[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
Gonzaless failure to classify Luis Posada
Carriles as a terrorist, which could set the stage for his imminent release.
Protestors expressed their anger at Gonzaless
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 fathers 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,
Venezuelas 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
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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