Vancouver Day of Action
August 20: Appeals court Hearing for the Cuban Five Heroes in Atlanta, U.S.
By Janine Solanki
On Aug. 20th 2007, the US 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta will review the case of 5 Cuban men, who have been held in maximum security prisons in the US for almost 9 years, to decide if they should have a retrial. A retrial that could mean not only freedom for the 5, but also a victory over the brutal and corrupt US court system. But who are these men? From the hearts of every person in Cuba, to the over 300 Free the Cuban 5 Committees in almost 100 countries around the world, these men are heroes, who risked their lives to defend their people against terrorist acts.
Since the Cuban revolution triumphed in 1959 it has accomplished complete literacy, universal education up to a PhD, universal healthcare with the most doctors per capita than any country in the world, and many more gains that benefit all people in Cuba. At the same time, right-wing anti-Cuban terrorist organizations working out of Miami, Florida with the support of the CIA and US government have constantly attacked Cuba, resulting in the deaths of at least 3500 Cubans. Terrorist groups like Alpha 66, Omega 7, and Brothers to the Rescue committed many of these acts, beginning with the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, to the 1976 bombing of the Air Cubana flight 455 which killed all 73 people on board, to hotel bombings, livestock poisoning, and other terrorist acts continuing today. In response to this, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, René González and Fernando González went to Miami to investigate these terrorist organizations, in defense of Cuba and to prevent the deaths of innocent people in Cuba.
As the vital information they uncovered was collected, Cuba didn’t keep it all for them selves, and they even passed it on to the FBI, to let the US know about terrorist groups operating within their own borders. With this information the US exposed their own hypocrisy and at the same time as they promoted their “war on terror” they ignored the anti-Cuban terrorist groups. Instead they arrested the 5 Cuban heroes and illegally put them into solitary confinement for 17 months. When the 5 finally received a trial it was held in Miami, the hotbed of anti-Cuban sentiment where an unbiased jury was impossible. The 5, unarmed, young men received sentences between 15 years and a double life sentence, with various rights, such as to see their family regularly were denied under trumped up charges of “conspiracy to commit espionage” and “conspiracy to commit murder.” These are the charges that will be challenged on the Aug. 20th 2007 appeals hearing.
As we near this legal hurdle, defenders of the 5 see it as a chance for people around the world to build support and knowledge about these 5 heroes and to campaign for their freedom. During the initial trial, campaigning to defend the 5 was dampened by a complete media blackout about the case. Now, the efforts of commendable organizers, working for the rights of a country to defend itself, are breaking through the media barrier. On Aug. 6th 2007 the New York Times, after months of the Popular Education Project to Free the Five picketing outside the office, published a detailed article about the Cuban 5 and the upcoming appeal hearings. At the end of July Reuters published an article about the Cuban 5, and even the BBC aired a televised interview with Gerardo Hernández, one of the 5! (Read the BBC interview in this issue of Fire This Time).
Beyond being a case of human injustice that these 5 men have lived for almost 9 years in prison, these 5 men are also an inspiration to us, no matter what country you live in, of sacrificing the last 9 years of their lives to defend a country that gives people around the world hope that a better world is possible. From Cuba to Vancouver, join in organizing and mobilizing to defend our 5 Cuban Heroes, and at the same time as the appeals hearing is happening the Free the Cuban 5 Committee – Vancouver will be holding it’s 20th picket action outside the US consulate (1075 West Pender) from 12:00noon to 1:00pm on August 20th. This action will be accompanied by a 24-hour vigil from 3PM Sunday Aug. 19th to 3PM Aug. 20th at the same place.
They will return!
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