Who are the Cuban Five?
The Cuban Five are five Cuban men who are in U.S. prison, serving four life sentences and 75 years collectively, after being wrongly convicted in U.S. federal court in Miami, on June 8, 2001.
They are Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González.
The Five were falsely accused by the U.S. government of committing espionage conspiracy against the United States, and other related charges.
But the Five pointed out vigorously in their defense that they were involved in monitoring the actions of Miami-based terrorist groups, in order to prevent terrorist attacks on their country of Cuba.
The Five’s actions were never directed at the U.S. government. They never harmed anyone nor ever possessed nor used any weapons while in the United States.
The Cuban Five’s mission was to stop terrorism
For more than 40 years, anti-Cuba terrorist organizations based in Miami have engaged in countless terrorist activities against Cuba, and against anyone who advocates a normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. More than 3,000 Cubans have died as a result of these terrorists’ attacks.
Terrorist Miami groups like Comandos F4 and Brothers to the Rescue operate with complete impunity from within the United States to attack Cuba—with the knowledge and support of the FBI and CIA.
Therefore, Cuba made the careful and necessary decision to send the Five Cubans to Miami to monitor the terrorists. The Cuban Five infiltrated the terrorist organizations in Miami to inform Cuba of imminent attacks.
The aim of such a clandestine operation by the Cuban Five—at great personal risk—was to prevent criminal acts, and thus protect the lives of Cubans and other people.
But instead of arresting the terrorists, the FBI arrested the Cuban Five ANTI-terrorists on September 12, 1998. The Five were illegally held in solidarity confinement for 17 months in Miami jail.
The trial began in November 2000. With the seven-month trial based in Miami, a virtual witchhunt atmosphere existed. Defense attorneys’ motions for a change of venue were denied five times by the judge, although it was obvious that a fair trial was impossible in that city.
In a blow to justice, the Cuban Five were convicted June 8, 2001 and sentenced to four life terms and 75 years in December, 2001.
A victory in appeals, then a surprise reversal
On August 9, 2005, after seven years of unjust imprisonment, the Cuban Five won an unprecedented victory on appeal. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions of the Cuban Five and ordered a new trial outside of Miami.
(The Aug. 9 court decision can be read here (PDF file)
However, in an unexpected reversal on Oct. 31, the 11th Circuit Court vacated the three-judge panel’s ruling and granted an “en banc” hearing before the full panel of 12 judges. Exactly one year after the victory that granted the Five a new trial, the panel voted 10 to 2 to deny the Five heroes a new trial, and instead affirmed the trial court.
Nine remaining issues of appeal are before the three-judge panel (it is actually two judges now, one has retired), and as of December 2006, final supplemental documents were submitted by defense and prosecution. For an explanation of the legal issues, read the Nov. 21 interview with Leonard Weinglass here.
Your support is more important than ever
This case is a political case and the Cuban Five are political prisoners.
Their freedom will depend not only on the arduous work of the defense team but just as importantly on the public support that can be organized. Over 250 committees have been established in the United States and around the world, demanding immediate freedom for Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.
Important declarations have been made by hundreds of parliamentarians in Britain, Italy, and the European and Latin American Parliaments. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, with five judges, ruled that there were irregularities in the Five’s trial and arrest, effectively denying them a fair trial and calls on the U.S. government to remedy this injustice.
In the United States, the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is working very hard to build broad support for these anti-terrorist heroes, with forums and video showings, media and publicity work, and a march that was held on Sept. 23, 2006 in front of the White House.
The year 2007 will be critical for the struggle to win freedom for the Cuban Five. Call or write us! Find out how you can do your part to win justice for five men who dedicated their lives to save others. http://www.freethefive.org
The Cuban Five and US Terrorism
by Alicia Jrapko & Michael Parenti
Phone: (510) 219-0092 12 Dec 2006
Now is the time to demand the release of the Cuban Five. They were sentenced 5 years ago this month and have been imprisoned unjustly in the U.S. for 8 years for the crime of trying to defend their homeland against terrorist attacks...
December 2006 marks five years since the Cuban Five were sentenced to prison. In 2001, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino and René González were unjustly convicted of engaging in “espionage conspiracy” and other charges, and sentenced to terms ranging from 15 years to double-life. In fact, they committed no act of espionage against the United States. What they were doing was monitoring Cuban exile terrorist groups in the USA in an attempt to track and prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba.
It has been eighth years since the five men were arrested. And through all that time “anti-Castro” right-wing terrorist groups have continued to operate with impunity in this country. And the corporate media continue to hail them as “anti-Castro militants” and “freedom fighters,” while leaving their nefarious deeds unreported.
Since 1959 Cuba has been subjected to threats, sanctions, invasion, sabotage, and terrorist attacks upon its soil resulting in 3,478 deaths—all organized from within the United States by terrorist groups that are financed, organized, and sheltered by the U.S. national security state.
The U.S. government arrested the Cuban Five for sending to Havana information about terrorist plots and actions being planned against Cuba. Needless to say, the United States government wanted these groups to remain anonymous, free to continue their campaigns of destruction.
