Obama, Free the Cuban Five Now!
Following the decision of the Supreme Court not to hear the case of the Cuban Five, demonstrations took place worldwide demanding their freedom and calling on President Barack Obama to correct this injustice and Free the Five Now! Actions took place in Atlanta, San Diego and San Francisco as well as Montreal, Quebec, Caracas, Venezuela, Berlin, Germany, New Zealand and elsewhere. Everywhere the stand is firm: Free the Five! Reject U.S. Double Standards, where known terrorists like Luis Posada Carilles and Orlando Bosch are not imprisoned while anti-terrorists like the Five are unjustly jailed and subjected to inhuman treatment.
The Five are five anti-terrorists, unjustly tried and jailed in the U.S. They acted to oppose terrorism organized from Miami against Cuba. Far from arresting the Miami terrorists involved, part of groups well-known and infiltrated by the FBI, the U.S. instead targeted the Cuban Five. They have been held in prison for more than 10 years. In the course of their appeals, one three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the Miami trial was not fair and ordered a new trial. They were later over-ruled. The United Nations Human Rights Commission also condemned the trial and treatment of the Five during incarceration, stating both were arbitrary and against due process.
Thirteen amicus (friend of the court) briefs were also submitted by various legal and other forces on behalf of the five, more than any submitted before in a criminal case. These included briefs from twelve Nobel Prize winners from different countries, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the National Lawyers Guild and National Conference of Black Lawyers, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers-Miami Chapter, National Jury Project, Civil Rights Clinic at Howard University School of Law, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Cuban-American Scholars, and the Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsmen. Yet the Supreme Court chose to ignore all the facts and evidence and ruled as the Obama administration called for — to not hear the case.
Obama is also refusing to himself address the evidence, from the UN, from the three-judge ruling, from the many organizations of lawyers and jurist, for rights organizations here and worldwide and act to right this injustice by freeing the five. Obama is in a position to pardon the five, or reduce their sentences to time served. He recently did this in the case of Israeli spies, convicted of espionage with clear evidence that they were in fact spies. They were pardoned. In the case of the Cuban Five anti-terrorists, the U.S. government does not even claim there is a single document or state secret that the Five handed over to Cuba. Instead a case of “conspiracy” was fabricated, and then very long sentences handed out.
The case of the Five has been a political case from the start and can be now ended with the political action of Obama. Now is the time for new actions by the U.S. government consistent with Obama’s promise of engagement based on mutual respect. Let the U.S. make a gesture of friendship and respect by releasing the Cuban Five.
Voice of Revolution denounces the Supreme Court ruling, a ruling that prevents the clear facts of U.S.-state terrorism against Cuba from being examined anew. It lets stand the double standards and impunity of the U.S., which funds and protects terrorists in Miami and permits them to act with impunity, while eliminating due process for anti-terrorists and unjustly imprisoning them. It is urgent that supporters once again raise a worldwide cry for the immediate freedom of the Five.
The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five has called for continued actions to make clear that defenders of justice will not rest until the five are free. They emphasize, “We urge supporters around the world to take actions of all kinds, whatever is possible. Protesting at consulates and embassies, calling press conferences, writing letters to newspapers or to the President or Justice Department, anything to ensure that the U.S. government knows that the whole world is watching” and demanding Free the Cuban Five Now!
the Supreme Court Decision
René González, one of the five Cuban antiterrorist fighters held in U.S. jails sent a message to a demonstration taking place at Havana’s Jose Marti Anti-imperialist Tribune, where Cuban youths, workers, members and leaders of the Young Communist League gathered to protest the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, under the orders of the U.S. administration, to not review the case of the five Cuban heroes, who were given extremely long and unfair sentences for fighting terrorism. Below is the full text of Rene’s message:
Dear compatriots; Friends from the world;
Once again the judicial mask of the most hypocritical society that has ever existed falls down exposing the true face of U.S. imperialism and insulting the world conscience with a cynical message: Their own laws will not prevent them from securing the impunity of their own terrorists.
It has not been difficult to understand the meaning of the term change in the jargon of the U.S. establishment — at least when it refers to Cuba. The web of crimes, genocide, arrogance and meanness that has shaped the psyche of this empire will not be disentangled by the election of a new charismatic president timely drawn from a still oppressed segment of the American people. To us, the Five, who for over a decade have been treated with despicable viciousness and cowardice, it is but the reiteration of an already familiar moral: It does not matter how low our captors have fallen, they can always prove their infinite capacity to fall even lower.
