Documentary film tour publicizes case of ‘Cuban 5’

Photo: H. Nordelo
From Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, thousands of people are learning about the lives of five Cuban political prisoners held in the United States. A new documentary, “Mission Against Terror,” premiered across the country in February highlighting the case of these imprisoned heroes, known to their supporters as the “Cuban Five.”


The tour was sponsored by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five as well as numerous local host organizations. Irish film producer Bernie Dwyer, who lives and works in Havana as a journalist with Radio Havana Cuba, premiered the film in 22 cities across the country. The documentary follows the case of the Cuban Five, who are unjustly imprisoned in the U.S. for doing nothing more than preventing terrorism against the Cuban people.


Since January 1, 1959, when the Cuban people carried out a successful revolution against the oppressive Batista regime, the United States government has been trying to overthrow the Cuban revolution. The Cuban Five are imprisoned today because they opposed the U.S. government’s plans, infiltrating counterrevolutionary groups in Miami that had carried out terrorist attacks against Cuba. The heroism and sacrifice of the Five are a reflection of the Cuban people’s strong commitment to the revolution.


Arrested on Sept. 12, 1998, by the FBI, the Cuban Five have been in prison for six years. The men—Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, René González, and Fernando González—were sentenced in Miami federal court in December 2001 to a total of four life terms and 75 years. Their appeal is pending in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Mission Against Terror” shows historical footage of terrorism against Cuba and provides a moving depiction of the case of the Cuban Five. It features interviews with Cuban National Assembly president Ricardo Alarcón, former CIA agent Philip Agee, attorney Leonard Weinglass, Miami Cuban activist Andrés Gómez, and family members of the Cuban Five.


While telling the story of the five wrongly convicted men, “Mission Against Terror” focuses mainly on the heartbreak and turmoil confronting the families left behind, and the great support they receive from the people and government of Cuba.

“Mission against Terror,” co-produced by Dwyer and Cuban television producer Roberto Ruiz, was featured at the 2004 Havana Film Festival in December.

Across the country, the film showing received a great response.


In Washington, D.C., people from Baltimore and the surrounding area came to see the film. It was the largest D.C. event taking up Cuba in a long time, drawing over 150 people. It was sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition and the No War on Cuba Movement.

The 48-minute documentary received a standing ovation from the audience. The film sparked questions and comments from many in the audience. An auction of copies of the DVD helped raise money to further the freedom campaign. After hearing about the film, another community center has requested a copy to schedule another screening in the Washington area.

In Philadelphia, the film was so well received at three public events that promoters are planning for more screenings. Stephen Paulmier, of the Philadelphia Free the Five Committee said, “One of the most poignant moments was the screening at Taller Puertorriqueño, the Puerto Rican community center. Fresh from a tremendous victory in ejecting the US military from the island of Vieques and the liberation of several of the political prisoners held for their just avocation for the independence of Puerto Rico, the community gladly sponsored the film on short notice.”

Filmmaker Bernie Dwyer with organizers of Washington, D.C. premiere showing of ‘Mission Against Terror.’

At the New York event, Swayduck Auditorium in New School University was filled to capacity. Three hundred attended the event, and many others were turned away. A second event is planned. It was organized by the New York Committee to Free the Cuban Five and supported by Cuba Solidarity New York, Venceremos Brigade, Pastors for Peace and others. Orlando Requeijo, Cuba’s ambassador at the United Nations, spoke. He and Dwyer answered many questions from the audience. Dozens of DVDs of the film were sold.

In Highland, N.Y., several hours north of New York City, the New Paltz-based Caribbean and Latin America Support Project (CLASP) hosted the premier film showing. After seeing the film, many of the activists were encouraged to take action on behalf of the Five. Everyone signed a petition calling on George Bush to release the five Cubans.

The film was shown in Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Highland, N.Y., Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle, Eugene, Ore., and Olympia, Wash. In California alone, premiere showings were held in Santa Cruz, Palo Alto, San Jose, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Oakland.

To receive copies of the film or schedule a screening, contact the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five:

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