The Cuban chapter of the Defense of Humanity Network announced in Havana a new call for the release of the five anti-terrorist Cubans incarcerated for nine years with heavy sentences hanging over them.
Poet and novelist Roberto Fernández Retamar, president of Casa de las Américas, presented the document to the national and foreign press. It has already been signed by more than 245 public figures, including Nobel Literature Prize winners Wole Soyinka of Nigeria and Nadine Gordimer of South Africa; Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina; and Nobel Physics Prize winner Zhores Alfiorov of Russia; as well as artists and intellectuals, including 20 who are outstanding in U.S. political and cultural life.
"The Five, states the document, "have remained isolated in maximum security prisons under cruel conditions of imprisonment, in violation of their human rights and U.S. law itself."
"We add our voices to those of all people in the world who are demanding an immediate end to this enormous injustice. We must not give up our undertaking until the truth is heard and these men return to their country and their families," it concludes.
It should be recalled that a panel of three judges from the Court of Appeals in Atlanta unanimously declared invalid the rigged trial to which they were subjected in Miami and stated that the sentences should be revoked.
Subsequently that ruling was overturned in a divided vote by the full Court, and the result of the appeal on that decision is awaited.
The detention of the Five, who helped to monitor acts of terrorism organized against Cuba by ultra-right Cuban groups in Florida, was described as unjust by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Relatives of the Five present at the meeting urged the international press to circulate the call. Maria Eugenia, the sister of Antonio Guerrero, affirmed that the wall of silence surrounding them is an additional sentence. (Lisanka González Suárez)
Text of the Document
FREEDOM FOR THE FIVE CUBANS IMPRISONED IN THE UNITED STATES!
For more than nine years now, five Cubans have remained imprisoned in the United States. On their shoulders rest lengthy convictions, resulting from a politicized trial held in the city of Miami. The Five were helping monitor the terrorist plans orchestrated against Cuba from Florida by far right-wing Cuban groups.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, attached to the UN’s former Commission on Human Rights, declared their detention to be arbitrary, and a three-judge panel, tasked with examining the case at the Atlanta Appeals Court, unanimously agreed to nullify the trial and instructed that the sentences delivered in Miami be repealed. Afterwards, in a split vote, the Court dismissed that decision; and the case is still going through the appeal process.
The Five have remained in isolation in maximum security prisons, under ruthless conditions of seclusion, in violation of their human rights and of the very laws of the United States. Two of them have been deprived of the right to be visited by their wives.
We join our voices to all those in the world that call for the immediate end to this enormous injustice. We must not give up on this endeavor until truth prevails and these men return to their homeland and to their families.
To sign :
US Needs to Know about the Five
Oct. 26, 2007
Reprinted from Prensa Latina
Quito, Oct 26 (Prensa Latina) The US people needs to learn that five Cubans are unfairly imprisoned in that country for fighting terrorism, Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon stated in this capital Friday.
"We have to break the great media blockade to publish the cruelty committed against five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters for having fought terrorism within United States," Alarcon told Prensa Latina.
The island"s legislator pointed out that those men were imprisoned and condemned to harsh sentences by the White House, to protect their terrorists working in that territory.
The parliament leader questioned the Washington attitude that has confined Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, while send young people to kill and die in Iraq, "on behalf of the war against terrorism." "If US people knew that their regime maintains five people cruelly incarcerated for fighting that scourge, punishing mothers, spouses and children of those men prohibiting their visit, there would be an uprising,íhe said.
The ways to break the barrier of silence on the Five will be one of the issues to analyze by over 500 participants from 30 Latin American nations in the Fifth Continental Meeting of Solidarity with Cuba, starting in Quito today.
Ecuador to Host 5th Continental Meeting in Solidarity With Cuba
Oct. 23, 2007
Reprinted from Cuban News Agency
Havana, Oct 23 (acn) Cuban ambassador to Ecuador, Benigno Perez, said that over 800 representatives of Latin American movements will attend to the 5th Continental Meeting in Solidarity with the island, to take place in Quito on October 26-28.
In statements to the press, Perez noted that this is the first time a meeting of this kind will be held outside Havana. He added Quito has been chosen as the venue taking into account the solid and historical bonds of friendship existing between Cuba and Ecuador, reported PL news agency.
Perez pointed out that the participants in the meeting will discuss new ways to intensify the struggle against the US blockade of the island and how to promote the international campaign undertaken to demand the freedom of five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters unjustly held in US prisons for over nine years.
Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and René Gonzalez —internationally known as the Cuban Five— were detained in 1998 for trying to prevent terrorist actions organized by right-wing anti-Cuba organizations based in Florida. The men were charged with espionage and punished with extremely harsh sentences despite the anti-terrorist character of their mission.
