Monday, June 9, 2008

Ten years of unjust imprisonment

On June 4, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld the convictions of the Cuban Five, the five men who were working to stop Miami-based terrorists from attacking Cuba and Cuba-related targets.

In reaction to the decision, organizations around the world and across the country mobilized to hold emergency actions on June 5 and 6. More protests are forthcoming.

The FBI arrested the Five—Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González—almost 10 years ago, on Sept. 12, 1998. They were unjustly charged with espionage crimes, although they were never engaged in espionage conspiracy nor intended to. Their target was not the U.S. government, but rather the terrorist organizations in Miami.

After a trial in Miami—the one city guaranteed to return a conviction—regardless of the evidence or charges—against any defendant who is in support of Cuba, the Five were convicted on all 26 federal counts and given four life sentences and 77 years collectively.

Although the recent Atlanta court decision remanded Antonio's and Ramón's life sentences and Fernando's 19-year term back for re-sentencing to the trial judge, Gerardo's double life sentences remain, and the convictions are still in place. The defense team, which includes civil rights attorney Leonard Weinglass, will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if needed.

Having come here to oppose terrorism, having never possessed or used weapons, having never committed any act of violence, having risked their lives to save others' lives, the Five do not belong in prison.

But this case has never been about legalities or crime. It is about the 50 years of aggression against Cuba, which includes the use of terrorism against the people of Cuba. The bombings, assassinations, biological warfare and other tactics employed by Cuban-American terrorist organizations centered in Miami have killed 3,478 Cubans collectively.

On the very same day as the Atlanta court's decision against the Five, an entirely different process was taking place in New Orleans. The notorious terrorist Luis Posada Carriles was on the docket, and the justice system treated him with "kid gloves."

Although Posada has yet to be tried for the 1976 murder of 73 people who died in a Cuban airliner bombing that he masterminded, although Posada boasted of being responsible for a wave of deadly bombings in Cuban hotels in 1997, although he sneaked into the United States illegally in 2005, Posada now walks the streets of Miami as a free man. He understands so well that he is being given special treatment by the U.S. government that he has the audacity to exhibit his paintings in a Miami gallery.

He obviously has no worries that he might be extradited to Venezuela, where he planned the  1976 plane bombing. In early May, he appeared at a Miami fundraising dinner in his honor, and made a call to "sharpen our  machetes for the difficult days ahead."

But the men who monitored the actions of terrorists like Posada, in order to stop their reign of terror, are in U.S. prisons.

As the Cuban Five's 10th anniversary of imprisonment approaches, please learn about their case at and help organize support for them in the months of September and October, to demand their immediate release.

Extradite Posada, Free the Five!

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