"Nothing looks more like a fear of the truth than the unjust incarceration of the five heroes of Cuba." (Manu Chao)

By Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada Member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba

SINCE September 12, 1998 the U.S. government has held Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez in arbitrary and illegal imprisonment.

These are eight years of injustice and shame, and cynical complicity with terrorism. Washington always admitted that its proposition in acting against the Five was to protect and shelter the anti-Cuban terrorist groups that are operating freely from U.S. territory. Our compatriots fought heroically against those groups. For that reason, just for that reason alone, they are being punished with infamous cruelty.

They have also been eight years of blameworthy silence on the part of the main media that has diligently followed the order to conceal the truth. They have done so without blinking knowing that in this way they will facilitate the cruel and unjustifiable treatment of five innocent men and the impunity of the assassins and their sponsors.

During this long period the U.S. public has only been allowed to know minor details of this issue, and information available to those living in other allegedly democratic societies has been equally scant. In the words of U.S. historian Howard Zinn: "You know, the five Cubans that have been imprisoned in the United States is something that is secret from the people of the United States." For his part, Ignacio Ramonet describes the situation in respect of Europe: "The European media is applying a generalized boycott; neither the papers, radio or television are covering this story. We are facing a deed that is totally censored."

The explicit recognition on the part of the U.S. authorities that their objective was to defend terrorist gangs should have been outstanding news from the initial charges and throughout one of the most prolonged legal proceedings in history. They even proclaimed it shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, when Mr. Bush and his sect never flagged in their incessant and lying sermons against terrorism. They demanded that the Miami Court, in addition to disproportionate sentences, should impose specific measures on the Five in order to ensure that, never again, once their prison terms were served, could they attempt anything to the detriment of the criminals. That was repeated time and time again, as the trial minutes show, and which acceded to the petition with this shameful sentence: "As a further special condition of supervised release the defendant is prohibited from associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence, and organized crime figures are known to be and frequent."

The fraudulent legal proceedings against the Five are, among other things, an affront to all the victims of terrorism, and a particular insult to all the U.S. citizens who died on that September 11. Hence the complicit silence of the main media. Hence the order to conceal the truth.

Unarmed, without causing any damage to anybody, without ever using force, but exclusively availing themselves of their will, talent and an unlimited disposition to personal sacrifice, our valiant brothers, risking everything, penetrated the worst enclaves of Miami, succeeded in discovering some of their criminal plots and contributed to avoiding them. For that they are and always will be deserving of the eternal gratitude of our people and are gaining an ever-growing solidarity throughout the world.

They will also receive the acknowledgement of the U.S. people who, one day, will succeed in defeating the immoral regime that is currently oppressing and deceiving them.

Our compatriots fulfilled a thousand-fold heroic mission by sacrificing their personal and family happiness and undertaking extremely dangerous tasks in the face of unscrupulous thugs backed by a government as guilty as the malefactors.

They were carrying out an indispensable, peaceful and noble mission. Defending their homeland and people from systematic aggression, including acts of terrorism, that have caused the loss of thousands of lives and substantial material damage. The evidence is overwhelming. Ignoring it is infamous.

Those who planned, directed and even celebrated the destruction in full flight off Barbados of a civilian Cuban aircraft and the horrific death of its 73 occupants on October 6, 1976 are to be found right now in U.S. territory, protected by the federal authorities.

For 30 years the U.S. government has covered up the abominable act and has protected its masterminds, Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch. Official documents declassified in 2005 clearly prove that that government knew of the sinister plot several months in advance, that it knew the identity and whereabouts of the perpetrators and then, over 30 years, it proceeded to prevent any action by the courts of justice.

In the summer of that same year, the terrorist group calling itself CORU placed various explosive devices in airport facilities in the Caribbean region with the intention of sabotaging flights to Cuba. In a public meeting in Caracas that September Orlando Bosch publicly acknowledged his responsibility for the assassination of the former Chilean foreign minister, Orlando Letelier, that took place on the 21st of that month in Washington DC and announced that, based on that "success," he was planning an act of great magnitude. In the same meeting Posada stated that this would consist of the destruction of a Cuban aircraft.

All of the abovementioned is recorded in confidential CIA and State Department reports. The Reagan-Bush government did absolutely nothing to prevent those actions from being carried out; it did not lift a finger to warn the victims or make any effort whatsoever, before or afterwards, to arrest the culprits. None of that was news, according to the big-business media, not last year when those reports were made public, and not now, when they are constantly talking about other hypothetical plans. The Barbados crime continues to go unpunished, covered by 30 years of silence and complicity.

Mr. Bosch has tried to justify that in the most cynical way. He has done so every time he felt like it on TV, radio and the print media of the mafia in Miami. He has just reiterated it, moreover, in an interview with La Vanguardia of Barcelona. Nobody has protested, however, in the United States or Europe. Because Bosch has enjoyed the protection of the Bush clan for many years.