The Cuban diplomat said the delegates at the meeting will also talk about regional integration projects, the disinformation broadcast by the mainstream media about the island's current situation, and the work of the movements in solidarity with Cuba.
Accompanied by Quito's local authorities, Perez announced the arrival of a large delegation to the Ecuadorian capital led by Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon.
In pursuit of justice for the Cuban 5, a group that warned the US about terrorist plots and ended up in prison for life
BY BILL PAPARIAN
On June 17, 1998, an unprecedented meeting took place in Havana between the Cuban government and the FBI. Seeking an end to the 40-year campaign of terrorism inflicted upon their island nation, the government of Cuba presented the FBI with the results of its investigation into right-wing Cuban exile groups based in Miami.
Documents, photographs and surveillance reports were presented to the FBI showing that these groups were about to unleash a new wave of terror, which in the past had included the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 civilians and the 1997 Havana hotel bombing that killed an Italian tourist.
The FBI promised to take action that would end the terrorism but instead "reverse-engineered" the surveillance reports that had been submitted, and on Sept. 12, 1998, arrested the Cuban agents who had prepared them. Those agents, now known as the Cuban 5, had infiltrated the anti-Castro exile community in Miami and were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States.
The United Nations Human Rights Commission would later condemn what happened next: The US government kept the Cuban 5 in solitary confinement for 17 months in a not-so-subtle attempt to coerce false confessions in exchange for leniency.
Espionage, the passing of secret documents to a foreign government, was never proven at their trial. The former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency testified that no secret national defense information had been transmitted to Cuba. But the US government argued that the Cuban 5, whose mission was to penetrate terrorist groups in order to prevent violence, had come to America "in order to destroy the United States."
On June 8, 2001, the Cuban 5 were convicted and sentenced to four life terms and 75 years in prison. The trial had lasted more than six months. There were 24,000 pages of documents and 119 volumes of testimony.
On Sunday afternoon, an impressive gathering of prominent jurists from all over the world gathered at the historic terra cotta and marble Candler building in downtown Atlanta on the eve of oral arguments before the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The legendary Leonard Weinglass, one of the appellate attorneys, briefed the gathered dignitaries at the reception on the key issue on appeal: This was a conspiracy prosecution in which not one page of classified documents was found and absolutely no damage was done to US national interests.
On Monday, the appeal hearing was held at the United States Court of Appeals Building in downtown Atlanta, a majestic structure named after the late Judge Elbert Parr Tuttle, a native of Pasadena.
Among those in the audience were Judge Juan Guzman, who led the prosecution of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and jurists from Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Venezuela, Canada, Spain, Ecuador, England and the Ukraine.
Before the hearing began, Presiding Judge Stanley Birch announced that the government needed to submit to the court a transcript of the meeting that the government attorneys had with the trial judge without the presence of the defense attorneys and the "classified" documents that had been shown to the judge.
Birch also announced that after the three-judge appeals panel had reviewed this transcript and these documents another appeal hearing might be required. This process of secret evidence was precisely what the United Nations Human Rights Commission had also condemned in finding that the trial of the Cuban 5 had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The defense attorneys told the appeals panel that prosecutors had made improper statements and the evidence used to convict was insufficient. "Every type of prosecutorial misconduct ever identified in case law occurred here, in some cases repeatedly so," said defense attorney Brenda Byrn. The Cuban 5 "were never directed to obtain espionage-level information," defense attorney Richard Klugh said.
One member of the Cuban 5, he said, "is serving a life sentence for what could have been published in the Miami Herald. … There is an injustice in this case. The theory that the government used to prosecute is a classic pile of inference upon inference upon inference."
Birch and Judge Phyllis Kravitch closely questioned US Attorney Carolyn Heck Miller about the sufficiency of the government's evidence. With regard to prosecutorial misconduct, it was noted that during final argument to the jury, the defense raised 34 objections of which 28 were sustained, leading Kravitch to remark, "I find that number troubling."
The third judge on the panel, William Pryor, made few comments during the hearing. His appointment to the bench by President George W. Bush had caused considerable controversy because of his conservative views on homosexuality and abortion. Bush first appointed Pryor when the US Senate was in recess in 2004 and in the next session of the Senate the nomination was filibustered. Pryor was ultimately confirmed in a negotiated Senate deal in 2005.
It's unclear how long it will take for the court to issue an opinion on the appeal.
From what is known now, many believe the Cuban 5 were railroaded.
"It's so unfair to imprison these men for trying to prevent terrorism," prominent Atlanta community activist Krista Brewer said before Sunday's reception program.
"Tomorrow's hearing," said Dagoberto Rodriguez, Cuban ambassador to the United States, "is another step toward justice for the Cuban 5."
The Terrorists Among US
by Sarah Stephens and Peter Kornbluh
Oct. 6, 2007
Reprinted from The Huffington Post
This piece was co-written with Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, a non-profit research center in Washington D.C.
