From September 12 to October 6 there will be an International Campaign of Solidarity with the five Cuban heroes and antiterrorist fighters unjustly held in U.S. prisons.
We are now calling everyone to participate in the campaign for the release of these Cubans, given the special situations created around them.
It is known that September 12 will mark the eight anniversary of the illegal and violent arrest of the Cuban patriots. In the early morning hours of that Saturday, September 12, 1998, FBI agents stormed into their homes and took them to Headquarters, where they were rudely interrogated for six hours on end. That same day they were sent to the Federal Detention Center (FDC) of Miami, locked in solitary confinement, and prevented from seeing anyone for 17 days.
On September 29 of the same year they were transferred to the Special Housing Unite and kept there until February 3, 2000. Known as 'The Hole' for its dreadful conditions, the prisoners held therein can only move around in handcuffs and with guards on either side.
They remained in solitary confinement until March, 1999, unable to watch TV, listen to the radio or reading newspapers. From that date until February 3, 2000, they were rotated in pairs: one to 'The Hole' and the other in solitary confinement.
Despite tenacious efforts by their defense attorneys to fight such arbitrary measures, nothing was accomplished. Only after seventeen months of this cruel and inhuman treatment were they able to have their clients reintegrated into the regular prison system.
All along those seventeen months, the difficulties to communicate not only with their relatives but even with counsel worked against the basic safeguards of due process.
However, on June 26, well into their trial, they were once again sent to 'the hole', this time until August 13, that is, for another 48 days.
As it has been repeatedly denounced — even before it started — the process against the five Cuban terror fighters took place under a great deal of pressure from Miami-based anti-Cuban organizations, amid violent publicity campaigns and large-scale mobilizations designed to instill prejudice against and hatred for the alleged agents or spies of Castro's regime.
In a community noted for its violence, intransigence and intolerance, as well as for its lack of ethic scruples, the trial developed from beginning to end in an atmosphere of extreme politicization marked by flagrant breaches of the U.S. law itself, including its Constitution and Amendments. In fact, it was obvious that the Prosecution gave in at all times to the pressure of violent groups from Miami-Dade, turning into their docile instruments and reaching unfortunate agreements with their representatives. Accordingly, justice also became a dreary hostage of that violence and old political animosity.
Actually, important and serious irregularities and violations took place in court regarding not only due process but also International Law standards and universal principles mainly related to the respect for human rights. As if the above weren't enough, there were gross violations of either the U.S. Constitution or some of its Amendments.
Essential principles of a fair process were violated during the preliminary hearing, and the Prosecution was allowed to intervene even after the end of the trial, when the proceedings had finished and the accused had already delivered their closing arguments.
Every motion filed by the Defense was overruled, a manifest submission to both outside pressure and the environment of intolerance and violence surrounding the court of law.
Measures that constitute an affront to human dignity and a violation of human rights were adopted, for instance, when the accused were forced to wear handcuffs and shackles while reading their final arguments, even if they had conducted themselves with gallantry and dignity and showing respect for the law and the proceedings, totally opposed to any trace of dangerousness.
As a result of all this, our five heroes were given very harsh sentences.
The court's ruling was appealed to the Eleventh Circuit of Atlanta at the appropriate time. Meanwhile, their families contacted the Working Group of the Experts of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva who were in charge of issues concerning arbitrary or illegal imprisonment. On May 27 last year, with their typical professionalism, that group of experts found the sentences passed against the Cubans arbitrary and illegal, exposing in their report a number of perfectly well-reasoned conclusions.
In turn, the three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit of Atlanta who were studying the appeal filed by the five heroes' defense attorneys, ruled on August 9, 2005 that the proceedings of the Miami-Dade State Court were null and void since they have failed to gather a neutral jury, as laid down in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
This unanimous finding by the Panel was appealed by the Prosecution, and now mankind has known the shameful sentence passed en banc (12 judges) by the Circuit that revokes its own panel's unanimous ruling and thus validates the dirty, politicized and illegal hearing held in Miami-Dade.
New evidence of how unfair the finding of the Eleventh Circuit has been, which is partly reproduced hereinafter, can be found in the categorical defense statements — recently published in the very United States — that shed light on terrorist action plans against Cuba and prove Miami-Dade County's inability to gather an impartial jury in a case involving Cuba's fight on terrorist acts organized by Miami-based anti-Cuban mob groups.