The Judge who convicted the Five actually admitted the existence of these terror groups. On December 14th, 2001, when Judge Lenard sentenced René González to 15 years in prison, she stated: “As a further special condition of supervised release the defendant is prohibited from associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence, and organized crime figures are known to be or frequent.” Acknowledging that the terrorist groups were part of the established political landscape in Florida, Judge Lenard did not seem to see a problem. The problem was Gonzalez’s gathering information on them.
Since December 2001, voices demanding the immediate freedom of the Cuban Five have been multiplying around the world. The growing international movement for the freedom of the Five was recently described by Gerardo Hernández, in a message sent by him to solidarity groups around the world that were commemorating the eight anniversary of their arrests.
Gerardo, who was sentenced to an outrageous two terms of life-in-prison plus 15 years, wrote in his message, “When I remember back on what happened that September 12th, the first thing that comes to my mind are the words of the FBI agent, who in the middle of his efforts to try to turn us into traitors, said: “Cuba will do nothing for you. Nobody will do anything for you” How far off were he and his fellow officials to imagine what has developed over these years in the struggle to free the Five (to be honest, not even we, the Five, could have imagined!)… I will not have enough time to tell him about all the examples of support and affection that come to us from the Cuban people and from all our compañeros from around the world”
In defense of this cause, today there are 288 committees in 97 countries. In addition, on May 27th, 2005, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nation Human Right Commission declared the detentions of the five Cubans to be arbitrary and urged the U.S. government to take immediate measures to resolve this situation.
On August 30, 2005, six thousand worldwide personalities including 9 Nobel Prize winners sent an open letter to the United States Attorney General demanding immediate freedom for the prisoners.
On January 11th, 2006, Amnesty International sent a letter to the government of the United States stating that the denial to grant visas to Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez, wives of René González and Gerardo Hernández, was an additional punishment, contrary to proper treatment of prisoners and their families. The letter also raised questions about the guarantee of due process in the Miami trial.
Meanwhile, the White House continues to tolerate the existence of anti-Cuban terrorists on U.S. soil. In March 2005, the well-known dangerous terrorist of Cuban origin, Luis Posada Carriles, entered the United States illegally. Today he is detained in El Paso, Texas, not because of the crimes he committed in several countries, including the United States itself, but only because of his illegal entry. Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, another terrorist who today freely walks the streets of Miami, are responsible for the 1976 bombing of the Cuban commercial airliner that killed 73 innocent people.
In November 2005, Santiago Álvarez and Osvaldo Mitat two confederates of Posada Carriles who helped him enter the U.S. by boat were arrested. Their arrest was not for aiding and abetting a terrorist (as it should have been) but for the lesser charge of illegal possession of weapons.
In June 2006, another scandal came to light in Miami when José Antonio Llama, a former director of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) threatened several of his former criminal accomplices with legal action, accusing them of defrauding him. In an open statement to the Miami media, Llama revealed that in a secret meeting in 1993 in Naples, Florida, the CANF created a paramilitary group. He accused the group of failing to pay him back a loan of almost $2 million. The loan was to buy eight ships, one helicopter, a high-speed motorboat, and ten planes for terrorist acts against Cuba. Even after revealing this, Llama was not questioned by U.S. authorities.
In April 2006, Cuban born Roberto Ferro was arrested for illegal possession of an arsenal of 1,571 weapons at his house in Upland, California. In his statements Ferro confessed to being a member of the anti-Cuban terrorist organization Alpha 66. Yet U.S. authorities did nothing to find out why and for what purpose Ferro had this arsenal in his home. And no investigation was made of his links to any terrorist organization.
In January 2002, a few months after the September 11 attacks, Bush announced in his State of the Union address, “First, we will shut down terrorist camps, disrupt terrorist plans, and bring terrorists to justice. . . My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries and our own.” If the White House were really interested in fighting terrorism, it would shut down the anti-Cuban terrorist camps in South Florida and bring Posada Carriles and his accomplices to justice for the murders they have committed.
Instead the Cuban Five, who have broken no U.S. law, who possessed no weapons, and who committed no act of terror, sabotage or espionage, are languishing in prison for defending their homeland by attempting to monitor U.S. sponsored terrorism. http://www.antiterroristas.cu http://www.freethefive.org/ http://www.freeforfive.org/
Call the New York Times and ask for an article on the Cuban Five!
The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5
On Tuesday Dec. 12th (the official start of the 2nd Period of time for the Cuban 5), the Project is organizing a NATIONAL CALL IN DAY FOR THE CUBAN 5. We are asking people who support the release of the Cuban 5 to call the New York Times and ask to speak to Suzanne Daley, National News Editor, at 212-556-1234 and demand that an article be published on the Cuban 5.
Tell them you want an article to be written and they should contact the Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5 at 718-601-4751 for interviews and additional information on the Cuban 5!!
