Posts Tagged ‘Commission of Inquiry’

Gerardo : We were subjected a grossly unfair trial

September 30, 2015

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An Interview with Gerardo Hernández one of the three Cuban agents
released following the Havana-Washington agreement.

We were subjected a grossly unfair trial

Eduardo Febbro
<http://www.rebelion.org/mostrar.php?tipo=5&id=Eduardo%20Febbro&inicio=0&gt;
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translated by Sean Joseph Clancy

*If there is a story within the story that might serve as a synopsis
of the bitter history between the U.S. and Cuba, it is that of Cuban
agents condemned to serve sentences in North American jails,
disproportionate to what they had actually done.

A few stops beyond the stairs to a station in North Brussels, where an
elderly orhestra are making an unholy mess of the “Besame Mucho” song,
one of three Cuban intelligence agents released as part of a
settlement partially mediated by the Vatican on the reestablishment of
diplomatic ties.

If there is a story within the story that might serve as a synopsis of
the bitter history between the U.S. and Cuba, it is that of Cuban
agents condemned to serve sentences in North American jails,
disproportionate to what they had actually done.

Gerardo Hernández is one of 5 Cuban intelligence agents who along with
Ramon Lanañino, Fernando Gonzalez Llort, Rene Gonzalez Sehewerert and
Antinio Guerrero Rodriguez who during the mid 1990’s  undertook
special missions within the U.S. in order to discover and prevent
terrorist actions, including attacks on hotel and tourist resorts and
sabotage by counter-revolutionary groups planned in Miami and later
carried out in Cuba.

The Five were uncovered and arrested in 1998. Later in what was one of
the longest trials in North American judicial history, the Cubans were
issued sentences which essentially were political punishments
orchestrated by the U.S. administrations obsession with Cuba.
Gerardo Hernandez, accused of “conspiracy to commit murder” was given
two life sentences.

Generally speaking, cases involving unregistered foreign agents
discovered operating in a foreign territory are dealt with behind
closed doors and resolved by negotiation. The case of the Cuban Five
was the polar opposite. Amid espionage and other outrageous
accusations, they were tried by a court in Miami and used as
implements of political manipulation.

Free today, the refreshing intelligence of Gerardo Hernandez reveals
no trace of the 16 years spent in North American penitentiaries, the
abuses suffered nor the long months of detention in rigorously imposed
solitary confinement.

Thanks to interventions by U.S. senator Patrick Leahy, one of those
who has most fervently  advocated for the lifting of the U.S. blockade
of Cuba, Hernandez had a son while still in prison.

The senator helped organize for Gerardos wife, Adriana Perez, br
artificially inseminated.
Following 18 months of secret negotiations with Pope Francis as
guarantor, the seemingly impossible dreams of freedom of the three
agents still behind bars in U.S. jails – Antonio, Gerardo and Ramon –
became a reality on the day of the historical declarations, December
17th 2014.

–The theme of the Cuban agents was what had been blocking, but that
also eventually unlocked the key to, negotiations with the U.S.

–Yes, exactly, our case remained very much in the air because of more
than 50 years of adversarial or non-existent relations with the U.S.
which are what led to the politicized nature of the trial of the Cuban
Five and what underpinned the cruel nature of our treatment.

Remember, there was a case a few years ago regarding the arrest of
Russian spies.  That was speedily dealt with  by negotiation and they
were repatriated without ever having to stand trial.

Our case was complicated by the history of conflict between the U.S.
and Cuba, which is paradoxically what eventually facilitated a
resolution.

For certain, the resolution of our case cannot only be attributed to
the negotiations, because the solidarity we experienced over so many
years was also relevant.

The Five of us had become very well known, there were presidents, and
religious, cultural  and political personalities, all calling for our
release.

Ours had become a most embarrassing case for the north Americans. It
had taken a lot of work for us to develop any awareness of our case.

It had been one of the longest in U.S. legal history; lasting 7 months
during which more than 100 witnesses testified. The press however
maintained an amost blanket silence.

Little by little the solidarity work of comrades who took to the
streets  protesting became necessary.

–Today we know that the Pope played a leading role in the agreement.
The Vatican was the  guarantor of the liberation process. Were you
aware of the Vaticans intervention?

–No, I did not know about it. It came as a surprise because we were
removed from that entire negotiation process. I did not know about the
role played by the Vatican.  It was afterwards that I learned about
the parts played by various cardinals, amongst them the Archbishop of
Havana and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who I hold in high esteem. We are
truly grateful.

We have always accepted the help of all persons of goodwill. It must
be remembered that in addition to the political connotations
surrounding our case that there was a profound human tragedy also
unfolding. I am glad that  Pope Francis, being a Latin American was
conscientious.

I can honestly express great admiration for him. He has demonstrated a
very courageous attitudes, worthy of respect. On behalf of the Five
and our families, beneficiaries of this attitude, I send him our
thanks.

–If one examines the terms of negotiation, Cuba did not really concede
anything at all. Washington always maintained that they would never
deal with Cuba in the present political context, but did so
nevertheless.

–My personal opinion is that for a very long time the U.S. held that
line, that as long as there was a Castro in power in Cuba –which is
how they refer to the Revolution with the Cuban people in power – and
that they would also  never negotiate with Cuba while the Communist
Party remained in power and the Revolution remained.

All of these conditions still exist and we nevertheless have talked
under the only condition always imposed by Cuba, that the talks are
between equals and absolutely respectful  of our independence and
sovereignty.

–Did you at any point feel the weight of history on your shoulders?
The Five were, to a very great extent , the key to the knot

–I never saw the case as being of that magnitude. More towards the
end, when there were rumors of a solution, and especially when our
release was announced I began to feel it somewhat. I did then —
without knowing the extent of the progress — imagine that this might
be the route to further progress. When Raul Castro spoke with our
family members by his side is when I fully realized.

The three released Cubans knew nothing about the talks. We were
informed one day prior to our releases and we learned about the
reestablishment of diplomatic relations through Raul’s speech.

–Your case in an example for the world about the use of the justice
system as a weapon in a conflict with another state.

–Yes, the case of the Five was a revenge attack against the Cuban
Revolution and Cuban Revolutionaries. The U.S. saw an opportunity to
score a point and did so by taking Five men hostage. We accepted that
we had, by possessing false passports and operating as foreign agents
unregistered with the State Department, violated U.S law.

Ok, but we had a legal right to enter a “necessity” defense and to
outline why, but that was not permitted. The trial was held in Miami
where we, in reality, had no rights whatsoever. This was a totally
biased trial.

We were found guilty and given the maximum possible sentences on every
count. They thought that by punishing the Five meant punishing the
Cuban Revolution.

