Growing determination to free Cuban Five

The Cuban Five — Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, René González, Gerardo Hernández and Fernando González — were defending Cuba against right-wing, Miami-based terrorism when they were arrested by U.S. authorities almost eight years ago.

Despite an international outcry, they remain unjustly imprisoned. They await an appeals court decision, due sometime this year. Their spirits are unbroken.

The Five sent greetings to the Cuban people on May 1. “Today we celebrate Workers’ Day,” they wrote. “The people are all marching together, guided by the Revolution, united in showing support for the social projects we have chosen, built by our heroic efforts.

“We are with you today,” they said. “Yes to the nation, to the Revolution, to socialism!”

At a giant May Day rally in Havana, President Fidel Castro inveighed against U.S. hypocrisy, contrasting the cruel fate of the Five with leeway given Luis Posada Carriles, an admitted terrorist, in his bid for U.S. citizenship. In 1976 Posada bombed a Cuban airliner, killing 73 passengers.

The five anti-terrorist prisoners, Castro said, have been “turned into hostages, even from the North American legal point of view.”

In April, Leonard Weinglass, appeals attorney for Antonio Guerrero, was interviewed by Cuba’s Granma newspaper. He said he is optimistic that the full 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will uphold last year’s court decision for a new trial, even though it hasn’t decided for the defense in 25 years.

Weinglass said recent publicity about the terrorist activities of Posada and others is good news for the prisoners. It shows that “Cuba has been the victim of an aggression that emanates from the United States.”

“This has been the fundamental defense position we have taken in our case,” he said.

Meanwhile, Geoff Bottoms, leader of the British movement for the Five, bemoans “this awful limbo period when we are all awaiting the outcome of the appeal hearing.”

Even so, support for the Five is continuing to build.

Russian physicist Zhores Alferov recently joined seven other Nobel Prize laureates who had previously called for the prisoners’ freedom. In Portugal on April 29, the Women’s International Democratic Federation did likewise. Nicaraguans rallied for the Five in Managua on May 1. On March 29, the Detroit City Council joined the chorus. On April 12, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers called for the prisoners’ release.

Organized support groups exist in at least 79 countries, including the U.S.

Kgalema Motlanthe, general secretary of the African National Congress, recently headed an ANC delegation to Cuba. He recalled that René, Fernando, and Gerardo had fought against South Africa’s apartheid troops in Angola, and pledged to step up the fight for the freedom of all five men.

Olga Salanueva, wife of René González, responded: “We are not demanding a new trial, but their immediate freedom. A person who has dedicated his life to save the lives of others at the risk of his own life cannot be condemned by any law in the world. Enough of this! Condemn the real terrorists, and let the Five come home.”