Politics trump justice in Cuban 5 case

When the corporate-controlled U.S. media conspired with the Miami court to railroad the Cuban 5, few people realized the power of government to silence the truth for so long.

Reading the affidavit (8-31-2012) of Martin Garbus, First Amendment attorney, is an eye-opener for anyone concerned with freedom and justice in the U.S. legal system.  A sixteen-year time period, from the shoot-down of a plane over Cuban waters flown by extremist exile groups, to a sensational trial, leading to the present attempts by Gerardo Hernandez to discover new facts, provides the setting for a drama in which journalism, prosecutorial misconduct, and a wall of media silence conspired to condemn five innocent men known as the Cuban 5.

A perfect storm of prejudice and hostility, created by local media, was abated briefly in August 2005 by three judges in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals who unanimously ruled a mistrial of the Miami process.  One year later, in September 2006, the first news of paid “government agents” in the media failing to disclose to their employer the use of taxpayer dollars to get a conviction of the Five made headlines.  This affront to an ethical press and professional standards of journalistic conduct must not go unchallenged.

By now, journalists and law students should have been commenting how a grave injustice committed under jurisdiction of the Justice Department could have been allowed. The many irregularities before, during and after the 2001 trial did not result in a change of venue.  Instead, an inquisition and travesty of justice violating the 8th Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishment provision occurred.

Government money for the purpose of domestic propaganda to deny due process is illegal. Throughout the affidavit, documenting what Radio Martí does was met with Government resistance to nearly all FOIA applications by the defense. Was it any accident that Voice of America (VOA) oversight of government propagandizing became moot when Radio/TV Martí moved to Miami from Washington, D.C., in early 1996? With an aim to address the Cuban-American vote in Florida, passage of the anti-Cuban Helms-Burton Act (March 1996) sailed through Congress without discussion. Now, Miami became the hotbed of “rogue activity.”

Recognition by the Obama administration that U.S. policy toward Cuba is obsolete was only the first step in a change of direction. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court refusal to hear an appeal by the Cuban 5 in 2009 meant more delay, more denial of justice. Locking away five men in solitary confinement (“the hole”) for 17 consecutive months without legal representation may be the enduring legacy of a rightwing Supreme Court, lest we forget the stolen 2000 election in the battleground state of Florida that preceded the approval of a permit for a circus in Miami that began on November 27, 2000. Where politics trump justice, it becomes apparent that the Five were convicted by an embedded media in a hostile environment. A fair trial would have exposed the cozy relationship between the FBI and anti-Castro extremists in Miami that has existed since the mid-20th century.

Let us re-enforce the worldwide “jury of millions” that strive to obtain recognition and respect in circumstances of dire prejudice against the Cuban 5. Possibly, then, cracks in the silent walls of oppression will become visible for all, so equal treatment under the law, and freedom for the Cuban 5 can be achieved sooner rather than later. Obama give me Five!

Photo: Activists call for freeing the Cuban Five. AP



Richard Grassl
Richard Grassl

Richard Grassl is a member of the Carpenters union in Washington state.