Their initial plan was to have all of us betray Cuba and mount a media
show against the Revolution.

That did not happen and so came 17 months initially — and later many
more —  in punishment cells without ever hacing committed and
indiscipline. This is why our wives were denied visits.

–Paradoxically, while you were being condemned , there were people
distributing a very thick manual in Miami.

–Incredible! The US claims to wage war against terrorism.  Young North
Americans serve in the Army and die in other countries in the name of
this war on terror. But the terrorists are here!

Luis Posada Carriles remains at liberty to stroll around the Miami
streets despite being responsible for the attack on  the Cubana
Airlines plane in 1976 in which 73 people lost their lives and the
bombing of hotels in Havana in which a young Italian man was killed.

He has an long record of terrorism but freely walks the streets.
Carriles and others were trained by the CIA to bring down the Cuban
Revolution. There have been points in history when the CIA had nothing
to do with them, but during these they turned a blind eye to them as
they continued uninhibited to do as they wished.

–Was this the mission you were dispatched to Miami on, to investigate
such groups?

–Yes, to investigate terrorist groups such as Alpha 66, The F4
Commandos, Brothers to the Rescue… and these groups still exist,
still have their training camps there

Cuba had certainly complained many times to the US Government about
the activities of such groups, but they continued to carry on with
impunity, creating the necessity for Cuba to send agents to monitor
and infiltrate them and to send information back to Cuba to prevent
acts of terrorism.

–Have your views on the US or the Revolution changed?

–They have changed in that today my character and my revoltionary
convictions are more solid now, as is my love for the Cuban people.

I lived for 16 years in those jails and that society and during that
time encountered within the prisons a great number of experiences,
human dramas,  young people – barely twenty years of age — who might
have been doctors or engineers condemned to life sentences. This is
because there is a system that, from the moment of their birth,
instills in them that they must aquire more, that they should walk
over anyone to get ahead in life and get what they want.

This is absolute brutalization, it is truly a human tragedy. Those
years spent in the US, both on the streets and behind bars have
reaffirmed my conviction that, no matter what problems we may have in
Cuba, we must continue to work to improve our system and our
socialism.

I do not anything like I witnessed in the U.S. for Cuba. But I do not
feel any resentment or bitterness to the U.S. No, I feel compassion
and no hatred for anybody.

–You were also confronted by the great change that the one time great
enemy of Cuba might be transforming, even into a potential ally.
The Cuba of your time in prison is not the Cuba to which you been freed.

–For sure! It would be strange if it were the same Cuba because that
would require a denial of our own we would be denying our own dialect.
I am happy that Cuba has changed and that most of the changes are for
the better.

No revolution can remain static. We are confident that the Cuban
people can confront the challenges posed by this process. They are
significant challenges. There are thise who suggest that they (the
U.S.) will attain by the embrace of a bear what they could not during
more than 50 years of Blockade, aggression and threats….

Book Review: The incredible case of the CUBAN FIVE

September 9, 2015

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Review by: Leo Juvier

On December 17, 2014 presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced the beginning of a new chapter in U.S.-Cuba relations. Also, on this day President Obama released the last three of the five Cuban men imprisoned unjustly by the American government with charges of conspiracy to commit espionage, and conspiracy to commit murder. Those three prisoners were Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, and Antonio Guerrero.
The case of the Cuban Five is truly like no other legal case in the history of the United States and Cuba. Their case was particularly plagued by misinformation and concealment of evidence which made their saga a nightmare. During their trial the U.S. government paid millions of dollars to journalists to write stories with lies and incendiary commentary against the Cuban Five, resulting in a biased jury.
The injustices of the case caused international indignation and it mobilized thousands of people across the globe in a show of solidarity. Since their arrest in 1998, the Cuban Five and their families have endured innumerable injustices by the U.S. government, from the denial of visas to family members who wished to visit them in prison, to keeping them in solitary confinement without a reason for long periods of time.
The Book “The incredible case of the Cuban Five” chronicles the nightmare these five cuban men endured for over 16 years in prison. The book is a compilation of testimonies and opinions gathered at the International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five held in London on March 7th and 8th, 2014. The commission counted with over 300 people from 27 different countries, among them distinguished members of the international legal community.
While reading the book it is difficult to ignore the cry for justice.
The relationship between U.S. and Cuba has been characterized by aggressive foreign policies, blockade, and acts of terrorism to destabilize the Cuban nation. Since 1959 Cuba has been the victim of 703 acts of terrorism against its civilian population by the U.S. government and Cuban-American organizations operating from Miami. These attacks have resulted in the death of more than 3478 people, and 3000 people being disabled. One of the attacks that will always remain a scar in the memory of the country was the explosion of a Cuban airplane in mid-air in 1976. During this terrorist attack masterminded by Luis Posada Carriles, (a terrorist who enjoys freedom in Miami) 73 people died, 53 of them were Cubans including the youth fencing team who were returning home from Barbados after winning all the medals in their last competition.
During the 1990’s while Cuba was trying to develop the tourism sector in the wake of the Special Period, organizations like the Cuban American National Foundation was financing terrorists to plant bombs in hotels and resort areas. Those activities resulted in the death of a young Italian tourist named Fabio and many others injured.
In response to the terrorist attacks the Cuban government sent the Five with the mission to infiltrate the organizations who were plotting the attacks and to end the terrorist campaign that was punishing Cuban civilians. Their mission was to protect the Cuban people from the wrath and hatred of the extremist exiles which continues to cause damage and prevent full normalization between both nations.
Today it is still very difficult to hear the other side, and the true story of the Cuban Five from American soil. Unfortunately the biggest enemies for the normalization of relations with Cuba is no longer the American people, but the Cuban-American right wing exiles in Miami. They control (or at least try) the public opinion with lies and intimidation.
This book offers an unbiased inquiry into the case the Cuban Five. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to gain a deeper understanding for the case as well as for Cuban-American relations.
For more on the Cuban Five visit: http://voicesforthefive.com/

Official Film report on the Commission of Inquiry: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FP7Jw4NJ-Fg&feature=youtu.be&list=PLVRfY1xg2QAwDXfybvuhnBUotFKgs5iF5

The Cuban Five discuss their release and return to Cuba

January 26, 2015

The Cuban Five discuss their release and return to Cuba During the first of a series of interviews with protagonists of Cuban history on the “Roundtable” television program, anti-terrorist fighters Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino recall details of their release from U.S. prisons and their return to Cuba, after serving 16 years of their unjust sentences.

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The three anti-terrorist Cubans recently released from U.S. jails, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino, shared their testimony and anecdotes in a special edition of the Mesa Redonda television program. During the first of a series of interviews with protagonists of Cuban history on the “Roundtable” television program to be aired monthly, the anti-terrorist fighters Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino recalled the moment of their release from U.S. prisons and their return to Cuba.

