In search of justice
July 16, 2007
Reprinted from The Bahama Journal
Like others who have had a grievance against the criminal justice system in the United States of America, Gerardo Hernandez is in search of justice in that great country.
We are ever hopeful that he will find this justice.
But even as we make this point, we are mindful that few Bahamians would recognize the words or face that belongs to Gerardo Hernandez. As we have previously indicated, he is a member of the so-called Cuban Five, men who are locked up in the United States and charged with espionage.
Hundreds of millions of people around the world are tuned in to the fate of these men believing as they do that an injustice has been perpetrated against them.
Hernandez reached heights of eloquence some years ago as he was being sentenced:
"I want the gentlemen of the prosecution to know that the only blood there may be on these hands is the blood of my brothers and sisters who have fallen or been murdered in a cowardly fashion, during the countless acts of aggression and terrorism perpetrated against my country by individuals who freely walk the streets of this city today.
"And it is for this blood that I made the pledge to sacrifice even my own life, if doing so could protect my people from such crimes."
For our part, we are absolutely convinced that Hernandez is innocent. The same conclusion applies to the men with whom he worked.
And for the record, we repeat the previously made point concerning duplicity on the part of United States authorities as regards the so-called fight against terrorism.
That fight should begin at home and end abroad.
As such, therefore, we congratulate the Cuban Five for the brave stance they have taken. And above all, we congratulate Gerardo Hernandez for his bravery and for his eloquence in the brute face of crushing adversity.
Hear this man as he speaks truth to power:
"Your Honor, the prosecution considers, and has requested, that I should spend the rest of my life in prison.
"I trust that if not at this level, then at some other level of the system, reason and justice will prevail over political prejudices and the desire for revenge, and it will be understood that we have done no harm to this country that deserves such a punishment.
"But if this were not the case, I would then take the liberty of quoting one of this nation’s greatest patriots, Nathan Hale, when he said: ‘My only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country’."
We hope and pray that things do not reach this pass and that on appeal the Cuban Five are released into the arms of their family members and for them to return to their native land, Cuba.
And so it is today that we make further comment on an issue that has attracted attention around the world.
Next month, a court in Florida is going to hear an appeal in a case that sums up much about the relationship between the United States and Cuba.
As previously indicated, Gerardo Hernández and four other Cubans were convicted in Florida in December, 2001 on a range of charges including trying to obtain U.S. military secrets, spying on Cuban exile groups, and, in Mr. Hernández' case, conspiracy in the deaths of four Cuban-Americans whose planes were shot down by the Cuban government in 1996.
We may add for emphasis that Gerardo Hernández is serving a double life sentence.
While we have said it before today we repeat the point that few Bahamians know – or care for that matter – that some time ago a Miami Court meted out the maximum prison terms that the law allows.
As indicated, Hernandez received a double life sentence; another man, Antonio Guerrero, was given a single life sentence; a third man, Ramon Labañino, received a life sentence; a fourth convicted man, Fernando Gonzalez, received a 19-year sentence while a fifth man, René Gonzalez, was handed a 15-year sentence.
We also indicated that we would also venture that yet even fewer Bahamians would recognize the name Luis Posada Carriles.
That he has, at one time or the other, been a man who would bomb planes and kill innocent Caribbean nationals would be a total wake-up call to most of our people, inclusive of the millions who live in other CARICOM countries like Haiti.
That is because Luis Posada Carriles and the Cuban Five are all involved in a shadowy war that has pitted exiled Cubans, their Cuban-American counterparts against each other.
This war has been terror-filled and terrifying.