Solidarity rally planned for Cuban Five on Kingston waterfront
by Patrick Foster
Sept. 29, 2007
Reprinted from Jamaica Observer
THE Cuban Embassy has planned a solidarity rally at the downtown Kingston waterfront next week in support of five Cuban nationals sentenced to life imprisonment in the US since 2001.
Scheduled for October 6, the vigil aims at highlighting the plight of the five, who, according to the Cubans, have been unjustly imprisoned in the United States since 1998.
Guilermo Hernandez, press attaché in the Cuban Embassy, told the Observer that the event is actually in recognition of two events.
"It is also commemorating the 31st anniversary of the bombing of the Cubana airlne in Barbados," Hernandez said.
In 1998, the five Cubans were arrested in Miami and charged with espionage and conspiracy to commit murder.
However, the Cubans contend that there is no evidence to support the claim of the US government that the men were involved in illegal activities.
"Next September 12, these five men, accused of crimes they did not commit, will begin their tenth year in prison only because they attempted to protect Cuba from terrorist acts," said a Cuban Embassy release.
"Cuba, like the United States and any other country of the world, has a legitimate right to defend itself against the scourge of terrorism that has harmed so many victims," the release added.
According to reports, the five Cubans were arrested in Miami in September 1998 and were indicted by the US government on 26 different counts, including the use of false identification, espionage and conspiracy to commit murder.
The five are said to be part of a group that allegedly infiltrated US-based Cuban refugee organisation, Brothers to the Rescue, seen by Cuba as terrorists, and sent information back to Cuba that led to the shooting down of two US civilian planes.
At an appeal hearing last month - the third since the sentencing - it was argued that the prosecution "invented facts that were not proven at the trial, promoted a hostile environment and manipulated the evidence and the jury".
"The (US) Government itself admitted during trial that it could not present a single secret document to prove espionage and that it faced an 'insurmountable obstacle' to prove the charge of murder," the release said.
According to the Cuban Embassy, throughout the tainted trial process the (US) Government admitted that its real concern was to protect the anti-Cuban terrorist groups operating in Miami and to punish those who fight against them.