Supporters Mobilize For ‘The Last Chance’ To Win Leonard Peltier’s Freedom

Source: Popular Resistance
July 8 2016

By Joe Catron,


Leonard Peltier 1‘I believe that this President is my last hope for freedom, and I will surely die here if I am not released by January 20, 2017,’ the imprisoned American Indian Movement activist wrote last month.

free leonard peltier

NEW YORK — As President Barack Obama’s final term in office draws to a close, supporters of imprisoned American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier are escalating their demands for his release through executive clemency.

“Since Obama will be in office less than a year, in the coming months, Leonard’s supporters plan to work as hard as possible to get the president’s attention and ask for clemency,” Maggie Tobin, a member of NYC Free Peltier, told MintPress News.

Peltier, a member of the Anishinabe, Dakota, and Lakota nations, has been imprisoned by the United States since his extradition from Canada in 1976.

In 1977, a federal court convicted him of two counts of first­ degree murder in the deaths of two FBI agents in a shootout on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1975.

Numerous irregularities

The clash followed AIM’s occupation of the Pine Ridge town of Wounded Knee, the site of an 1890 massacre by the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Regiment, in 1973.

Lakota elders had invited AIM onto the reservation in response to repression from a tribal government supportive of uranium mining in the area. After the 1973 occupation, more than 60 residents had been killed, many allegedly by the Guardians of the Oglala Nation, or “GOONS,” a tribal paramilitary that received both weapons and intelligence on AIM activists from the FBI.

Peltier’s prosecution was marked by numerous irregularities. Myrtle Poor Bear, whose affidavits the FBI used to secure Peltier’s extradition, later recanted her testimony, including claims that she had been Peltier’s girlfriend, saying she had never met him and her signature had been coerced.

FBI threatens witnesses, evidence withheld

Similarly, multiple witnesses at the trial later said the FBI had used threats to force them to testify. Nevertheless, none of them identified Peltier as the shooter.

After a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealed that U.S. Attorneys had withheld over 140,000 pages of evidence, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled: “There is a possibility that the jury would have acquitted Leonard Peltier had the records and data improperly withheld from the defense been available to him in order to better exploit and reinforce the inconsistencies casting strong doubts upon the government’s case.”

But it refused to grant his request for a new trial.

‘This might be the last chance we have’

Since 1976, supporters ranging from Amnesty International, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights to Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama have called for Peltier’s release.

Now, at 71 years old and in his 40th year of imprisonment, many consider Peltier one of the world’s longest­ held political prisoners.

Thousands rallied outside the United Nations in New York

In December 2000, thousands rallied outside the United Nations in New York, calling for then-­outgoing President Bill Clinton to grant Peltier executive clemency.

Instead, Clinton used his final hours in office to sign pardons for figures like fugitive Marc Rich, an operative for Israel’s Mossad spy agency wanted by the U.S. on charges including racketeering, tax evasion and wire fraud. Rich’s wife Denise had donated more than $1 million to Democrats during the Clinton administration, including Hillary Clinton’s first Senate campaign months earlier, as well as $450,000 to the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.

With Peltier facing multiple health issues — most recently an abdominal aortic aneurysm diagnosed in January, many fear any further delays in his release could effectively sentence him to death behind bars.

Peltier’s poor health

“Leonard’s health, as with so many in prison, has been poor for years: diabetes, high blood pressure, a stroke a few years ago,” Tobin, of NYC Free Peltier, said. “Now there is a crisis.”

Peltier’s “health is rapidly deteriorating,” Percy Lujan told MintPress.

Lujan, a student organizer based in New York, worked with a national coalition of student groups to hold a national day of action to free Peltier on Feb. 27.

“The federal government insists on keeping him locked up in a maximum security prison,” he said. “This year might be the last chance we have to get clemency for Peltier.”

‘My last hope for freedom’

A year of actions for Peltier’s freedom

On Feb. 6, 40 years after Peltier’s capture in Canada, NYC Free Peltier and other local groups launched a year of actions for Peltier’s freedom with a gathering inside the 1199SEIU Healthcare Workers East hall.

New York City Students for Justice in Palestine chair Nerdeen Kiswani speaks at a New York rally for Leonard Peltier on February 6, 2016.

