Now it can be told
New documentary attempts to find justice for the Cuban Five
by Carl Kozlowski
Nov. 29, 2007
Reprinted from Pasadena Weekly
Imagine what would happen if the United States was subjected to repeated terrorist attacks and the government asked you to help infiltrate the organizations they believed were responsible. If you accepted the request, you’d be risking your life by living intimately among the very people who want to destroy your society.
You might worry that the other side would find out who you were and possibly kill you. But you probably wouldn’t expect that the government of the terrorists you are living with would subject you to life in prison for the cause you tried to help.
Yet that is what supporters say happened to a group of Cuban citizens who are now collectively known as the Cuban Five. Selected by the Cuban government to infiltrate Florida-based, right-wing Cuban-American political groups that were suspected of sponsoring terrorist attacks on the island nation and then report on the groups’ planned attacks, the men were instead arrested by the FBI on Sept. 12, 1998, and four were sentenced to four life terms, with the fifth man receiving a 75-year sentence.
A new film titled “The Trial: The Untold Story of the Cuban 5,” which attempts to help raise awareness of the issue, screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theater in West Hollywood.
One of its staunchest supporters is political activist and former Pasadena Mayor Bill Paparian, who has visited Cuba a number of times. Paparian, who has long been involved in the case of the Cuban Five, visited one of the defendants, Gerardo Hernandez, at the federal prison in Lompoc. He also visited Hernandez’s mother and wife in Cuba. In addition, Paparian traveled to the appeals hearings on the group’s case in Atlanta and wrote about the experience for the Weekly.
“This is a really great movie and I hope everyone will see it. I’ll be there,” Paparian said.
PW spoke about the film with Jennifer Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, about her hopes that the documentary — narrated by actor Danny Glover — will help raise enough awareness to truly have an impact on these men’s lives.
“The film is being shown all over the world, but this is the Los Angeles premiere,” said Caldwell. “We hope this shows the vast support for these men from around the world, because it’s not like you hear the mainstream media talk about this all the time.”
Caldwell noted that the film, directed by Cuban filmmaker Roland Almirante, is just one part of a multifaceted campaign to inform the public about the 3,478 Cuban residents who have died as a result of terrorist tactics since Fidel Castro’s the 1959 overthrow of the former Batista dictatorship.
“This case really highlights the hypocrisy of the US war on terror because these five men are fighting terror and are in prison,” said Caldwell. “Even the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found that the five, who were held in solitary confinement for 17 months prior to their trial in 2001, were held unjustly. We’re waiting for results of an appeal which was heard in Atlanta this past August. This is the first time that such a case has been argued for a third time on appeal.”
“The Trial: The Untold Story of the Cuban 5” screens at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theatre, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Tickets are $10 and Danny Glover will be present to discuss the film and the cause. Call (213) 251-1025 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets and more information.