August 2011        


The present situation of the Miami Five

■ Excerpts from a speech by Ricardo Alarcón, president of the Cuban parliament, delivered at the Cuban University of Information Sciences, Havana, 20 July 2011, where he stated that from a juridical standpoint the case of the Cuban Five, incarcerated in US prisons since their arrest in 1998, has run its course.

The defence team are now turning to an extraordinary proceeding called habeas corpus, which is an opportunity that is available only once to convicted persons after they have exhausted all appeals.
     This step is being taken for two basic reasons: (1) As a matter of principle: these are five innocent men who are suffering cruel and unfair imprisonment. (2) Because only in the case of judicial decisions has it become possible, even partially and in a limited manner, to break the censorship that the mass media have imposed on this case.
     The big problem is that the Empire has managed to keep this information from reaching the people. I’m not talking about secret texts or confidential documents: I’m talking about documents that have been and are available to anyone who goes to the official web site of the Federal District Court for South Florida and looks up the case of “United States v. Gerardo Hernandez et al.”
     The general public finds out about what happens in the court system through whatever versions the so-called “news media” want to give. And about this trial, the longest federal trial in the history of a country that has, among other things, several television channels dedicated exclusively to the courts, nothing was said outside the city of Miami.
     While in the rest of the world it was completely ignored, in Miami the trial received overwhelming and strident coverage from the local media that promoted a climate of hatred against the defendants. There were even threats and provocations against jurors, attorneys, and witnesses. This was one of the factors behind the unanimous decision in 2005 by the Appeals Court panel to toss out the whole farce and order a new trial, a just decision that was later reversed under pressure from the Bush administration.
     The following year, in 2006, it came out that these Miami “journalists” were in fact being paid by the government to carry out this sleazy job. For five years now, American private groups have been demanding that the authorities reveal everything that they are still concealing about the scale of this million-dollar operation—how much was paid, to whom, and for what—in a cover-up that would be more than sufficient to declare the whole legal process against our comrades null and void.
     Against Gerardo Hernández there was an additional charge, an infamous slander for which he was sentenced to death twice in prison: they accused him of “conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.” However, here I have a document dated 30 May 2001 from the US Attorney’s office. Here they state that the charge could not be proved, and therefore they requested to withdraw it at the last minute. In spite of this, Gerardo was found guilty of a non-existent crime that was impossible to prove, and moreover for which he was no longer accused.
     Gerardo was falsely accused of having participated in something that he had absolutely nothing to do with: the downing in February 1996 of two aircraft over Cuban waters belonging to a terrorist group which systematically dedicated itself to violating Cuban territory. Independent of the fact that this document is irrefutable proof that the accusations were unsustainable, there is another very important fact that illustrates the transgression of the American authorities.
     To claim legal jurisdiction over the incident, the United States had to prove that it had occurred outside Cuban air space. Cuban radars recorded the incident inside our territorial waters very close to the city of Havana. The US radars offered confusing and contradictory data. An International Civil Aviation Organization investigative mission requested images taken by US satellites, but Washington refused to release them. Now Gerardo is again requesting this information for his habeas corpus, and Washington is again refusing to allow anyone to see these images.
     Information is the key to freeing Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Fernando González Llort, and René González Sehweret. To win this battle we need to mobilise millions of people and deploy a truly broad-based and effective solidarity movement.
     It is a proven fact that the giant media corporations have imposed an absolute silence around this case that is especially rigorous within the United States itself, where the vast majority of the population knows absolutely nothing about the case. The complete lack of reporting on this theme does not reflect any professional incompetence on the part of journalists but rather obeys precise instructions to silence it, made at the highest levels in Washington.
     To hope that these censors will change their attitude is senseless illusion and would be an exercise in self-deception. To denounce them over and over again is right, but it is not enough, because our repeated denunciations have barely had any effect at all.
     But there is much, much more that we can and must do.
     First of all, we have to objectively take into account the reach today of what we should call by its proper name: the global media tyranny.
     We’re not only talking about what leading newspapers say or cover up, the big television networks or the news agencies that decide what news will be broadcast around the world. All of them, united in enormous monopolies, control and manipulate information, and their influence even extends to would-be alternatives to this global dictatorship, including media that define themselves as revolutionary.

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