The event, part of a international day of solidarity coordinated by the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, drew hundreds of supporters from black, Puerto Rican, Palestinian, and other local organizations.

As the year presses onward, and the end of Obama’s second term draws perilously close, supporters are sending thousands of postcards to the White House.

Use of social media

On the sixth of each month, social media users flood their Twitter timelines, as well as White House telephones and e­mail accounts, with appeals for Peltier’s freedom.

Starting July 13, Peltier’s son Chauncey, a retired construction worker and motorcycle enthusiast, will lead a 10-day, cross­-country “Freedom Ride” from Banks, Oregon, culminating in a rally in Washington, D.C.

And as university classes resume in the fall, many campuses will host activities to raise awareness about Peltier and build pressure for his release.

Continue to organize public support

“As the last remaining months of President Obama’s term pass by, my anxiety increases,” Peltier wrote in a message to his supporters on June 26.

Students and other supporters rally for Leonard Peltier outside the National Museum of the American Indian in New York on February 26, 2016.

“I believe that this President is my last hope for freedom, and I will surely die here if I am not released by January 20, 2017. So I ask you all again, as this is the most crucial time in the campaign to gain my freedom, please continue to organize public support for my release, and always follow the lead of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee.”

While organized activities are helpful, Tobin said, individual supporters can also take action themselves.

“What everyone everywhere can and should do is continue to contact the White House,” she said. “Phone, email, and tweet the White House, comment on the president’s Facebook page ­­– do that often. But above all, write letters. Signing petitions and form letters is helpful, but writing your own personal, heartfelt letter is one of the best ways to help.”

St. Lucia: Shouting for Freedom from the top of the mountain

“Arriving at the top of this volcanic sculpture, we read about the lives of our heroes and spoke about their release and return to Cuba.  The Five Cuban Heroes have carved out and left for history to recall an unforgettable page of sacrifice along with dozens of pictures and memories.”

atop gros piton 2On Saturday, September 6, members of the Cuban Medical Brigade in Santa Lucia, along with the Cuban Diplomatic Mission, the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and St Lucian friends participated in a day of celebration as part of the campaign for the release of our Five Heroes unjustly imprisoned by the American empire.

atop gros piton 3The main activity for the day was the climbing of the Gros Piton in Soufriere which was Continue reading

The Cuban Five: 16 Years of Unjust Imprisonment

They risked their lives to fight against terrorism, why are they in prison?

Free the Cuban Five Now!! 

Show your support for the Cuban Five

Cuban Five Three left to goFriday, Sept. 12 marks 16 years since Gerardo, Antonio, Ramón, Fernando, and René were arrested in Miami and thrown into solitary confinement. 16 years since they began the wait for their unfair trial held in the city of Miami, and even more unfair by virtue of secret government payments to journalists writing articles to inflame passions against Cuba and the Five. René and Fernando are back in Cuba now, but only because they finished serving their unjust sentences, not out of any sense of compassion or justice on the part of Barack Obama or his predecessors. It is up to us to intensify the pressure to free Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio.

Events have been scheduled in numerous cities in the U.S. and around the world. Check our calendar 

for the latest updates. As of now we know of the following events in the U.S. and Canada (you’ll find full details in the calendar

In New York, NY, supporters of the Five will hold a picket at the Federal Building on Friday. Other events for the Five are scheduled in New York for the weeks following weeks, including a film showing and a letter-writing evening.

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They deserve medals of honor: Activities in September in support of the Cuban 5

September Activities in Washington D.C. and San Francisco to Mark the 16th Anniversary of the Arrest of the Cuban 5

five cuban heroes 12 From September 12 to October 8, supporters of the Cuban 5 will be organizing activities in cities all over the world and in the United States to bring attention to their 16 years of cruel imprisonment.

While Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez are back in Cuba after serving their entire sentences, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero remain in U.S. Prisons. These three men are paying a high price for defending their country against terrorism. Instead of the continuation of their imprisonment they deserve to receive medals of honor for their actions. It is long overdue for President Obama to negotiate in good faith with Cuba to reach a humanitarian solution to this case and allow them to return to their loved ones.

nullThe International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 is returning to Washington D.C. after 5 days of activities for the Five in June. Members of the Committee, other solidarity friends and personalities will visit Capitol Hill to follow up on their June visits and organize other activities, including a rally in front of the White House and a Public Forum. Also in San Francisco, CA the committee is organizing a Bicycle Ride in Support of the Cuban 5.


