- Created: Thursday, 23 April 2009 15:51
- Written by Hannah Caller
‘They were carrying out an indispensable, peaceful and noble mission. Defending their homeland and people from systematic aggression, including acts of terrorism, that has caused the loss of thousands of lives and substantial material damage. The evidence is overwhelming. Ignoring it is infamous.’
Ricardo Alarcon, Communist Party of Cuba
Despite having their convictions overturned by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Atlanta Court of Appeal in August 2005, the Cuban Five – Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez and Antonio Guerrero – remain in jail. They were arrested eight years ago in Miami while working to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba by the Miami exile community, sanctioned and funded by the US government.
In August 2006, in a politically-motivated and unprecedented ruling, the full 12-judge panel of the Court of Appeal overturned the decision of the 2005 hearing, ratifying the original convictions and rejecting the application for a retrial. This ruling condemns the Cuban 5 to indefinite imprisonment.
The five men have been subjected to degrading treatment amounting to torture. After their arrest on 12 September 1998, they were taken to the FBI general headquarters in Miami and brutally interrogated. They were then held in isolation and punishment cells for 17 months, before being split up between five different prisons.
The man in charge of their arrest and ill-treatment was Hector Pesquera, a former FBI boss in Miami and expert in ‘interrogation techniques’ who advised interrogators in the Guantanamo prison camps. In the punishment cells in the US, the Cuban 5 were allowed one hour out of the cell every 24 hours on weekdays and subjected to continuous lock-up over the weekends, they had no personal belongings and their cells measured less than three by two metres.
Month of Action
Cuba called for a month of action in solidarity with the Cuban 5 from the 12 September to 6 October. Rock around the Blockade and supporters of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! have been busy with events up and down the country. We have held street meetings, fund-raising bike rides and walks, film nights, social events and public meetings to highlight the case of the Cuban 5 and demand their immediate release. As Ricardo Alarcon made clear:
‘The solidarity of the peoples is the only means of bringing them justice. Today, throughout the world, a series of international events are taking place to demand freedom for our five selfless compañeros and to demand justice for all victims of terrorism. Solidarity will grow: until the heroes are liberated.’
Free them now!
FRFI 193 October / November 2006