Recently, presidential candidates debated whether it is wise to talk to world leaders such as Fidel Castro, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez, etc., whom the US government refers to variously as “dictators, tyrants,” etc. Watching the candidates challenge one another on what the process for engagement should be, I wondered what an actual meeting might be like.
How does a US president meet with Fidel Castro when the US government has been trying to kill him (hundreds of times) over the last 47 years? How does a US president establish a relationship with Hugo Chavez after a previous US administration financed his overthrow? How do US diplomats make a goodwill tour of Haiti, when it was the US government that kidnapped the democratically-elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and dumped him like a sack of potatoes in the Central African Republic?
Just below the surface of diplomatic glad-handing and photo ops, churns a raw imperialist machine out of which we will see little change in US foreign policy especially when it comes to Haiti, Cuba, and Venezuela.
So the matter of “righting the wrongs” falls to us. A tall order, indeed, but I ask you to take a chunk of the “wrongs” and work in solidarity with others regarding the case of the Cuban Five. A critical appeals hearing for the Five takes place on August 20 and your support is needed
THE CUBAN FIVE
“The Cuban Five are five Cuban men who are in U.S. prison, serving four life sentences and 75 years collectively, after being wrongly convicted in U.S. federal court in Miami, on June 8, 2001. They were falsely accused by the US government of committing espionage conspiracy against the United States, and other related charges.”
“Yet, the Five pointed out vigorously in their defense that they were involved in monitoring the actions of Miami-based terrorist groups, in order to prevent terrorist attacks on their country of Cuba.”
–from the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five website at: http://www.freethefive.org/
August 20 appeals hearing:
On August 20, lawyers for the Five will submit oral arguments to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Leonard Weinglass, lawyer for one of the Five, gave an interview recently that provides fascinating information about critical aspects of the case that will be argued before the Court. You can read the interview at: http://www.freethefive.org/legalFront/LFWeinglass80107.htm
Finally, in the August 9th edition of Granma, Cuba’s state newspaper, we learn what is at stake at the appeals hearing:
Cuban law professor, Julio Fernandez Bulte , states that “the moment has come to increase solidarity actions so that the panel of judges in Atlanta is fully aware of the profound responsibility they hold before world public opinion.”
The full article appears below.
August 9, 2007
New Milestone in Cuban Five Case
Cuban law professor Julio Fernandez Bulte said in Havana that the upcoming
hearing at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals of Atlanta marks a new
milestone for the defense in the Cuban Five case.
Fernandez Bulte told Prensa Latina that the hearing scheduled for August 20
represents another opportunity to present arguments showing the five men
were in the United States to thwart plots organized by Miami based groups to
commit terrorist acts against Cuba.
The attorney said he does not expect the hearing before the Appeals Court to
finally resolve the case of Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon
Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, imprisoned in the US for
nearly nine years. Nonetheless, Bulte said that it represents a ray of hope
for groups around the world working for the freedom of the Cuban Five.
After a politically charged and irregularity-plagued trial in Miami in 2001,
the Cuban Five received sentences ranging from 15 years in prison to double
life for their attempts to combat terrorism attacks against their country.
Among the charges the defense will focus on are those of conspiracy to
commit murder and espionage for which Hernandez was sentenced to two life
sentences plus 15 years in prison, said Fernandez Bulte.
He said that the solidarity movement with the Cuban Five has been successful
in their campaign to expose the truth and that the hearing in Atlanta is
evidence that the United States feels the international community is
watching how they handle this case. However, he emphasized that the moment
has come to increase solidarity actions so that the panel of judges in
Atlanta is fully aware of the profound responsibility they hold before world
The Cuban law professor noted that the case is highly politicized with
powerful interests involved, especially those of the White House, and that a
major effort is needed to continue to expose the truth.
Fernandez Bulte also spoke about the importance of the recent article in
The New York Times on the Cuban Five case and an extensive BBC interview
with Gerardo Hernandez.