The three Cubans, who returned to their native country on December 17, commented on the details of the transfer, described by Labañino as very discreet and well organized on the part of U.S. authorities and those in Havana.

Labañino and Guerrero both noted the silence maintained around the news of their return during the transfer from their respective prisons to the medical center from which they left the country, and the urgency of every movement.

They clarified that they were transferred two days beforehand, while Gerardo was moved the previous week and confined in the hole. Gerardo, Antonio and Ramón, together with Fernando González and René González, were incarcerated in the United States for informing the Cuban authorities of acts of terrorism planned by violent groups based in Florida.

Fernando and René had returned to Cuba previously after fully completing their prison terms. On this occasion they conceded the space to their recently released brothers in struggle.

Gerardo: “I want to highlight the attitude of my other four Cuban brothers. They had very little against René, similarly against Fernando, if they had yielded to pressure and bribery they wouldn’t have spent even one year in prison.” THE ENCOUNTER Antonio Guerrero: “At 5:30 am a nurse arrived and said to me, ‘Guerrero, get down, you have to pack, at 6:30 you have to be in the concourse, you understand? You want me to say it in Spanish?’ “The doors were closed, they are opened just after 6:00 and I said to my cell mate, ‘Get up, I told you I was going before you!’ He was to be released on January 20 and I’d said to him a few times that there was a possibility of me going before him.

“In the department to which they transferred us I began to take note of strange things, starting from the fact that I had not requested any transfer. From there they moved me to the room from which I was to be collected and while I was there they came and said, ‘Guerrero, you’re going to Bourne!’ – the Bourne Medical Center.
“I continued thinking about the possibility of going somewhere else, but they were already saying that I was going to a prison.

The lieutenants came, they took me to a very small, executive, airport terminal, the plane came. Everything that was happening was abnormal in relation to other transfers they had made. I had had a similar medical transfer, but not like this one; I even said to the lieutenant who accompanied me from the prison, ‘You’re going to remember this transfer for the rest of your life.’

“I arrived after Ramón, about three in the afternoon on Monday the 15th. From there I went to the department, I didn’t have Ramón’s luck to know that Gerardo had been transferred, I didn’t have that information and when I reached that department there was a nurse, a Puerto Rican working there, and an officer from whom I tried to get some information, and what they said was that there was a unit there for workers, which wasn’t a medical one, and everything indicated that I was assigned to that unit.

“They took me to a hole cell in another area, he told me to sleep well because he would be coming to get me at 7:00 in the morning! “Before seven, they came to ask me if I was ready, one of the officers who had transferred me came to collect me. We went along a passage, they took the cuffs off me, but we were moving at supersonic speed. ”There were some officers running and those taking me didn’t stop, they led me to a passageway which gave on to the visitors room, the officer stopped in the doorway and said to me, ‘Let’s go!’ and that’s when I saw a person shaking Gerardo’s hand, there were quite a few people there, but I couldn’t contain myself and said to him, ‘Gerar!' I imagined the same thing had happened to him, but up until that moment I had no idea and he also said he didn’t know what was going on.

We had that first encounter in Bourne.” Gerardo Hernández: “I left the prison without any advance notice. When they moved me I had been put in the hole in Oklahoma for 11 days. I thought that they also wanted me to refresh the details incase anything had to be corrected by Kcho (a Cuban artist) in the installation. They moved Ramón and me the same day, Monday the 15th, in different conditions.

“One goes about collecting details in spite of what I always said, ‘I’ll believe that I’m going to Cuba the day that the airplane lands.’ “When I saw Ramón and Tony I said to myself, ‘This is different.' Even when it landed we were delayed a while in getting off and the U.S. officials were going up and down the steps and I said to them, ‘If this takes off again, I’m going to throw myself out the window.’”

Ramón Labañino: “In my case it was interesting. You spend 16 years waiting for this moment. A prison officer told me to get ready and collect my things. I was asleep and my first impression was, ‘All right, let’s see what happens.’ “They took me to the place where you change your clothes and from there I went to where they put the chains on. In this lapse of time, while I’m waiting for the other officer to arrive, I could hear them commenting, I’ve always had a good ear for listening in and that day, much more so, and I heard them saying, ‘This is a strange business, we have to get these guys out of here and to the nearest airport.’

At that point I thought, this is something serious. So then I felt uneasy. “They took me out, cuffed me with the black box and put me in a van with two guards to transfer me to Lexington airport; there they led me onto a small aircraft and took me to Bourne. I knew absolutely nothing and asked, but they didn’t reply. I arrived at Bourne, it was a lightning operation and very calm, and there I heard a guard saying ‘Hurry up because the other one’s coming behind.’ “That night I couldn’t sleep because I began to think that I was in Cuba and I was waiting to see if I would spot the other guys pass by. I spent it the night exercising. Everything was very well coordinated, calculated in millimeters.”

BEHIND BARS Antonio: “The hole was torture, an unjust punishment. They deprived us of communication, and did certain things to us there; for example, I was taken outside for recreation some mornings when I hadn’t finished breakfast and they would throw out what we had in the cells, and they would search the cell at the slightest opportunity. When we asked permission to go to the legal library, or wanted to change the food or needed to go to the dentist, they would tear up the requests in our face, already entering the range of cruelty. “Something would arrive for us, a letter or whatever, and we would share it. The objective of this close to two years’ process was to break us. Apart from our union, we were helped by the strength we gave each other.”

Gerardo: “It was a very difficult time. Initially, ten of us were arrested. I was the only one who knew the other nine. That says a lot for the attitude of our compañeros. In effect, five people were unable to resist the pressure and decided to cooperate with the authorities against us. The damage was not so great from the operative point of view, because thanks to the compartmentalization they didn’t know that much. They could only use one person to testify against us during the trial. In the end they realized that it was doing them more harm than good.

“Those first moments were of reaffirmation. We were aware that their intentions were to put on a propaganda show. They knew that we hadn’t done any damage to the country, nor did we have information that could threaten U.S. national security. “I remember some years later an article came out in the Miami Herald with the title, ‘Spy may hold key’ which was counting on me betraying Fidel and Raúl on the day we lost our appeals. “There were three officers among us and they were in the group of the Five which remained unbroken.

The ones who decided to collaborate with the United States did not have that rank. That was the ultimate dream for the prosecution, to have an officer to accuse Cuba. When they didn’t get that, they opted for cruelty. “I want to highlight the attitude of my other four brothers. They had very little against René, or against Fernando, if they had yielded they wouldn’t have spent a year in prison.

However, they established their stand without any hesitation and from that first moment the Five emerged.”