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US Art Collector Dedicates Exhibit to the Cuban Five

July 18. 2014

Source:  Cuban News Agency

Brownstone support the FiveA visual arts collection entitled “My Love for Arts, My Love for Cuba,” was inaugurated on Thursday in Havana as a donation by US collector Gilbert Brownstone in tribute to the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, who were arrested in 1998 in the United States.

The Five represent social justice for Cuba and the world; they have been deprived of their freedom because they fought terrorism in the entrails of the monster,” said Brownstone as he recalled a statement by Cuban National Hero Jose Marti about his exile in the United States which said “I have lived in the monster and I have known its entrails.”

In the presence of Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, the only two of the five men who have returned to Cuba after they served their unfair sentences in US jails, the collector said that he was privileged to have met the relatives of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters.

The remaining three: Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero are still held in US prisons despite a  huge international campaign for their release.

During the inauguration of the exhibit at the Jose Marti Memorial, the president of the National Council of Visual Arts, Ruben del Valle, said that the collection of so many works of art will be displayed until August 17.

The collection includes works by Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Lindner, Andre Masson and other outstanding artists, which Gilbert donated to Cuba.

In September 2011 Brownstone visited Gerardo in the Victorville maximum security prison in California, to offer his support and solidarity.  Below is a report of this visit.

Gilbert Brownstone visits Gerardo in prison, says he exudes strength Continue reading

Release of Cuban Five Demanded at FIFA World Cup

Source:  Release of Cuban Five Demanded in FIFA World Cup

Porto Alegre, Brazil Jun 27 2014.-

five cuban heroes 13In the midst of the World Cup, Brazilians today demanded the release of the Cuban Five, who remain imprisoned in the United States for preventing military actions against Cuba.

The members of the José Martí Cultural Association of Rio Grande do Sul took advantage of the presence of fans from various countries to distribute pamphlets and expose arbitrary reasons given to put Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino and René González in jail in 1998.

The Association called for the release of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio, who are still unjustly serving in the United States, as Fernando and René returned to Cuba after fully serving their sentences.
five cuban heroes 12Football fans from Brazil and other countries such as Honduras, Canada, Nigeria, South Korea, Australia, United States, France and Holland received information about manipulations and irregularities in the processes to condemn the Cuban Five, as they are known worldwide.

The Association also asked the support of everyone to send letters for U.S. President Barack Obama to use his constitutional prerogatives to free Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio, who were condemned for defending their country from terrorist actions prepared from Miami, Florida.

Similar actions were held in Rio de Janeiro, where the city’s Committee to Free the Cuban Five placed posters on the sidewalk of Copacabana condemning their severe sentences and asking their return home.

UN: Special Committee on Decolonization Supports Puerto Rico’s “Inalienable Right To Self-Determination”

Source: Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Special Committee on Decolonization

4th & 5th Meetings (AM & PM)



Speakers Call on United States to ‘End Subjugation’, Release Political Prisoners

The Special Committee on Decolonization today called on the United States to again expedite a process that would allow the people of Puerto Rico to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence, as well as take decisions, in a sovereign manner, to address their economic and social needs.

By a resolution approved by consensus, the Committee would have the General Assembly urge the United States to complete the return of occupied land and installations on Vieques Island and in Ceiba to Puerto Rico, respect fundamental human rights and cover the costs of decontaminating areas previously used in military exercises.

Also by the text, the Special Committee — formally known as the Special Committee on the Situation with Regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples — would have the Assembly reiterate its request to release Oscar López Rivera and Norberto Gonzalez Claudio.  Both individuals were political prisoners serving sentences in the United States for cases relating to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence.  The text also expressed concern about the actions carried out against Puerto Rican independence fighters and encouraged an investigation of those actions.

The Assembly, by other terms, would reaffirm the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence, and reiterate that the Puerto Rican people constituted a Latin American and Caribbean nation with its own unequivocal national identity.

