On June 15, 2009, the United States Supreme Court unjustly rejected a request for review of the case of five political prisoners held in US jails. The five prisoners, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernandez, and Ramon Labanino, known internationally as the Cuban Five, have been imprisoned unfairly in US jails for nearly eleven years for helping to prevent Miami-based terrorism against Cuba. This decision by the Supreme Court highlights the political nature of the case and the continuation of the anti-Cuba policy from Washington under the new Barack Obama administration.
Prior to their arrest, the Cuban Five were in Miami gathering information that they presented to the FBI on anti-Cuban terrorist groups in the US. These right-wing groups have been responsible for over 600 terrorist attacks against Cuba since the 1959 Cuban Revolution, murdering over 3400 Cubans. After the FBI looked over the information provided by the Cuban Five, the US government, instead of investigating the terrorist groups, decided to arrest and convict the Five anti-terrorists in Miami, Florida for conspiracy to commit espionage, among other fabricated charges. Now, after years of court appeals for justice for the Five this latest decision by the Supreme Court to not review the case squashed one of the last opportunities for the Five to receive a fair trial.
The numerous pieces of evidence presented to the Court exposed the fact that the five Cuban men could not have attained a fair trial in Miami, the centre for anti-Cuban terrorism. Despite the international cry for justice from millions of people around the world, including 10 Nobel Laureates, National Parliaments and the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the US Supreme Court rejected the request to hear the case of Cuban 5 political prisoners in US jails.
The President of the Cuban Parliament, Ricardo Alarcon, noted that “the judges chose to do what the Obama administration requested them to do: refusing to review the case of the Five. That is why it is a day of shame and anger.”
This decision is a continuation of the US justice system at work against Cuba. In May 2009, Barack Obama’s own handpicked Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, pressured the Supreme Court to reject the Cuban Five’s appeal. The Christian Science Monitor quoted Kagan as saying “the trial judge and appeals court reached the correct result,” referring to the original decision to convict the Five Heroes.
Throughout this decade-long injustice against these Five Heroes, the US justice system and the White House have added another element of inhumanity by denying visitation rights for the families of the Five. On July 15, 2009, exactly one month after the decision to reject the appeal of the case, the US State Department denied Adriana Perez, the wife of Gerardo Hernandez, one of the five, to travel to the US to visit Gerardo in jail. This was the 10th time the US justice system has denied Adriana the chance to see her husband. To add salt to the wound, July 15th was the 21st wedding anniversary of Adriana and Gerardo. After nearly 11 years without an embrace, the US Department of State said that Adriana “constitutes a threat to the stability and national security of the United States.” In doing so the US Government is effectively breaking its own law by failing to maintain family integrity and undermining the human rights of detainees.
Despite this ongoing immoral and unjust cruelty against these Five Heroes and their loved ones, human rights activists are looking at what can be done next. A Miami federal judge has set an October date for resentencing three of the five because a federal appeals court ruled in 2008 that their sentences were too long (all five were given the maximum sentences for their convictions). An attorney for the Five, Thomas Goldstein, stated that he is “optimistic that the judge will take into account the horrible effect that the long terms of imprisonment have had on the Five and their families, the recognition from the international community of all the flaws in the case, and will impose a sentence that is substantially shorter. But this is a question that the judge will have to compare.”
Human rights activists in Cuba, the United States, Canada, and around the world are spreading the word to condemn this cruel and illegal violation of human rights by the US Government against the Five Cuban Heroes and their families. As the work of Cuban Five committees around the world expands, human rights activists must join this fight for their freedom and look for inspiration from none other than what Gerardo Hernandez said in response to the June 15 decision: “I repeat what I said one year ago, June 4, 2008, that as long as one person remains struggling outside, we will continue resisting until there is justice.”
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