The five Cuban revolutionaries—Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and René González—were arrested in 1998 and framed up on charges that included failure to register as an agent of a foreign government and various “conspiracy” charges. Fernando González is serving a 17-year prison term. All five received the maximum sentence for their convictions.
What the five were doing, Freijanes explained to the more than 80 people at the event, was monitoring counterrevolutionary groups in southern Florida that for decades have carried out attacks on Cuba and supporters of the Cuban Revolution and enjoy tacit backing from Washington.
Freijanes pointed to the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane that killed 73 people as an example in a long list of violent counterrevolutionary actions against Cuba.
The legal appeals in the case of the five are almost exhausted, she explained. “We’ll continue with legal steps, but you can’t have confidence in the courts of the United States.
“The way toward winning freedom for the five is through a political struggle, including actions in the streets,” she said. “We have to take the case to those who can really fight, to workers everywhere, the ones who suffer the most, who are fighting against abuses. It’s working people who have the experience, and the resources, for this struggle.
“It was millions who demanded freedom for Nelson Mandela. We Cubans were part of that struggle. And we are proud of that,” Freijanes added.
Appearing on a panel along with Freijanes were Gloria Verdieu of the San Diego Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal; Cristina Vázquez, international vice president of Workers United; and Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist and Peace and Freedom Party vice-presidential candidate. Alicia Jrapko, coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, chaired the meeting.
The program included an excerpt from the documentary film Esencias about the tour of the U.S. by the National Children’s Theatre of Cuba, La Colmenita. The clip from the film showed a meeting of the children with René González, the only one of the five who has been released from prison. González has been prevented from returning to Cuba, forced to serve a three-year term of “supervised release” in the U.S.
Meanwhile, attorney Martin Garbus filed Aug. 20 a 90-page brief in Federal District Court in Miami calling for the conviction of Hernández—sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years on charges that include conspiracy to gather and transmit national defense information and conspiracy to commit murder—to be overturned. Garbus joined the Cuban Five’s legal team in April.
The brief details a secret campaign organized by the U.S. government to fund Miami-area journalists, to the tune of millions of dollars, to flood the local media with stories critical of the five between 1998 and 2001. The campaign by Washington “violated the integrity of the trial,” the brief states.
Cuba 1959: revolutionary tribunals brought justice
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