Worldwide days of action for Cuban 5

The future of five political prisoners in U.S. jails known as the Cuban Five may depend on what happens during the next few months.

Cuban and U.S. leaders of the solidarity movement on their behalf are planning actions aimed at educating a U.S. public that they see as knowing very little about the case of the Five.

In addition, the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to rule sometime soon on the U.S. government’s bid to overturn a lower, three-judge court ruling last August that said the prisoners’ convictions should be invalidated because their trial, which took place in Miami, was held in at atmosphere of pervasive prejudice.

Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero are serving life sentences, Gerardo Hernández, two life sentences, René González, 15 years, and Fernando González, 19 years. They are in jail because they monitored anti-Cuban, terrorist plotting in Florida. They reported what they learned to Havana and tried to save Cuban and U.S. lives.

Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon has announced “Worldwide Days of Action” for the three weeks between Sept. 12 and Oct. 6. Demonstrations, public meetings and an expanded media campaign are intended to bring demands for the prisoners’ freedom into public awareness.

Those dates are chosen for good reasons. Sept. 12 is the eighth anniversary of the prisoners’ arrest. And 30 years ago, on Oct. 6, terrorists bombed a Cuban airliner off Barbados, killing 73 people. One of those terrorists, Orlando Bosch, lives comfortably in Miami. Luis Posada, the other, has been in U.S. custody for a year, charged solely with illegal immigration. He is applying for U.S. citizenship.

The U.S. government refuses to extradite Posada to Venezuela to allow court proceedings on the bombing charges to resume there. Those proceedings were interrupted by Posada’s escape from jail.

Alarcon attributes the U.S. news blackout on the Cuban Five to media subservience to Washington officialdom. He has expressed his belief that the North American people, once informed, will support demands for the prisoners’ release. The object of the upcoming campaign is to break the news barrier on the Cuban Five.

According to lawyer Roberto González, brother of prisoner René González, a public campaign may serve to prod the appeals court into action. Speaking on May 31 in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, he recalled that the three-judge panel took 16 months to reach a decision.

The National Free the Five Committee, the National Network on Cuba and the National Lawyers Guild have announced a march on the White House and public forum in Washington on behalf of the Five, both set for Sept. 23. Efforts have begun nationwide to recruit organizers to ensure a large turnout. For information, visit www.freethefive.org.

On June 3, the Washington Post ran a two-column, front-page story reviewing the case of the Five. According to Washington lawyer Jose Pertierra, this was the first time that “one of the major U.S. newspapers” dedicated “so much space to the case of the Cuban Five. … [But] there is still a long way to go before this case reaches U.S. public.”

Meanwhile, international support for the Five continues. On June 7 in Valencia, Spain, the prime focus of the 9th Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba, organized by labor unions and political parties of the left, was on the Cuban Five. The First Alternative People’s Summit in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, issued a statement on June 6 demanding that the prisoners be released.

In Manila, Philippines, on June 4, a Conference on Solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela called upon “the Filipino masses and the international community to add their voices to the demand for the immediate release from U.S. jails … of these five Cuban heroes.” The speakers’ list included the general secretary of the Philippine Communist Party-1930. The conferees sent a letter of solidarity to each prisoner.

Letters are useful at this time in order to remind judges and jailers alike that the prisoners are not alone. Supporters of the Five are urged to write to them at the following addresses:

Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez, No. 58741-004, USP Florence, P.O. Box 7500, 5880 State Highway 67, South Florence CO 81226.

Fernando González Llort, No. 58733-004, FCI Oxford, P.O. Box 5000, Oxford WI 53952-0500.

Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, No. 58739-004, USP Victorville, P.O. Box 5400, 13777 Air Expressway Road, Adelanto CA 92394.

Ramón Labañino Salazar, No. 58734-004, USP Beaumont, P.O. Box 26035, Beaumont TX 77720.

René González Sehwerert, No. 58738-004, FCI Marianna, 3625 FCI Road, Marianna FL 32446.

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