Ramón: “The officer who was with me kept repeating, ‘I know your story, I know who you are and what you are doing here.’ And I would say to him, ‘All right, tell me what I’m doing here,’ to see what happened. Because in all of this you think maybe they’re confused, they think it’s drugs or something else. But when I saw all the guys I realized that things were more serious. There comes a moment in one’s life when a man has to define himself and know what side he is going to take in history, and it is the moment when he reaffirms himself as a revolutionary.

And we opted for the correct option, that of being on the side of our people, of our Comandante and the history of the homeland. “Because from the very first moment we realized that it would not only be a personal betrayal, but could have major consequences, including an escalation of another kind, which in its most extreme form could be military. That process could be manipulated against our people.

“Five or six yielded in the face of so many pretensions and gifts. They moved us to the Miami detention center, on the 13th floor, which is above the hole, which is on the 12th. We were there for around 15 days but all isolated. That was Saturday the 12th and the 14th we were taken down to the court. “It was in the court that the five of us reaffirmed what we were going to be. That September 14, 1998, I realized – and each one of us has a different perception –who was or was not up to the task that the moment demanded. “At that time I didn’t know René. For reasons of work there were certain people who we didn’t know, but when we went to court we were prepared to die together.”

THE RETURN Antonio: “The 31st (December), we spent together as a family, an extended family. It’s not 16 years, in my case its 24. But when we gave each other friendly hugs and kisses, those 24 years were erased. We have recounted some things but since we’ve been here, from when I wake up from when I go to bed, what has passed has been left behind in the past, I feel neither rancor nor nostalgia. I don’t know where to fit another little piece of happiness inside of myself. My two sons are marvelous young men. Gabriel is in Panama.

I had the good luck to spend a few days with him, we slept in the same room and in the same bed, and that gave me great happiness, the same way as I feel with my great-nephews. I am used to getting up early and they do as well and that was my breakfast. At the end of the day, the family, the people, erased those moments of anguish and the joy is constant.”

Gerardo: “Gema is a pretty and peaceful baby girl. From the beginning I wanted her to be a girl, because boys get very spoiled. In any event, Gema already has her little Industriales shirt, because who’s to say that baseball isn’t for girls as well. “One of the most difficult things about being in prison was the frustration of not having children. In these difficult times the only way we found of giving form to our sentiments was through poetry, although neither of us were poets. Thus arose the letter to the child who was to come, which was to be sent to Adriana, but René asked me for it and said that it would be a good idea to publish it in the newspaper as a way of making it known.

“The news had to be kept very secret. When Cuba gives its word, it fulfills it, and we had given our word to keep the pregnancy and all of the process around it a secret in order not to prejudice the greater objective, which was our freedom.” Ramón: “The emotion doesn’t stop. Since we arrived it has been emotion after emotion, each one greater than the one before. It has been emotional to see my daughters grown up, beautiful, and my slender wife. I am trying by every means to recover my time with them, although for me they will always be little, because to any father his children are always little. “I am an extremely paternal father, the redundancy is worth it. I share every second with them, ask them how they’re doing in school, and what happened…

The first night we were together I woke both of them up at six in the morning and took them to see the sunrise. For me it was the most beautiful moment of my life. “I try to eat everything I can, the Cuban flavor is probably superior to all flavors, it not a problem of chauvinism. Our people have a very special warmth, an emotional nature and embrace. “Although I am the one of the Five to hug others the most, we all embrace each other and love each other. For that reason, I wanted to thank our people once again. This has been an enormous victory which should be enjoyed by international solidarity and the Cuban people. Viva Cuba and Viva humanity!”

REASONS FOR NOT BREAKING Antonio: “I have tried to explain that in our minds we were never prisoners. Now people are going to say, ‘This one has lost it on the Roundtable.' But in our minds we always maintained equanimity and an internal strength based above all on our innocence. If you are doing something bad and you are caught, if you are attached to material things and are locked up, you become afraid. But materially, we lived very austere lives. We were dedicated to a concrete task. I, for example, lived a normal life, and those conditions and the things we had within us, meant that we never felt like prisoners, and much less like giving up. There were hard moments. In the hole area, on the second day, we went down to a little room and I commented to them, ‘I have a poem in my mind, even though I haven’t been able to write it.

“Poetry arrived in us all in some way and we converted it into a weapon of resistance. But, in particular, we had two things: we had the conviction that we would receive constant support for getting out of there, we had our innocence and above all, we were prepared to die there. “We had a photo of Mandela and another one of Che. We had values. We were very clear that if you die for a just cause, you do not die. In tranquility I will say that we did nothing extraordinary, we did what it befell us to do. In reality, they should have arrested the terrorists, but they arrested us and imposed the worst conditions on us in Miami.

“But we did nothing extraordinary, we did what we had to do. We did it with simplicity. We knew that we had many years to serve. We never felt defeated, we were always optimistic; we knew that we had to struggle on. The struggle was long and that was what brought so much solidarity and that now, young schoolchildren see you and open their arms because you already feel like one of the family. “And, in that way, we passed the days in prison, and when the days got harder and my mom was going there, I said to her, ‘Mom, stay calm, if Gerardo had to die in prison, he would do so calmly.’ But in the end, we won and that we have to celebrate.”

Gerardo: Initially Antonio and Ramón had their hopes dashed. In our minds, the only sure thing was that we would have to die in prison, if the government decision was sustained. Obviously, one thinks that won’t happen, but what one knows with certainty is that we weren’t in that place by chance. It was not an improvised mission. “The guidebook of this profession says that if you are caught, in no way must you acknowledge who you work for. If they catch you, you’ve had it.

During the first months that we were in prison there was one fact that made us stay strong. During the Portugal Summit, they gave us the day’s newspapers and I began to read the words of our Comandante where – among other things – he affirmed that if it were true that we were working for Cuba, Cuba would never abandon us. That was decisive for us. That day we passed the newspaper from cell to cell and then had our own Roundtable. From then onward, the enemy had no chance with us.”

Ramón: ”When they arrested us in Miami that was the hardest part, the part you don’t want to think about, I refused to do so. So you begin an internal search, to dream of things. That, and revolutionary idealism, that’s what helps you to win out. Every time I thought about my wife, my daughters, of the hardship for them and for me, of everything that was happening, of not having been able to enjoy Elizabeth’s two pregnancies, of not seeing my little girls, and of Cuba, the pain was very intense. So I, for example, took refuge in sports, I became obsessed by them, I am an avid chess supporter, chess absorbed me and I said to myself, ‘I have to think of the task, of Gerardo, of the struggle.’ “The mind is very treacherous, it takes flight and at night you begin to feel melancholy, and you search for psychological resources which might help you: Cuban music, Silvio Rodríguez, Los Van Van or sports. “Prison helps to find the best or worst in human beings.

