A STORY OF BRAVERY AND LOVE OF COUNTRY
Cuba has faced the wrath of US aggression since the victory of the Cuban revolution in 1959. The numerous sabotage and attacks by terrorist groups based in Florida which act with total impunity have left 3,478 dead, 2,099 wounded. and direct damage to the economic and social objectives of Cuba amounting to 54 billion dollars. The damage to the economy of Cuba caused by the US economic blockade on the other hand exceeds 86, 208 million dollars, or an annual average of 1,832 million dollars.
Among these terrorists is the internationally known Luis Posada Carriles believed to be behind the blowing up of the civilian plane Cubana de Aviacion on October 6, 1976 which killed 73 persons and other heinous crimes including attempts to assassinate President Fidel Castro. His accomplice, Orlando Bosch, a confessed terrorist, walks freely on the streets of Miami thanks to the presidential pardon of Bush Senior.
Five Cuban heroes responded to the call to defend their country against these terrorist attacks. Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Fernando González Llort and René González Sehwerert monitored the anti-Cuban groups in Florida and kept Cuba informed of their terrorist plans.
In 1998, the Cuban government warned the US government of terrorist actions being organized in Florida against Cuba. It also demanded their collaboration to stop these terrorist acts. This was supported by a voluminous dossier which Cuba delivered to the FBI in June 1998.
Instead of acting on the concrete evidence presented the US government arrested the 5 Cubans on September 12, 1998. The 5 Cubans were monitoring the anti-terrorist attacks on Cuba and reporting to the Cuban government.The arrest and conduct of legal process ignored the basic principles of justice in violation of the United States’ own laws and international law. They were kept for 17 months in solitary confinement before trial; denied of change of venue despite existing prejudice against the five in the community and hostile local press; denial of their lawyers’ right to use the ‘defense of necessity’ that justified the presence of the five in the United States territory; finding of guilt of conspiracy to commit espionage without a shred of proof and despite contrary testimony offered by US generals and finding of guilt against Gerardo for conspiracy to commit murder even though the prosecutor admitted in writing he could not prove the charge.
On August 9, 2005, the three-judge panel of the Federal Court of Appeals in Atlanta decided unanimously to revoke the sentences of the Five and order a new trial. The judges stated “empanelling an [impartial] jury in this community was an unreasonable probability because of pervasive community prejudice.”
However, exactly a year later on August 9, 2006, the Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned the decision of the 3-judge panel, rejecting the finding that an environment of violence and intimidation pervaded in Miami. The court ratified the sentences, denied a new trial and ordered that the case be sent back to the panel to consider remaining issues.
The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had declared on May 27, 2005, the prison sentences of the Five illegal. Amnesty International expressed its concerns to the US government for “the serious questions which have been raised about the fairness of the convictions” of the Five. Also, more than 900 parliamentarians from all over the world have declared their support for the Five by way of motions and letters to the US government asking for their liberation.
Despite the overwhelming clamor worldwide for justice and their freedom, the five are still incarcerated in the United States, confined in prisons of maximum security, denied of their right to receive regular visits even from family members; their telephone contacts and correspondence limited and controlled.
Indeed the people of the world were shocked and outraged to know that on May 8, 2007, international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles has been released in the United States and all charges against him were dropped, while the five Cuban heroes continue to languish in US prisons and their rights grossly violated. This aptly shows the double standards of the US in its “war on terrorism”.
Let us continue to struggle for justice and freedom of the Five Cuban patriots!
Let us demand that U.S. President Barack Obama immediately free Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Fernando González Llort, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar and René González Sehwerert from US prisons as they are illegally and arbitrarily held.