Activists from all over the U.S. converge
on the White House to demand freedom for Cuban Five
Terrorist Posada's possible release is denounced
The following report was released by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five:
Over 600 people traveled from 30 cities across the United States to march in the first demonstration for five Cuban men serving long prison sentences for actively opposing U.S.- supported anti-Cuba terrorists in Miami.
The five men, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labanino, Fernando González, and René González, were convicted in June 2001 of espionage conspiracy charges. Although they won a new trial in Aug. 2005, the plenum of the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta reversed their court victory. Their attorneys are continuing the appeals process.
The march began at the Justice Department on Pennsylvania, where buses, vans and cars from New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Jersey, Chicago, Ohio, Virginia, and other areas unloaded. The Justice Department was chosen because of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ failure to classify Luis Posada Carriles as a terrorist, which could set the stage for his imminent release.
Protestors expressed their anger at Gonzales’ inaction and the continued incarceration of the Cuban Five, by chanting, “Jail Posada, free the Five.”
A strong White House picket filled the entire sidewalk and spilled onto Pennsylvania Avenue. Before the march continued to the public forum at the George Washington University, march leader Andrés Gómez conducted a solemn ceremony. Each of the names of anti-Cuba terrorist crimes was read, followed by the crowd shouting, “Justicia.”
Gómez read the 73 names of the passengers and crew onboard the Cubana airliner downed Oct. 6, 1976 by mercenary bombs, the name of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt, of Fabio Di Celmo, killed by a mercenary bomb arranged by Posada, and of Carlos Muniz Varela, gunned down in Puerto Rico in 1979 by members of the police, who were in turn paid by rightwing Cuban-American terrorists.
The marchers proceeded to the indoor public forum, where family members of the victims of terrorism, among others, spoke.
Francisco Letelier, son of Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated 30 years ago by terrorists, said, “Today we know that the [Cuban Five] were undertaking the task that intelligence agencies are really supposed to undertake, the discovering of information, the investigation of crimes of terror. Today, 30 years later we know that Posada Carriles is implicated in the death of my father.
“People have asked me today, why are you here? To me it is very clear. The story of the Cuban Five is connected to an historical relationship throughout the Americas, of people pursuing sovereignty, the right to live in peace, self-determination, justice. That is why I am here today, one more voice, one more story, one more person that joins this much greater movement, a coalition amongst all of us.”
Livio Di Celmo said, “It was Sept. 4, 1997, when I received a call from Havana. I could recognize my father’s voice, very different from his usual voice. He had just told me that my brother was killed by a bomb. A mercenary had been paid $5,000 for every bomb he was putting in Cuba. The man paying him was Luis Posada Carriles.
“Fabio was sitting right next to the bomb, a piece of shrapnel cut his throat. By the time he got to the hospital there was not one drop of blood left in his body.
“Slowly but surely I started discovering that Cuba had suffered over 3,400 innocent Cuban civilians being killed by terrorist groups from the rightwing Cubans living in Miami.
“In my research I found out about the struggle of the Five. My first thing to do was to write the Free the Five organization, and pledge my support to them. We have developed a relationship ever since. My anger is vanishing slowly and I am very committed to help the cause of the Five.”
Leonard Weinglass, appeals attorney for the Cuban Five, explained the latest legal developments. Speaking of the appeals decision last year granting a new trial, Weinglass said, “That was a 93-page unanimous opinion, the longest opinion ever in the history of the United States on the issue of venue.
“We were very pleased with it. We rejoiced with that result, we prepared for the second trial, which we knew we could win. But Washington decided to appeal that decision to the entire eleventh circuit. The case was heard by 12 judges.
“They reinstated the convictions on Aug. 9 of this year. There remain nine additional issues which now go back before two judges of the federal appellate court. Those judges, as we sit today, are considering those nine additional issues.
“We are hopeful that if these two judges consider these issues in a fair and reasonable way, that the case will yet be set aside and the convictions will be reversed.”
"In my experience with political cases such as this, the size of the support, the extent of the support, the breadth of the support is absolutely essential and critical to what happens in court. Lawyers are not listened in a case of this nature unless there are people outside of court who will stand up and stand with the Five. It is very important in this critical period of time, that we all stand together in large numbers, making our position clear, encouraging others to stand with them, and to finally reverse this injustice and to send the Five home to Cuba.”
Other speakers were Wayne Smith, ex-chief of the U.S. Interests Section, José Pertierra, Venezuela’s attorney for the extradition petition of Posada; Akbar Muhammad, International Representative of the Nation of Islam; Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild; Saul Landau, fellow, Institute for Policy Studies; Andrés Gómez, coordinator, Antonio Maceo Brigade; Peta Lindsay, youth organizer with A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; Gloria La Riva, coordinator, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five; and Cheryl LaBash for the National Network on Cuba.
The action was sponsored by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, la Alianza Martiana, the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, National Lawyers Guild, National Network on Cuba, Nation of Islam, FMLN, GWU Progressive Student Union.
Demonstration organizers also noted that September 23rd is the anniversary of the Grito de Lares, marking Puerto Rico's struggle for independence, and is also the first anniversary of the FBI murder of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, fighter for Puerto Rican independence. As Gloria La Riva said in front of the White House, "The assassination of brother Filiberto Ojeda Rios is one more act of U.S.-sponsored state terrorism."
More photos will be posted soon.
For more information on the case of the Cuban Five, visit freethefive.org
Watch preliminary video of the March
Donate to sustain the campaign to Free the Cuban and Extradite Posada!
Your help is needed to sustain the momentum from September 23, and continue to put together forums, protests, and film showings in support of the Cuban people. Thanks to the tireless work of the volunteers for the September 23 March and Forum to Free the Cuban Five, the event was a great success. In the weeks leading up to the protest, we handed out thousands of flyers, put up beautiful full-color posters, and put together educational materials to spread awareness of the case of the Cuban Five. If you support the Cuban Five, and can help cover the numerous costs incurred throughout the mobilization, please make a generous donation by clicking here.