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The Cuban Five: Heroes who deserve to be Free

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By Nicolas Mottas and Myrsini Tsakiri.

Since 1998, a shameful injustice takes place in Florida. We are referring to the case of five Cuban men who remain, since then, imprisoned in Miami. Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Rene Gonzalez, and Fernando Gonzalez were arrested by the U.S. authorities which accussed them of conspiracy to commit espionage and murder. Last month, on the 9th of October - 44 years since Che Guevara's murder by C.I.A.'s Bolivian puppets - Rene Gonzalez was released from a jail in Marianna, Florida. He is the only one of the five that has been released after 13 years of unjust imprisonment. But still, Gonzalez has no right to return to Cuba and will continue to be under a supervised freedom for the next three years.

The innocence of the Five Cubans has been thoroughly explained by their lawyers as well as by the numerous movements which have been created in support of them around the world. While these men have been deprived of their freedom, we should point out the following:

1. It has been clearly and undoubtedly supported that the imprisoned five men were involved in monitoring the actions of Miami-based terrorist groups, in order to prevent terrorist attacks on their country. However, the U.S. authorities have their own meaning of the word "Terrorism": it is an action that it directed against U.S. interests - but when the U.S. exercise terrorism against other nations it is called "preventive action". For at least 40 years, Florida has been the base of anti-Castro terrorist groups (created by both Americans and exile Cubans) which have engaged in numerous attacks against the island. It is estimated that in a period of four decades around 3,000 Cubans have died as a result of such terrorist actions.

Since the overthrow of the US-backed Batista dictatorship by Fidel Castro's rebels in 1959, Washington has launched a series of attacks in order to topple Havana's government and terrorize the Cubans. After the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion, an operation known as Operation Mongoose (under the approval of President J.F.Kennedy) employed a combination of psychological warfare, sabotage and political propaganda against Castro. The renowned MIT Professor and thinker Noam Chomsky has written extensively about it, adding that Cuba faces a "near half-Century of Terror".

In one of the most notorious terrorist actions, on October 6, 1976, C.I.A. agent Orlando Bosch carried out the bombing of the Cubana 455 flight from Barbados to Kingston, Jamaica. The result was 73 dead passengers. On the same year, two Cuban fishing vessels were attacked by armed men who had sailed from Miami. The list of attacks that have been planned by anti-Communist terrorist organizations based in Florida is huge. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the definite end of the Cold War period, since 1991, the U.S. enmity against Cuba became even bigger: from assassination plots against Fidel Castro's life to bombing attacks and virus transmissions in Cuban territory.

2. Florida, the State where the five Cubans were arrested and finally imprisoned, has been a notorious refuge for anti-Cuban criminals. It is characteristic that one of the most dangerous terrorists in the American continent, C.I.A. agent Luis Possada Carilles, enjoys freedom and protection in Florida. Carilles is the mastermind behind many terrorist activities against Cuba, including six bombing attacks in Havana during 1997. He admitted to receiving funds from the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF), a highly controversial lobbyist organization of Cuban exiles based in the United States. Carilles is not alone. Orlando Bosch, the terrorist behind the 1976 Cubana 455 flight bombing, enjoyed freedom in Florida until his death last April. U.S. authorities also turn a blind eye to the activities of terrorist gang organizations, such as Alpha 66 and Brothers to the Rescue (Hermanos al Rescate), which - coincidentally - are based in Miami and its surroundings.

3. The actions of the Five Cubans were never directed at the U.S. government or the American people. It has been clear that they never harmed anyone nor ever possessed nor used any weapons while in the United States. However, the judicial system of the U.S. decided to put them in jail, to deprive them from freedom and to humiliate them  because they performed surveillance for Cuba. They were sentenced to four life terms and 75 years in December 2001 in a trial-witchhunt that took place in Miami. Former U.S. National Security Advisor Robert Alan Pastor noted that "holding a trial for five Cuban intelligence agents in Miami is about as fair as for an Israeli intelligence agent in Tehran". In 2009 their sentences were reduced but the U.S. Supreme Court has denied review of their cases despite increasing international pressure.

4. In one more case, the U.S. government has decided to close it's ears to the international community. Voices in favor of the five Cubans are becoming louder but Washington refuses to listen. In 2005, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted a report which states that the trial "did not take place in the climate of objectivity and impartiality that is required in order to conform to the standards of a fair trial as defined in article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the United States of America is a party," Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Opinion No.19/2005. Numerous organizations, including Amnesty International and the National Conference of U.S. lawyers have asked for investigations into the trial of the Five and the conditions of their imprisonment. Eight Nobel Prize winners, numerous politicians and parliamentarians from around the world, thinkers, academics and human rights activists have supported the requests.

Contrary to every democratic right, the U.S. continue to keep the five Cuban imprisoned and, sometimes, alienated from their families. It is not the first time that the superpower acts with prejudice and arrogance. It is another example of the imperialist stance towards a proud nation; it proves how correct Castro's words are: "the imperial tyranny will not be able to maintain its vulgar lies about the injustice committed against the Five Cuban anti-terrorist Heroes" he wrote last October in one of his Reflexiones.

Indeed. The freedom of Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Rene Gonzalez, and Fernando Gonzalez will be a sign that Imperialism is not unbeatable. The five heroic Cubans are fighting State terrorism and we have the moral responsibility to stand firmly on their side.

* Nicolas Mottas (BA Political Science, MA Diplomacy, MSc CR & Mediation) is a freelance writer; founder and administrator of 'Guevaristas', the first Greek website dedicated to the Argentine marxist revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara. * Myrsini Tsakiri is the founder and editor-in-chief of the blog 'Sierra Maestra', the most comprehensive Greek site about Cuba and Latin America. 


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Aris Claras is a writer based in Greece.

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