Free the Cuban Five

On 15 June the US Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on whether they will hear the appeal of five Cuban men imprisoned in the US since 1998 for ‘conspiracy’ to spy after a highly politicised trial in Miami. The Cuban Five, as they have become known, had infiltrated US-based terrorist groups to uncover plans and prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba, attacks which have claimed the lives of over 3,400 people since 1959. The Obama administration is attempting to influence the Court and has filed a brief urging it to deny the Five a hearing.

None of the charges against the Cubans involved violence, weapons or damage to property. The Five were arrested after the Cuban government passed information over to Washington that one extremist group, Brothers to the Rescue, was preparing to attack Cuban territory using pipe bombs dropped from aeroplanes. The US government’s response was to arrest the Cuban agents for spying.
In 2005, a US court conceded that the Cuban Five did not receive a fair trial in Miami – a stronghold for the rightwing Cuban exile community – and ordered a retrial in a new location. However, the Attorney General intervened to get the decision overturned, and in August 2006 the convictions were upheld. In 2008, a federal appeal court again upheld the convictions. In early 2009, the Cuban Five’s legal team filed a petition requesting the US Supreme Court to examine the case, in particular the change of trial venue and jury selection. An unprecedented number of amicus curiae – friend of the court – briefs have been filed with the Supreme Court by Nobel Prize winners, national and international personalities, jurists and human rights organisations requesting a review of lower court rulings.

International Conference to Free the Five
Two RATB brigadistas stayed in Cuba to participate in the International Conference to Free the Five on 11-12 May. The second such conference organised by the UJC, it was attended by 145 delegates from 82 organisations in 42 countries, providing a forum for updating and co-ordinating the international campaign. Many young Cubans also attended, as representatives from primary schools to universities, along with the families of the Cuban Five, and President of Cuba’s National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon. In a speech to the conference, RATB said:

‘Our five heroes are incarcerated today because they are in the vanguard of the defence of Cuban socialism, and Cuba’s right to resist imperialism. Our five heroes are not alone in the fight, as Rock around the Blockade has seen on our solidarity brigades to Cuba – in the CDRs and when meeting the Young Pioneers, FEEM, FEU, the Women’s Federation and UJC cadres. Within each of these organisations, whose role it is to unite, invigorate and involve society, there are people who have given themselves to the revolution, which is the advancement of humanity. THIS is what our five heroes are defending…

‘This international campaign is an important battle in defence of the Cuban Revolution. As the leadership of the Cuban Revolution has stated, the fight to free the Five is not just a legal fight, it cannot be restricted to simple legal means. The fight has to be a political fight and it means building political movements. For Rock around the Blockade, this has meant holding regular street stalls, protests outside the US embassy and meetings to raise awareness of the Five. In February 2008 we invited Orlando Borrego, Jesus Garcia and a UJC militant on a speaking tour across Britain. Over two weeks, nearly 3,000 people in Britain heard them speak about, among other things, the heroic fight of our five.’

The Conference declaration called for days of international action on 6-8 June. In the US, the National Committee to Free the Five stated: ‘It is important that we do not passively await the decision. Instead, it is urgent that supporters once again raise a worldwide cry for the immediate freedom of the Five.’ Additional protests have been called for the day of the expected decision, 15 June, and for the day following the Supreme Court decision.

Contact your local RATB group to join events in your area or contact the RATB national office for support with your own event: tel: 020 7837 1688, email: office@ratb. or write to BM RATB, London WC1N 3XX.

For more details about the Cuban Five see: Free_the_Five.HTML.

FRFI 209 June / July 2009


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