All prisons are hard. There are people who lack the strength to overcome those conditions. We had difficult conditions, principally Gerardo, in the state penitentiary, and at that moment you search within yourself, and even within the history of Cuba. You begin to think of (Antonio) Maceo, Mariana Grajales, of Martí, the sacrifices they made, of an asthmatic Che climbing mountains; you think that they too went through this, you remember our women compañeras who endured torture during the dictatorship, and that like us, they had families, they had people who loved them, who were on their side, and they withstood it.

“Poetry helped me as well, I write poems, although they are not as good as Tony’s, I wrote a lot every day. These are the resources that one seeks. For us five, Gerardo was always the center of everything, and we knew that if he was free, so would we be. That spirit of brotherhood, affection, revolutionary love which united us, was also what gave us strength. “To all, our embrace.”

Antonio: “The lawyers we were initially given were [state appointed] public defenders. But when they learned about the essence of the case, they came to identify with us, with our families, and to feel admiration.

It is not usual for a lawyer to have those sentiments for his or her client. We must mention one who never ceased fighting in this battle, our dear and intimate friend Leonard Weinglass, who unfortunately is no longer with us and was unable to enjoy this victory.

“In my case, the prosecution always tried to find at least one person to testify against me, and never achieved that. That solidarity extended throughout the prison and when I was giving classes the prisoners called me teacher and this atmosphere of admiration on the part of the lawyers, the prison, and all those who knew the nature of the people of Cuba, was a constant for the Five.

“Today I was asked, ‘Didn’t you have problems in prison? We spent eight and a half years in penitentiaries. Gerardo spent 12 years there. They were very violent prisons. But we found respect. We had serious arguments many times, but respect prevailed. This is because we were five innocents unjustly incarcerated for a political motive, for the simple interest in punishing Cuba for the issue of relations between the two countries.”

Gerardo: One cannot talk of the case of the Five without talking about the solidarity movement. Over the years, pride in being Cuban has multiplied, thanks to the display of solidarity of our people. At the same time, many people in the United States have made an enormous sacrifice, even lost their jobs to dedicate their life to our cause. For all of them, our embrace.”

USAID: A Wolf In Humanitarian Clothing

November 17, 2014
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Propaganda and false premises mark the U.S. response to a “prisoner swap” with Cuba. In such a “deal,” Cuba would release a “wrongly imprisoned” USAID subcontractor in exchange for the freedom of three Cuban intelligence agents jailed as “terrorists” in the U.S.

The case of Alan Gross — the USAID subcontractor imprisoned in Cuba in 2011 for activities attempting to sabotage the Cuban Revolution — is sometimes juxtaposed, unfairly, with the case of the Cuban 5 — the Cuban intelligence agents unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for their role in preventing terrorist attacks on Cuba.

The United States’ inability to overthrow Fidel Castro resulted in a series of violent terrorist attacks and attempts at sabotage. Among the worst of these attacks was the 1976 bombing of Cubana de Aviación Flight 455 — the work of former CIA agents Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles. As Miami-based counter-revolutionary forces increased their attacks against Cuba, the Cuban 5 — Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González — were sent to Miami to gather intelligence and monitor the activities of exiled Cubans involved in counter-revolutionary activities.

The information they gathered was relayed to the U.S. government by a long-time friend of Fidel, acclaimed author Gabriel García Márquez, on May 6, 1998. With typical belligerence, the U.S. government dispatched an FBI team to discuss the findings with the Cuban government, which led to the subsequent arrests of the Cuban 5.

“Diplomatic compromise” is the key phrase in the purported solution proposed in mainstream media: freeing Gross in return for securing the freedom of the three remaining prisoners.

Asked whether the Cuban government would be interested in a prisoner swap during an interview with Democracy Now in 2012, Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, stated: “The Cuban government has expressed interest in finding a negotiated solution on humanitarian terms, and of course it is fully disposed to negotiate with the government of the United States. But it has not received any response.”

Media misrepresentation

The cases of Gross and the Cuban 5 are both misrepresented in U.S. mainstream media through language that diverts attention from the issues at stake — namely, the importance of acknowledging Gross as a USAID agent and the Cuban 5 as patriots defending their country from Miami-based terrorists.

Gross was sentenced to 15 years in prison for implementing subversive projects aimed at destabilizing Cuba’s socialist government. The U.S. claims of unjust imprisonment are little more than a propaganda mechanism that serves to foster anti-Cuban sentiment to prolong the blockade on Cuba and seeks to undermine the fact that Gross violated Cuban law. As Josefina Vidal, the general director of U.S. relations within the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated, Gross’ actions constituted an attempt at “destabilizing Cuba’s constitutional order through the establishment of illegal, undercover communications systems, with non-commercial technology.”

The argument brought forth by U.S. officials was that Gross was tasked with providing the Jewish community in Cuba with satellite phones and computer equipment. However, Gross had filed reports for USAID, the agency created under the Kennedy administration which disguises imperialist intervention under a banner of humanitarian aid. On his last trip to Cuba, Gross brought with him a chip that would prevent electronic transmission tracking. According a 2012 investigative report by The Associated Press, such equipment is “provided most frequently to the Defense Department and the CIA, but also can be obtained by the State Department, which oversees USAID.”

USAID relies upon its humanitarian shield in order to detract attention away from the actual objectives of the organization, which schedules its programs according to the broader U.S. agenda. In the case of U.S. propaganda against Cuba, freedom and democracy are convenient terms that have laid the foundation for decades of oppression against Fidel’s revolution, including terrorist attacks, attempts to counter the revolution, the embargo, over 600 attempts to assassinate Fidel, and the enduring wound of the case of the Cuban 5.

In response to the controversy ignited by a 2014 AP report on the ZunZuneo program, launched shortly after Gross was imprisoned in Cuba, USAID stated that “discreet does not equal covert.” The language is reminiscent of U.S. attempts to mellow imperialist intervention in various countries through terminology that not only neutralizes sabotage, but attempts to portray it as a necessity in the name of alleged freedom.

U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake and Tom Udall, who met with Gross, as well as Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla this month, have reportedly been critical of the U.S. embargo on Cuba. However, the U.S. government’s decision to refuse any alternative solutions and insist upon Gross’ unconditional release may provide further insight into the imperialist tactics it uses against Cuba.

False premises

In 2013, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stating, “Alan Gross is wrongly imprisoned. We are trying to work this out on a humanitarian basis. We are not going to trade as if it is a spy for a spy, which they are trying to allege.”

Three false premises stand out in the statement: “wrongly imprisoned;” “humanitarian basis;” and “a spy for a spy.”

