By Bill Hughes
Hundreds of Human Rights activists demonstrated Saturday in front of the White House, demanding the release of the “Cuban Five.”
They are also known as the Miami Five (Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González.) The five were accused of being Cuban intelligence officers. They were convicted in Miami of conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, acting as an agent of a foreign government, and other illegal activities in the United States.
They have been languishing in US prisons since September 12, 1998. Supporters claim that their original trial in Miami was “unfair,” and that the main charge against them of engaging in a “conspiracy to commit espionage” was unfounded.
Amnesty International, among other groups, has criticized the treatment by the federal government of the Cuban Five as “unnecessarily punitive.”
Heather Benno, a social justice activist, an attorney and a member of the Committee to Free the Cuban Five, spoke about the reasons for the demonstration. She called for immediate freedom for the Cuban Five and labeled them “political prisoners.”
Editor’s Note: Two of the five have been released: René González was released on October 7, 2011 after serving 13 years of his sentence with three years of probation in the United States. He was allowed to return to Cuba for his father’s funeral April 22, 2013, and a federal judge allowed him to stay there provided that he renounce his United States citizenship. Fernando González was released on February 27, 2014.
BALTIMORE POST EXAMINER