For our families and for us any time is already too late to do us justice; and the same is true of the decimated native peoples; of the countries whose territories have been usurped; of the millions of human beings burned to death by incendiary bombs, vanished by accomplices to dictatorships, tortured under the advise of Yankee officers or massacred around the world by corporate appetite. It is much too late to do justice to the thousands of victims of terrorism against Cuba, the same terrorism whose prevention is our unforgivable crime.
We, the Five, can be considered fortunate in comparison with those millions of victims; innocent children of all ages; people of every race and creed who under all kinds of ordinary circumstances have become collateral damage; human beings deprived of the basic right to life in the safety of their homes, with their families, who have been suddenly and unexpectedly removed from their daily lives. We are five soldiers proudly and consciously occupying our trench, who have decided to rise for something rather than fall for nothing. We are the living mirror of the moral values of a people where the enemy — helpless and full of rage — can see its own lack of values, its spiritual poverty, its frail image and all its evils. We are five Cuban revolutionaries the enemy will never subdue, an enemy that will live every day of its life with the humiliation of not understanding why.
To the peoples of the world, the shamelessness of this process is but the repetition of an old lesson: We are facing an empire that will commit any crime if it believes it can get away with it. No ethical consideration or universal outcry will make it stop — but the price imposed by resistance.
To the Cuban people, the real target of this act of vengeance, it becomes another reason to be united, to not believe in appearances, to always expect the worst from the aggressor, and to never cease in the construction of a society where the hypocrisy, revanchism, indignity, deceit and cowardice that fostered a process like ours are never taken for human virtues, as is the case in the neighboring empire. That will be the only measure of justice worthy of all its victims.
Ever Onward to Victory!
The U.S. Supreme Court announced today, without explanation, its decision not to review the case of our Five comrades who are unjustly imprisoned in that country for struggling against anti-Cuban terrorism that is sponsored by the U.S. rulers. The judges did what the Obama administration requested of it.
In spite of the solid arguments made by the defense attorneys from the obvious and multiple legal violations committed during the whole trial, by ignoring the universal backing to the petition -- expressed by an unprecedented number of “friend of the Court” briefs, among them 10 Nobel prize recipients, hundreds of parliamentarians, and numerous U.S. and international jurist organizations, of outstanding political and academic personalities -- the Supreme Court rejected the case, thus ignoring the demand of Humanity and its obligation to do justice.
We see manifested once more the arbitrariness of a corrupt and hypocritical system and its brutal treatment of our Five brothers.
Our struggle to win their freedom will not diminish for one instant. Now is the time to step up our actions, and not leave even one space uncovered or door unopened.
We are certain that Gerardo, Antonio, Fernando, Ramón, and René will continue leading this battle, as they have during these almost 11 years.
Responding to the infamous decision, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo declared:
“Based on the experience that we have had, I am not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision. I have no confidence at all in the justice system of the United States. There are no longer any doubts that our case has been, from the beginning, a political case, because not only did we have the necessary legal arguments for the Court to review it, we also have the growing international support as reflected in the Amicus briefs presented to the Court in our favor. I repeat what I said one year ago, June 4, 2009, that as long as one person remains struggling outside, we will continue resisting until there is justice.”
The struggle must be multiplied until the U.S. government is forced to put an end to this monstrous injustice and restore freedom to Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.
Presidency of the National Assembly of People’s Power
We reprint below an interview with Canadian Isaac Saney, conducted by TML Daily, the on-line newspaper of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist). In addition to being co-chair of the Canadian Network on Cuba, Professor Saney is also author of the book Cuba: A Revolution in Motion.
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TML: Can you comment on the significance of the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to hear the appeal of the Five Cuban Heroes who have been jailed since 1998?
Isaac Saney: On one level, it demonstrates that there exists no rule of law, only the carefully constructed fiction that there is the rule of law. When it suits U.S. vested power interests, the application and implementation of what are recognized as basic juridical rights and principles are ignored. The argument advanced by the Five’s lawyers was of necessity quite narrow and focused on one legal issue: whether the Five could get a fair trial in Miami — a locus, a hotbed, of anti-Cuba activity, up to and including the launching of terrorist attacks against Cuba, and even within the territory of the U.S. against those who are seen as not sufficiently subordinate to the imperial policy of the overthrow of the legitimate government of Cuba.
