The following is being passed on from the Partisan Defense Committee (2008). Please note the link to the National Committee to Free the Five below to find more information about the Cuban Five. As always here is a case where defense of the Cuban revolution begins concretely with the defense of the Five- Ahora!
The Cuban Five have now been incarcerated for almost ten years. Three Cuban citizens and two U.S. citizens who infiltrated and monitored violent anti-communist exile groups in Florida in order to stop terrorist attacks against Cuba, these men were arrested in 1998 under the Clinton administration on bogus charges of conspiracy to commit espionage and murder, as well as lesser charges like failing to register as agents of a foreign power. After being tried in Miami, a den of counterrevolutionary gusano (worm) activities, Gerardo Hernandez was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years; Antonio Guerrero and Ram6n Labanino to life plus ten and 18 years, respectively; Fernando Gonzalez to 19 years; and Rene Gonzalez to 15 years. They are held in federal maximum security prisons, separated by hundreds of miles from loved ones, their lawyers and each other. As Marxists, we demand immediate freedom for the Cuban Five, whose heroic actions were in defense of the Cuban Revolution against U.S. imperialism and its counterrevolutionary agents.
From the CIA-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, to the repeated attempts on Fidel Castro's life, to the ongoing starvation embargo, the U.S. imperialists, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, have never ceased in their drive to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. In 2002, Ana Belen Montes, a Defense Intelligence Agency officer, was sentenced to 25 years for passing military information to the Cuban government.
In their drive to restore capitalism in Cuba, the U.S. rulers have trained terrorists like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, who engineered the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner that killed 73 people. In the 1990s, as the Cuban government began to promote tourism, gusano groups launched a campaign of bombings that targeted hotels and airport buses in an attempt to cripple the economy. Posada has admitted to masterminding bombings of tourist spots in Havana in 1997 that killed an Italian businessman. We say: Send Posada and Bosch back to Cuba to be tried by their victims!
It was in the context of such terrorist activity that gusano activities were being monitored by the Cuban Five, three of whom were veterans of Cuba's military campaign in Angola that in the 1970s and '80s fought the U.S.-sponsored invasion by the South African apartheid regime. In June 1998, the Cuban government shared its intelligence on gusano terrorist activity with the FBI. In September of that year, the FBI arrested the Cubans instead of the CIA's "ex"-employees.
The government built its case on "conspiracy to commit espionage" charges, conspiracy charges being the hallmark of political witchhunts when the government has no evidence that an actual crime has been committed. Months after their arrest, "conspiracy to commit murder" was tacked on to the charges against Gerardo Hernandez in connection with the deaths of four pilots from the Brothers to the Rescue gusano outfit. The latter were shot down by the Cuban air force in 1996 after repeatedly and provocatively flying into Cuban airspace in a brazen challenge to the country's air defenses.
Held in Miami, the trial was engulfed in anti-communist hysteria and intimidation of anyone not toeing the gusano line on Cuba. The judge refused five defense requests for a change of venue. During jury selection, potential jurors asked to be excused, fearing the consequences of rendering an "unsatisfactory" verdict. The impaneled jurors' license plates appeared on nightly news broadcasts. The prosecution claimed that Guerrero, who worked as a janitor at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West, had endangered secret U.S. military plans by watching aircraft take off and land in training exercises. As Guerrero's lawyer pointed out, the information he gathered "could've been published in the Miami Herald." So inflamed was the atmosphere that the jury even convicted Hernandez of conspiracy murder charges that the prosecution itself had already concluded would be an "insurmountable hurdle" to prove!
In 2005, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta threw out the 2001 convictions and ordered a new trial in a new venue because of the "pervasive community prejudice" in Miami. The Justice Department under Alberto Gonzales appealed for a rehearing by the full court, which reinstated the convictions in August 2006. Last August, another three-judge panel heard oral arguments in the case that this time focused on the bogus murder and espionage charges and the gross prosecutorial misconduct.
The brutality these five men endure in prison is designed to break them and echoes the treatment of other class-war prisoners like Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal. Before their trial even started, the Cuban Five spent 17 months in solitary. Between their convictions in June and their sentencing in December 2001, they spent 48 days in the hole. In 2003 as they worked on their first appeal, they were sent to solitary and denied communication with the outside world, even their lawyers.
Every family visit involves an arduous and arbitrary visa process. Sometimes a relative waits out the precious time they are allotted and never gets to see their loved one. Adriana Perez, wife of Gerardo Hernandez, has been repeatedly denied a visa. Olga Salanueva, wife of Rene Gonzalez, was deported on phony spy charges in 2000.
In combatting the degenerate end-products of a decaying capitalism, the Cuban Five have performed a service not only in defense of Cuba but for working people throughout the hemisphere and around the world. Free the Cuban Five! Defend the Cuban Revolution