Wasn’t he there on television on that shameless Miami platform, with the man who went there to express his thanks for the fraud that enabled him to take over the White House in 2001? Didn’t he pass through the streets of that city in February 2003, leading the march he had organized, the only one on the planet supporting the war, with that slogan of "Iraq now, Cuba later"? Has the FBI or the U.S. media ever gone to interrogate him, even once, after more than eight years since the publication of official documents indicating that he, Bosch, participated in the plot to assassinate Orlando Letelier? Have they forgotten that the monstrous crime occurred in broad daylight in the country’s capital, and that a young woman from the United States, Ronnie Mofitt, also died there, blown apart?

Posada Carriles has published his autobiography in which he gives a thorough account of his crimes up until the early 1990s; subsequently, on July 12 and 13 of 1998, he gave a front-page interview to The New York Times taking full responsibility for the bomb attacks in Havana the year before, including the one that killed the young Italian Fabio Di Celmo (something for which he did not repent; on the contrary, he said that it didn’t stop him from "sleeping like a baby"); and he has acknowledged in other interviews the many lives that he has cut short and the backing that he has received to do so from Washington and Miami.

Posada has now been in the United States for a year and a half, in a country that he supposedly entered without complying with immigration formalities. That and nothing more has been thrown in his face by the authorities that are keeping him in comfortable custody. During that same period of time, tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants have been jailed and deported without any consideration, and thousands more have lost their lives in the desert or at the hands of immigrant-hunters.

Posada enjoys absolutely unique privileges. He has lawyers to defend him and newspapers and radio and TV stations in Miami that not only support him, but praise him as a hero and pay tribute to his perverse career.

Posada claims that he has a right to U.S. citizenship, and is using as his main argument precisely his unspeakable crimes, which, according to him, were committed at the service of the United States government, with its backing and patronage.

Attacking a civilian airliner was qualified, a long time ago, as an unpardonable act that all nations are obliged to prevent, and when the case occurs, to punish severely. The Montreal Convention was signed in 1971 to ensure that. The international community was able to overcome the contradictions of that Cold War era and reached a consensus regarding certain principles that were being vigorously demanded by transport companies and trade unions of that industry’s workers. Under no circumstances, whatever the motives of those responsible or political or any other considerations, would allow that type of act to evade justice. Article 7 of that Convention cannot be more clear or categorical. The State in whose territory someone is accused of having attacked civil aviation has only two options: either the individual is extradited to the country that has applied for it, or "it shall be obliged, with no exceptions" to charge and try that individual.

It has now been a year and a half, nevertheless, that Posada has been in the United States, enjoying the protection of Bush Jr. just as was done before for Bosch by Bush Sr. They have not extradited him to Venezuela, and they have not initiated a trial in the United States for the destruction of a civilian airliner in mid-flight.

Even worse. They admit that they have approached at least six countries trying to find him refuge. They are looking for an accomplice who will help prevent Posada from being tried and sentenced as a terrorist.

The culprits of many other acts that have caused death and suffering to our people continue to enjoy government protection in the United States. But that impunity has also been extended to other territories under U.S. jurisdiction. The murders of Santiago Mari Pesquera and Carlos Muñiz Varela carried out by the CORU in Puerto Rico continue to go unpunished.

These irrefutable truths are more than enough proof of the innocence of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René. Cuba has had to and has to defend itself from Washington’s terrorism. Our five compatriots did not commit any crime. What they did was a heroic deed that deserved praise, not punishment.

However, they remain in prison and subjected to a shady legal proceedings plagued with arbitrary acts and in which the regulations and procedures of the U.S. system have been violated. Any of those violations would have been sufficient to overturn the entire process from the start.

The solitary confinement imposed on them for 17 months after they were arrested; the extreme difficulties they had in communicating with their defense lawyers; the fact that both lawyers and defendants were denied access to the supposed prosecution evidence; the holding of the "trial" in Miami under the pressure and anti-Cuban hysteria exacerbated there during the kidnapping of Elian, which coincided with the charges being brought against our compañeros; the intense campaign that was unleashed against the Five by the local media that prominently featured several self-described journalists who, as revealed just last Friday, were actually paid employees of the anti-Cuban propaganda apparatus of the United States government.

Any of those elements would be sufficient to declare the entire proceedings against them null and void.

But they continue to be unjustly imprisoned, and their sacrifice and that of their families is being prolonged.

Independently of the results in the legal battle that they will continue to wage against the maneuvers of a government as deceptive as Bush’s, it is necessary to redouble and broaden out international solidarity and to not rest in efforts to make the truth known.

The solidarity of the peoples is the only means of bringing them justice. Today, throughout the world, a series of international are taking place to demand freedom for our five selfless compañeros and to demand justice for all victims of terrorism. The events will continue until October 6, the anniversary of that abominable Barbados crime. And they will not end on that day.

Solidarity will grow: until the heroes are liberated. Until the terrorists are punished.

(Translation by Granma International)

Cuban News Agency