By Cheryl LaBash
In El Paso, Texas — far from the White House and Congress, and the media centers in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. — facts of the U.S.-based terror campaign to destroy the sovereignty of socialist Cuba will be presented in U.S. federal court beginning Jan. 10, again laying bare the double standard of the U.S. so-called “war on terror.”
This exposé provides a new opportunity to push forward demands on the Obama administration to free the Cuban Five. These five heroes — now enduring their 13th year of unjust U.S. imprisonment — monitored the Florida-based paramilitaries organizing attacks on Cuba that have cost the lives of more than 3,000 men, women and children there since the 1959 revolution.
On trial: Luis Posada Carriles. The charge? Incredibly, not bombing hotels or blowing up airplanes — only of lying on immigration forms about how he arrived in the U.S. and false denials that he was involved in “soliciting others” to commit bombings. (Miami Herald, Dec. 4)
Posada Carriles entered the U.S. in March 2005 after outgoing Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso pardoned him and three accomplices who were convicted of a thwarted attempt to use a gym bag full of C-4 explosives to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro at an Ibero-American Summit held at the University of Panama. (www.radiobaragua.cu)
On June 15, 2005, Venezuela officially requested that the U.S. extradite Posada to face charges of planning the Oct. 6, 1976, midair bombing of Cubana Flight 455, which killed all 73 people aboard. According to the Montreal Convention, Article 7, the U.S. government must either extradite Posada Carriles to Venezuela or prosecute him for the deaths. Yet five and a half years later, Posada is still enjoying freedom in Miami and only charged with lying.
A Cuban radio website, Radio Cadena Agramonte, reports that U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone agreed on Dec. 16 to accept as evidence documents provided by Cuba related to the bombs that exploded in Cuba’s tourist sector in 1997 and 1998. On Sept. 4, 1997, a bomb in Havana’s Hotel Copacabana killed 32-year-old Fabio Di Celmo, an Italian tourist. Di Celmo’s best friend, who was standing beside him during the explosion, is expected to be called as a witness by the U.S. federal prosecutors, along with two Cuban police officers and the Cuban medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Di Celmo. (Miami Herald, Dec. 4)
In July, one of the bombers, Francisco Chávez Abarca, was arrested in Venezuela and extradited to Cuba for trial. Chávez Abarca and at least four others have linked Posada to both the hotel and airline bombings. A Facebook page and series of Cuban-produced English and Spanish YouTube videos entitled “Cuba’s Reasons” detail the terror path of Chávez Abarca and Posada Carriles, including recent acts attempting to destabilize Venezuela.
Tapes of an interview with Posada Carriles by investigative journalist Ann Louise Bardach will reportedly also be heard by the jury. Bardach’s July 1998 New York Times articles quote Posada Carriles claiming responsibility for the hotel bombings.
It is undisputed that Posada Carriles and a co-conspirator, Orlando Bosch, are dangerous terrorists; they even boast of their acts. Bosch was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush on July 20, 1990, and lives free in Miami. Despite volumes of evidence both from U.S. and Cuban sources, Posada Carriles has received kid-glove treatment.
It is long past time for Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González to go home to their loved ones in Cuba. Letters to President Barack Obama; speakers at churches, unions, and community organizations; resolutions from local government bodies; news media contacts; and more — all efforts to spread the word about this monumental injustice — help. Even Amnesty International, often a supporter of imperialist agendas, has published a 22-page downloadable pamphlet summarizing the history and supporting a review of the convictions. (amnesty.org)
In November, 300 delegates from 50 countries discussed strategies to free the Cuban Five in Holguín, Cuba. To read the action proposals, visit www.antiterroristas.cu. A Peoples’ Tribunal and rally are planned by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five on Jan. 9 and 10 in El Paso, Texas.
For more information about the Cuban Five, visit www.antiterroristas.cu, www.thecuban5.org or www.freethefive.org.
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