[Ppnews] Activists converge on White House demanding freedom for Cuban Five

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Sep 26 13:46:25 EDT 2006


Activists converge on White House demanding freedom for Cuban Five
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
By: Gloria La Riva

Terrorist Posada's possible release denounced

Over 600 people traveled from 30 cities across 
the United States to march in the first 
demonstration for five Cuban men serving long 
prison sentences for actively opposing 
U.S-supported anti-Cuba terrorists in Miami.

The demonstration received significant media 
coverage in the U.S. and international media. The Associated Press
photo of the demonstrators in front of the White 
House circulated widely in various media outlets. 
The Cuban newspaper, Granma, featured a dramatic 
photo taken by Party for Socialism and Liberation 
organizer Bill Hackwell on its front page.

Other media coverage in the build-up to the 
demonstration included important articles in the 
Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, the 
Washington Post and the New York Daily News. 
Telesur and other Spanish-language media provided 
excellent coverage of the Sept. 23 demonstration.

Movement rallies following 11th Circuit decision

The five men, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio 
Guerrero, Ramón Labanino, Fernando González, and 
René González, were convicted in June 2001 of 
espionage conspiracy charges. Although they won a 
new trial in August 2005, the plenum of the 11th 
Circuit Court in Atlanta reversed their court 
victory. Their attorneys are continuing the appeals process.

The march began at the Justice Department on 
Pennsylvania Avenue, where buses, vans and cars 
from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey, 
Chicago, Ohio, Virginia, and other areas 
unloaded. The Justice Department was chosen 
because of U.S. attorney general Alberto 
Gonzales’s failure to classify Luis Posada 
Carriles as a terrorist, which could set the stage for his imminent release.

Protestors expressed their anger at Gonzales’s 
inaction and the continued incarceration of the 
Cuban Five, by chanting, "Jail Posada, free the Five!"

Victims of anti-Cuban terrorism honored in front of White House

A strong White House picket filled the entire 
sidewalk and spilled onto Pennsylvania Avenue. 
Before the march continued to the public forum at 
George Washington University, march leader Andrés 
Gómez conducted a solemn ceremony. Each of the 
names of anti-Cuba terrorist crimes was read, 
followed by the crowd shouting, "Justicia!"

Gómez read the 73 names of the passengers and 
crew onboard the Cubana airliner downed on Oct. 
6, 1976 by mercenary bombs, the name of Orlando 
Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, of Fabio Di Celmo, 
killed by a mercenary bomb arranged by Posada, 
and of Carlos Muniz Varela, gunned down in Puerto 
Rico in 1979 by members of the police, who were 
paid by rightwing Cuban American terrorists.

The marchers proceeded to the indoor public 
forum, where family members of the victims of terrorism, among others, spoke.

The Five were fighting terrorism

Francisco Letelier, son of Orlando Letelier, who 
was assassinated 30 years ago by terrorists, said, "Today we know

that the [Cuban Five] were undertaking the task 
that intelligence agencies are really supposed to 
undertake, the discovering of information, the 
investigation of crimes of terror. Today, 30 
years later we know that Posada Carriles is 
implicated in the death of my father."

Letelier continued, "People have asked me today, 
why are you here? To me it is very clear. The 
story of the Cuban Five is connected to an 
historical relationship throughout the Americas, 
of people pursuing sovereignty, the right to live 
in peace, self-determination, justice. That is 
why I am here today, one more voice, one more 
story, one more person that joins this much 
greater movement, a coalition amongst all of us."

Livio Di Celmo noted, "It was Sept. 4, 1997, when 
I received a call from Havana. I could recognize 
my father’s voice, very different from his usual 
voice. He had just told me that my brother was 
killed by a bomb. A mercenary had been paid 
$5,000 for every bomb he was putting in Cuba. The 
man paying him was Luis Posada Carriles."

Di Celmo said, "Fabio was sitting right next to 
the bomb, a piece of shrapnel cut his throat. By 
the time he got to the hospital there was not one 
drop of blood left in his body. Slowly but 
surely, I started discovering that Cuba had 
suffered over 3,400 innocent Cuban civilians 
being killed by terrorist groups from the rightwing Cubans living in Miami.

In my research, I found out about the struggle of 
the Five. My first thing to do was to write the 
Free the Five organization in the United States, 
and pledge my support to them, said Di Celmo. "We 
have developed a relationship ever since. My 
anger is vanishing slowly and I am very committed 
to help the cause of the Five."

Political struggle essential

Leonard Weinglass, appeals attorney for the Cuban 
Five, explained the latest legal developments. Speaking of the


Francisco Letelier speaks to a packed house at the forum.

appeals decision last year granting a new trial, 
Weinglass said, "That was a 93-page unanimous 
opinion, the longest opinion ever in the history 
of the United States on the issue of venue.

"We were very pleased with it. We rejoiced with 
that result, we prepared for the second trial, 
which we knew we could win. But Washington 
decided to appeal that decision to the entire 
eleventh circuit. The case was heard by 12 judges."

Weinglass continued, "They reinstated the 
convictions on Aug. 9 of this year. There remain 
nine additional issues which now go back before 
two judges of the federal appellate court. Those 
judges, as we sit today, are considering those 
nine additional issues. We are hopeful that if 
these two judges consider these issues in a fair 
and reasonable way, that the case will yet be set 
aside and the convictions will be reversed."

Weinglass emphasized the absolute necessity of 
political struggle: "In my experience with 
political cases such as this, the size of the 
support, the extent of the support, the breadth 
of the support is absolutely essential and 
critical to what happens in court. Lawyers are 
not listened in a case of this nature unless 
there are people outside of court who will stand 
up and stand with the Five," said Weinglass.

"It is very important in this critical period of 
time that we all stand together in large numbers, 
making our position clear, encouraging others to 
stand with them, and to finally reverse this 
injustice and to send the Five home to Cuba."

Breadth of support grows

Other speakers were Wayne Smith, ex-chief of the 
U.S. Interests Section in Havana, José Pertierra, 
Venezuela’s attorney for the extradition petition 
of Posada; Akbar Muhammad, international 
representative of the Nation of Islam; Heidi 
Boghosian, executive director of the National 
Lawyers Guild; Saul Landau, fellow, Institute for 
Policy Studies; Andrés Gómez, coordinator, 
Antonio Maceo Brigade; Peta Lindsay, youth 
organizer with ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop 
War and End Racism); Gloria La Riva, coordinator, 
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five; and 
Cheryl LaBash for the National Network on Cuba.

The action was sponsored by the National 
Committee to Free the Cuban Five, la Alianza 
Martiana, the ANSWER Coalition, the National 
Lawyers Guild, the National Network on Cuba, the 
Nation of Islam, the FMLN and the GWU Progressive Student Union.

For more information on the case of the Cuban 
Five, visit <http://freethefive.org/>http://freethefive.org/.

The Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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