Miami 5: US tortures Cuban political prisoners

FRFI 172 April / May 2003

On 28 February, as part of a ‘national security alert’, the Miami 5 – the five Cubans incarcerated by the USA on trumped-up spying charges – were all condemned to solitary confinement on the orders of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, the Department of Justice and the US Attorney General. Not only were all five sent to the punishment blocks, known as the ‘holes’, of their respective prisons, they were put in the ‘box’ – reserved for those who breach the ‘hole’s’ discipline code. However none of the five has been accused of any breach of prison discipline. Their treatment is part of an arbitrary, vindictive and politically motivated campaign by the US administration.

The Attorney General has ordered that these ‘special administrative measures’ will not be reviewed until 24 February 2004, which means the five will remain in isolation for a year or more. This is not the first time political prisoners have been arbitrarily punished in the US because of events in the outside world. After the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Centre many political prisoners were put in punishment blocks and solitary confinement.

The prison authorities are not allowing the Cubans any visitors and have cancelled the consular visit to Fernando González that had been scheduled for 10 March. Two of the men’s wives have been refused permission to enter the US and visitors to Lompoc prison to see Gerardo Hernandez and to Beaumont federal prison to see Ramon Labaniño (including Father Geoffrey Bottoms from Blackpool) were turned away despite having visits scheduled.

Not satisfied with solitary confinement for the Miami 5, the prison authorities have resorted to sleep deprivation torture by keeping the lights on in their cells 24 hours a day. The five Cubans are being denied any contact with the outside world, they are not allowed their post, any access to their legal documents or to contact their attorney. This cruel treatment is a gross violation of human rights, the US’s own constitution and the right to legal defence.

There will be a mobilisation of support for the Miami 5 all around the world on the weekend of 5 and 6 April and demonstrations outside US embassies in many cities on Monday 7 April. The fight to free the Miami 5 and raise the profile of their case has become even more urgent.

Join Rock around the Blockade on a picket of the US embassy in Grosvenor Square in London W1, 6-7.30pm on Monday 7 April. Show your opposition to the abuse and torture of the Cuban heroes held in the empire’s gaols!