By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, March 24 — US Attorney Leonard Weinglass, known for his taking of important political cases, died in New York on Wednesday at the age of 78. Weinglass was the attorney of Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban Five. His passing is a top news item in the Cuban media on Thursday.
During his lifetime as a defense attorney Weinglass had among his clients Jane Fonda, Angela Davis, Daniel Ellsberg and the Chicago Eight among many others accused by the US government in politically motivated cases.
In a statement to the Cuban press about his law practice Weinglass said back in 2004: “I’ve never practiced law or taken on cases for money” and that he assumed “a commitment with justice with absolute passion.” Weinglass took on that commitment by defending “those who are continually denied justice.” Among his clients were the Cuban Five.
GERARDO HERNANDEZ DEDICATES WORDS TO WEINGLASS
From his prison cell in Victorville, California, Gerardo Hernandez wrote the following upon learning of the death of his attorney Leonard Weinglass.
In memory of Leonard Weinglass
Not that long ago Len came to visit me and we worked for several hours preparing for the next step of my appeal. I noticed at the time that he was tired. I was worried with his advanced age that he was driving alone after a long trip from New York. The weather was bad and the roads from the airport up to Victorville wind through the mountains surrounding the high desert. I mentioned my concern to him but he did not pay it any attention. That was the way he was, nothing stopped him.
When we would meet the same thing would always happen. At some point in our conversation, while listening to him talk, my mind would separate from his words and I would focus on the person. I would realize that here is this great man, the tremendous lawyer, the legendary fighter for justice, right here in front of me. I told him that I had seen images of him in documentaries on TV dedicating himself to important legal cases that he had participated in from a very young age. With pride I would tell people watching, “that is the lawyer of the Five”. It did not matter how much I read or heard about Len I knew through his humility and modesty that there was a lot I still had to discover about this man who had dedicated his life to his profession.
Len always insisted that our case, like the others that he had dedicated lots of his time to, was essentially a political one. He cautioned us from the start that this struggle would be long and difficult. His experience with the “system” had taught him that. For our part, beyond the professional relationship we had, we always thought of him as one compañero in the battle for justice.
Len leaves us at an important moment, but he leaves us prepared to carry on the path. On more than one occasion he expressed his admiration and respect for the other lawyers on our legal team, and I think that he has left confident that our case is in good hands.
Like other people, who during these years have accompanied us in our struggle to make justice prevail, he will not be with us to see the inevitable triumph. We are confident that day will arrive and to Len, and to all the others, we will pay them a well deserved tribute in our homeland.
On behalf of the Cuban Five, and our families, and from the millions of Cubans, and brothers and sisters from all over the world who trusted and admired him, we send our most sincere condolences to Len’s family and friends.
Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, USP Victorville, California, March 23, 2011