On September 21-23 2012, Toronto will host the Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly for Justice for the Cuban Five. The official call-out for this event can be found in this issue of FTT volume 7 issue 5. Recently FTT was able to connect with Heide Trampus, the coordinator of this Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly, via email. This interview will hopefully inspire our great readers to attend this Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly which we believe will be a truly educational and significant accomplishment for the world-wide struggle to free all 5 of our Cuban heroes, and return them from the United States back to their families in Cuba.
FTT: You are taking the initiative to organize Canada’s first Peoples’ Tribunal & Assembly for the Cuban 5 in September. Can you explain a bit about the concept of a peoples’ tribunal?
Heide Trampus: Returning from Holguin, Cuba where, along with over 400 people from 48 countries, I participated at the VII International Colloquium for "Justice and Freedom for the Cuban Five", and understanding that the direct appeals process for their release was exhausted, it was up to the international community to give a greater voice to the struggle. Since the time of their arrest and unjust imprisonment, solidarity groups, unions and individuals across Canada, including Quebec, have taken up the call for justice. Despite this, the media is keeping silent and most Canadians are not aware of the case.
During our first meeting, the idea of holding a Tribunal instead of a conference was suggested by one of the Planning Committee members and it quickly took shape. The concept, of being able to tell the story through testimonies – witness and victim statements about the arrests of the five men, the unjust trials in Miami, the horrendous long sentences handed down, the violation of human rights by denying visiting visas to family members and the inhumane treatment of the Cuban Five, as well as historical accounts of terrorist attacks on Cuba and the suffering of Cuban and other people – appealed to all of us. Although the ruling will not be legally or judicially binding, the Jury comprised of prominent and well respected people will render a decision based on the witness/victim testimonials which have been discarded in the U.S. Court system.
FTT: September 2012 will mark 14 years of imprisonment for the Cuban 5, as you know René González is now out of prison, but the US will not allow him to return to Cuba as they want to keep him on parole for 3 years, given this what is the significance of this tribunal for the Cuban 5 and what would you like to accomplish?
Heide Trampus: René González, although out of prison, is required to remain in the U.S. on probation in Miami, Florida. Other than a one-time visit to Cuba to see his dying brother, he is not free to return to his homeland and to his family. Instead, he is forced to live in a place where his life may be endangered by the same Miami Terrorist groups he tried to expose. Along with the still imprisoned four innocent Cuban men, he is included in our struggle to "Free the Cuban Five" until all are free and justice has been served.
FTT: As far as I understand this tribunal is truly an international event. Could you elaborate more about some of the most important guests that will be attending this important event?
Heide Trampus: One of our main aims is to break the wall of media silence and with the participation of well-known international guest we hope to get the attention to do just that. To name just some of the participants:
From the U.S., DANNY GLOVER: Well-known U.S. actor, has dedicated himself to be a voice for the "Five" and also visits Gerardo frequently in prison. He makes Life and Video appearances and on one video tells the beautiful story about Gerardo and a bird. SAUL LANDAU: Professor, author, filmmaker, Emmy Award for his film produced with filmmaker Haskell Wexler, Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang (1980). His most recent documentary is Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up? JOSÉ PERTIERRA: Washington lawyer who represents the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the case of Luis Posada Carriles' extradition. CINDY SHEEHAN: Mother of specialist Casey Sheehan who was killed in Iraq in 2004. Since that time she has become an internationally known peace and social justice activist. RICHARD KLUGH: Attorney from the legal team of the Cuban Five.
From the U.K., TONY WOODLEY: Executive Officer for Unite the Union, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members. Tony is the spokesperson representing all trade unions in Britain (7 million members) campaigning for the Cuban Five and has visited Gerardo in prison three times.
From Cuba, DR. RAYMUNDO NAVARRO FERNANDEZ: Trade union leader, member of the National Secretariat of the Centrale de Trabajadores de Cuba - CTC (the Workers' Central Union of Cuba) and Deputy at the National Assembly of the Peoples' Power (Cuban parliament). ADRIANA PEREZ: Wife of Gerardo Hernández, one of the Cuban Five. She has not been allowed a visa to visit her husband for 13 years despite repeated attempts. ELIZABETH PALMEIRO: Wife of Ramón Labañino, one of the Cuban Five, who was sentenced to thirty years in prison after his previous life sentence was vacated after an appeal.
From Venezuela, JULIAN RIVAS: Founder of the Movimiento Quinta Republica MVR. Former Press Secretary for President Hugo Chavez. Currently Editor for Mundo Del Diario of Caracas.
From Canada, WES ELLIOTT: Native activist and speaker from Six Nations of the Grand River. One of the "Younger Brothers" sitting with the Hodiskeagehda Odekah (those who carry the burden of peace or Men's Fire).
STEPHEN KIMBER: Author of one novel and eight books of non-fiction including the best-selling Flight 111, the tragedy of the Swiss Air crash and others. He is an award winning writer, journalist and broadcaster. The real story of the Cuban Five will be published in the spring of 2013. KEITH BOLANDER: Free-lance journalist and author of Voices from the Other Side: an Oral History of Terrorism against Cuba. He has written extensively about Cuba for more than 20 years. WILLIAM SLOAN: Immigration and Criminal Lawyer from Montreal, Quebec. LIVIO DI CELMO: Brother of victim Fabio Di Celmo a resident of Montreal, who was killed when a bomb set by a U.S. sponsored terrorist exploded in the Copacabana Hotel in Havana.
FTT: Now this is my final question for you, it’s a crucial one, what do you think we activists can do to help build this event to be bigger and broader?
Heide Trampus: It is very important for all activists to consider participating in this event. Coming together from sea to sea in a large turnout will give the event the prominence and importance we seek in getting media and public attention. Spread the word, disseminate information about the Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly as much and as wide as possible with the webpage: www.freethe5peoplestribunal.org Send your ideas/suggestions regarding developing future action to the organizing committee prior to the event. Attend, if possible the Sunday, September 23 for the afternoon workshops, putting forward ideas and suggestions and assist with the planning/ developing of those ideas for future actions for Justice and Freedom for the Cuban Five.
FTT: Thank you Heide. We look forward to see you in Toronto for the Peoples' Tribunal & Assembly to Free the Cuban 5 in September.
Back to Article Listing