NY/Tri-State Area Working Conference on the Cuban Five
Hostos Community College 149th St. and Grand Concourse in the Bronx
Take the 4,5,or 2 train to 149th and Grand Concourse
Saturday, June 14
• Leonard Weinglass, Cuban 5 Legal Team
• A Representative of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations
• Gloria La Riva, Coordinator, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
September 12, 2008 marks the 10th year of the arrest of five Cuban citizens – Fernando Gonzales, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Gerardo Hernandez –who were portrayed as "spies" and "murderers" in the service of "Castro's Cuba." They were tried and convicted in an atmosphere of hype and hysteria in Miami, Florida. The verdict was goaded by ultra-right politicians and a highly orchestrated media campaign of disinformation with the tone of a lynch mob.
At the trial there was not a single page of classified information produced showing evidence of espionage or any action directed against the US government. The frame-up charges were packaged as a necessarily vague "conspiracy" to, as the prosecutor actually put it to the jury, "destroy the United States of America." In the period of 17 months between arrest and trial, the five Cubans were subjected to brutal conditions of solitary confinement and near-total isolation to hinder the preparation of their defense. This psychological torture was aimed at breaking their will, in blatant violation of their rights under US law. The hope was to break their spirit and force "confessions" to the trumped-up "conspiracy" charges. But this failed and the trial was finally held in November 2000. They were convicted in June 2001.
The truth is that the Cuban Five infiltrated ultra-right Cuban-American organizations, with a clear history of terrorist attacks organized on US soil against the sovereign Cuban state in violation of US law. Over 3,500 Cuban citizens have died in such attacks since the Cuban Revolution triumphed against the Batista dictatorship in 1959. Many tens of billions of dollars worth of damage have been done to the Cuban economy. These attacks stepped up in the mid-1990s as the Cuban economy reeled from an economic depression. Tourist hotels were bombed resulting in death and destruction. Low flying planes – originating from US territory in violation of US law – repeatedly violated Cuban airspace. Only after the Cuban government presented clear evidence of such terrorist and criminal activities and repeatedly implored, to no avail, the Clinton Administration to do something about it did the Cuban Five carry out its courageous and dangerous work which the record shows saved lives in Cuba.
Today, a panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is considering the range of egregious violations committed by the prosecution in the original trial. In August 2005 a panel from the same Appeals Court ruled, in a stunning decision with virtually no precedent, to overturn the original trial verdict on the grounds that there could not be a fair and impartial hearing in the hostile climate of Miami, Florida. This ruling was subsequently reversed by the full court under heavy pressure from the Bush Administration's Justice Department.
Around the world, and increasingly inside the United States, the case of the Cuban Five, stands as one of the most brutal and outrageous injustices in modern history. As the facts have emerged and the truth about the Cuban Five becomes more known and publicized, Committees to support the Cuban Five have spread all over the world. Their incarceration continues under brutal conditions that have included solitary confinement and denial of family visitations and other violations of formal US laws.
Washington is paying an increasing political price as this ongoing travesty of justice enters its second decade. On May 2005, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations issued a stinging exposure of the arbitrary and iniquitous nature of the trial and conviction. The UN body emphasized that the Cuban Five were held in solitary confinement for 17 months, weakening their ability to mount an adequate defense; that most of the evidence against them was withheld from their attorneys, undermining an equal balance between the prosecution and the defense; and that the trial was held in Miami where it was impossible to select an impartial jury in a case linked with Cuba.
On January 2006 Amnesty International condemned the Bush Administration and US authorities for the treatment of the Cuban Five, specifically for the denials of family visitation rights for some of the Cuban Five prisoners.
An international call for world protests in solidarity with the Cuban Five in September and October 2008 has been issued. Now is the time for all supporters of the Cuban Five and all supporters of civil liberties and justice to step up our work on their behalf. Now is the time to reach out to broad layers of the US population, whatever their political views in general and on the Cuban Revolution in particular. Supporters of the Cuban Five begin by demanding that US authorities comply with US law and allow family members to visit their loved ones. In this Presidential and Congressional election year we aim to raise the issue of the Cuban Five and to reach out and win support from elected officials. To mark the 10th anniversary of their arrests there will be organized public protests on Saturday, September 13. Out of this activity we aim to build support for a National Conference in October 2008 in New York City to support of the Cuban Five.
In this spirit, activists in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are issuing this Appeal to Organize a Working Conference in Solidarity With the Cuban Five on Saturday, June 14, 2008. The Working Conference will be just that, a Working Conference, not a political rally or solely a gathering of already engaged and committed activists. We want this Working Conference to generate activity and concrete campaigns from the grass roots – from religious communities and organizations; from the trade union movement; from young people, students and the broader academic community; from African-American and Latino communities; from fighters for women's rights; from gay and lesbian rights organizations; from consistent advocates for civil liberties and constitutional rights; from artists and cultural workers.
This is our challenge. This is our appeal. Now is the time. Please join us June 14!
To pre-register click here and for a PDF format version of the flyer click here
The Free the Cuban 5 Conference Committee: Casa de las Americas, The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5, Cuba Solidarity New York, National Committee to Free the Cuban 5, IFCO-Pastors for Peace, Venceremos Brigade, Bolivarian Circles, Peoples Organization for Progress, Fuerzas de la Revolucion Dominicana, La Iglesia San Romero de las Americas, El Partido Nacionalista de Puerto Rico, International Action Center, New York Jericho, The ProLibertad Freedom Campagn, Young Socialists, Socialist Workers Party, Workers World Party, Frente Socialista de Puerto Rico-NYC Committee, ANSWER Coalition, and Party for Socialism and Liberation
FOR MORE INFORMATION: FreeTheCuban5Conference@gmail.com