Globe, Human Rights, Latin America, Politiks

‘The Miami Five’, 15 years of life imprisonment

They were given the mission to discover any possible attacks against Cuba, but they were arrested by the FBI for conspiracy with Mafia terrorists. Their hands are free of blood, but they are serving life imprisonment.

 

 Los 5 Un cuarto 08O. Briasco

 

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González are valiantly fighting a sentence that has separated them from their loved ones. A punishment that has exalted them to hero status.

Their crime was to defend the country in which they were born and that today mourns their absence. A punishment born from their decision to travel to the United States to monitor criminal plans that had been devised by extremist groups of Cuban origins.

Los 5 Un cuarto 06The Miami Five, as they are known, went to Florida to stop the plans that had been organised, financed and undertaken against the Caribbean nation. Their mission was to compile information about future terrorist acts against Cuba.

To be more precise, they had to investigate the activities of organisations such as the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), the Cuban Liberty Council (CLC), Brothers to the Rescue, Democracy Movement and Alpha 66.

According to the website www.freeforfive.org, among the terrorist activities of those groups, they have included sabotages and attacks against Cuba, they have also been attributed to the murders of thousands of people and have been blamed for the smuggling of weapons, drugs and people.

Los 5 Un cuarto 10Likewise, it is also said that the terrorists have hatched hundreds of plans to attempt to assassinate the Cuban president Fidel Castro and conducted terrorist activities on US territory and in third world countries.

To obtain that information The Five managed to infiltrate the organisation Brothers to the Rescue. Their diligent work allowed them to hand over numerous documents, videos, and cassette tapes to the FBI that was evidence of several years of terrorist activities against revolutionary Cuba.

However, unexpectedly, they were arrested in Miami on the 12th of September 1998 during an operation by the FBI. The North American authorities accused them of conspiring against Americans through espionage activities for Cuban intelligence.

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro

It was of no matter that their valiant information allowed the Cuban Air Force on the 24th of February 1996 to bring down two light aircraft from the organisation Brothers to the Rescue.

Their future was already sentenced and, before their case was brought to trial, they were isolated in punishment cells for 17 months.

A clear sentence

In fact, as reported by the Miami press from Monday the 14th of September, many experts could not understand why on that weekend, the FBI had arrested people who were monitoring counter-revolutionary groups.

Also, it was clear that the US Federal Office of Investigation was one of the beneficiaries of the information that these people were gathering about violent behaviour by these groups.

Los 5 Un cuarto 09On the 15th of September 1998, The Miami Herald raised the point that the FBI had known for some time about the behaviour of these people within the Miami groups.

The Miami Herald added, “On Monday (14th September), many in La Pequeña Habana [Miami district] were conjecturing that the raid was the means by which Washington could balance out justice against the seven exiled Cubans who last month were accused of attempting to assassinate Fidel Castro.”

Likewise, in recent years, evidence has appeared about the appointment from Washington of journalists to create an atmosphere in support of the sentence of the anti-terrorists through their content (information, news, articles).

René González
René González

These are details of manipulation that the lawyer Martin Garbus – Gerardo’s lawyer – recently put at the disposal of public justice and opinion.

According to those documents, before and during the trial, the North American citizen received an arsenal of paid propaganda from the Government through the press, to interfere with the trial and persuade the jury, in undisputed anti-constitutional conduct.

According to that report, The Miami Herald and the Nuevo Herald published more than a thousand documents in a 194 day period, the length of the trial, one of the longest in the United States.

In that time, more than 119 volumes of testimonies and 20,000 pages of documents were compiled, including the testimony of three retired army generals and a retired admiral, who considered that there was no evidence of espionage.

Gerardo Hernandez y Danny-Glover
Gerardo Hernandez y Danny-Glover

However, the trial was from the first in favour of sentencing. The end of that long trial was the 8th of June 2001, the day when the Miami Five were officially declared guilty.

The Five were handed sentences that totalled more than 77 years of life imprisonment and confined in five different maximum security cells, completely removed from each other, and unable to communicate among themselves.

All of the accused were handed maximum sentences. Gerardo Hernández was the worst afflicted with two life sentences. He was accused of “conspiracy to murder in the first degree”, by causing the destruction of the two light aircraft from the terrorist organisation Brothers to the Rescue.

Los 5 Un cuarto 04It is an unclear sentence. In fact, through a lack of evidence, the Office of the Public Prosecutor requested that it was rejected by the Atlanta Court of Appeals. The appeal failed and the jury declared Gerardo guilty.

As far as Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino were concerned, they also received life sentences. While Fernando González and René González were sentenced to 19 and 15 years respectively.

26 separate charges were presented against the Five, of which 24 were relatively minor accusations and technicalities. But two of the charges were serious, which was why it involved life sentences.

Los 5 Un cuarto 02
Barack Obama

The sum of those irregularities at the trial are hidden evidence, psychological punishments, obstacles to the defence, prohibitions on receiving family visits and the repeated refusal of the US authorities to grant visas to Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez, the respective wives of René and Gerardo.

For their freedom

Those irregularities and the lack of sensitivity from the North American authorities have resulted in public demand for justice.

The truth is that every day more people are requesting that the US president Barack Obama returns the five Cubans to their homeland.

Los 5 Un cuarto 03Meanwhile, the US lawyer Peter Schey, Executive Director for the Centre for Human Rights and Constitutional Law in Los Angeles, wrote a letter on the 5th of March 2013 to Obama requesting that he makes use of his executive powers and considers granting the Five their freedom.

The lawyer emphasised that allowing the Five to return to Cuba is “something that you can manage under your executive powers” and it would be an important step towards repairing diplomatic relations between the two nations, unilaterally broken by Washington on the 3rd of January 1961.

In this letter Schey particularly insists on the case of Gerardo Hernández and requests that Obama declassifies the documents connected to the drama of the two light aircraft from the organisation Brothers to the Rescue under orders from the Cuban government.

(Translated by Claire Donneky – Email: claire.donneky@ukgateway.net)

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