Guantánamo and the Literacy Campaign of 1961
WOLA and In These Times Matters
In the face of the rush of webinars, petitions, news stories and commentaries greeting the Biden Administration’s reclamation of the Obama-Castro US-Cuba normalization efforts, we are struck by two clear reaffirmations and two complexities.
Guantanamo Prisoners / Literacy Brigadistas: (left) Scene to promote the Rally to Close Guantánamo and Return It to Cuba, February 2018. July26.org also sponsored programs on Guantánamo in July 2016, March 2017, and May 2017. Above right, a crowd of Literacy Brigadistas as seen in the documentary “Maestra,” shown in February 2018 as part of a program with Griselda Aguilera Cabrera, who was a seven-year-old teacher in the campaign and featured in the film, one of several July26.org Literacy Campaign offerings.
GUANTÁNAMO — Returning Guantánamo to its rightful home, ending the closest and most obvious example of U.S. imperialism, and closing the U.S. prison/torture center are two clear-cut steps that we have sponsored programs on previously, that have broad-based popular support, and that can exemplify the new president’s desire for unity and to be president of us all. Last month ended with a letter published in the New York Review of Books by seven former detainees who have written books about their experience. February 12 saw the release of The Mauritanian, a film based on the 2015 memoir, Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Salahi, one of the NYRB letter’s authors, about his experience being held for fourteen years without charge. (The film stars Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley, and Benedict Cumberbatch and has received two nominations at the 78th Golden Globe Awards.) During the week in between, more than 100 NGOs Called on Biden to Close Guantánamo. The recent stories of plans to close the prison have given rise to other supportive and reinforcing efforts; Veterans for Peace has set a national program “Close Guantanamo Now! A Call to Action” for 3:00 EST on Sunday, February 21.
THE CUBAN LITERACY CAMPAIGN OF 1961 — A recent posting on the US-CubaNormalization.org’s Organizers Forum provided a link to an interview, just published, with a participant in the Literacy campaign, Rosa Hernández Acosta, who was 10 years old at the time. Another resource for this year, the 60th anniversary of the campaign, previously remembered and celebrated by the Boston-Cuba Solidarity Coalition in the film showing last September of Cuba’s iconic singer/songwriter and international recording artist, Silvio Rodriguez, who was a brigadista in the campaign at the age of 14; the February 2018 program with Griselda Aguilera Cabrera, who was a seven-year-old teacher in the campaign, one of nine women featured in “Maestra,” the award-winning documentary; and a May 2016 program featuring the Luisa Campos, Director of the Literacy Campaign Museum in Havana and of the “Si, yo puedo” Global Literacy Campaign.