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    Who are these 5 Cuban Heroes Held in United States Prisons?

    By Tamara Hansen
    "Who Are the Cuban 5 Held in US Jails?"

    Between 1994 and 1995, Cuba sent five unarmed men, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González on a mission to infiltrate and expose Miami-based terrorist groups, such as Alpha 66, Omega 7, Brothers to the Rescue and the Cuban American National Foundation. These groups and others are responsible for hundreds of terrorist attacks which, according to Radio Habana, have taken the lives of more than 3,400 people in Cuba since 1959.

    The well-documented list of atrocities committed by these groups and others is long. It includes the bombing of hotels in Cuba, assassinations, spreadingof diseases, sabotage, and attacks against Cuba’s supporters in the US. An important example of these attacks was the bombing of the Lincoln Center in 1978 after a Cuban ballet performance. Another, and one of the most horrendous attacks, was the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976, which took the lives of 73 people. The 5 Cuban Heroes were gathering evidence to expose the terrorists responsible for these crimes against Cuba and humanity.

    Cuba released all the information that the 5 collected to the FBI. However, on September 12th 1998, the FBI arrested the Cuban 5 and threw them in solitary confinement for 17 months. It was not until 2001 that these men were given a trial.

    Who are these men?

    These men were five very accomplished and highly regarded in Cuba. According to the website of the National Committee to Free the Cuban 5 (US):

    - Gerardo Hernández studied international political relations. He fought as part of the Cuban forces in Angola against South African apartheid. Gerardo is a cartoonist and humourist, who has had many of his drawings published, including in his own book, “You Can Achieve Everything with Love and Humor”.

    - Antonio Guerrero was born in Miami. His parents returned to Cuba shortly after the triumph of the Cuban revolution. Antonio studied airfield construction engineering in Kiev, Ukraine. He is also a great poet and has had his works published in both English and Spanish.

    - Ramón Labañino studied and graduated with a degree in economics. He is also a very skilled athlete who participated in the All-Caribbean games.

    - Fernando González graduated with a degree in international political relations. He was a student leader with the Federation of University Students (FEU) in Cuba during his studies. He also fought against the invading South African apartheid regime in Angola.

    - René González was born in Chicago, his family returned to Cuba a couple of years after the victory of the Cuban revolution. He studied aviation and graduated as a pilot and flight instructor.

    Their Trial

    The trial was basically over before it began, as it took place in Miamia city with a heavy prejudice against anything relating to Cuba. During their trial the US government claimed the 5 were engaged in espionage or spying against US military bases and threatening “national security”. Since the US could not prove this directly they charged the 5 with “conspiracy to commit espionage”. The most sinister case is that of Gerardo who they charged with “conspiracy to commit murder”.

    Throughout their trial the US government’s lack of evidence was clear, as was their political motivation for arresting and charging these five Cubans. After a seven-month show trial (one of the longest in US history), the Cuban 5 were sentenced to between 15 years and two life sentences. When the Cuban 5 were first sentenced, few outside of Miami knew about the proceedings. However, these grossly unjust sentences did not go unnoticed and immediately following the trial, organizations within Cuba, the US, and around the world responded to the call to fight for the freedom of these 5 men. We call these men heroes because they defended Cuba and humanity from terrorism. Since then, solidarity work has continued to grow and expand, as workers, students and social justice activists have all joined the struggle for their freedom.

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