Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Miami Five

Not a mash-up of Hawaii-5-0 and CSI Miami but the five Cubans held in the United States for nothing more than informing the FBI of plans of terrorist attacks on Cuba.
The five are Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González.

This is the Miami 5 page from the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.
But instead of arresting the terrorists, the FBI used the information to identify and arrest the Five anti-terrorists on September 12, 1998 in Miami, where they were illegally held in solidarity confinement for 17 months.
A miscarriage of justice

The trial began in November 2000 in Miami, a hugely hostile environment where the anti-Castro Cuban-American community wields enormous political influence.

Defence attorneys’ motions for a change of venue were denied five times by the judge, although it was obvious that a fair trial was impossible in the city.

During the trial, the judge, prosecution and US government officials suppressed defence evidence and ensured key witnesses would not testify.

Despite intimidation of witnesses by the press and testimonies by prominent US officials that the Five had not accessed any classified documents, the jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict on all charges, without once seeking clarification of any evidence.

The Five were convicted on charges ranging from being foreign agents to conspiracy to commit murder, and sentenced to between fifteen years and double life.
For opposing terrorist acts on US soil the Miami Five were prosecuted in a strongly anti-Castro and anti-Cuban government city and given sentences of more than fifteen years with little chance of parole. That evokes mental pictures of justice dispensed by a bouncing kangaroo.

Cuba is not a socialist paradise. Amnesty International in its 2008 Report cited:
Restrictions on freedom of expression, association and movement remained severe. At least 62 prisoners of conscience remained imprisoned and political dissidents, independent journalists and human rights activists continued to be harassed, intimidated and detained.
Many of the dissidents were convicted of "social dangerousness" which is defined as "proclivity to commit a crime". This "crime" carries a sentence of up to four years in prison. Further penalties include “therapeutic treatment”, “re-education” or “surveillance by the Revolutionary National Police”.

All that stands against Cuba as a socialist Eden. Many things are good in Cuba: the increasing use of cooperative farms; the (albeit forced by circumstances) recycling of materials from cars to fridges. As the country moves from a central party dominated culture to trusting its people to act and work independently of the party things will improve.

The lifting of the embargo by the United States government will lessen the control over the economy of the party and government, giving more decisons to be made by the people of Cuba.

Free the Five!

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