Comité Nacional por la Libertad de los Cinco Cubanos

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Cuban 5 win new support at Midwest events

by John Hawkins
Nov. 24, 2007
Reprinted from The Militant

MILWAUKEE—More than 100 people attended a broadly sponsored meeting at the University of Wisconsin campus here November 12, held to win new support for the campaign to free five Cuban revolutionaries who are serving long prison sentences on frame-up charges.

Other meetings in defense of the Cuban Five, as they are known, were held over the following week in Chicago and several Indiana cities.

The Milwaukee event was sponsored by the campus Latin American Solidarity Committee, the National Lawyers Guild in Milwaukee, Peace Action in Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba. The featured speaker was Leonard Weinglass, one of the lead defense attorneys.

The federal trial of the Cuban Five, Weinglass said, was a travesty of justice. Their convictions were based on various charges of “conspiracy,” including “conspiracy to commit espionage.” None of them, however, was found to be in possession of a single piece of classified U.S. government information. Conspiracy was charged, he said, because espionage could not be proven.

Gerardo Hernández, René González, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando González have been jailed since their arrest in 1998. Put on trial three years later, they are serving sentences ranging from 15 years to a double life term.

The five were in the United States to gather information on Cuban American counterrevolutionary groups that have organized attacks against Cuba from south Florida with the complicity of the U.S. government. Such terror attacks included a string of bombings of hotels in 1997.

The case of the Five, Weinglass continued, was political and unfair from the start. He compared their convictions and long sentences with the U.S. government’s treatment of Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, admitted participants in the Oct. 6, 1976, bombing of a Cuban airliner that took the lives of all 73 people aboard. Both of them walk the streets of Miami today.

Following the presentation by Weinglass, members of the audience engaged in a wide-ranging discussion of the issues involved in the defense case and the Cuban Revolution. A number of people there were learning about the case for the first time.

Prior to the Milwaukee event, Weinglass was the featured speaker at November 11 and 12 events on behalf of the Five in Madison, Wisconsin.

Events in Chicago and Indiana

From November 15 to 18, some 150 people attended meetings to support the Cuban Five in Chicago and in Terre Haute, Hanover, Indianapolis, and South Bend, Indiana.

Organized by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and local organizations in each city, the meetings discussed efforts that can be undertaken to win support for Fernando González. Previously jailed at the federal penitentiary in Oxford, Wisconsin, González was recently transferred to the federal prison in Terre Haute.

The meetings featured a showing of Mission Against Terror, a documentary film about the case. Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, spoke about the facts in the case and the defense campaign. As an initial show of solidarity, participants in the meetings signed cards of solidarity that will be sent to González.

Betsy Farley and Harvey McArthur contributed to this article.


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