The rhythmic sound of gentle waves and a warm breeze accompanied a group of Bernie Dwyer’s friends and family members who cast her ashes into the sea off the rocky Havana waterfront, as she had requested.
Among those in attendance at the March 6 event were her colleagues at the Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP) including President Kenia Serrano, as well as Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, members of the Cuban Five, who were until recently unjustly imprisoned in the United States for their anti-terrorist work monitoring violent anti-Cuban groups in South Florida.
Bernie, a longtime journalist at Radio Habana Cuba and documentary filmmaker had worked tirelessly for their release until the final days of her life. She died July 10, 2013 in Dublin.
Her daughter Juliana spoke to the group. “We are her children, but you are all also her family. She has returned home.”
Gerardo spoke in the name of the Cuban Five, saying that thanks to people like Bernie, “We are today enjoying our freedom and happiness.”
He commented that solidarity is often considered in terms of the result – and international solidarity no doubt contributed to the release of the Five – but equally important, Gerardo said, is its role in the everyday lives of prisoners, insisting, “We needed your solidarity and support every moment, and in this sense, Bernie was very important.”
The day dedicated to her memory began with a ceremony at the Julio Antonio Mella International Camp, where international delegations visiting Cuba often stay. A plaque honoring the resolute defender of Cuba was unveiled there.
ICAP Vice President Elio Gámez said that it was an honor to pay tribute to Bernie whose friendship with Cuba began in the 1980s at the Camp, which she visited along with a European Solidarity Brigade. He recalled that she went on to found the Irish Solidarity with Cuba Campaign and, after coming to live in Cuba, received the country’s Friendship Medal, as well as the Félix Elmuza decoration for her work. She was a member of the International Committee to Free the Cuban Five and participated in a number of international events to publicize the case and win support.
In collaboration with Cuban filmmakers Bernie directed and produced several documentaries, including The Footprints of Cecilia McPartland, the Irish mother of Cuban revolutionary Julio Antonio Mella; Mission Against Terror, about the case of the Cuban Five, which won several awards; and The Day Diplomacy Died. (ICAP & AIN)