Cuban Five

Canadian connection to the Cuban Five

Tribunal Sept 21-23 will consider evidence

By Lisa Makarchuk

The Peoples' Tribunal and Assembly for the Cuban Five will be held in Toronto September 21 to 23.
Amnesty International and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions of the UN Human Rights Commission have, among others, come out strongly in favour of the Five. Justice for them demands our attention.

The Cuban Five, as they are known, are five men who attempted to stop terrorist activities launched from bases in Florida.

One Montreal resident was killed by a bomb set in a tourist hotel. Please find attached are a list of specific attacks where Canadian residents or Canada were involved and more facts regarding the case.

The Cuban government shared information about the terrorists with the FBI but because of a change in administration at Washington, the focus turned from cooperation to confrontation and the persons trying to stop these acts were the ones who were arrested instead of the terrorists.

The Cuban Five, whose only crime was trying to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba, were arrested in the US in September, 1998, and held in pre-trial isolation for 17 months. Twenty-six charges, mainly, conspiracy to commit espionage, were laid and a trial was held in Miami, the judge refusing a request for a change of venue. 

Because there was no evidence, conspiracy charges were laid as the burden of proof is much lighter. The most serious charge, conspiracy to commit murder, was laid against Gerardo Hernandez, a charge which the Prosecutor himself had asked the judge to remove as there was no evidence to back it. The judge refused.

Aside from the dearth of evidence against the Five, there was no damage to person or property; witnesses from the US military affirmed that any information gathered by the Five did not compromise the security of the US.

Despite one of the longest, most complex trials held in the US, the jury did not ask one question for clarification. Judge Lenard then imposed sentencing on the Five totaling four lifetimes plus 77 years.
Since the trial, it has been proven that journalists were paid by the US government to help foster a climate of hysteria against the Five.

Appeals on their behalf have gone nowhere except to vacate three of the sentences for somewhat lighter ones.

North American personalities such as actor Danny Glover, peace activist Cindy Sheehan, and documentary filmmaker Saul Landau, along with victims of terrorist acts against Cuba and against Canada, have been invited to the September tribunal.
Respected personalities in the legal field such as José Pertierra and civil rights lawyer William Sloan of Montreal, and well-known trade unionists from Canada, Cuba and the UK representing thousands of members, will also be present.

A media conference will be held on Friday, September 21, 11:00 a.m. at Metro Hall, Room 303, 55 John Street, Toronto. Participants will be available for individual interviews after the conference.

Present will be Adriana Perez, wife of Gerardo Gonzalez of the C5, speaks some English; Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Ramon Labanino of the C5, speaks good English; Margarita Morales, relative of a victim killed in the airliner bombing in 1974. We shall have two people available for translating from Spanish to English at the media conference.
Contact: Heidi Trampus, Co-ordinator, Peoples' Tribunal and Assembly
Assembly Media Committee:
Lisa Makarchuk, Chair, 416 603 9858
Marc Castillo, Spanish language media
Linda Meissenheimer, Cuba solidarity activist
Phil Taylor, CIUT Radio
Suzanne Weiss, Latin American solidarity activist
Media Liaisons: Don Foreman, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Ottawa; Saleh Waziruddin, Niagara