Obama Must Set the Cuban Five Free

Por Elio Delgado Legón

fivecomposite2009HAVANA TIMES — In the course of over 14 years, I have often asked myself why so much secrecy has surrounded the case of the five Cubans who were detained in Miami in 1998. These men endured 17 months of solitary confinement in “the hole”, in violation of U.S. law, as well as a 3-year trial replete with similar violations of the country’s laws, and no newspaper made any effort to bring to light what was taking place.

I am referring to Miami’s newspapers, radio and television, yes, for these, to my knowledge, did not go on vacation in the three years the trial lasted. A number of journalists did work, but only to create an atmosphere charged with anti-Cuban sentiments and feelings of antipathy towards those they referred to as spies.

We later found out that those journalists had been paid by the US government, to create precisely that kind of atmosphere and steer public opinion and the juries entrusted with the verdict towards those feelings of antipathy.

The judge turned down the petition to hold the trial in a more impartial venue, as the laws of the country demand. The juries were intimidated by Miami’s terrorists, terrorists whose identity everyone knows.

In my opinion, the judge was also intimidated and threatened, for the ridiculously harsh sentences she imposed on the Cuban Five cannot be explained any other way.

Rene Gonzalez’ sentence was the least severe: 15 years in prison, a term he has already served. The most severe and irrational sentence was imposed on Gerardo Hernandez: two life sentences plus 15 years.

Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez had their initial sentences overturned and a subsequent re-sentencing took place as a result of an appeal process. However their second sentences were also irrational and unjust, for they were again accused of crimes they did not commit.

They tried to blackmail Rene, using his wife’s detention to pressure him into pleading guilty of espionage, in order to be able to accuse Cuba of spying on the United States. But a true revolutionary like Rene does not yield to blackmail. He would have had to lie, to his country’s detriment, to save himself from a sure conviction. They had no evidence against him, but they sentenced him to 15 years in prison nonetheless.

Conspiracy to commit murder was one of the unfounded charges brought against Gerardo, in connection with the downing, over Cuban waters, of two small planes belonging to the terrorist organization Brothers to the Rescue (Hermanos al Rescate), an organization that had been systematically encroaching on Cuba’s airspace and dropping leaflets that called for an armed uprising against the government.

The organization had announced another fly-over for February 24 and the Cuban government had forewarned US air traffic authorities that, if they encroached on the country’s airspace again, they would be shot down in self-defense, because a terrorist organization could, at any moment, decide to drop bombs instead of leaflets.

Despite this, the planes took off from U.S. soil and penetrated Cuban airspace. The head of the organization didn’t take any chances; he stayed behind to watch his planes be shot down. If anyone is to be held responsible and pay for those deaths, it is Mr. Basulto, the person who sent them to a sure death, without even having had the courage to face the same fate. He used them as cannon fodder to later be able to accuse Cuba of murder.

The government of the United States has repeatedly refused to publish the satellite images which show the exact location where the planes were shot down, for these images show that the incident took place within Cuba’s airspace and, therefore, Gerardo cannot be held liable for the pilots’ deaths in any way.

Of all the charges brought against Gerardo and the other four anti-terrorist activists convicted, the only truthful one is that these men were acting as agents for the Cuban government without declaring this fact at the Attorney General’s Office. But acting as an agent does not mean conducting espionage. These men infiltrated terrorist organizations, not official institutions of the US government.

The Cuban Five have been the victims of innumerable irregularities and violations, violations I have enumerated in a previous post. This is the reason the US government doesn’t want the press to give the case any coverage, for, if the people of the United States knew what was happening, they would demand that this situation, which puts a stain on their country’s judicial system, be brought to an end. All of this ought to be considered by the Obama administration, which must set the Cuban Five free.

18 thoughts on “Obama Must Set the Cuban Five Free

  • and so what? did they ever say that the US should be starved to death? Just your usua l bullsh…

  • I guess the fool are you. Once more a US propaganda machine, another sock puppet?

  • Actually you can see it. In fact U.S. freedom of speech is alive and well thank you very much. Just ask, Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, and a recent Christian minister, who’s name escapes me, that recently visited Iran and condemned US policy. you yell me what happened to them. Hint; nothing happened to them!

    So you say I’m a hypocrite? I think not! So please don’t make such a public fool of yourself

  • Have you heard of Michael Moore, Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Oliver Stone…..?

