The Cuban Five exposes U.S. hypocrisy of the War on Terror
by Sabrina Johnson
“And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” This had been former President Bush’s declaration to the world after September 11th, 2001.
In actual fact, however, this administration has exposed the undeniable hypocrisy of its “War on Terror” by granting freedom and safe haven to Luis Posada Carriles who, along with Orlando Bosch (another terrorist who was pardoned by President Bush Sr.), masterminded the first act of aviation terrorism in this hemisphere in 1976. The mid-air explosion of a Cubana commercial airliner killed all 73 people aboard. He was arrested in Venezuela and he escaped from prison during the course of his trial.
Carriles was recruited by the CIA, trained in explosives at the School of the Americas and was involved in a multitude of terrorist operations, including Operation Condor and the Iran-Contra operation in Nicaragua. From 1967 to 1975 he also worked for the DISIP (Venezuelan Intelligence Service), organizing torture sessions of Venezuelan guerrillas. In 2000 he was arrested trying to assassinate Fidel Castro with C4 explosives found in his possession, while Castro was going to give a speech at the University of Panama and, thereby, endangering the lives of all those attending. Panama’s outgoing President then pardoned him just before relocating to Miami.
In 2005, Carriles was arrested for illegally entering the U.S., although a federal judge subsequently dismissed all the charges citing the government’s translator’s erroneous interpretation of Posada’s naturalization interview. Venezuela’s request to have him extradited has been denied and the Bush administration also refuses to refer to him as a terrorist, even though he is responsible for nearly 100 murders.
According to international law, if a country chooses not to extradite a terrorist, it has to try him under terrorist charges, in its own courts and this is something else that the U.S. has refused to do. By contrast, the U.S. government has had no problem incarcerating five Cuban men, who selflessly risked their lives by infiltrating well-documented terrorist groups, in order to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba and its people.
Gerardo Hernández, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and René Gonzalez (also referred to as the ‘Cuban 5’) have just begun serving their 10th year of imprisonment this past September 12th. They are very familiar with the effects of terrorism, considering that Cuba has been the target of constant terrorist attacks planned, financed and organized on U.S. soil by extreme right-wing Cuban-exile organizations, since 1959, which caused the deaths of 3478 people (including a resident of Montreal, Fabio de Celmo) and permanent injuries to 2099 persons.
Some of these attacks have consisted of: the burning of vast sugar cane and vegetable fields, attacks against the Cuban Consulate in New York, the Cuban Embassy in the Dominican Republic, the Cuban Ambassador to Haiti, the Cuban Consul in Miami, the offices of the ‘Revolución’, ‘La Calle’ and ‘Bohemia’ newspapers, the Cuban Embassy in Caracas, the Cuban Embassy in Peru, the National Revolutionary Police, hijacking of planes and boats, burning of schools, sabotage of factories, of drinking water reservoirs, of train tracks, aerial bombings of Cuban cities, attacks on civilians’ homes, bombing of a French transport ship in the Havana port (killing 101 and wounding more than 200), bombing of a supermarket, movie theatres and hotels, assassinations and the bombing in mid-air of a Cubana commercial airliner, killing all 73 civilians on board.
Sadly, this list is only an introduction of the years of terrorism suffered by the Cuban people at the hands of groups such as Commandos F4, Brigade 2506, CORU, CANF, MIRR, Omega 7 and Alpha 66, just to name a few. It should be noted that the assistance of U.S. authorities in prosecuting the individuals involved has been non-existent, though financial assistance provided by U.S. government agencies has often found its way to these terrorist organizations.
The Cuban Five posed no danger to the national security of the U.S. or to any individual. In fact, there were no weapons and not a single page of U.S. classified information found, at the time of their arrest. Nonetheless, they were arrested and placed in solitary confinement for 17 months. Everything that was seized as evidence, was immediately rendered ‘classified’ by the authorities and, as a result, the defence lawyers didn’t have access to most of the evidence while preparing the Five’s defence. The defence requested a change of venue, due to Miami’s rampant anti-Cuba political bias and this request was denied.
The actual terrorists were never arrested, even though Cuban authorities had provided the FBI with detailed information on these groups’ activities, samples of confiscated explosives, contact information, recorded conversations and more, some time prior to the Five’s arrest.
The Cuban Five were sentenced to a total of four life sentences plus 77 years, for “conspiracy to commit espionage” and “conspiracy to commit murder”, even though no proof was presented documenting either charge (for all the details on the case, see LINK). They have been serving their sentences in five different prisons scattered across the U.S., and the wives of René and Gerardo have not seen their husbands since their arrest, due to the U.S. continuously denying their visa requests to visit them.
For the first time in U.S. history, three appeals have been made and we are now awaiting the result of the third hearing, which took place this past August 20th. A press release from the Cuban 5’s defence shortly after the hearing stated:
“…the Defense, demonstrated irrefutably that the improper conduct of the Government during the entire legal process against the five constituted a flagrant violation of due process that influenced the entire proceeding…Other key arguments of the Defense that demonstrate the arbitrariness of the process is lack of evidence to sustain the two main accusations “conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree” and the imposition of completely irrational and unjustifiable life sentences…Throughout the tainted process the Government admitted that its real concern was to protect the anti-Cuban terrorist groups that operate with total immunity in Miami and to punish those who fight against them.”
One of the biggest difficulties has been getting the information out to the public, due to the media wall of silence around this case.
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