The Cuban Revolution has, since its inception, declared its anti-imperialist stance. USAID, the agency that Gross was working for, has aimed to covertly create dissent in Cuba, in violation of Cuban law. To assert that he is “wrongfully imprisoned” despite evidence to the contrary illustrates the U.S. government’s efforts to hold on to Gross as a political weapon to maintain oppressive measures against the island nation.

Thus, the “humanitarian basis” as a straightforward claim is rendered obsolete. Imperialism and humanitarian concerns are incompatible, unless the humanitarian concerns are directly related to human rights abuses — abuses which the U.S. committed in excess against the Cuban population for its support of Fidel and the revolution.

Lastly, the rhetoric of releasing “a spy for a spy” is evidence of the manipulation of facts that shape U.S. propaganda. The USAID contractor is an “innocent victim” in propaganda rhetoric, albeit one abandoned by the imperialist scheme, thus serving to rebrand espionage in Cuba.

Different parameters

The Cuban 5 — “spies,” according to the United States’ hypocritical rhetoric — are victims of a decades-long imperialist plan to undermine the Cuban Revolution. Fernando González and René González are now back in Cuba, having served their unjust sentences in the U.S. The three remaining intelligence agents — Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino — remain incarcerated for serving their country in line with the revolution against imperialist violence.

Yet international support for the Cuban 5 continues to grow, highlighting the importance of internationalist support in a political case which has been determined by imperialist dictates.

While the U.S. attempts to reinforce subjugation through the continued incarceration of the remaining three Cuban patriots, as well as possibly using the case of Alan Gross as yet another reason to refuse to lift the embargo, the scenario reinforces the different parameters within which the U.S. and Cuba function.

The U.S. continues to instigate and utilize terror in various forms against resistance in its quest for further domination. Cuba, on the other hand, has demonstrated, through the revolution, its commitment to defending the island and its people, as part of the process that has ensured the continuation of Cuban internationalism — both in solidarity with the oppressed and in defiance of the imperial power so close to its shores.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Mint Press News editorial policy.

http://www.mintpressnews.com/usaid-a-wolf-in-humanitarian-clothing/198950/,

Speech of Martin Garbus in London march 2014

May 2, 2014

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Martin Garbus is an estimated Us-lawyer involved in the CubanFive-case

This is my oportunity, and obligation, on behalf of each member of The Cuban Five, to present to the Commission of Inquiry and the three eminent jurists a brief outline of the legal facts and the history of the case. I will, in my short talk, refer to a good deal of printed information, hundreds of pages of Transcripts and evidence that I have prepared especially for them.

The Cuban Five Trial was a 7 month trial. There is a 16 year history of litigation. We have tried to consolidate the facts and law and to answer all of their questions.

We will furnish the Commission of Inquiry and the eminent jurists together with the outline documents that are presently before the Florida court on the Habeas Corpus as well as a lengthy and a close examination of everthing that happened at the trial, before the trials, and during the appeals. All those documents fill a room of this size.

I have asked two of my colleagues to join in this presentation. Philip Horowitz, who will be joining me is a distinguished member of the criminal Bar in Florida. He was involved with Rene at the very outset of the case. Many of the things that Rene was unable to answer yesterday, because he cannot be here, will be answered by Philip or me.

Peter Schey, a distinguished member of the California Bar, will focus on the satellite issues – where was the plane when it was shot down, as well as the government’s refusual to give the defendants documents essential for their defense.

Elizabeth Woodcraft and Sara Chandler, both of whom played a large role in the creation of this Commission for which we are grateful, asked us to advise the Commissioners of these specific acts that underly our claim that the conviction and the arrest are unwarranted and unjustified. That we shall do.

We shall in the next four hours go through the facts prior to the shootdown, after the shootdown of February 1996, the period of time – two years – between the shootdown and coming arrests (it was three and a half years before charges concerning any charges related to the shootdown were filed), the pre-trial proceedings, the inability of the defense to examine material and the use by the Government of the Classified Information Procedures Act to stop the defentants from getting information.

Eminent jurists and members of the audience, the trial itself, the extraordinary events during the trial, the composition of the Jury, and the judges ruling will be also discussed orally and in the submitted papers too, as well as the appeals that went on for 8 years and the the post-apeal period that went on for 2 years.

This case is unparelleled in American legal history, with respect to the violations of fair trial issues, the manner of arrest and the venue issues, most specifically the way that the Jury was affected by the payment by the American Government of millions of dollars to journalists who covered the case.

Facts laboriously developed after the Supreme Court declined review, thousands of hours of investigative time showed conclusively the United State government’s spending money to get journalists to write stories to wrongly influence the jury and their success in achieving their goal of an unlawful conviction.

There were 1930 days from arrest to conviction of The Cuban Five, 1930 days of radio and television stories in the local newspapers. Over that period of time there were an avarage of 6 print stories a day paid for by the United States Government. They were in addition to these stories and articles on a daily, repetitive basis in newspapers, magazines, on radio and television, on NBC, CBS Radio TV Marti and other outlets.

Potential and sitting juries were innundated with government paid-for propaganda.
Long after the end of the trial, in September 2006, we found out for the first time the extent of the wrongful payments. This issue now sits, for the first time, before a Florida court as we try and overturn the convictions.

We will also discuss with you the facts concerning each of the Cuban Five’s innocence and particularly Gerardo’s innocence. Gerardo has absolutely nothing to do with the shootdown, nothing to do with any “conspiracy to murder”. The facts in this case substantiate his total claim of innocence.

Gerardo submitted in court his affidavit that said: “Prior to the events of February 1996 and up to present time I knew and know nothing about any of alleged plans of shooting the aircraft of the Brothers to the Rescue. None of the actions that I did take in advance of February the 4th were attended to be any part of any of such plan, nor was I aware that any of my actions contributed to any such plan, if it existed.”

He said in his affidavit: “ As I knew nothing of the alleged plan of the shootdown of the aircraft, still I could not contribute or have any knowledge of such plan that would cause any aircraft that would be shut down in international airspace or in territory of the maritime jurisdiction of the United States.”

That affidavit, uncontradicted, has been given to the eminent jurists who are presiding over this Commission of Inquiry.

This case was tried in a perfect storm of politics. The Cold War was still being fought in the Florida straits in 1966, 1967, 1978, and still in 1998, 1999 and 2000 when this case was tried. Miami, at that time, had 700 000 Cuban Americans, who were living with the issues of “Cuba” and “terrorism”.

There are four different factors to consider when looking at the wrongful and prejudicial issues bombarding the jury.

First, the allegations of Cuban terrorism, and the allegations that America was performing terrorism with respect to the Cuban state was part of the daily story in newspapers, radio and television in Miami. Its impact on the jury is set forth in the papers I have submitted.

