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Issue #1565      19 September 2012

Perth rally for Cuban Five

Australia Cuban Friendship Society (ACFS) members in Perth picketed the US consulate on September 13. They demanded the freedom of the Cuban Five, with indignation but a strengthening resolve to continue the struggle for the freedom of the Five Cuban men held unjustly for 14 years in US prisons since September 12, 1998.

Action outside the US consulate in Perth last Thursday.
(Photo: Alex Bainbridge)

The Cuban Five are political prisoners held in US prisons for protecting their homeland Cuba from terrorist actions organised by right-wing Cuban-Americans based in Miami. They are not the spies the US government and media portray them to be; the information they gathered wasn’t a threat to national security, it was public information freely available.

The Cuban Five were keeping surveillance on criminals in anti-Cuban terrorist circles and informing Havana of planned attacks. Since 1998 Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and René Gonzalez have been subjected to torture, both physical and psychological. They have been denied visitation rights, placed in solitary confinement and been mistreated by prison officials.

During the 1990s when Cuba was facing serious hardship brought about by a loss of access to oil, the US government chose that time to tighten the blockade on Cuba, threatening the lives of all Cubans. Fighting to keep the Cuban population alive and to continue to deliver free access to medical care, education and more, Cuba opened up a tourist industry. It was during this time the terrorist attacks from US soil increased targeting tourism with bombs being set off in hotels – one killing an Italian tourist Fabio De Celmo and injuring many more.

Three thousand five hundred Cuban lives have been lost to attacks from right-wing Cuban exiles operating with impunity in the United States. When the Cuban government alerted the US of the planned attacks the Five had uncovered, the US arrested the Cuban Five.

After their arrest, an unjust politically motivated trial was held leading to a total of four life sentences plus 75 years in prison. The Five were separated and detained in high-security prisons and since then Olga Villanueva and Adriana Perez; the wives of Gerardo and Rene have consistently been denied visas to visit their husbands.

Speakers who addressed the rally told of the conspiracy by the US government to use the US media to unleash a propaganda campaign of unprecedented hatred and hostility by employing “journalists” to publish articles and commentaries that were repeated day and night to produce a storm of misinformation. The interference, however, went way beyond propaganda, with the media producing material to influence the members of the jury that the judge had ruled inadmissible. These materials could only have been provided by the US Attorney’s office.

It was a systematic effort throughout the period of the Five’s prosecution, in which many millions of dollars were invested to guarantee the unjust convictions of the five Cuban patriots who have now served 14 years of arbitrary and illegal punishment.

Rene Gonzalez has completed his sentence but remains in the US because Judge Joan Lenard has ordered he serve a three-year probation in Miami. The ACFS in WA believes this is an extension of his imprisonment and continues to call on President Obama for his freedom along with the other four heroes.  

Next article – All of NSW up for grabs under new CSG rules

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