Below is the introduction to the third edition of The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should Be Free now available from Pathfinder Press. Mary-Alice Waters and Martín Koppel, both active builders of the campaign to win freedom for the five, edited the book and are the authors of many of the articles, which originally appeared in the Militant. Copyright © 2012 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.
BY MARY-ALICE WATERS
AND MARTÍN KOPPEL
This new, expanded edition of The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should Be Free is the third to be published in less than a year. That fact alone is a measure of the thirst for more information from those around the world who are learning about Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González and want to join the fight for their freedom. In addition to the English and Spanish-language editions produced simultaneously by Pathfinder Press, work is under way on translations into Farsi and French. We are confident other languages will follow.
Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando, and René are five Cubans who were living and working in southern Florida in 1998 when each of them was arrested in coordinated predawn raids by the US government. At that time William Clinton was president.
They were framed up on charges that included conspiracy to commit espionage and, in the case of Gerardo Hernández, conspiracy to commit murder. More than two years later, the five—who proudly acknowledged they were working for the Cuban government—were brought to trial and convicted in federal court in Miami on all counts. The judge imposed maximum sentences. Three were given life without parole.
On September 12, 2012, each of the five will begin serving his fifteenth year in US custody. For Gerardo, Ramón, and Antonio those years have for the most part been hard time in maximum security penitentiaries. Gerardo Hernández, handed two life sentences the court generously allowed him to serve concurrently, and René Gonzalez, now out on parole, faced an additional arbitrary and brutal penalty. Throughout their imprisonment the US government has refused to grant visas to their wives, Adriana Pérez and Olga Salanueva, to enter the United States to visit them.
What were the alleged criminal activities of the Five?
They organized to infiltrate paramilitary and other counterrevolutionary Cuban American groups that have a fifty-year record of planning and carrying out bombings, assassinations, and other assaults on Cubans as well as other supporters of the Cuban Revolution—on the island, in the United States (yes, inside the US), in Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. Their assignment was to keep the Cuban government informed of those deadly operations in order to prevent as many as possible from coming to fruition.
The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should Be Free tells this story as fully as possible. The articles reprinted here, along with dozens of photos and other graphic displays, are selected from almost 200 news reports and special features on the Cuban Five that have appeared over the last fourteen years in the pages of the Militant, a socialist newsweekly published in New York.
The book has three objectives above all.
The first is to explain why “the case of the Cuban Five” is in fact “the case of the Cuban Revolution.” Why does the US government so hate and fear the men and women who made the Cuban Revolution and the younger generations who today join them in defending and fighting to advance it? Why are they holding these five—all exemplary products of that revolution—hostage to the Cuban people’s refusal to renounce their socialist course and go down on bended knee before Washington?
The second aim is to help working people and youth in the United States recognize the common web of class interests connecting the “justice” meted out by the US cops and courts to the Five with our own life experiences at the hands of that same “justice” system. Especially whenever we resist, whenever we refuse to simply submit to the increasingly brutal exploitation imposed on us by a capitalist system in deepening crisis, whenever we say “enough!” and take up the struggle, whatever the odds.
The United States holds a higher percentage of its population behind bars than any other country on earth. For the US rulers that is not a choice but a necessary precondition for their continued domination at home and abroad. Today Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, and Fernando find themselves among the 2.3 million men and women in US prisons, and the nearly five million, like René, under some form of probation, parole, or “supervised release.” Through no choice of their own, they stand in the front ranks of the class struggle in the United States. And working people in the US who in increasing numbers are finding ways to fight back discover in them a worthy example.
The third goal is to provide information that will be a help to all those engaged in this fight worldwide. The new edition for the first time includes not only a presentation of the book made at the Havana International Book Fair in February 2012, but several recent Militant articles that continue to deepen our appreciation of the character and revolutionary caliber of each of the Cuban Five—and members of their families.
A number of special features have also been added. These include a political “timeline” of the case of the Five, a summary of charges each was convicted of and sentences each received, and excerpts from opinions by US appeals court justices who reviewed the trial record and would have thrown the convictions out if their rulings had been allowed to stand. Also included is a list of some among the thousands of organizations, institutions, and individuals in the United States and around the world who have voiced support for the fight to win freedom for the Five, as well as statements by some of the most prominent of them.
Credit for these additions goes to individuals and organizations in different parts of the world—from Indonesia and Iran, to France and the United States—who have insistently asked for further information and materials to help them understand and present the case to others who are just now learning about the Cuban Five and coming to support them.
Those requests prompted the preparation of answers in a form designed to be useful to all who are involved in this worldwide effort, including the 350 committees in 114 countries, and the thousands of individuals and hundreds of political organizations, that are working to build what Gerardo Hernández rightly described as the “jury of millions that will make our truth be known.”
September 1, 2012