Cuba’s representative, introducing the text, said it reflected the international community’s urgent call to end the colonial status of Puerto Rico, which had been unable to exercise its right to self-determination and independence, despite 32 previous resolutions.  In addition, he said, Puerto Ricans had rejected the current status of political subordination in November 2012.

Iran’s representative, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, supported the right of Puerto Ricans to self-determination and independence on the basis of General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV).

Throughout the day, nearly 50 petitioners outlined their views on Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States, which many stressed must change drastically to ensure a better future for the island’s 3.2 million inhabitants.

Several reaffirmed the applicability of resolution 1514 (XV) — the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples — and of the Special Committee’s 32 resolutions on Puerto Rico’s situation.  The self-determination process did not require United States congressional approval, they said, and that country should cooperate with Puerto Ricans to design a decolonization mechanism.

Many petitioners argued for Puerto Rico’s independence.  Wilma E. Reveron Collazo, Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano, said Puerto Rico’s sovereignty had been illegally taken over by the United States.  It was a Latin American and Caribbean country that must participate fully in the United Nations.  The Legislator had put forward bills to convene a constitutional assembly — an independent body of elected representatives who would draft or adopt a constitution — which would guarantee the start of a self-determination process.  People must be educated about their decolonization options, and efforts should be supervised by the Special Committee.

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Ramón : “I did what’s right and have never endangered anyone.”

ramon y family cuban five

That’s the assertion of Hero of the Cuban Republic Ramón Labañino Salazar who was unjustly sentenced to 30 years in prison that he is serving in a federal prison in Kentucky, in the United States. Now 51 years of age, he was 35 years old when they arrested them that early morning on September 12, 1998.

Author: Deisy Francis Mexidor, June 9, 2014.

Ramón entered with his hand held high as a victory symbol

That day in September, 2009 when they proceeded to re-sentence him in Miami, in the United States, Ramón Labañino Salazar, who was still carrying a life sentence plus 18 years in prison, entered the judicial chamber with his hands held high, as a victory symbol.

Glancing around, he looked at all those present in the audience until he found his beloved Elizabeth. He smiled at her as if he were the happiest of mortals and with his look covered her with kisses. It was a fleeting moment but at the same time almost eternal.

There were so many things being said at that moment! It was just like the one that happened later when he learned that his new sentence, no less unjust, would remove 30 years of physical liberty from his life. Then too his captors couldn’t lock up his soul and spirit.

I am by nature an optimist

“I am by nature an optimistic man,” confessed Labañino, one of five Cuban anti-terrorists sentenced to long terms in U. S. prisons.

In response to a questionnaire, the Hero of the Republic of Cuba pointed out that, “I have always found reasons for taking a positive point of view of everything happening around me, including the fights, the injustices, and the hard things one lives with and sees in prison. He shares that title with his comrades Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González. (The last two are now in Cuba but not before they satisfied all sanctions against them.)

The Five are brothers in  the same struggle, although they are confined in prisons far apart from each other. They took to using “us” instead of “I” and what was important for one took on a collective nature. They did this from the beginning and every time a message arrives from them, the farewell invariably finishes with “five hugs.” That’s how Ramón ended these replies sent from the penitentiary in Ashland, Kentucky.

He graduated with top academic recognition from the University of Havana

The son of Nereyda Salazar Verduy (deceased) and Holmes Labañino Cantillo, Ramón was born June 9, 1963, in the Havana district of Marianao. He graduated with top academic recognition, qualifying in economics at the University of Havana.

His greatest treasures are the daughters he adores, Aili (from his first marriage) Laura, and Lizbeth, as he tirelessly repeats.  When he left home to work abroad, precisely in February, 1992, Elizabeth Palmeiro, his wife, was barely eight weeks pregnant with Laura. He could not enjoy that period or the arrival into the world of Lizbeth whom he only came to know in February, 1997, just after she was born.

His comings and goings in and out of the country and then prison made it so that despite being married for 23 years, Ramón and Elizabeth have only lived together, without being apart, for barely two years. They’ve been separated the rest of the time.

Nevertheless, they built a family together, and she, behind the lines, waits for him dealing with the family project that came about despite obstacles. There they are, “his beautiful women,” as he proudly says.

Question – How does a man succeed in overcoming great adversities? Where does one find such strength?

