102,000 petition signatures presented
Five people arrested at White House demanding,"Bush:
Free the Cuban Five Now!"
Sept. 12, 2008
In an action that received significant media attention, on the 10th anniversary of the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five political prisoners, five people were arrested in a civil disobedience action, trying to present 102,000 signatures on petitions that call on President Bush to free the Five.
Each of the five arrested represented one of the Five, Gerardo Hernández, René González, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando González. The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five presented 102,000 signatures from 78 countries.
Those arrested were Gloria La Riva, Coordinator, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five; Brian Becker, National Coordinator A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism); Elizabeth Lowengard, A.N.S.W.E.R. Washington-DC organizer, Keith Pavlik, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, and Chuck Kaufman, Interim Coordinator of the Venezuela Solidarity Network.
During the action they demanded 1.) Free the Cuban Five immediately; 2.) Grant entry visas to Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva, and 3.) Extradite Luis Posada Carriles to Venezuela.
Press in attendance included CNN, Al Jazeera English-language TV, Associated Press television, EFE TV of Spain, Univisión TV and Russian TV, according to media coordinator Alison Bodine.
The civil disobedience actions followed a successful press conference in front of the White House. Featured speaker at the conference was Wayne Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Brian Becker; Gloria La Riva and Banbose Shango, Regional Coordinator of the Venezuelan Solidarity Network and Co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, also spoke strongly in support of the Cuban Five. There were also special remarks given by Judge Claudia Morcom of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute.
"We are here at the White House to say that George W. Bush is supporting terrorism by harboring Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch while the Cuban Five are imprisoned. The time to free them is NOW," said Gloria La Riva. As the five were being arrested they continued shouting "Extradite Posada! Free the Cuban Five!," along with the crowd.
Earlier in the week a letter was also delivered to George W. Bush, signed by Howard Zinn, Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Martin Sheen and Ramsey Clark among others.
Simultaneous events are being organized all over the world in solidarity with the Cuban Five on this important date. Before the Washington DC action there were also events in Australia, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America and more are planned over the next period of action.
During this critical time, when three of the Cuban Five are awaiting re-sentencing in Miami, and the case of the Cuban heads to the Supreme Court activists in the United States are committed to continuing the struggle.