Think of how angry Americans would be if Pakistan's government let Osama bin Laden emerge from his cave of refuge and take up open residence in Islamabad?
A scene just like that is the reality here in the United States where Luis Posada Carriles, who ranks in the top ten list of the world's most prolific terrorists, is living freely in Florida--despite his known involvement in blowing up a civilian airliner and other bombings and assassination attempts over more than forty years. Since May, when a Federal judge tossed out the minor charges of immigration fraud leveled by Alberto Gonzales's Justice Department, Posada has been enjoying life in Miami's hard-line Cuban exile community. The U.S. media has all but forgotten about him. His victims, however, remain seared by this remarkable injustice and so should we.
Today, after all, marks the anniversary of the mid-air destruction of Cubana Airlines flight 455, which took the lives of 73 passengers and crew, including the Cuban Olympic Fencing team and a group of teenage Guyanese science students on their way to Cuba to go to medical school. Their families will commemorate this day of loss, as they have for 31 years, wondering whether Posada and his co-conspirator Orlando Bosch--who is also living freely in Miami--will ever be brought to justice.
But for those of us in the United States, the case of Luis Posada Carriles is not only about a long overdue legal reckoning for the victims of terrorism, it is about the hypocrisy of the purported leader in the global fight against international terrorism now harboring a renowned purveyor of terrorist violence. "The United States cannot tolerate the inherent inhumanity of terrorism as a way of settling disputes," declared a 1989 Justice Department ruling that Orlando Bosch should remain detained or deported after he illegally returned to the United States from Venezuela. "We must look on terrorism as a universal evil, even if it is directed toward those with whom we have no political sympathy."
That principle was ignored by the administration of George H.W. Bush which, urged on by politically powerful rightwing Cuban exiles in Florida, set Bosch free in 1990. Following in his father's footsteps, George W's administration has politicized the Posada case as well, allowing him to go free and flaunting the credibility of the U.S. war on terror in the process.
Make no mistake, this former CIA asset and demolition trainer is a resolute and unrepentant advocate of terror. As early as 1965, declassified CIA intelligence reports cite Posada's operations to blow up ships and other targets, financed by benefactors in Miami. Documents uncovered in his office in Caracas link Posada to a string of sabotage attacks on consulates and travel agencies that did business with Cuba in the summer of 1976. Those same records contained information on the route of Cubana flight 455.
Indeed, the part Posada played in the first atrocity of aviation terrorism in the Western Hemisphere is especially well corroborated. Declassified FBI reports place him in meetings in Caracas where the attack on the plane was planned. According to a secret CIA intelligence report, a high level informant overheard Posada declaring, "We are going to hit a Cuban airliner and Orlando has the details" only days before the plane exploded after take off from Barbados. Confessions by the two Venezuelans who brought the bomb on board--plastic explosives stuffed into a large tube of Colgate toothpaste--and who worked for Posada, noted that their first calls after the airliner plunged into the ocean were to Posada's office. "The bus has gone off the cliff and the dogs are dead," they reported.
Both Posada and Bosch were arrested in Caracas. Posada was held in Venezuela for nine years for the aircraft bombing but escaped from prison in 1985. (He then went to El Salvador to work on the Reagan administration's illicit contra resupply operation.) In the spring and summer of 1997, he orchestrated a bombing campaign against Havana hotels and discotheques that resulted in the death of an Italian businessman; "That Italian was sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time," Posada noted in an interview with the New York Times a year later in which he publicly took responsibility for the attacks. "I sleep like a baby."
Three years later, at age 73, he was caught in Panama with 34 pounds of C-4 explosives, which he planned to use to blow up an auditorium where Fidel Castro was scheduled to speak.
After serving only four years of a prison sentence, Posada and three co-conspirators were inexplicably pardoned and freed; still wanted in Caracas for the bombing of flight 455, Posada became a fugitive once again. But in March 2005, he illegally entered the United States and surfaced in Miami, sufficiently comfortable in the cradle of the anti-Castro exile community to announce his presence to the media and actually seek political asylum. If Orlando Bosch could live freely in Miami, why couldn't Luis Posada?
For two months, the Bush administration basically pretended that he was not there. But this is the post 9/11 world. Massive and embarrassing publicity finally forced Bush's hand. On May 17, 2005, DHS agents detained Posada on illegal entry charges, and then indicted for lying to immigration authorities on how he came to the United States.
Yes, you read that correctly: one of the world's most infamous terrorists charged as an illegal immigrant. Using the counter-terrorism provisions of the Patriot Act, the administration could have certified Posada as a terrorist danger and detained him indefinitely. But apparently the Justice Department viewed his brand of political violence is different than those other terrorism suspects with Middle Eastern names.