Answer – Above all, when one is convinced that what he is doing is always correct, just, and legal, that one defends a humane cause, that one has never put anybody or any thing in danger, and that, on the contrary, he has sacrificed everything for the common good, for people’s lives – innocent people – then those ideas themselves lend enormous force of will and persistence against all adversities and “adversaries.” The fight is just. Victory will indeed have to be sweet.

Q. – What do you recall about Ramón as a boy and young university student?

A.  I think I am an eternal child. That’s what my wife Elizabeth, my daughters, and whoever knows me say. I don’t know if that will always be true, or if they say it through the love they show me, but I do believe I’ve never lost (nor ever will) that youthful, smiling, cheerful, and optimistic spirit that helps one so much to live and struggle. I was that way as a child: smiley and very timid, very much so, I would say. And I always was enthralled by studying and doing sports.

I remember from childhood that my little sister Laide began calling me “Papi.” I think that was because I took care of her a lot, and my mother instilled in us the idea that the family’s oldest brother is like a second father. And I think I accepted that role quite seriously, so much so that even today, many call me “Papi.” And that’s something my daughters resent, because they want to be the only ones saying that to me, but they know very well that I am the unique, the one and only “Papi,” from the soul to infinity, and that’s important.

I really enjoyed my university years. As I said, studying and doing sports captivated me, and I could do both there fully. Also I was a student assistant in statistical mathematics beginning with the second year of the course. Sometimes I gave review courses and classes to comrades in the lower years or in our own year. It’s something I always liked a lot, teaching. I could practice judo and karate in the university, which was my dream in sports. It was a period of learning, but above all of growth. It helped me a lot in my formation and in my convictions in every sense, something for which I am infinitely grateful to Cuba, to our Revolution, to our socialist system.

Q. – Do they see you as the big one of the group?

A.  That’s one point of view of those who see me. I don’t see myself as strong, rather I work to be “considered” thin. Of course, that continually costs me much effort to believe it myself. I do sports for pleasure, also because I need to get rid of so much stress, and because I feel much better and useful after each workout. I try to keep myself healthy in spite of the heartaches, since it’s our way of fighting and overcoming, of not letting ourselves fall apart or be destroyed. Now I myself am doing weights and long walks inside the prison, some handball, a lot of chess. That makes me feel healthy, vital, and ready for everyday struggles and ones in the future that surely will come.

Q. – Who did you want to resemble?

A.   I myself sought guidance through example from the great ones, not to be them, since it’s impossible to attain icon status. But I have greatly admired and would try to be like Che, like our immortal Antonio Maceo, like José Martí, like Fidel, like Raúl, like Bolívar, like Sucre, and now a lot like our Hugo Chávez. They are in essence my everyday examples. I would be very pleased, simply, to be like every man who has decency and honor, but that would make this list too extensive.

 Q. – Could you let us know what you like by way of reading – historical personalities, fiction, [even television] series…?

A. – I am going to reduce the list to five for each category. I don’t want to bore you or be too exhaustive, but, look, among my favorite readings are: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” by Gabriel García Márquez; “The Kingdom of this World,” by Alejo Carpentier: “Simple Verses,” by José Martí; and “The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende.

From television series I can name “In Silence It Had to Be” and “Julito the Fisherman,” two excellent Cuban productions; and from another area – adventures – where I saw “The Commandos of Silence.” And I take the occasion to ask why they don’t make new versions of all these series on Cuban television. As to films, I point to “Strawberry and Chocolate” and ‘Undercover” (“Clandestinos”), where our much-admired Isabel Santos took the lead role.

In regard to fictitious characters, there are these: Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, David in “In Silence It Had to Be,” interpreted by the late actor Sergio Corrieri; “Julito the Fisherman,” immortalized by René de la Cruz; and Bruce Lee in some of his films on martial arts, to mention a few.

Historical figures that I feel are examples for imitation are: Simón Bolívar, Ernesto Che Guevara, Antonio Maceo, José Martí, and Fidel Castro.

