I had the opportunity to preview the soon to be released film, “The Trial” about the case of the Cuban Five. My review of the film follows.
“THE TRIAL” – a documentary by Rolando Almirante
The film opens with a remarkable account of four terrorist bombings in tourist hotels and a restaurant on September 4, 1997, in Havana; one of the bombs killed an Italian tourist. The narrator is Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon, the man who planted the bombs. Cruz Leon, a Salvadoran national, was recruited by one of the world’s worst terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, himself tied to a 1976 Cubana airlines bombing that killed 73 people and several other acts of terrorism against Cuba.
Director of “The Trial,” Rolando Almirante, sheds light on information we don’t hear about in the US – Cuba’s long struggle against terrorism emanating from the US makes the film’s subtitle quite appropriate: “The Untold Story.” The film provides a shocking chronology of terrorist attacks against Cuba over the last forty plus years resulting in many deaths and massive property destruction. Early on, Cuba realized that the perpetrators were right-wing, terrorist groups operating out of Miami, FL.
Over the years, the US has been unresponsive to the Cuban government’s requests to investigate these terrorist groups. This is not surprising given the over forty year relationship between the US government and many Miami-based, anti-Castro groups, including collaboration on the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
Because of lack of response on the part of the US, Cuba, in the mid-1990’s, made the necessary decision to send agents to the US to monitor the activities of these groups and report back to Cuba regarding imminent attacks. The Cuban government shared the information with the FBI about terrorist activities being planned by groups in Miami. Instead of investigating this serious evidence, federal agents arrested the five Cubans, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino and Rene Gonzalez, on September 12. The Cuban Five, as they are known internationally, were charged with “conspiracy to commit espionage” and other related charges. In a blow to justice, the Cuban Five were convicted June 8, 2001 and sentenced to four life terms and 75 years, collectively, in December, 2001..
“The Trial,” reveals the huge miscarriage of justice in the trial of the Cuban Five. Further, it shows that Federal prosecutors pursued a highly prejudiced case against the Five and violated laws concerning prosecutorial conduct in the process.
“The Trial” is a film that all Americans should see. It is a cautionary tale about the hypocrisy of the US’ pursuit of its worldwide war on terror while refusing to investigate terrorist activities within its own borders. And, for the five brave Cubans who came here to fight terrorism, they are being held as political prisoners of the US.
The film concludes on an upbeat note by showing scenes of marches and press conferences by the large and growing international movement to ‘“Free the Five.”