The Cuban Five, Luis Posada and the U.S. anti-Cuba campaign

A series of legal rulings have increased the urgent need to build support for Cuba’s struggle against U.S. terror. Anti-Cuba terrorist and CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles got legal support to avoid extradition to Venezuela, while Cuban anti-terrorists known as the Cuban Five face new legal challenges to winning their freedom.

Millions of Cubans are waiting for the Cuban Five to come home.

Photo: Bill Hackwell

The Cuban Five—Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero, René González, Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino—have been imprisoned in the United States since September 1998. They were arrested during the Clinton presidency and tried and sentenced under the Bush administration. Republican and Democrat administrations alike have put the full weight of the U.S. policy of repression against Cuba on these five young men. 

It was precisely the lack of response by the U.S. government to terrorist threats against Cuba that brought the Cuban Five to the United States to monitor anti-Cuban terrorist groups in Miami in the 1990s. These Cuban exile groups have been responsible for hundreds of terrorist actions against Cuba, which caused the death of almost 3,500 of its people. The case demonstrates not only the inaction of the U.S. government against these terrorists but its all-out complicity in anti-Cuba terror.

From the beginning, the case of the Cuban Five has been highly charged politically. That continues to this day as the case drags through the U.S. federal legal system. The Cuban Five should never have been arrested nor tried for their mission of opposing terrorism. Instead, it is the terrorists—responsible for horrendous crimes committed against Cuba—who should have been brought to trial on criminal charges. 

After their arrest, and after spending 17 months in solitary confinement, the Five were put on trial in Miami—the base for anti-communist Cuban exiles. There was no possible way for them to receive a fair trial. Concluding a seven-month trial full of irregularities and prejudice, three of the Cuban Five were sentenced to life in prison and the other two to 19 and 15 years in December 2001. 

After receiving their sentences, they waited more than two years for the case to be heard by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In March 2004, the defense lawyers were allowed only 15 minutes to present their oral arguments for the Five in front of a panel of three judges. It took another 17 months for these three judges to come out with a strong and unanimous decision. 

On August 9, the appeals court presented a 93-page document overturning the convictions of the Cuban Five and ordering a new trial. An unprecedented ruling, it is the most extensive decision regarding venue in the U.S. federal appeals court system. 

Photo: Bill Hackwell

The three-judge panel unanimously agreed that pervasive prejudice against Cuba in Miami, combined with prosecutorial misconduct during trial, made it impossible for the Cuban Five to be tried fairly in Miami.

But the U.S. government, vengefully pursuing the case, appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals of Atlanta to rehear the Aug. 9 decision through an en banc hearing, before all 12 judges. On Oct. 31, a majority of the judges voted in favor of granting a rehearing, thus reinstating the convictions.

United States harbors anti-Cuba terrorist Posada

In contrast, on Oct. 26, five days before this new development took place, the Department of Homeland Security let expire without an appeal the ruling refusing to extradite Luis Posada Carriles. Posada Carriles is a notorious confessed terrorist and one of the masterminds of the October 1976 bombing of a Cubana airlines plane, killing 73 innocent people. 

Last March, when Posada entered the United States illegally with the help of some of his partners in crime, media around the world raised the hypocrisy of the Bush administration in its phony war on terror. Yet, Oct. 26 passed almost unnoticed by the big U.S. media networks. On Oct. 27, Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel newspaper published an article quoting Wayne S. Smith, the former chief of the U.S. Interest Section in Havana about the latest developments in the Posada case. “Observing all this,” Smith said, “other nations cannot but question the sincerity of the U.S. commitment to oppose terrorists and terrorism, no matter what their form. It’s more a matter of telling them to do as we tell them to do and not as we do.”

In response to the request for extradition by Venezuela last September, immigration judge William Abbott decided that the terrorist Posada should not be deported to Venezuela under the UN Convention Against Torture. This false argument lacks any evidence supporting the notion that he would be tortured in Venezuela. At the same time, the United States has systematically been deporting terrorism suspects since 2001 to countries known to use torture in their interrogations. 

This argument justifying the U.S. government’s refusal to extradite Posada to Venezuela came as images of torture and abuse shocked the world as U.S. soldiers humiliated hundreds of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo prisons.

Abbott’s decision does not invalidate the Venezuelan government’s extradition petition, since the immigration process is separate from the extradition process. U.S. government prosecutors and Posada’s defense worked hand-in-hand to make the case against Posada disappear. Like Posada’s terrorist accomplice Orlando Bosch, it appears that he may also be set free.

The Nov. 2 edition of the Cuban newspaper Granma International, wrote: “One has only to review the history of how Bosch took refuge in Miami to conclude that a third country willing to accept Posada will never appear. The end result this time, like before, will be another ‘presidential pardon’ from a member of the Bush dynasty—this time the son, as it was last time the father—with intermediary services by the mafia’s representatives in the House of Representatives, if they are so needed, when the deep ties involving the president’s family in Posada’s criminal history are already known.”

The same U.S. government that cites its phony war on terrorism to threaten countries around the world is protecting one of the most notorious terrorists of our time.

The Five are imprisoned not because they committed any crime, but because they are Cubans who are defending their homeland and revolution. The U.S. government has never forgiven the Cuban Revolution for ending U.S. domination of the Caribbean country.

The Cuban Five represent the dignity of the Cuban people who have resisted more than forty years of a bankrupt U.S. policy. After years of threats and hostility, nothing has destroyed the spirit of the Cuban Revolution.

Visit to find out more about the campaign to free the Cuban Five.

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