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For 'Los Cinco,' another try for justice

'Free the Cuban Five!'

This column was first published by Prison Radio on Aug. 25, 2007. For more information, visit

For five Cuban men held in U.S. gulags, there is at least a chance of justice as they try to reverse what happened in 2001, when they were convicted of spying, conspiracy and unregistered foreign agent charges.

The men, known as the Cuban 5 in the U.S., and simply Los Cincos back in their homeland, came to the U.S., not to


National march to free the Five, Sept. 23, 2006, Washington, D.C.
Photo: Bill Hackwell

hurt Americans, or to engage in acts of terror. They came because Miami was the site of a fevered campaign of attacks on Cuban tourism sites, and thus, they came to protect their country from aggression planned, armed, and propelled from these shores.

In the eyes of the U.S. government, however, they are now part of the so-called 'war on terror', and at their original trial, the prosecutor argued that they were "bent on the destruction of America."

Such an argument would be dangerous anywhere, but in Miami, where the original trial took place, it was virtually lethal.

Miami is the core of an anti-Castro community that breathes enmity for the revolutionary government in Havana.

A trial in such an atmosphere, where Cuban-Americans wield economic and political power, is the very antithesis of a fair trial before one's peers, and could only have one result. The men moved for a change of venue, but the trial court denied the motion.

Of the 5 men, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, and Antonio Guerrero, are facing life sentences. Two others, Rene Gonzalez, and Fernando Gonzalez, face 15 and 19 year bits, respectively.

To call them "terrorists" is to misuse the term for, if anything, they are anti-terrorists, for they tried to find ways to halt attacks on their homeland, Cuba.

In an interview with the BBC in July, Hernandez explained why he and the others came to the U.S.: "They are people who've got training camps there in paramilitary organizations and they go to Cuba and commit sabotage, bombs and all kinds of aggressions."

The case of the Cuban 5 is one in stark contrast to the legal proceedings around 79-year old Luis Posada Carriles, who was released from U.S. jails, despite the fact that he is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba for his role in hotel bombings and even airline bombings from the 1970s to the '90s.

To the U.S., this guy who did his deeds at the behest of the CIA isn't even a criminal, he's not a terrorist!

Bombing hotels and airplanes is apparently acceptable, if the U.S. government doesn't like the people on the planes.

The struggle for the Cuban 5 is growing into an international movement.

Copyright Mumia Abu-Jamal

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