[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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