All out for five-day push to free Cuban 5

One member of the Cuban 5 group, Rene Gonzalez, is free, but those remaining imprisoned in the United States still insist on calling themselves “the Cuban 5.”  The push is now intensifying among progressive individuals and organizations in this country to free the others as well.

The Cuban 5 are five men who were arrested in South Florida in 1998 and have been serving long federal prison sentences for having gathered information on hard right Cuban exile organizations who have, in the past, committed terrorism against Cuba with impunity.

The Cuban government shared this information with the F.B.I. in the hope that the United States would act to suppress the terrorist groups; instead, the F.B.I. rounded up the Five and the government put them through a farce of a trial. Now they are serving draconian sentences.

A massive international campaign has been mounted for their freedom, involving public figures and ordinary people in dozens of countries, but so far the U.S. government has remained unmoved. So the struggle goes on.

The International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 has been organizing events in Washington D.C. and around the country to up pressure to “Free the Five.”  The next one coming up is from this coming Friday, May 31 through Tuesday June 5, in Washington D.C. and nearby Takoma Park, Md.

Among the speakers and other participants are: Angela Davis, activist, scholar and author; Dolores Huerta, historic leader of the farm workers’ movement; Danny Glover, Actor; Wayne Smith, scholar and former head of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana under President  Carter; Martin Garbus, one of the attorneys for the Cuban 5; Sofia Clark d’Escoto, Nicaraguan diplomat; Yeidcol Polevensky, former president of the Mexican Senate; Arnold August, Canadian writer and author of several important books about Cuba.

Former President Jimmy Carter in 2011 said, “I believe that the detention of the Cuban 5 makes no sense, there have been doubts expressed in U.S. courts and by human rights organizations around the world. They have now been in prison 12 years and I hope that in the near future they will be freed to return to their homes.”

There will be special events with parliamentarians from several countries, labor union activists and legal experts.  

A major dimension of the event will be visits to members of the U.S. Congress to ask their support for freedom for the Five. Details can be found on the website of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5.

Creative Commons, Flickr.



Emile Schepers
Emile Schepers

Emile Schepers is a veteran civil and immigrant rights activist. Born in South Africa, he has a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Northwestern University. He is active in the struggle for immigrant rights, in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution and a number of other issues. He writes from Northern Virginia.