IF WE WANT THIS ARTICLE TO BE PUBLISHED WE CANNOT BE AFRAID TO DEMAND IT!! WE ARE THEIR AUDlENCE, READERSHIP AND SUBSCRIBERS, WE HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO DEMAND THAT THIS NEWS ISSUE BE GIVEN COVERAGE!! CALL IN AND FLOOD THElR PHONE LINES!! LET THE NYTIMES KNOW THAT WE MEAN BUSINESS
The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5 http://www.freethecuban5.com freethecubanFIVE@hotmail.com
Free the Cuban 5 Hotline: 718-601-4751
Videos related with the Five and Cuba:
- "Misión contra el terror", acerca de los Cinco héroes cubanos prisioneros en cárceles del imperio: http://es.arcoiris.tv/modules.php?name=Unique&id=824
- "El infierno de Guantánamo, territorio usurpado": http://es.arcoiris.tv/modules.php?name=Unique&id=889
- "Comandante" de Oliver Stone: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=42720
- "Looking for Fidel", de Oliver Stone: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=42621
- Video corto sobre el desfile del 2 de Diciembre 2006: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=42580
- Video ICAIC "Antes del 59": http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=42951
- "Momentos con Fidel": http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=42952
- "La Solidaridad Internacional": http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=42953
- "Che Guevara, donde nunca jamás se lo imaginan": http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=43136
- "Desafío", sobre el bloqueo a Cuba: http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=43134
- "Operación Milagro en Venezuela": http://es.arcoiris.tv/modules.php?name=Unique&id=954
- "Cuba, caminos de revolución": http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=43144
- "Entre el arte y la cultura": http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=43250
- "Una isla en la corriente": http://www.rebelion.org/noticia.php?id=43249
Our Duty to the Five
by Andrés Gómez, director, Areítodigital
Dec. 14, 2006
MIAMI—It was five years ago on December 12 that the Southern Florida Federal District Court condemned our brother, Gerardo Hernández, to two life sentences plus 15 years in prison. For the next 15 days the same court also unjustly condemned our remaining four brothers to prison: Ramón Labañino (a life sentence plus 18 years); René González (15 years); Fernando González (19 years); and Antonio Guerrero (a life sentence plus 10 years). All were falsely charged by the federal government of conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States and other related crimes.
The federal government lied and it is still lying. The Five, as everyone knows, were not in Miami to spy against the government of the United States, but to infiltrate the terrorist organizations of the Cuban-American extreme rightwing, which with the full knowledge and protection of the federal government, plans and directs from that city terrorist actions against the Cuban people and against others of this country who oppose them.
The Five had to infiltrate those terrorist organizations which for more than four decades have operated from Miami, causing death and desolation in Cuba because the federal authorities fail to carry out their duty that the law requires. Indeed, with their full knowledge, they allow these terrorists to freely develop and carry out their perfidious activities.
As the Five themselves expressed in June of 2001, in a “Message to the People of the United States,” after being convicted of those false charges, “Why are the U.S. authorities tolerant with these terrorists who act against our country? Why don’t they investigate or take action against the terrorist plans denounced by Cuba … Why is it that the professed authors of these and other terrorist actions are still loose in South Florida as was clearly established during the trial? Who trained them and who is allowing them to carry out their plans?”
The federal government has kept the Five imprisoned for eight years and three months. For eight years and three months the government has continuously lied and obstructed justice to viciously punish five courage and honorable men whose duty was to prevent terrorist acts from being carried out from U.S. soil.
For more than five years, also in Miami, the members of the organizations that make up the Martí Alliance (Alianza Martiana): the Association of Workers of the Cuban Community (ATC) the Antonio Maceo Brigade (BAM), the Alianza Martiana, the José Martí Association, and the Bolivarian Circle of Miami, have denounced the crime being committed against the Five. We have denounced the terrorist of the Cuban American extreme rightwing for the infamous crimes that they have perpetuated for so many years. For all these years we have also demanded that the federal authorities do justice by freeing the Cuban Five and jailing the terrorists.
Since September 2001, less than two weeks after the terrorist acts of September 11 that caused so many deaths, we began our campaign in a conference at a hotel in our city. We denounced those who have caused so many deaths in Cuba through terrorism, and we demanded freedom for the Five.
From that day forward we have not let up, through public campaigns, demonstrations and conferences. The members of the organizations that make up the Alianza Martiana raised more than $11,000 in 2004 for the $50,000 fund that was needed for the publication of a full-page ad in the New York Times that protested the Five’s situation. Then, in 2006, we raised more than $36,000 of the $110,000 that has been raised so far, for an international fund of $250,000 that is needed to sustain the public campaign on their behalf.
And we have done this because it is our duty with the Five. It is the least that we can do for these five brothers who have shown, with the greatest dignity, their willingness to sacrifice everything to defend the lives of all our loved ones in Cuba and here. And we will not stop until justice is won by their freedom.
“We have always been moved by a strong sentiment of human solidarity, love for our homeland and contempt for that which goes against the dignity of the human being,” expressed Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René in the aforementioned message. They continue, “We declare ourselves completely innocent. Our loved ones understand the depth of the ideas that guide us and they will take pride in our sacrifices for Humanity in this struggle against terrorism and for the independence of Cuba.”