In their submissions to the U.S. Supreme Court, the lawyers argued that the trial in Miami — in which the Five were convicted — had been fundamentally flawed due to its violation of the right of the Five to a fair trial. The Five — Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero — argued at their original trial that a fair trial was impossible in Miami because of the well-documented hostility of the Miami ruling clique — including the judicial system and media — to the Cuban Revolution. Indeed, the dominant media participated in stirring up a tremendous amount of hysteria. A change of venues was rejected at the actual trial. This was later appealed. The Supreme Court was specifically requested to review the earlier decision of a lower court of appeal that denied the right of the Five to a change of trial venue by stating that they had failed to establish the right for a change of the trial venue. By refusing to hear the appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court is saying that the basic right of a fair trial does not exist for the Five.
The decision also flies in the face of the growing international campaign to free the Five. For example, ten Noble Prize laureates and numerous prominent international personalities have called for their release. The United Nations Human Rights Council has also denounced the trial. Contrast the case of the Five with that of the notorious terrorists Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch. Posada Carriles was the author of the October 6, 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian aircraft in which 73 people were killed. The U.S. has refused to extradite him to Venezuela to face justice for this heinous act. Bosch, who was also involved in the bombing, is also implicated in numerous other terrorist acts. Indeed, a June 23, 1989, U.S. Justice Department report declared that Bosh should be deported from the United States because of his history of terrorism. Under former U.S. President George Bush Sr., Bosch was granted amnesty. Today he lives openly in Miami, where he carries on as a public personality who appears on radio and television advocating terrorism against Cuba.
TML: Are there other issues at stake?
Isaac Saney: The case of the Five embodies a profound and inviolable principle: the right of people to self-defense. The right of self-determination for peoples means nothing unless it encompasses the right of self-defense from imperial aggression. The Five were involved in the act of defending Cuba from terrorists attacks launched by groups based in the United States and acting with the tacit and, often, complicit support of various agencies of the U.S. government. The human toll of these terrorist acts is measured in more than 3,000 deaths and more than 2,000 maimed. The economic cost in terms of the sabotage of commercial and productive infrastructure has been considerable. The objective of these acts is the undermining and destruction of the Cuban Revolution.
The Cuban Revolution culminated a century-long struggle for national affirmation, liberation and independence, establishing authentic self-determination, placing the Cuban nation firmly in the hands of the people of Cuba. In the fifty years that have passed, the Cuban people have resisted all attempts to take away their independence and freedom, and re-impose foreign domination. They have resisted and repelled the unceasing all-sided assault by the U.S., which has never accepted the verdict of the Cuban people. This all-sided assault is military, economic financial, propagandistic and terrorist.
As the U.S. failed and refused to deal with and prevent the terrorist actions, Cuba was well within its right of self-defense to dispatch to the U.S. individuals to monitor and infiltrate these terrorist groups. By flagrantly flouting international opinion and even the established U.S. law, the empire is not only declaring impunity for its acts of aggression and terrorism but also criminalizing those who actively resist its attempts to impose its diktat. What is at stake here is the right to exist of autochthonous nation-building projects that have by necessity and imperative established their independence from the imperial powers.
TML: Thank you.
The U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to review the case of the Cuban Five means it is up to President Barack Obama to make a substantive move toward lessening tensions with our island neighbor. Obama can also demonstrate that he has a sense of fair play and elementary justice.
The Cuban Five were sent to southern Florida by Havana to infiltrate the Miami-based anti-Castro terrorist groups that have been harbored by the United States for the past half-century. Over the years these criminals, operating openly and brazenly, have undertaken countless missions of murder, sabotage, and provocation against Cuba. They have also broken innumerable laws against the United States, with impunity.
The Cuban intelligence officers infiltrated the terrorist organizations Alpha 66 and the F4 Commandos, the Cuban American National Foundation political front organization, and the so-called Brothers to the Rescue, a group of private airplane pilots.
Despite the failure of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, right-wing Cuban exiles dreamed of provoking a U.S. attack on Cuba that they hoped would result in their return to wealth and power on the island. In 1996, Brothers to the Rescue organized a series of highly provocative flights into Cuban airspace, daring the Cuban air force to shoot them down. [After repeated flights into Cuban airspace] the Cubans called their bluff, and four of the pilots died.
