Rest in peace and light, Alicia Jrapko

Dear colleagues and friends,

With deep sorrow and on behalf of her family, we communicate that our dear companion, sister and friend, Alicia Jrapko, left us this January 11 after fighting against a cruel disease for more than two years. Despite the harsh treatment she underwent, she never stopped working as hard as she could. If Alicia regretted something, it was not being able to continue contributing, loving and living with the energy that always characterized her.

Alicia was a great Argentine revolutionary, daughter of workers who from a very young age assumed the struggles of a generation that dreamed of building an Argentina with social justice for the people. Alicia said in an interview that in Latin America she forged a great admiration for Cuba, for Fidel, Raúl, Che and so many others and other revolutionaries. In Argentina we wanted the same, but it was not achieved and a large part of my generation lost their best children.

Alicia was born on January 1, 1953, in Merlo, Buenos Aires province, grew up and was educated in Córdoba, where she studied journalism. The Argentine military dictatorship imposed in 1976 unleashed a fierce repression against all popular militants. Thirty-thousand were arrested-disappeared, including many of Alicia’s classmates. Not able to finish her studies, and with only the clothes that she wore, she went into exile in 1976.

Each of Alicia’s three children bears the middle name of her missing companions: Gabriela Emma, Eileen Mabel and Juan Alberto.

For several years she lived in exile in Mexico, then she settled in the United States, the most difficult country and at the same time the most necessary to support the causes of Latin America and fight against imperialism … it was difficult to understand the aggression, the lies and the attacks against Cuba by the media and the government.

Alicia was committed to the struggles of American workers and in the early 1990s, with solidarity work with Cuba through IFCO – Pastores por La Paz, where she collaborated closely with Reverend Lucius Walker as their West Coast coordinator, she helped to organize and promote scholarships so that African American and Latino students could attend the free Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) to become physicians in their communities. Her solidarity work brought her closer to Cuba every day. She became a spokesperson for many IFCO caravans that traveled thousands of kilometers across the United States to counter the lies of the U.S. government against the island, while she collected humanitarian aid as a symbol of solidarity with the Cuban people. “We knew that the humanitarian aid we were taking to Cuba was symbolic, but we wanted to show that the U.S. government could not block solidarity between the peoples. And we wanted to show that Cuba was not alone. The experience of traveling to Cuba in the Pastores por la Paz caravans changed my life forever and brought me closer to Cuba and her people,” she once said in an interview.

In 2000, Alicia was at the forefront of the battle for the return of Elián González along with his father in Cuba, but her fundamental work was in the fight for the liberation of the Five Cuban Patriots (the Cuban Five), unjustly imprisoned for monitoring the activities of terrorists in the United States against Cuba.

Alicia assumed with determination and unmatched courage the leadership of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Five in the United States, and succeeded in getting trade unionists, religious leaders, congressmen, jurists, intellectuals, actors and artists to join the campaign for the liberation of the anti-terrorist Cubans Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Fernando González Llort and René González Sehwerert.

From 2002 until his freedom in 2014, regardless of the risks and the enormous distances, together with his partner in struggle and dreams, Bill Hackwell, he visited Gerardo Hernández more than a hundred times in two federal maximum security prisons, and was the constant and affective support of family visits.

Alicia’s enormous work and political commitment transcended to the Cuban people, who conferred on her several distinctions, including the “Félix Elmuza” Medal awarded by the Union of Journalists of Cuba, the Coat of Arms of the city of Holguín, and the Medal of Friendship awarded by the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba through the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) for her immense work during the long years of struggle for the freedom of the Five.

Alicia strongly supported the Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela, the legacy of Hugo Chávez and President Nicolás Maduro.

These pages would not be enough to describe the enormous work that this brave woman carried out with extraordinary modesty, simplicity, dignity and fidelity, with all her energies put at the service of human improvement throughout her precious life.

Since 2011, Alicia had been the co-president of the National Network on Cuba (NNOC). She was coordinator of the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity of the Peoples in the United States and founder and co-editor of Latin American Summary in English. She created the US chapter of the Network in Defense of Humanity and was a member of its General Secretariat. In her latest project, despite being ill, Alicia was co-chair of the Nobel Committee of the Henry Reeve Cuban Medical Brigade, as one more effort in her tireless fight against the criminal blockade of Cuba.

Her name, Alicia, means truth. That truth was carried as a banner by our dear Ali throughout her life, the truth of the people against injustice, the truth, the honesty, the dignity and the modesty of true revolutionaries, capable of giving everything, without any other ambition or personal motive. Alicia’s leadership style drew people to her and the struggles she led, always with her big smile and sincerity, earning everyone’s respect.

She honored us with her friendship and affection, with her enormous courage. And she leaves us all in this infinite sadness, but with her example of her life, of struggle, of nobility, dignity and hope.

All our love goes to Gabriela, Eileen and Juanito, her beloved children, her life partner Bill Hackwell, their six grandchildren, the youngest Che Simón, born this January 5, whom she was not able to meet or take in her arms, but from the one who heard an audio of his cry for the future with a big smile; to his dear brother in Argentina, family, friends and colleagues in the United States.

We will never forget you soul mate, closest and most loved of sisters.

Goodbye Ali Dear!

You will always be present!

Ever onward to victory!

Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Graciela Ramírez Cruz.