Since the appeal was held, a number of revealing events have occurred, namely: in April, 2005 a man called Robert Ferro was arrested in Southern California on charges of illegal possession of a weapons arsenal. In a search of his house were found 1,500 arms, including 35 machine-guns, 130 silencers, 89.000 bullet clips and a rocket-launcher. His attorney produced formal documents in court explaining that his client was keeping those weapons on behalf of “a militant group planning to overthrow the Cuban government".
In Florida, the notorious terrorist Santiago Álvarez is charged with possession of machine-guns, grenades, a grenade-launcher and thousands of cartridges, to be used in a campaign to topple Fidel Castro.
It is a process of accumulating weapons for terrorist acts against Cuba which confirm the truthfulness of the state of necessity argument presented in the manipulated trial in Miami to justify the efforts of our patriotic brothers.
On June 22, 2006, the Miami Herald published a long interview with José Antonio Llama, a Cuban exile who lives in Miami and was a member of the executive board of the National Cuban-American Foundation (FNCA). This individual admitted to the newspaper to have given $1.4 million dollars to an FNCA group to purchase light remote-controlled air equipment, among other weapons, to be used against Cuba between 1994 and 1997. He mentioned by name the Cuban exiles Domingo Sadurni, settled in Puerto Rico, who purchased a helicopter to undertake military actions against Cuba, and Raúl López, owner of a construction business in Miami, as a supplier of explosives. Although the purposes of such contributions to a terrorist group were not mentioned in the interview, it is impossible not to remember a plot that was first revealed in the trial held against the Cuban Five, who unmasked a plan operated from Miami which:
"... was initially conceived to throw two planes loaded with explosives and remote-controlled from a helicopter against the Revolution Square during a speech by the Commander in Chief". (Quoted from a document presented in court as a supposed report one of the Five had sent to Havana to warn about the plans of a militant group from Miami to launch such attack in Cuba, included in the official transcription of the trial, page 4992).
Llama's interview not only confirms the fact that the Five were engaged in monitoring Miami-based terrorist groups to get information about any violent action they may have been planning against Cuba that would lead to the death of innocent civilians, it also reveals new and dramatic evidence in support of their defense.
About the change of venue, on June 15, 2006 the Miami Herald reported that the Miami Board of Education had put in a lot of effort to call a vote aimed at banning from the public libraries a children's book describing minors in Cuba as similar to those in Miami as far as going to school and learning is concerned. Even if banning such a book seemed essential to some in the Cuban community who are also Members of the Board, it was not the case of a non-Cuban member, Robert Ingram, who voted in favor despite his different opinion for fear of "finding a bomb under our cars" if we failed to support the resolution, and finished by saying:
"I can't vote my conscience without feeling threatened".
These were the same fears harbored by the jury members in the Miami trial, of which the media forwarded conclusive evidence to the Atlanta Court of Appeals. As non-Cuban members of that community, the jurors could not vote for acquittal without "feeling threatened".
These arguments and many others published by any newspaper, radio or TV station in Miami sustain the points made by the Defense about the change of venue that the three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta accepted and were one year later rejected en banc by that court.
In face of this situation, the democratic and progressive forces around the world have decided to start on September 12 a campaign of solidarity with our five fellow citizens and antiterrorist fighters who, as we have said, have served eight years of an arbitrary and illegal imprisonment that has turned by now into a clear act of kidnapping.
In our capacity as jurists we are aware that there will be new legal fights facing us in September.
By sustaining the Prosecution's appeal, the Eleventh Circuit will still have to address other related issues initially filed by the Defense and ignored in Atlanta, considering that according to the Panel the presence of a biased jury sufficed to annul the process of Miami without having to examine other reasons for the appeal.
Therefore, one way or another there remain lengthy, difficult and complicated legal issues and procedures to be attended which conceal or give shelter to the real justice claimed by mankind regarding the case of these five men, antiterrorist fighters precisely whose only purpose was to avoid criminal actions against Cuba and against the American people themselves.
Consequently, we are herein calling all jurist organizations, all attorneys and Law practitioners, all truth- and justice-loving men and women from the whole planet to actively join this world campaign in solidarity with our five fellow citizens and make it possible for the world to hear our voice, so that the U.S. legal system can be shaken by what must be a wave of struggle for truth, justice and world peace.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE NATIONAL UNION OF JURISTS