In 1998, the Cuban Five were arrested. All of them were ultimately convicted of being unregistered foreign agents; three were found guilty of conspiring to steal U.S. military secrets, and one was convicted of conspiracy to murder the four provocateur pilots from the Brothers to the Rescue. The sentences for the Cuban Five ranged from 15 years to life in prison.
The seven-month trial, beginning in November of 2000, was a legal lynching, with Miami's Cuban exiles demanding blood. The defense argued that the defendants could not possibly get a fair trial in Miami. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights agreed, declaring that the trial did not conform to standards of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Amnesty International agreed.
As the world this week awaited the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, ten Nobel laureates, including South Africa's Desmond Tutu, called for the release of the Cuban Five. One hundred ten members of the British Parliament wrote to the U.S. Attorney General, as did numerous organizations, worldwide.
Now that the High Court justices have washed their hands of the matter, it is up to President Obama to find a political solution.
To date, President Obama has done very little of substance to improve Cuban-American relations. He has rolled back travel and currency restrictions to the status quo that prevailed before George Bush became president, proving only that he is not George Bush. The recent so-called “compromise” that would allow Cuba to rejoin the Organization of American States, if it chooses, was forced on the U.S. by virtually every other country in the Western Hemisphere. Obama was saving face, and had no choice.
The Cubans have no obligation to make a gesture to Washington. It is they who still suffer from the U.S. trade embargo, and the century-long U.S. occupation of Guantánamo Bay. With the stroke of a pen, President Obama could send the Cuban Five back home. It is the very least a U.S. President can do.
Reverend Dr. Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC) in the United States, advocated more solidarity and demanded justice for the five Cuban antiterrorists incarcerated in the US.
During his conversation with the press in Cuba, Dr. Kinnamon expressed his concern about the recent Supreme Court to not review the case of the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernández, Fernando González, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and René González. They have been unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for more than ten years.
During the opening of a meeting on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Spanish-American Evangelical Congress in Havana, the clergyman said that in this case the position of his government is a clear expression of how politics influences U.S. justice. The reverend brought out that the U.S. Council of Churches and other ecclesiastical organizations and individuals are requesting a meeting with President Barack Obama to address the issue of the Cuban Five —among other themes — and demand their release.
Kinnamon expressed his disagreement with the denial of entry visas for the wives of Gerardo and Rene, and added that over the last few months letters were sent to immigration authorities so Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva could visit their husbands in prison.
The work of Protestants in the world is to try to achieve, as much as possible, the unity of all forces, in order to try to influence the decision-making of governments with regard to peace, solidarity, justice, and the struggle against poverty, among other matters, explained the Reverend.
The Evangelical Congress, which took place at the Evangelical Seminar of Theology in central Matanzas province in Cuba, brings together more than 60 religious leaders from 14 nations.
(Cuban News Agency, June 22, 2009)
Hundreds of lawyers from different parts of the world passed a resolution June 10 demanding justice for the five Cuban anti-terrorists imprisoned in the U.S.
The 17th Congress of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, being held in Hanoi, Vietnam, reaffirmed its support for release of the Cuban 5, and the battle demanding justice for the Five, after citing continuous acts of terrorism against the Cuban people since 1959.
The resolution also urges the U.S. government to abide by the decisions adopted more than four years ago by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) ruling on the case, and immediately release them or hold a new trial. The UNCHR ruled that the trial and conditions of imprisonment for the Five were arbitrary and contrary to due process.
The Hanoi resolution calls for the UN and its Human Rights Commission to investigate and publish the violations in the process, and in U.S. policy concerning the case. The resolution called on the U.S. and world media to provide full coverage of the cause, now before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as its implications for the U.S. government and its claims to be fighting terrorism. It also urges the U.S. administration to immediately approve visas for their relatives so they can visit them in the U.S. jails.
About 300 jurists from the Americas, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East attended the four-day forum in Hanoi.
Immediately following the attacks on 9/11 America declared a war against terrorism. In Cuba, for the past 50 years the government and its people have been fighting their own, largely unknown war. Their struggle against terrorism has cost the lives of more than 3,000 civilians — victims of bombings, biological warfare, torture, murder and the second worst act of air terrorism in the Americas.