  • Sure, I can see a US citizen going to Iran or Cuba makeing the same statements. I would not like to know what would happen to them God what a hypocrite yoU are

  • “And if Cuba should catch and convict any more US spies…”. By inference, you seem to imply that Gross was a spy. I should hope you now understand that that is an incorrect description of his transgressions in Cuba. As defined , “A person who secretly collects and reports information about an enemy or competitor”. This clearly does not describe Gross’ reputed crimes against the Castros.

  • As a matter of fact no they ate not. They are only guilty of attempting to express their views. A crime? Yes but only in totalitarian systems. Whereas the red avispa network was actually attempting to infiltrate military instillations and possessed encrypted communications gear.

  • Even after looking up the word “persnickety” in the dictionary, Moses, I still don’t understand how your comment relates to what i said.

    I repeat: Alan Gross should be released on humanitarian grounds. If you have a contrary opinion, please express it clearly.

  • I believe that both Alan Gross and the remaining Cuban 5 in prison should be pardoned, on humanitarian grounds. Thanks for your comment, Friedrich.

  • Grady, the much pity I feel personally for Gross, because I think he was just lured by the US Intelligence Services, you have to be aware, that the US think that their citicens can get away with everything in any country. It`s always the same game. US citizens have to be freed. I mean I do understand it`s the duty of the US govt. But still. As long as the US do not respect Cuban laws, the whole thing is more complicated as it maybe really is .

  • Well if he `s guilty of treason, what do you say then about Yuani and Berta, some of your favourites? They are not guilty of treason ?

  • According to Raul Castro, and on only this point do we agree, Alan Gross was not guily of spying on Cuba. Given your persnickety approach to decribing your flavor of socialism, I would think that you would be more careful in your comments on this subject.

  • Elio, poor misinformed Elio. Griffin has correctly pointed out Elio misstatements. On top of that, he fails to understand that at least 5 of the other members of the spy ring sang like birds to the FBI prior to their imprisonment and release to witness protection programs. Files, recordings, maps as well as their eyewitness testimony is all the evidence the US Attorney could have hoped for and more. Elio should be aware that Americans are not as easily misled as Cubans. The lack of press coverage is due to a lack of interest. Supporters for the remaining four spies should resist lying about their cases to promote their cause. In the end, it will hurt more than it will help. As far as what President Obama MUST do, the case of the four spies ain’t even on the list!

  • I believe the most constructive thing that the Cuban gov’t could do right now is to release Alan Gross unconditionally, on humanitarian grounds.

    Yes, he committed unlawful acts at the behest of the US imperialist gov’t, but holding him in prison does not assist the call for pardon of the Cuban Five, and may even hurt.

    As a revolutionary socialist, I call sincerely for the unconditional pardoning of both the Cuban Five and Alan Gross.

    And if Cuba should catch and convict any more US spies–who did not commit violent acts against the Cuban people or government–these should be held a few years and then pardoned, as well.

  • So Elio’s argument as to why Obama must free the Cuban Five (oops, I mean four, as one of them is already back home in Cuba)… is that they are Heroes of Cuban government propaganda?

  • The author has written several false statements. For example:

    “…acting as an agent does not mean conducting espionage. These men infiltrated terrorist organizations, not official institutions of the US government.”

    In fact, Antonio Guerrero was found guilty of conspiracy to
    commit espionage for using his positions in various menial jobs at
    Boca Chica Naval Air Station in the Florida Keys to pass the Cuban
    government information about U.S. military activities.

    The military base is an official institution of the US government. Collecting and pacing on information to a hostile foreign government is indeed espionage. That Guerrero is a US citizen makes him guilty of treason as well.

    One can bleat all you like about the alleged injustice, but the central facts remain: these men were part of a group of spies working for Cuba, spying on US military installations, among other activities.

  • The “Cuban 5” were the leaders of a larger spy ring known as the “red avispa”.

    Its members spied on US military installations, US companies and individuals in the US much more than watching exile groups that in fact were not guilty of any acts of violence against Cuba.

    For a good summary of the facts that expose the lies see:

    It is Cuba that needs to free its hostage Alan Gross. Even Raul Castro admitted he was no spy.

  • free the cuban five and arrest posada carriles.

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