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US to free remainder of Cuban 5 political prisoners in exchange for jailed CIA agent


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Didn't see this coming. Not too sure how many of you have seen these protests in downtown or not but these guys should never have gone to prison and it's about time they can rightfully return home to their loved ones. You're not supposed to jail those who are trying to stop terrorism, and the US held these guys behind bars for 16+ years.

In a reported prisoner exchange, Cuba has released Alan Gross, a subcontractor for U.S. Agency for International Development, after five years in prison, while the United States is freeing the three remaining members of the Cuban Five Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labañino.

According to news reports, the United States will open talks with Cuba aimed at restoring full diplomatic relations for the first time in more than a half century. In a statement released by the White House, the Obama administration admits U.S. policy on Cuba has "failed."

Alan Gross was arrested in 2009 on suspicion of being a U.S. spy after handing out equipment to Cuban opposition groups. The Cuban Five were arrested in the United States in 1998 and convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage. The Cuban intelligence officers say they were not spying on the United States, but rather trying to monitor violent right-wing Cuban exile groups responsible for attacks inside Cuba. Both President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro are scheduled to make statements today on U.S.-Cuban relations.


Not too sure how many know about the Cuban 5 so here is a good sum up:

In the late nineties the Cuban government sent five men to monitor Miami-based terrorist activity, after an alleged tip off by the FBI. These cases would become representative in Cuban-United States relations history.

The men, who became to be known as the Cuban Five were arrested and imprisoned on September 12, 1998 and convicted in Miami in 2001, meaning that they were held without bail for 33 months between arrest and trial. They were kept in solitary confinement for 17 months and completely cut off from communication with the outside world.

The arrests were incident free, and there was no indication that any of the men had weapons nor attempted to resist. Two of them are U.S. citizens, being born there after their parents fled the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

The five men are Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González.


They were accused of committing espionage against the United States, when in fact the were on a Cuban mission to Miami to follow the actions of terrorist groups based there, which they suspected of planning on carrying out terrorist acts in Cuba.

They were charged with 26 separate crimes collectively, most being minor charges relating to false identification. However, the most serious charges related to espionage and murder, and carried life sentences.

The indictment did not actually charge them with the crimes, but conspiracy to commit them. This mean that the prosecution did not have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the men committed these crimes.

What were Cubans doing?

The Cuban agents were in Miami, not to bring down the American government, nor even monitor American activity, but rather infiltrate and monitor the activities of a group of Cuban exiles who could be planning terrorist activities.

The five were part of the Wasp Network from the Cuban intelligence agency, who were working undercover to gather information on groups like the notorious Alpha-66 group, an organization that had existed from the start of the Cuban Revolution with the aim of overthrowing it.

And hard evidence was presented at the trial by the defense showing the group's involvement in assassination attempts, and bombing in Havana.

They also showed how they had infiltrated some of the other Miami-based organizations, and how US law enforcement had failed to act on evidence turned over to them by Cuban authorities before their arrest.

They also presented evidence to show that the only military information to which they had access was publicly available.

Furthermore, they presented testimony from high-ranking former U.S. military and intelligence officials to the effect that Cuba poses no military threat to the United States.

The lopsided trial

The trial in 2001 was conducted in Miami, still to this day known as the most fervently anti-Cuban place in the world, as many of the Cuban exiles living there were supporters of the dictatorship before Castro, and wish to see a U.S. style rule over the communist island nation.

An unprecedented propaganda campaign was launched against five individuals who could not defend themselves, due to the fact that they were completely isolated from the outside world for a year and a half.

As Latin American sociologist Dr. Lisandro Perez wrote, the possibility of selecting twelve citizens of Miami-Dade County who can be impartial in a case involving acknowledged agents of the Cuban government is virtually zero.

One of the defense lawyers for the men pointed out that the anti-Cuban climate in the state could be ruled as creating the conditions for an unfair trial, the prosecution did everything but laugh at the idea, saying that Miami presented a cosmopolitan and unbiased atmosphere.

As Perez has outlined, the jury was drawn from a group of people who had exile ideology, which favours the U.S. and many polls confirm this. Even today, United States politicians keep up their anti Cuban rhetoric in aim of appeasing the population of Miami, which is a crucial vote winning region.

One of the prospective jurors even said that if I didn't come back with a verdict in agreement with what the Cuban community feels, how they feel the verdict should be.

In 2010 Amnesty International referred to the legal process carried out as an unfair trial, the only one in the United States from that particular report.

The report on the case of the five Cubans came to the conclusion that the fairness was in question, especially the prejudicial impact of publicity about the case in Miami.

Numerous human rights groups worldwide supported calls for a review of the case by the US executive authorities through the clemency process or other appropriate means.

The case was reviewed by the Court of Appeals in 2005, but and made the decision to re do the trial. But this was later overturned by a higher court.

But the Court of Appeals decision in 2005 provides also a good summary of the propaganda campaign before and during the trial. That was one of the reasons leading the panel to vacate the convictions and order a new trial.

Miami was not the location for a trial of the nature, that could have been conducted fairly. As the judges said the evidence submitted in support of the motions for change of venue was massive.

Their convictions were reinstated, although later court decisions reduced the sentences of three of the Five, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, in October and December 2009.

Human Rights Violations Against the Cuban Five

There have been multiple accusations of human rights violations against the five. Firstly, the imprisonment of the group has been deemed arbitrary by a United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2005, and Nobel Laureates, EU Parliamentarians, and prominent citizens have been outspoken critics.

The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Rashida Manjoo, noted that the wives of the imprisoned men Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez have been repeatedly denied visas to visit their husband in prison, which violates several instruments of international law. Salanueva was deported back to Cuba, and Pererz was detained in the United States, even though she had a valid visa.

The Cuban men were given more solitary confinement in 2001 prior to their pre-sentencing hearings, and in 2003 also were dumped in isolation cells, after the Justice department claimed they were still threats to U.S. national security.

During the period the prisoners were denied contact with their family and lawyers which is in clear violation of domestic and international law.


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