Cuba's Xmas Soured by US Injustice
By Circles Robinson*
As Cuba prepares to usher in the new year with celebrations for the 47th anniversary of the 1959 revolution on January 1, five men considered heroes on the island remain behind bars in the United States for daring to fight terrorism.
The misguided arrest of the Cuban Five in 1998 and the subsequent travesty of justice leading to their convictions on multiple unsubstantiated charges in 2001, once again puts an indignant damper on the island's Christmas and New Years merrymaking.
For the eighth consecutive New Years since Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez were railroaded into US prisons both they and their families suffer from their separation, felt even more during the holiday season.
Meanwhile, an entire nation continues to demand their immediate release, backed by a 93-page August 9, 2005 appeals court ruling showing that they were sentenced after a biased trail in a politically charged and hostile Miami setting.
Instead of endangering US national security as the prosecution alleged, defense attorneys have maintained that the Cuban Five were dedicated to discovering plots by right wing Cuban-American organizations based in Miami with a long record of terrorist actions against the Cuban people and the island’s officials at home and abroad.
Cuba insists that a new trial outside Miami, as originally ordered by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of Atlanta, would open a Pandora's Box for US law enforcement and intelligence agencies which have brazenly provided training, financed and encouraged terrorist acts against neighboring Cuba because the island refuses to give up its sovereignty.
Months prior to the Atlanta ruling, in May, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, created by the UN Commission on Human Rights, called the treatment of the Cuban Five "arbitrary" and "incompatible with the standards contained in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
While their case is an outrage for both US and international law, the Cuban Five are not alone.
The nonexistent rights of thousands of US political prisoners has reached new heights under the Bush administration with continuous revelations of torture, clandestine offshore prisons and a total absence of legal representation for individuals detained in Washington's so-called anti terror campaign.
Experts on the Cuban Five case believe public pressure, especially from within the United States, will sooner or later force Washington to come clean and release the Cubans it holds as part of a sort of Cold War inertia, which continues to sway its antiquated policy towards the island and includes a 45-year blockade.
For more information on the Cuban Five case contact: www.freethefive.org
*Circles Robinson is a US journalist living in Havana.