Filipinos Plead for the Freedom of the Cuban Five

PHILIPPINES, July 8, 2009. The following release was written and submitted by the Friendship Associations and Societies with Cuba in the Philippines who are joining the world-wide campaign to free the Cuban Five
International terrorism has many forms and methods — the invasion of a country ;  the sabotage and hijacking of civilian aircraft and ships ; the bombing of airports, seaports and industrial sites ; the taking of hostages ; the dropping of incendiary materials for the widespread destruction of crops ; the assassination of diplomats and the bombing of embassies and consulates ; the supplying of arms and other logistics for clandestine terrorist and arsonist groups ;  the dropping of vectors to spread dengue, swine flu and other epidemics affecting humans, livestock and crops ; the bombing of hotels and tourist sites ; and other attempts at destabilization.
Since the ouster of a US puppet regime in 1959, Cuba suffered from these and many other forms of terrorism, which left almost 3,500 people dead, over 2,000 maimed or wounded, and incalculable damage to the Cuban economy. All the terrorist activities were planned and directed by terrorist gangs in Florida which were organized and directly supported allegedly by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies.
For decades, Cuba protested against the US government, but successive US administrations continued to support the terrorist networks of right-wing Cuban-Americans in Florida (particularly in Miami) which directed the terrorist actions in a concerted attempt to destabilize Cuba. After four decades of protests which the US government did not heed, two US-born and three Cuban-born anti-terrorists were able to infiltrate and report on the workings of the terrorist networks. These men, now known as the Cuban Five, worked to prevent any further terrorist actions against Cuba and Cuban diplomatic missions and commercial offices abroad, and were thereby able to protect innocent lives in Cuba as well as in the USA and elsewhere.
The Cuban Five are true heroes of the real war against international terrorism, and collected evidence of the terrorists’ plots. On June 17, 1998, a historic meeting was held in Havana where the evidence so far collected were confidentially presented by Cuban officials to invited representatives of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. The dossiers included plans to bomb tourist facilities in Havana being organized by CIA-connected individuals. The terror plotters included Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, who gained notoriety for having directed the mid-air explosion of a civilian Cubana airliner off the coast of Barbados in 1976 which caused the massacre of all 73 innocent people on board.
But instead of heeding the Cuban call for resolute US measures to stop these plots and to arrest the terrorists, the Bush Jr. government instead informed the terrorists and conducted operations which eventually led to the arrest of these five heroes on September 12, 1998. Upon arrest, they were placed in solitary confinement “holes” for 17 months, in violation of the UN Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. In violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, they were denied due process and charged with failure to disclose themselves as foreign agents, and with several counts of “conspiracy”, based largely on “classified” evidence not accessible even to their lawyers.
They were tried in Miami — home to the largest émigré Cuban community in the USA, which is known for great hostility towards anyone seen as sympathetic to revolutionary Cuba. Their request for a change of venue was denied, and the trial continued in Miami where it was practically impossible for them to have a fair and impartial trial, and where even members of the jury were subjected to pressures and harassment to have them convicted. They underwent an unjust legal process where evidence favorable to them (including prosecution testimonies of some generals and top US military officials who admitted that the five did not have access to classified information, and had not carried out espionage against the US government) were not taken into account.
Focus was shifted away from the main reason that led to their arrest — their fight against terrorism to save innocent lives not only in Cuba but in the USA as well, and their motive of preventing a conflict that would bring sorrow to the peoples of Cuba and the USA. Thus they were harshly sentenced to four life terms and 75 years, collectively, on charges that the prosecution was unable to prove despite the presentation of manipulated witnesses.
The 5 Cuban Heroes, who have languished in US jails for almost 11 years now, are Fernando Gonzalez y Llort (a graduate of foreign relations, sentenced to 19 years, and now in prison in Terre Haute, Indiana); Rene Gonzalez y Sehwerert (a US-born pilot and flight instructor, sentenced to 15 years, and now in prison in Marianna, Florida); Antonio Guerrero y Rodriguez (a US-born aerodrome construction engineer and a poet, given a life sentence plus 10 years, and now in prison in Florence, Colorado); Gerardo Hernandez y Nordelo (a graduate of foreign relations, and a cartoonist, given two life sentences plus 15 years, and now in prison in Victorville, Adelanto, California) and Ramon Labañino y Salazar (an economist, given a life sentence plus 18 years, and now in prison in McCreary, Pine Knot, Kentucky).
To prevent the defense lawyers from properly preparing their appeal, the five were again placed in solitary confinement during the appeal period. Family visits were also restricted, and the wives of Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez have up to now been consistently denied visas to visit them in US jails. On May 27, 2005, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that the deprivation of liberty of these five was arbitrary, and had violated Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which the USA is a signatory.
Amnesty International has called for their immediate release, as have hundreds of parliamentarians, numerous US and international jurist organizations, and outstanding academic and political personalities throughout the world (including 10 Nobel Prize winners who were among those who filed Amicus Briefs before the US Supreme Court).
On June 15, under the Obama administration, the US Supreme Court decided, without giving any reason, not to review the final appeal of the Cuban Five. For almost eleven years now, the five anti-terrorist heroes — who never interfered with, nor jeopardized, the security of the people of the USA — have been languishing as political prisoners in US jails.
The Cuban-5 are victims of a terrible injustice, and are being punished by the US government for their sole “crime” of exposing terrorist plans and actions against Cuba. The only answer to this injustice is to multiply our demands upon the US government, particularly upon Pres. Barack Obama, to immediately release these five men who should never have been imprisoned in the first place.
We call on all peace-and-justice-loving people in the Philippines and throughout the world to put pressure upon President Obama to rectify this grave injustice by immediately releasing the Cuban 5. The campaign for their immediate release is a crusade for justice, and is part of the struggle against international terrorism. Taken from The Manila Times. (Cubaminrex- Embacuba Filipinas

From Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

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