[Ppnews] Resentencings in US Reignite Passions Over the Cuban Five
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Oct 12 16:52:06 EDT 2009
The Washington Post: Resentencings in U.S.
Reignite Passions Over the 'Cuban Five'
William Booth 2009-10-12
Monday, October 12, 2009
HAVANA -- Throughout the Cuban countryside are
hand-painted murals featuring the famous faces of
the revolution, Che and Fidel, of course, but
also René, Antonio, Fernando, Gerardo and Ramón
-- known here as "Los Cinco," the Cuban Five, no last names necessary.
The men were confessed spies* who operated the
Wasp Network in Miami during the late 1990s,
where they infiltrated Cuban American exile
organizations that opposed the Castro regime,
including the group Brothers to the Rescue, whose
two planes were shot down by Cuban fighter jets
over the Florida Straits. The Five were convicted
in 2001 of espionage* and conspiracy to commit
murder** and received sentences ranging from 15 years to life in prison.
After years of legal appeals in the United States
-- and vigorous condemnation by Cuban officials,
who call the trial a farce -- three of the Cuban
Five are about to be re-sentenced by a federal
judge in Miami. An appeals court threw out
sentences for three defendants last year, ruling
their punishment too harsh because the government
never proved the spies had traded in "top secret" intelligence.
The first of the three, Antonio Guerrero, is
scheduled to appear Tuesday before U.S. District
Judge Joan A. Lenard. In court papers filed
Friday, lawyers struck a deal to recommend a
20-year term. Guerrero, 50, has been serving life
at a federal maximum-security prison in Florence,
Colo., where, his attorney said, he has been a
model prisoner, helping other inmates earn their high school diplomas.
"He has been serving all this time, thinking that
he would never get out," Leonard Weinglass said.
A sentencing hearing for the other two -- Ramón
Labañino and Fernando González -- has been
postponed, as lawyers argue about whether the
U.S. government must show what harm was done by the intelligence agents.
Every twist and turn regarding the Cuban Five is
followed closely in Cuba, where even
schoolchildren can recite details of the case,
and it is unlikely that a slim reduction in
Guerrero's sentence will win any applause. In
Miami's Cuban exile community, some consider the
intelligence agents killers. Four U.S. citizens
died in the Brothers to the Rescue shoot-down.
After a seven-month trial, in the emotional
aftermath of the Elian Gonzalez affair, the jury
deliberated only a few hours before deciding its verdict.
"It is impossible to overstate how big the Five
are in Cuba," said Thomas Goldstein, a
constitutional lawyer who has worked on the case
for the Cuban government. "They are viewed as
symbols of U.S. injustice, and the consensus here
is they received unfair trials and were given impossibly long sentences."
When the U.S. Supreme Court declined in June to
hear appeals for the Cuban Five, Cuban National
Assembly President Ricardo Alarcón said that any
future talks with the Obama administration must
include a discussion about their fate.
After President Obama was elected, Cuban
President Raúl Castro said, "Let's make a gesture
for a gesture," and suggested that his government
would free its political prisoners and let them
leave the island -- "but give us back our heroes."
"If you look at this case, you have to be
appalled. The case stinks," said Wayne Smith, a
former top U.S. diplomat in Havana who is now a
senior fellow at Center for International Policy
in Washington. "Therefore the Cuban see an
advantage in raising it, and making an issue of
it, and they will keep it up, because world opinion is on their side."
* Note of Editor
http://www.antiterroristas.cu: This is a
mistake: The Cuban Five were never accused of
espionage, only three of them, Gerardo, Ramón and
Antonio, were charged with Conspiracy to Commit
Espionage; and they never pleaded guilty to those crimes.
** Note of Editor http://www.antiterroristas.cu:
Gerardo Hernández was the only one accused of
Conspiracy to commit murder and he never pleaded guilty.
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