Free the Miami Five
Who are the Miami Five?
The Miami Five are Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, five Cubans falsely accused and jailed by the US government of committing espionage against the United States.
What did they do?
For more than 40 years, right wing Cuban exile groups based in Miami have killed almost 3,500 people in terrorist attacks against Cuba, with the complicity of the CIA and US government.
The US government repeatedly failed to act against the perpetrators of such crimes, including the blowing up of a Cuban airliner in 1976 (killing 78 people) and a bombing campaign against Cuban tourist hotels in the 1990s (killing an Italian tourist).
To save lives, Cuba sent five men to Miami to infiltrate and monitor the groups. At the request of the US government, this information was passed to the FBI in 1998.
But instead of arresting the terrorists, the FBI used the information to identify and arrest the Five anti-terrorists on September 12, 1998 in Miami, where they were illegally held in solidarity confinement for 17 months.
A miscarriage of justice
The trial began in November 2000 in Miami, a hugely hostile environment where the anti-Castro Cuban-American community wields enormous political influence.
Defence attorneys’ motions for a change of venue were denied five times by the judge, although it was obvious that a fair trial was impossible in the city.
During the trial, the judge, prosecution and US government officials suppressed defence evidence and ensured key witnesses would not testify.
Despite intimidation of witnesses by the press and testimonies by prominent US officials that the Five had not accessed any classified documents, the jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict on all charges, without once seeking clarification of any evidence.
The Five were convicted on charges ranging from being foreign agents to conspiracy to commit murder, and sentenced to between fifteen years and double life.
Furthermore, in June 2011, a Freedom of Information request revealed that the US government had secretly paid journalists to write prejudicial articles in the media at the time of the trial and therefore undermined the defendants’ entitlement to a fair trial.
Families torn apart
On top of the severe sentences, the Five are denied regular family visits. The US infrequently grants visas to close family members.
Two of the prisoners wives, Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez, have been refused visas on ten separate requests and are denied visitation rights.
Human rights organisations have condemned the trial and the treatment of the families. Amnesty International has described the treatment of the Five as ‘contrary both to the standards for the humane treatment of prisoners and to a states’ obligation to protect family life.”
On 7 October 2011, René Gonzalez became the first of the Miami Five to be released from jail following 13 years of imprisonment. Conditions of his parole mean René must remain in Florida – amongst the very terrorists he infiltrated – on supervised release for a further three years. Furthermore, his wife Olga Salanueva continues to be denied visitation rights.
An Open Letter to President Obama – signed by over 30 other trade union leaders – called on President Obama to intervene and allow René to return home. The letter noted that high-profile Cuban-born Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen called González an "enemy of America" with "blood on his hands" just days before his release.
Please find out more and join the campaign for Justice for the Five today.