Secondly, was the politics of the 2000 elections. Bush against Gore, the presidential election was decided for the country by the Miami Cubans. Both the Republicans and the Democrats very much wanted the Cuban vote. That is why Gerardo was charged, three and a half years after the event, with a conspiracy charge. The Government had all the facts on the date of the shoot down and for three and a half years no one was charged. It was an attempt by the Democratic President and Attorney General to court the Cuban voters. The prosecution was finished by the Bush Administration. Payback for the vote.

Thirdly, the Elian Gonzalez case, returning the young boy to his father in Cuba, caused fury in much of the Cuban-American population of Miami. That case became the daily focus of the media resulting in an increase in the impact of prejudicial material for potential jurors against Cuba and anyone associated with Cuba.

Fourthly, the Brothers to the Rescue attempted to interfere on a daily basis with the jury trial and succeeded. What you will see, and what the Commissioners will read about, in the very lengthy documents that we have provided them, is that all of these things were the daily focus of the press; at the extraordinary rate of 6 columns a day for 1932 days. Radio, tv and newspaper columns written by people who often had long histories of anti-Cuban activities, who were paid by the American government.

The American law prohibits the paying of journalists to influence a Jury. And in this specific case you had specific findings by the Judge about the difficulties in finding an impartial jury, the failure to get an impartial jury and even these judges did not know of the millions of dollars paid to the journalists or the many millions of dollars paid each year to RadioTelevision Marti to help them influence juries.

Following the traditional concept of the American law, the Judge said that the government could not make statements outside of court, as the defendants could not make statements outside of court.

Nonetheless, we have learned, since 2006, that this has been done on a regular basis by the Government for 1930 days.

Many of the articles are exactly like the other articles. They repeated, repeated and repeated the same false factors and accusations. Also in addition to the written articles, three or four times a night there were newscasts done by the very same people paid by the United States, who were reporting the events.

To say that this is one of the worst trials in American history is not an exaggeration!

The documents I have given to the Commission are in part prepared by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, in part prepared by Peter Schey and in part by Gerardo’s defense. They go through every very specific detail of each one of the allegations against these defendants.

You must read the words of the Circuit Court in these case. The Circuit Court said the motion for the change of venue should have been granted, because it was impossible go get a fair trial in Miami at that time. Since then – that decision was in 2005 – we have learned all these additional allegations of governement misconduct which directly tied to that.

This is what the Circuit Court said in 2005, having only a fraction of the information we now have concerning the influence on the Jury.

The Court said: “despite the District Court’s numerous efforts to ensure a partial jury in this case, we find that an impartial jury in this community was an unreasonable probability because of a prejudicial community … The entire community is sensitive to the concerns of the Cuban exile population in Miami. Waves of public passion, evidenced by the public opinion polls and newspaper articles regard a change of venue.”

The documents that we have submitted to the Commission show the power and influence of the Brothers to the Rescue and how they were able to violate orders of the Clinton Administration and the Judge to help get a fair trial.

For example, The Brothers to The Rescue were not permitted to make any public statements about the trial as the trial was going on. But they did. Ignoring the Judge, they circulated petitions throughout Miami.These petitions were asking for the indictment of Fidel Castro and others in the Cuban government. These petitions were re-fighting the Cold War and making reference to Hitler, Lenin etc, making claims that the defendants in this case, the Cuban Five, were trying to get intelligence to soften Southern Florida so that it would be invaded by the Cuban Government.

Such claims, which the Judge ordered not to be repeated outside of court, were, we now know, constantly repeated outside of court, not only in papers and petitions in supermarkets, but also on radio and television. We have only learned this since the conviction. We have only learned this since the Supreme Court denied a review on this case.

Leonard Weinglass and I have litigated many motions for change of venue and it is rare that motions like that are granted. It’s a very difficult motion to win , but it was granted in our case.

But then the governement appealed and asked the decision to be reversed. A motion to change the venue that is reversed is extremely rare. It was in this case.

The Court in granting the motion for change of venue said that: “Moreover, the Elian Gonzalez matter, which was ongoing during the time of the change of venue motions, concerned the relationships between the United States and Cuba and raised the community’s awareness of the concerns of the Cuban exile community . It is uncontested that the publicity about Elian Gonzalez during the trial aroused passion within the Miami community. Despite the District Court aim to protect the Jury, the community’s awareness of this case and the one of Elian Gonzalez, made the trial of the case impossible. In this instance there were no reasonable means of ensuring a fair trial.”

One of the things that the judges tried to do, was to keep secret the names of the jurors so that they would not be intimidated, prejudiced,wrongfully influenced. Those attempts failed. One of the reasons it failed is because the journalists paid by the government, who were working on the television networks, followed the jurors outside to their cars, they had their licences plates shown on television and followed them to their work. So within a relatively short period of time, the public knew who the jurors were and these jurors knew that their lives, their jobs, their futures, their children’s lives, were at stake. They believed they had no alternative other then to convict these defendants in trial.

In another case that the governement was involved in at the same time, they sought to move a case outside of Miami, because they believed they could be prejudicial of the persuasive influence with respect to the Cuban community. In that case the governement argued: we had to move the trial outside of Miami because there were such deep feelings on issues Cuban. The case was moved outside Miami.

The government in the case of the Cuban Five made a contradictory decision that the Cuban Five case in fact should stay in Miami.

The sentencing in this case was outrageous. I have submitted documents to the Commission concerning the sentencing.

The injustice of the sentencing is a very important issue. If you would compare this case to any other case in the United States with respect to the sentences that were given than you would realize soon that these were exagerated. These sentences were only partionally and insignificantly reduced. At the present time Gerardo is serving two life sentences. His co- defendants are serving 30 years and 22 years.

In any other situation – even if there were a conviction – you are talking about two to five years at the most.

The sentencing, the composition of the Jury, the delayed charging and arresting of these people, are all unparalelled and unique, and given the politics of the time, not surprising.

This case was a travesty of justice.
Matin Garbus
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Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Ramón Labañino, gives her reflections on the Commission of Inquiry

March 13, 2014

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The wife of Ramón Labañino, one of the three Cuban heroes remaining imprisoned in the United States, felt many emotions during the two days of work of the Commission of Inquiry on the case of the Five that met in London march 7th and 8th. She noted that the documents with the preliminary opinion of the three judges directed to U.S. President Barack Obama to pardon Ramon, Tony and Gerardo.

Speaking to the Radio Rebelde, Elizabeth said by telephone from the British capital that at the end of the conference the judges issued an extensive document, denouncing irregularities in the trial process. The judges clarified though that there was still more work to be done on the Commission findings.