P. – They arrested you when you were 35 years old. What is your concept of time?

A.   Time is a relative concept. If I think about myself, I think time does not pass. When I think of my daughters becoming women, when I look into the eyes of my beloved Eli, time becomes infinite for me, cruel, implacable. On that score, I go back to another time, one of laughter and joys, of return and happiness, to the precious time of our future, free in Cuba – and with that (my optimism), I stop. You already know I am a huge optimist, that I am going to remain that way, and so I am happy.

P. – Imagine you are a poet improviser and they give you a “forced foot” that says, “…I am this kind of guy.” (1)

I am this kind of guy
exactly how you see him
not right not wrong
simple, no frenzy.
With Cuba free I learned
That the way is to love struggle
And this threatening fight today
Is for the truth I knew
And I will continue being like this,
A simple guy with decency
That is worth much more than gold,
One who is honored to die as I lived.

Q. – If you close your eyes now, what do you see?

A.  I see Cuba, a beach blue, clean, and dazzling. I see Eli, my daughters, all my family, my people. I see laughter, joy, eternity. That way I make my freedom tangible and real. And I know it’s certain.

(1) A “forced foot” (pie forzada) is a usually ten-line bit of improvised poetry that must end with a proposed verse, or as with Ramon, begin with it.

Translated by W. T.  Whitney Jr.  for

Source:  “I did what’s right and have never endangered anyone.”

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We are here today to demand the release of our Heroes . . . Cuban Ambassador to Jamaica

jcfa 7 rally for the 5 2014 crJune 11, 2014
Kingston, Jamaica

Remarks by the Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba, Mr. Bernardo Hernandez, to the rally 5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Kingston, Jamaica

Ladies and Gentleman:

Hundreds gathered outside the White House Saturday to demand the immediate release of the remaining Cuban Five who have been held in US prisons for more than 16 years.

rally in front of the white house june 2014

The protesters descended on Washington DC from all over the world to stand in solidarity with the Cuban people and to ask President Obama to release the Cuban heroes who were wrongly imprisoned for defending themselves and trying to protect Cuba from US-backed terrorism against their homeland.

Chanting for justice and freedom, the protesters marched from the White House to the Department of Justice for the 3rd annual Five Days for the Cuban Five.

Five days for the five June 2013 1

Over 6,000 intellectuals and artists from around the world have voiced their support for the Cuban Five and their release, including former US President James Carter who has said, “I believe that there is no reason to keep the Cuban Five imprisoned.”

We are here today to join all the people demanding the release of our Heroes, kept imprisoned in the United States in spite of the universal clamour for justice in this case.

3,478 Cubans have been killed and 2,099 injured due to terrorist attacks

In September 1998, five Cuban men were arrested in Miami by FBI agents and kept in isolation cells for 17 months before their case was even brought before a court. Their mission in the United States was monitoring the activities of the groups and organizations responsible of terrorist activities against Cuba.

cubana bombing victimsNote that terrorist attacks against Cuba have killed 3,478 people and injured 2,099 due to the plots carried out by these paramilitary Miami groups. But instead of arresting the perpetrators of violence, the U.S. government arrested and prosecuted the Cuban Five, trying them in a Miami court where it was impossible for the Five to properly defend themselves against the virulent anti-Cuba atmosphere of that city (Photo:  Some of the victims of the bombing of the Cubana airline on October 6, 1976).

The U.S. government knew that the Five were in the United States monitoring the actions of terrorist Cuban exile organizations that operate with impunity against the people of Cuba. It was fully aware that the men had no weapons and had never harmed any individual.

The trial, which lasted over six months, from November 26, 2000 to June 8, 2001, became the longest trial that the United States had known until then. Near the trial’s conclusion, when the case was about to be presented to the jury for its consideration, the US government recognized in writing that it had failed to prove the main charge of conspiracy to commit murder against Gerardo Hernández.

Covert payment of prominent Miami journalists

The jury nonetheless found the Five guilty of all charges, under intense pressure brought to bear on them by the local media.

What the Cuban Five and their attorneys did not know during trial was that the U.S. government —through its official propaganda agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors— was covertly paying prominent Miami journalists who, at the same time as the government conducted its prosecution, saturated the Miami media with reports that were highly inflammatory and prejudicial to the Cuban Five. The Five were not only victims of a politically-motivated prosecution, but a government-funded propaganda operation as well.