The Administration could have also accepted Venezuela's formal petition for Posada's extradition. After all, Posada is a naturalized Venezuelan citizen; the crime was planned in Caracas, and he is a fugitive from justice from Venezuela. But Bush has his priorities: it is more important to mollify rightwing Republican Cuban-American voters in Florida who would view Posada's extradition as a betrayal and as a victory for Chavez and Castro, than to turn over a terrorist to the country that has a legitimate claim to hold him accountable for the first act of airborne terror in the hemisphere, a devastating crime.
The charade of detaining Posada on immigration violations has not been lost on the U.S. courts. Indeed, last May a Federal Judge dismissed the entire illegal entry case against Posada, citing prosecutorial misconduct and incompetence. Without even a slap on the wrist, he returned to Miami a free man, limited only in his movements by the ironic DHS decision to place him on a government "no fly" list.
To date, Bush has made a mockery of his motto that no nation should harbor terrorists and all nations should take steps to bring those who commit acts of terrorism to justice. If his administration will not certify and detain Posada for the international criminal he is, if his administration will not extradite Posada to Venezuela because Bush doesn't like Chavez, the administration still has one option to redeem itself: the Justice Department can indict Posada for the hotel bombings in Havana ten years ago for which he has publicly claimed credit.
The known body of evidence in this case is strong: the FBI has an informant who witnessed Posada's meetings in Guatemala where the bombings were organized, and saw a bag of 23 tubes of plastic explosives in the offices Posada used. Couriers have told how they were recruited by Posada associates to transport the explosives in Prell shampoo bottles and in their shoes. Federal authorities are also in possession of an August 1997 fax, in Posada's own handwriting and signed "Solo"--one of his nom de guerres--stating that "if there is no publicity, the job is useless" and arranging for funds to be "sent by Western Union from New Jersey." Additional evidence was gathered during a rare FBI trip to Havana late last year and presumably turned over to a federal grand jury which as been impaneled in Newark to hear this case.
With a new attorney general designate soon to face confirmation hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee has the opportunity to voice its concerns about the way the Justice Department has allowed a known terrorist to go free. Retired judge Michael Mukasey, who is known for being tough on terrorism, should be given every opportunity to disassociate himself from the political contamination of this case and to commit the Justice Department to finally holding Posada accountable for his acts of international violence.
Prosecuting Posada matters. It would put our country on the side of justice for a crime that took place in Cuba that was inspired politically to hurt the Castro regime. This, in turn, would send a signal to Cuba and the world that Washington is serious about deterring acts by terrorists using U.S. soil as their base of operations. It would end a dramatic and hypocritical inconsistency in our policy toward terrorism. Moreover, the families of Posada's many victims deserve their day in court.
And, who knows. If we take the man known as Latin America's Osama bin Laden off our own streets, someone might just help us take America's bin Laden off theirs.
More on Bush
By: Arleen Rodríguez Derivet
I don’t want anybody to tell me to watch my words when I talk about that little man, just because he happens to be the president of a country. As long as he offends, he deserves to be offended. Any name —the most vulgar, the most unpronounceable— is fit to describe George W. Bush in his more recent, and hopefully last, speech against Cuba.
Maybe all this is because the kind of president he is, and the fraudulent way he took office, with the essential help of those who applauded him on Wednesday, those whose faces were never shown. Those invisible people, whose applauses resembled background sound, were like the time when some cameras hid the ridiculous greeting of President Bush to the people who never went to welcome him at the Mar del Plata airport.
A president, who violates the constitution of his own country and steps on international law, can only preside over the reign of illegality. He is not a true president. He is a non-president. At most, he is just the head of a group outside of the law. He is as outside the law as those who amassed their fortunes trafficking weapons, drugs and death in the Florida Strait and who were called “successful people” of in the speech by the non-president.
However, I have to put aside my anger, that damn anger. Patience! Patience, as the poet says; I need to pay attention to the offences of the non-president of the United States.
Pay attention not only to hunt the stupid things that provoke more despise than laughter, but also to weigh his threats. With so many years outside of the law, the administration of this Non-president can believe its lies. And what is worse, it can find inspiration in its early crimes, those that now flood with blood and chaos two other nations of the world, at least, which he ordered to invade, outside of the law.
This non-president came up with a bunch of lies, distorted much and was especially amoral in his final message to Cuba. One lucid American academic had said in advance with cutting irony that “given Bush’s deep knowledge of the history and reality of Cuba, he will surely announce the breaking off of diplomatic relations with Cuba.”
But there are other messages that have more credibility in his words: the millions of dollars that he says he will get from US citizens to subvert the order in Cuba. Instability is the main objective and the assignment given in advance to those he calls “the leaders of tomorrow” in his program completely outside the law. This is just what he has imposed wherever he has promised lasting freedom.
So nobody can take offence if —while we oil our rifles— we tell Bush to go to hell.