While recent articles from anti-Castro supporters such as Frank Calzon have tried to loosely connect the Cuban government with terrorism through a series of largely unrelated events, the reality is that the United States has been either directly involved in terrorist programs against Cuba, under such actions as Operation Mongoose, or indirectly connected through support and tolerance of such organizations as Alpha 66 and Omega 7. Add to that the lack of action against internationally recognized terrorists Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles.
Cuba remained on the State Department list of state sponsors for terrorism in 2008 not because the American government could prove one single act of terrorism that the Cuban government conducted on American soil, but because of the entirely subjective description of not being sufficiently supportive of American’s war against terrorism. Additionally, Cuba’s supposed support of terrorism was implied in part because they have previously accepted members of Spain’s Basque ETA separatist movement.
While there is no serious justification for the State Department to keep Cuba on the terrorist list, there is overwhelming evidence of the thousands of acts directed against Cuba.
The Cubana Airlines bombing of 1976 is probably the best known. More than 70 civilians were killed, including the entire Cuban youth fencing team. Jorge De La Nuez was five years old when he lost his father, head of a fishing delegation that was on board the doomed flight. Jorge still remembers vividly his sense of betrayal — that somehow he did something wrong and that his father was punishing him by not coming back.
In 1997 after threats from various counter-revolutionary groups in Florida, a series of bombs were set off in Cuban hotels and tourist spots. The result was the death of an Italian tourist, with dozens more injured. Marisol Visozo happened to be sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Nacional, quietly talking to a friend, when her conversation was shattered by a bomb that had been placed under the sofa where she was sitting. Marisol suffered a deep cut running the length of the left side of her face. The blast left her partially deaf, permanently scarred and in a state of constant nervousness.
Alpha 66 continues to brag of these actions on its website, along with references to attacks against Cuban villages. One of those villages was Boca de Sama on the northeast coast of Cuba. Two villagers were killed and eight injured during an assault in 1971. One of those wounded was Nancy Pavon, who had her right foot shot off during the battle. Since then she has endured more than two- dozen operations to repair the damage.
In the early 1980s Cuba suffered from an array of biological terrorism, according to government scientists and officials. These experts, including United Nation specialists, point to substantial evidence to reach the conclusion that a variety of infections were intentionally introduced into Cuba, such as — swine flu, sugar cane rust, anthrax, botulism, tobacco fungus and Dengue 2. Evidence includes the testimony of Eduardo Arocena, a Cuban-American connected to the Miami-based anti-Cuban group Omega 7. Arocena confessed to introducing biological agents into Cuba during his trial in New York for his connection with the assassination of Cuban diplomat Felix Garcia.
At his 1984 trial he testified, “The mission of the group was to obtain certain germs to introduce them in to Cuba to start a chemical war.” One of the results was an epidemic of Dengue 2. More than 100 children died.
Ana Elba Caminero was one of the first to contend with the impact of the disease. Living near the Havana airport, Ana Elba was faced with the horror of seeing her two daughters Janet and Isnaviz come down with headache, fever, and aching bones. Both soon started vomiting blood. One day later Janet, six years old at the time, died. The same day Ana Elba buried Janet she had to visit the hospital to comfort her other daughter, Isnaviz, 12, who was aware her younger sister had just died of the same disease she had. Fortunately, a few days later Isnaviz recovered and Cuban authorities were finally able to identify the infection.
In the early 1960s terrorists targeted innocent young teachers who went to the country to teach farmers to read and write during the literacy campaign. One teacher, 16-year-old Manuel Ascunce, and his adult student, Pedro Lantigua were both kidnapped, tortured, and hung from a tree. Ascunce was one of more than a dozen teachers killed.
There have been hundreds of other acts of terrorism against innocent Cuban civilians in a war of terrorism unknown and unrecognized outside the country. Department stores bombed, sugar fields destroyed, fishermen tortured and killed, attacks on organizers of Cine Movil, the program to show commercial films to the rural population.
Yet it is Cuba that finds itself on the United States arbitrary list of states that sponsor terrorism. It is not surprising the Cuban government is particularly sensitive to U.S. hypocrisy on this particular issue.
Keith Bolender is the author of the forthcoming book, Voices from the Other Side: Cuba’s Unknown War Against Terrorism. Article reprinted from South Florida Sun-Sentinel