United States: Cuba demands freedom for anti-terrorist prisoners

Issue 

"The Cuban Five must be released", Cuban National Assembly president Ricardo Alarcon said in a televised August 11 speech, an El Habanero article said the following day. Speaking directly to US President Barack Obama, Alarcon said: "You could and should free them immediately."

Alarcon was referring to the case of the five Cuban men who infiltrated terrorist anti-Cuban groups in Miami and warned the Cuban authorities of planned attacks. The five have been held unjustly in US jails since September 12, 1998.

The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez. They were subjected to a flawed trial in Miami. In an act of gratuitous cruelty, the US has refused visas to relatives of the five to enter the US from Cuba to visit the men in prison.

Adriana Perez, the wife of Hernandez, was told on July 15 (her wedding anniversary) by the US state department that her latest request to visit her husband she hasn't seen for 11 years was refused.

The state department's justification was that Perez "is a threat to the stability and national security of the United States".

On August 1, the Cuban National Assembly issued a declaration to the "parliaments and peoples of the world" calling for support for its demand for freedom for the five men.

The statement accused the US of "turning a deaf ear to the repeated petitions of religious, human rights, trade union and intellectual organisations from all over the world".

The statement said: "The president has the constitutional authority and the moral obligation to see that justice is carried out. He can and must do so."

Alarcon said: "We have to use all the possible resources to achieve [the five's release], even with our teeth."

He said that while five compatriots were behind bars in the US for trying to stop terrorist attacks, confessed terrorists such as Luis Posada Carriles freely walk Miami streets, hobnobbing with the Mafia "and thinking up new terrorist plans against our country".

Posoda was a mastermind of the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airplane that killed 73 people.

Alarcon said that until the Cuban Five are free, there could be no possible normal relations with the US.

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