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    Free the 5 Cuban Heroes!
    Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver
    Strengthens Campaign for their Release

    By Noah Fine

    If you were a small island nation which had been subject to terrorism for more then 50 years, what would you do? You’d probably ask that the attacks immediately stop. That’s what the small country of Cuba with 11 million population has asked for decades of its close neighbour, the United States, to no avail.

    For more then 50 years, armed terrorist gangs of Cuban exiles have been organizing in Miami, Florida with the purpose of creating chaos in Cuba. These groups are responsible, in many cases admittedly, for acts of terrorism that have taken the lives of almost 3,500 Cubans and others including tourists. These terrorists have bombed airplanes, hotels and even assassinated people within the US for their ‘cause’ of overthrowing the Cuban government.

    After receiving no help from the US in stopping the terrorists, Cuba did what any country should do to defend its people from terrorism: they acted. But instead of US-style “anti-terrorism” using bombs and tanks, Cuba sent five unarmed men: Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and René González. These five were given the heroic task of infiltrating and collecting information. The “Cuban 5” as they are known internationally, collected thousands of documents uncovering the activities of these terrorist groups. With this information, Cuba made an appeal to the US government to stop the attacks.

    However, the US government did nothing to stop the terrorists. Instead, in 1998, they jailed the Cuban 5. They were held without charge or trial until 2001. During that time were subjected to 17 months of solitary confinement, a length of time illegal by US law. Despite dozens of requests from the Cuban 5 and their legal team to change the venue, the trial took place in Miami, the only city where they had zero opportunity for a fair trial.

    The Five were falsely charged of ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ and ‘conspiracy to commit murder’, and other lesser charges. The term ‘conspiracy’ was used due to the fact that the prosecution admitted they had no evidence against these men. The Five received sentences ranging from 15 years to two life sentences plus 15 years. These sentences have recently been minimally reduced.

    In Miami, you have terrorists walking the streets freely, while five Cuban anti-terrorists have been locked away in prison for almost 14 years.

    Now, what would you do if you were the US government? You would probably thank the Five and act to stop the terrorists. And that is exactly what we should demand that the US government do - thank them by freeing the 5 Cuban Heroes from US prisons immediately.

    Worldwide Voice to Free the 5!

    Since their imprisonment, an international campaign has grown around the world, with more then 300 committees organized on every continent dedicated to the release of the Five.

    Between April 17-21, “5 Days for the Cuban 5” took place in Washington DC organized by the International Committee to Free the Cuban 5. The Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver sent a team which was able to participate in the many forums, conferences, lobbying government and even a protest in front of the White House which rallied more then 300 people demanding the immediate freedom of the Five. The events were certainly a step forward for the campaign.

    Vancouver Committee Demands: Free the Cuban 5 Now!

    On Saturday May 5th, supporters of the 5 Cuban Heroes gathered for their “5th of every month for the Cuban 5” event. May’s protest was the 78th monthly protest since the Vancouver Committees’ campaign began. Usually the monthly protest would be held in front of the US Consulate, however, May 5th fell on a Saturday when the US Consulate was closed. The committee decided instead to organize its protest at the Vancouver Art Gallery, where thousands of people walk by on a sunny Saturday. Organizers and supporters of the Cuban 5 lobbied people walking by for their support. Many people heard the name of the Cuban 5 for the first time as thousands of pieces of literature were handed out and plenty of postcards were signed demanding their freedom.

    Two New Campaigns to Free the 5!

    Recently, two new postcard campaigns have been released. The International Committee to Free the Cuban 5 has created a postcard campaign demanding “Obama, Give me 5!”, which calls on the Nobel Peace Prize winner to end the injustice immediately. Also, the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver started a postcard campaign locally to compliment that of the International Committee by collecting support from people living in Canada demanding Obama release the Five.

    The Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver would like to invite you to get involved in this important campaign. Sign a postcard, come to our monthly protest actions or help us to plan activities and events to free the Cuban 5 now!

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