Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
“There is nothing concealed
that will not be disclosed,
or hidden that will not be made known.”
The theme I’ve been assigned for this seminar is titled, “The current situation of the case of our Five Heroes.”
I will begin by saying that from a legal point of view, it has run its normal course. We are now turning to an extraordinary proceeding called Habeas Corpus, which is a once only opportunity offered to those convicted who have unsuccessfully exhausted all appeals processes available. Taking the background into account, there is a very remote possibility that we could obtain the freedom of our compañeros through this means.
However, we take these steps for two fundamental reasons. The first is for a matter of principles: we must fight this battle on all the fronts possible because this is about five innocent persons suffering an unjust and cruel imprisonment. The second is because only in instances where judicial decisions have been made have we broken, even if only partially and limited, the strict censorship that the mass media has imposed on this case.
I could have started this talk by saying that the Five’s current situation is identical to the one faced thirteen years ago. They suffer a double imprisonment, that of their jailers and that from the journalists.
The first reflection would have to be, why the media silence? Is it that Cuba, its revolution and its problems have been of little interest to these means? You know it’s the other way around. Our country has received and receives attention incomparably greater than that given to other countries of this continent; they analyse us day and night under powerful spotlights and magnifying glasses, almost always distorting, the most diverse aspects of our reality. So, why do they hardly ever say anything about this case? If the Five had committed a crime, if any of them had attempted to do something against the American people, does anyone have any doubt that they would have been a constant topic in the anti–Cuban propaganda.
The truth is that the Five are completely innocent and are literally, without exaggeration, heroes who have sacrificed their lives to save ours, showing an unsurpassed altruism. This is not an exercise in rhetoric.
That truth consists of official documents of the United States of America and its courts. Their mission to try and discover terrorist plans against Cuba is found amongst the letters in numerous writings, from the initial indictment brought against them and the prosecution’s various motions at the commencement of the trial and throughout its development, to the sentencing that was finally imposed on them. That the U.S. government’s aim was to protect the terrorists is also found in those documents and in the prosecution’s repeated intervention, all of which is registered in the court records.
The big problem we face is that the empire has managed to keep this information from transcending to the people. Their success has been remarkable. They have hijacked the truth with impunity. I am not talking of secret or confidential texts. I am referring to documents that have been and are available to those who access the official website of the Federal Court in South Florida and search for the case “United States vs Gerardo Hernández et al”. But this is only done by some specialists or interested individuals. The greater public finds out what happens in the courts from the versions the so-6called “media” wants to give. And of this trial, the most prolonged one in the history of a country, that amongst other things has various television channels and other publications exclusively dedicated to the courts, nothing was said outside of the city of Miami. I must stop at this point.
As I said, we are now engaged in the habeas corpus petition. The most difficult case is that of Gerardo to which I will refer to later.
But there is a common element in the appeal of all the Five which relates to the media’s conduct. While in the rest of the world it was completely ignored, in Miami the trial had an overwhelming and strident coverage from the local media that promoted a climate of hatred against the accused, and also threatened and provoked the members of the jury, the lawyers and witnesses. The judge even complained several times and asked the government to put an end to a situation that clearly violated the norms of due process. This was one of the factors that led to the Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision in 2005 to annul that farce and order a new trial, a just decision that was later overturned following pressure from the Bush administration.
The following year, in 2006, it became known that these Miami “journalists” were paid by the government to carry out their despicable task. For 5 years civil society groups in the U.S. are calling on the authorities to disclose everything they are hiding on the scope of this millionaire operation — how much did they pay?, to whom and for what? — in a plot whose discovery is more than enough to declare all the proceeding against our compañeros null and worthless.
Against Gerardo an additional charge was made, an infamous slander that is the reason for which he has been sentenced to die twice in prison. He was accused of “conspiracy to commit first degree murder.”
But here I have a document dated May 30th, 2001. It is from the Attorney General of the United States. Here they say they could not prove that allegation and therefore requested to withdraw it at the last minute. Nevertheless, Gerardo was convicted for a crime that did not exist, that was impossible to prove, and moreover, for which he was no longer accused.
But what does it matter that this document exists if no one talks about it?
Gerardo was falsely accused of participating in something he had absolutely nothing to do with: the downing of 2 aircraft in February 1996 over Cuban waters, of a terrorist group systematically dedicated to violating Cuban territory and which shamelessly proclaimed and announced each violation in the Miami media. Independently of the fact that this document is irrefutable proof the accusations were unsustainable, there is another important fact that illustrates the transgression of the U.S. authorities.
To claim jurisdiction over the incident, the United States had to demonstrate it occurred outside the Cuban airspace. The Cuban radars recorded the act occurring in our territorial waters near the city of Havana. The U.S. radars offered confusing and contradictory data. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) research mission requested the images taken by United States satellites, but Washington refused to show them. During the trial in Miami, the defense reiterated this request, and the government again refused. Now Gerardo has again requested these in his Habeas Corpus, and again Washington refuses to allow anyone to see these images. It’s now more than fifteen years of secrecy that reveals the fraudulent nature of the U.S. allegations. But Washington has succeeded in not being denounced by anyone, allowing it to continue deceiving many.
Information is a key issue in achieving the freedom of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Fernando González Llort y René González Sehwerert. To win this battle we need to mobilize a lot of people, millions of people, and deploy a solidarity movement that is truly broad and effective.
Anyone with a minimum of objectivity has to recognize that we are far from that aim.
It has been proven that the large media corporations impose an absolute silence on this case, especially rigorous in the United States where the vast majority of the population knows absolutely nothing of it. The absence of this subject in the media is not a reflection of the journalists’ professional incapacity, but rather that they obey precise instructions, the political decision to silence it, which comes from the highest levels in Washington.
To expect that these censors will change their attitude is a meaningless illusion, and would be a practice in self-deception. To denounce them again and again is correct, but insufficient because our repeated complaints have little impact.
There is more, much more we can and must do.
Firstly we must objectively assess the reach that it has today — what we must call by its name — the global media tyranny.
This is not just about what they say or don’t say, the famous journalists, the large television networks, or the news agencies that decide on the news to be broadcast around the world. All of them, united in huge monopolies, control and manipulate the information and extend their influence even to those who want to be an alternative to the global dictatorship, including the media that defines itself as revolutionary.
There are many people in the world that strive to speak and be heard with very limited resources and have occasionally penetrated the wall of misinformation and deception. Our resources are much more, of the Cuban universities, our professors and students.
Let’s do as the children of La Colmenita and ask ourselves honestly, what else can we do?
Intervention at the University of Information Science (UCI), 20 July, 2011