Found guilty, the Five were given unprecedented long sentences:  a total of 4 life terms plus 77 years and imprisoned in five completely separate maximum security prisons, without any communication between them.

The charges of conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to commit murder represented for three of them life sentences, being the first people ever to be sentenced to life imprisonment for espionage in the United States in a case where no secret document was ever handled.

Unconstitutional violations

In analyzing the case, it is clearly realized that unconstitutional violations of “due process” and United States judicial precedents were committed.

–              The Five were arrested violently and without notice;

–              They were jailed for a tremendously long time before being brought to trial;

–              Severe penalties were imposed in prison, even without having violated any of the                rules of the current prison system in that country;

Tests were manipulated and violated the obligation that weighed on the Prosecutor to communicate to the other party and make available to the defence evidence allegedly possessed on the responsibilities of the defendants.

Despite incredible cruelty by prison and U.S. officers, the Five have stayed strong and maintained their principled stance of the right to defend their people from terrorist violence.

From Clinton to Bush to Obama, U.S. administrations have kept the Cuban Five imprisoned. But a spirited movement of supporters has arisen in the United States and worldwide, demanding the freedom of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio.

Only a jury of millions will bring us home

We would like to emphasize our clamour for their freedom, to return to their homeland, to embrace their families, to stand securely with fellow citizens in enjoyment of their national achievements and in defence of our independence.

five cuban heroes 12

After serving in U.S. prisons the sentence imposed by a Miami Court, René González returned to his homeland, Cuba, in October 2012. He is still considered as one of the Five and he wants to be seen like that. He has also stated that he will continue to fight for the freedom of his three brothers.

Fernando González Llort, one of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, was recently released after having served fifteen years in a U.S. prison. Fernando returned to Cuba on February 28 as a deportee and was handcuffed during the whole flight to his motherland. Upon arrival, he announced that he would join the struggle for the release of his brothers Gerardo, Antonio and Ramón.

The traditional ties of brotherhood between Cuba and the Caribbean islands are reflected today in a strong solidarity movement with Cuba and the Five. There are seventy-seven friendship groups in nineteen Caribbean countries and fifteen independent committees for the release of the Five.

We believe that this is a crucial moment and we join the struggle to achieve freedom for the Cuban Five. In the words of Gerardo Hernández: “Only a jury of millions will bring us home.”

The struggle will continue until the remaining Five Heroes are free and in our homeland.

Thank you very much for your solidarity.

Freedom for the Cuban Five!

Jamaica-Cuba Solidarity Network: Free the Cuban Five

jcfa 5 rally for the 5 204 crWednesday 11th June 2014, saw Jamaicans, Cuban embassy staff and collaboration workers, member of the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan diplomatic community joined in solidarity with the international campaign of 5 days for the Cuban 5, with a rally Kingston.

The rally which coincided with other activities that were being staged world-wide, heard solidarity messages from the  ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, The  president of the Jamaica Cuba Friendship Association and the General Secretary of the Peoples National Party (PNP) and the head of the Cuban Medical Team .

jcfa 2 rally for the 5 2014 pbIn delivering the key-note message, Cuban Ambassador Bernardo Guanche, traced the genesis and the development of the struggle to free the Cuban 5 and pointed to the need for the campaign to free the three other Cuban brothers who are still being held in USA prisons namely Antonio, Gerardo and Ramon, to be focused on the United States of America mainland where the authority to release them ultimately reside.

Our efforts he noted, should be to try  engage the diaspora where they can engage their political and civil society representatives to champion the cause of the 5 and to assist in breaking the ‘ veil of silence’ that continues to plague this case, especially from US corporate media.

jcfa 3 rally for the 5 2014 crCreative means will have to be found to bring the case of the Cuban 5 to the attention of the American people who are starved of information on this case which is in its 16th year but which has generated world-wide condemnation for its illegality and the severity of its sentencing.

A video celebrating the struggle of the 5 ended the evening’s activities which was chaired by Dr. Neville Graham, one of the first Jamaicans to have benefited from the Jamaica Cuba Medical Scholarship Programme.  (Photos:  Top: Neville Graham; Middle:  Paul Burke; Bottom:  Lorenzo Gordon)

Source:  Jamaica Cuba Friendship Association