The judges will send their findings to the US President and U.S. authorities, and other nations, so that they may know the truth about the violations that occurred during the trial process of the

Five Cuban antiterrorist fighters, only two of whom, René González and Fernando González, have returned to Cuba after serving their unjust punishment.

The three Jurors of the commission of inquiry were Yogesh Sabharwal, former head Justice of India, Zac Jacoob, former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and Phillipe Texier, French court appeal judge, who heard solid evidence presented to evaluate and consider their final opinion.

Various lawyers attended the London Commission denounced irregularities in the process and conclusions of the trial process in Miami, the isolation that the defendants were subjected to, the violations of family visits and the barriers put in their way to obtaining full counsel for their defence.

There were strong allegations presented directly by René Gonzalez (delivered via the Internet as the

British government had denied a visa to Rene at the last minute), relatives of the Five, lawyers and

victims of terrorism against Cuba, said Elizabeth, who also gave her testimony to the Commission.

During the sessions Mirta Rodríguez (mother of Antonio Guerrero) received a call from her son and it was exciting to hear Tony ‘s voice, said the wife of Ramón Labañino .

The Commission has been very important to denounce the injustice and to reach more people in the world. “Unfortunately only the Voices of the Five were freed to be presented rather than the men themselves who were still in jail” she said, adding that the Commission also exposed the terrorist actions against Cuba” that led our families to undertake their missions”.

The Five, Heroes of the Republic of Cuba, risked their lives to monitor Cuban terrorist groups in Florida from where for years they have organised violent actions against the people of Cuba.

Elizabeth spoke from London where she participated in the Commission alongside representatives from 27 countries who “they have filled us with friendship, thanks and love, and have showed us everything from their countries in the struggle for justice”.

On the Friday evening there was a huge artistic gala presented in one of London’s largest concert halls where 2000 people heard performances from Eliades Ochoa and Omara Portuondo, stars of Cuban music. They also heard famous British actors who read fragments of letters and poems of the Five, with expression and deep feeling.

Many there were attracted to the Cuban music and were finding out for the first time about the case of the Five. We were surprised to find how they identified with the cause and some even cried listening to the readings.

The Commission has been a long battle. We hope that we will not have to participate in another similar action because they will be released, but if necessary, we will continue to fight until the Five are back home in Cuba.

(Written by: Iliana Garcia Giraldino/Always Cuba)

(Translated Cuba Solidarity Campaign)

International Figures Call for Freedom for Five Cubans Imprisoned in the United States for 15 Years

October 31, 2013

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PRESS RELEASE: Wednesday 30 October

Noam Chomsky, Emma Thompson, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Ricardo Alarcón, Günter Grass and Ramsey Clark have joined other international personalities in support of Voices for the Five, an international coalition calling for justice and freedom for five Cubans imprisoned in the United States.

Voices for the Five, launched today, brings together supporters from the arts, media, legal, NGO and campaigning organisations calling for justice and freedom for the Cuban Five – five Cubans arrested in 1998 while attempting to prevent terrorist attacks against the Cuban people by groups within the USA.

Human rights and legal groups have raised questions about the fairness of the trial. Amnesty International stated that she has “serious doubts about the fairness of the the proceedings leading to their conviction” The organization says that she is “supporting calls for a review of the case by the US executive authorities through the clemency process or other appropriate means”

On 7-8 March 2014, a major two day Commission of Inquiry into the Case of the Cuban Five will convene a panel of internationally renowned commissioners drawn from legal, human rights, political and academic backgrounds and organisations at the Law Society in London as part of the Voices for the Five initiative.
The Commission will hear testimony from René González Sehwerert, the first and only member of the Five to have been released after completing his 15 year sentence. He will be joined by family members, victims of terrorism against Cuba, lawyers, politicians and campaigners from Cuba and across the world.

A full list of endorsers and video messages from international supporters of the Cuban Five can be found at http://www.voicesforthefive.com. The website calls on people across the globe to sign up online with messages, photos and videos to add their support to the hundreds of international figures already involved.

Michael Mansfield, famous English barrister, says “I am delighted to endorse the Inquiry into the case of the Miami Five to be held in London next March. It will serve as an expression of truth and conscience by the people for the people. Politicians cannot be trusted to undertake such an exercise”

Noam Chomsky, American academic and activist, says “They weren’t criminals. They were heroes. I mean they were exposing to the US government crimes that are being committed on US soil; crimes the US government is tolerating and theoretically should be punishing itself. The five Cubans took a risk in doing that and that was a heroic act and instead of being honored for it they are being severely punished for it.
And that’s why global opinion is so appalled by this travesty. The only way to remedy the injustice is to withdraw the charges completely”

Irmita González, eldest daughter of René González Sehwerert says “I was only 14 when my dad got arrested and I am 29 now. I have been growing up in the middle of this battle. It’s too long. It’s time for it to end and for my uncles to come back to their families, their life and their country, because they are people who have fought against the harm that has been done to Cuba for many years. They should be free and we need them back.”

Notes to editors:
1. The two day Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five will convene a group of internationally renowned commissioners drawn from legal, human rights, political and academic backgrounds and organisations. They will hear first hand evidence from witnesses about their personal experiences of terrorism against Cuba, the arrest, the trial, legal appeals and the treatment and sentencing of the Cuban Five. This public event and will run concurrently with a full programme of rallies, concerts, exhibitions, screenings, media and cultural events to reach out to the widest audience as possible and generate increased international support and awareness for the cause of justice for the Five.

2. Endorsers include
Noam Chomsky, US academic and activist
Julie Christie, UK Actor
Ramsey Clark, Former US Attorney General
Günter Grass, German Nobel Prize for Literature
John Le Carré, UK novelist
Mairead Maguire, UK Nobel Peace Laureate
Michael Mansfield QC, UK legal
Phil Manzanera, musician, Roxy Music
Emma Thompson,UK actor
Alice Walker, US author
Dame Vivienne Westwood, UK international fashion designer

Full list can be found at http://www.voicesforthefive.com,

3. The International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five will be on 7-8 March 2014, The Law Society, Chancery Lane, London

4. The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González – five Cuban men arrested in Miami in 1998 while attempting to stop terrorist attacks against the Cuban people. They were arrested in Miami in September 1998, where they were illegally held in solitary confinement for 17 months and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. An unfair trial resulted in terms of between 15 years and double life.

For further details contact:
Rob Miller, Director Cuba Solidarity Campaign
director@cuba-solidarity.org.uk
Katrien Demuynck, European Coordinator Free the Five campaign,
free-the-five@cubanismo.net
Cuba Solidarity Campaign, c/o Unite, 218 Green Lanes, London N4 2HB, Britain
Tel: +44 (0)208 800 0155 http://www.voicesforthefive.com, voicesforthefive@gmail.com


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