Ramón Labañino Salazar, decorated Hero of the Republic, and member of the Cuban Five imprisoned in the United States for their efforts to combat anti-Cuban terrorism, was showered with affection and respect by the people, as he cast his vote today, for the first time in almost 20 years.
The commentaries about “Maybe he won’t come because of his knee…” and “We might have to take his ballot to him at home” evaporated before the apparition of the gentle yet imposing figure of Ramon Labañino and his family at polling station no.4 in the Havana municipality of Plaza’s constituency no.23, to cast his vote in the mid-term elections.
Ramón spoke with the press, “This is the first time The Five have voted… after so many things that have happened in our history, we have the opportunity to exercise one of the loveliest things in our system, which is a revolutionary democracy, socialist democracy (…) We can enjoy what is a real democratic vote, in which candidates are elected block by block, and [the issue of] money doesn’t exist, imperialist propaganda doesn’t exist, none of this exists and, it is therefore a lovely moment we are enjoying with our people.”
Asked about how he felt coming to the polls, Ramón responded, “Uf, it’s an enormous emotion, just imagine, just think that barely four months and a few days ago we were in prison, and the last thing we thought about was being here in Cuba today, free and voting… being surrounded by the warmth of our people, the affection of our people, being able to participate in the Cuban electoral process for the first time in many years, is a very emotional and symbolic moment, since today is the 54th anniversary of the revolutionary victory at Playa Girón.”
Ramón commented on the many “firsts” including the first time his daughter Lizbeth voted, and his daughter Laura’s nomination as a candidate for delegate to the Playa Municipal Assembly of People’s Power.
He admitted, “The decision was very difficult, the truth is that, in the end, I voted for the future, which is what is most important for Cuba, for the beautiful future we want for Gema and all of the Cuban people.”
By Sheyla Delgado, Granma
April 20, 2015