The same is happening with his compañeros, Fernando, Ramón, Antonio and René. I know the address of the prison where Gerardo is being held and I am going to apply for a visit to him, and I will also be sending letters to communicate with him. I will fight for them to have another trial outside of Florida because that’s where the seed of hatred of Cuba has been sown.
A message for the Cuban people?
You must not lose hope, the world will change and justice must prevail. I am here today as a guest to learn, understand, and my future task is to disseminate the reality that Cubans live with dignity, work hard and are very nice people. This is an honorable country. (Granma International)