During his trip to Cuba last week President Jimmy Carter called for ending the 50-year-old U.S. economic blockade of the island and freeing the Cuban Five, languishing in U.S. prisons. His statements are a major breakthrough. We urge our readers to immediately follow up with practical action to end the blockade, which hurts American workers as well as Cubans, and to bring freedom and justice to the Cuban Five, who were working to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba.

While in Cuba, Carter met with Cuban President Raul Castro, former President Fidel Castro (whom he called an old friend) and others. He met with the wives of the Cuban Five, as well as with the mothers of two of them.

Speaking on Cuban TV, Carter repeated his call for an end to the blockade. He added that he had already talked to Presidents Bush and Obama to urge the release of the Cuban Five, and suggested he would now call for a full pardon. He called the original trial that convicted the five Cubans “very doubtful” and said their sentences were particularly unjust. http://thecuban5.org/wordpress/2011/04/01/jimmy-carter-urges-release-of-cuban-five/

Two of the five, Gerardo Hernandez and Antonio Guerrero, have filed habeas corpus briefs to challenge their convictions. Hernandez was convicted of murder and given two life sentences because of the shooting down of two small aircraft that had been buzzing Havana illegally, an incident with which he argues he had no connection. He says in a new habeas corpus brief that he was not properly advised by counsel about the possibility of a separate trial on this count. The convictions came in a joke of a trial in Miami where, it was recently revealed by activists supporting the Five, the U.S. government had been secretly paying journalists to stir up local feeling against the defendants. This is the basis of Antonio Guerrero’s habeas brief, which asks that his conviction and sentence of 21 years and 2 months be set aside.

We urge our readers to speak to coworkers, friends and neighbors to explain the case. Ask them to sign, and send to others via email or social networking tools, an online petition calling for release of the Five, which already has 1,000 signatures.

And contact your senators and representative and let them know you join Carter in wanting an end to the harmful blockade of Cuba.

The momentum is building for a positive change on Cuba and the Cuban Five. Keep it going.