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Free the Miami Five

This motion was passed unanimously at the recent CPGB-ML party congress

This congress condemns the ongoing unjust imprisonment and detention in the United States of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, the Cuban citizens who went to the United States with the aim of infiltrating Miami Cuban circles for the purpose of finding out in advance about any intended terrorist attacks being prepared against Cuban national interests. Their arrest and conviction on charges of espionage against the US and conspiracy to commit criminal acts constitute one of the most glaring indictments of the US legal system.

This congress notes that even ex-US president Jimmy Carter has been shocked at the treatment meted out to these men, known to the world as the Miami Five, and has said: “I believe that there is no reason to keep the Cuban Five imprisoned. There were doubts in the US courts and also among human-rights organisations in the world. Now, they have been in prison 12 years, and I hope that in the near future they will be released to return home.”

Congress further notes that recent evidence shows that the US government was paying journalists in Miami to keep writing tendentious articles about the case at the time that it was being heard with a view to influencing public opinion, the jury, and the likely outcome of the trial. At the time of the trial it was well known that the Miami press was printing such material, and application was made several times for a change of venue for the trial because the publicity was ensuring that there was no way a trial in Miami could be a fair one. However, the judge refused to countenance a change of venue. One can surmise what would have been the effect on the judge’s career had she flown in the face of government expectations in this regard!

This congress believes that, even if the Five had been guilty of the offences with which they were charged, the sentences imposed on them would be considered totally disproportionate in any country that laid claim to being observant of human rights. These patriotic comrades were convicted on 8 June 2001 and sentenced to four life terms and 75 years in December 2001.

Congress notes that, on 9 August 2005, after seven years of unjust imprisonment, the Miami Five won an unprecedented victory on appeal. In a unanimous 93-page decision, a brave three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the convictions and ordered a new trial. The court rightly called their prosecution “a perfect storm” of pervasive community prejudice, government misconduct and extensive negative publicity before and during the trial. However, the Bush administration appealed, and exactly one year after the favourable ruling granting the Five a new trial, the full panel of the 11th Circuit Court ruled to reverse their decision. The Cubans’ convictions were reinstated, although later court decisions reduced the sentences of Fernando González, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero. René Gonzalez has already been released (on 7 October last year) but is being kept in the US on three years’ probation, so that he cannot return to Cuba but has to remain in Miami, where he is at risk of being murdered by Cuban expatriate terrorists.

Congress further notes that there are ongoing appeals for habeas corpus, which have been given added impetus through the discovery of the large payments made by the US government to journalists reporting on the trial to the prejudice of the defendants. The appeals have been heard and the outcome is awaited. In the meantime, Gerardo is serving two life sentences and cannot under US law be paroled, while the current release dates of Ramón, Antonio and Fernando are:

  • Ramón: 30 October 2024
  • Antonio: 18 September 2017
  • Fernando: 27 February 2014

This congress joins with the Cuban government, all the people of Cuba, and all of progressive humanity the world over in calling for the immediate release of the Miami Five, their immediate return to Cuba and significant compensation to be paid to them for the long years of unjust imprisonment, which have robbed them of years of their lives.

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