Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
“The Last Soldiers of the Cold War” by Fernando Morais allows you to peer into a history that the Empire is determined to bury in darkness.
It’s a true chronicle that brings us closer to the great deeds of five young people who sacrificed their lives to save their people. The author dedicated countless hours to researching, studying thousands of pages, interviewing many people, and worked hard for many months to write it.
Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René appear as they are: heroes in flesh and bones, with their full human dimension always close to the reader.
In the next few days the first North-American edition will be released, and this will be a very important contribution for the struggle to liberate our comrades.
I will not elaborate on the content of the book. I invite you to read it. When you start you will not be able to stop until the end, being trapped in the magic of an exceptional artist. However, always remember that nothing is fiction here.
Fernando did not need this book. He is one of the most successful writers, published worldwide, translated into all languages, his writings, also transferred to films, reach millions of people.
He did not require it to establish his fame. It’s the opposite. The Five essentially needed this book to advance the truth, to increase solidarity, for the day of freedom to be nearer.
Fernando embarked on the monumental task to write it because above all he is a great comrade, who has never failed our peoples, and has always placed his immense talent on the side of justice.
This book is a challenge to readers. After reading this story of altruism, love and giving to others, no one decent can be left with crossed arms. Its pages are a call to action that young people have to respond to.
According to José Martí “students are the pillars of freedom and their firmer army”. So it has been throughout Cuba’s history. That glorious tradition, uninterrupted, poses a clear challenge to today’s university students in regards to the case of our comrades, forged in our classrooms, who will soon reach fifteen years of unjust imprisonment for defending all Cubans from terrorism promoted by Washington against this island and its people.
How can you truly be a bastion and army in the battle to free Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando? First you have to objectively appreciate the situation, accurately evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the contenders, design an appropriate strategy, and above all struggle consistently until the victory.
Our main strength is the complete innocence of our comrades, and the complicity with terrorism that those who accused and convicted them, in a judicial farce, which only purpose was to justify terrorist actions against Cuba and to openly defend terrorists. Everything is perfectly registered in official documents that you can read in the file titled “United States v. Gerardo Hernandez et al.” of the Federal Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Our main weakness, and the most obvious, is that only a few in the United States know of what I just talked about. And it is not by accident. The government of that country has covered up the case of the five through heavy censorship. It does so because if the U.S. people were to know the truth they would discover that those who govern them are accomplices of terrorism, and if they had access to that truth a really broad and powerful solidarity movement would emerge that would obligate them to free our comrades.
So, what to do? How do we pierce the wall of silence surrounding this case?
There isn’t enough time to refer to the countless violations and numerous concealments that have accompanied this endless judicial process, which includes the longest trial in the history of the United States. I will focus on some key aspects.
Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando are waiting for Judge Lenard, the same one who initially sentenced them, to rule on extraordinary appeals or habeas corpus, the last legal recourse available to them. It is a complex, difficult, and impossible battle to win if it is not accompanied by solidarity, if it is not fight also outside the courtrooms, if we, those of us who are not prisoners, do not participate.
The common element of the four appeals is the government conspiracy with the local media and “journalists” from Miami, who they funded and directed to spark an intense hate campaign against the defendants, pressing and threatening jurors to render a fair trial impossible. This environment was characterized in 2005 by a panel of the Court of Appeals in Atlanta as “a perfect storm of prejudice and hostility” that led them to call a mistrial.
In 2006 it was discovered that the action of those “journalists” was the work of the government. Since then, seven years ago, civil society organizations are calling on the U.S. Government to reveal the extent of the conspiracy. The same requirement underlying the habeas corpus. The government stubbornly insists on its cover-up. And the press, in silencing this bid, becomes an accomplice of the conspirators.
Gerardo’s Habeas corpus also includes other issues of particular importance. On one hand the issue of the concealment is reiterated, as is the manipulation of the evidence presented against him to falsely accuse him of “conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree”, the infamous slander for which he was sentenced to die in prison. It is not the first time that the defense requests access to the alleged “evidence”. It has done so for 15 years, since the trial commenced in Miami. Now it is also requesting that Gerardo be granted a hearing so he can directly refute the lie leveled against him.
His petition also includes a demand for the government to provide images taken by its space satellites of the 24th February, 1996 incident, an event that was maliciously used to fabricate the “conspiracy to murder”.
Whether the government itself was forced to acknowledge that it had no evidence to link Gerardo to that incident, Washington’s refusal to show the images is very enlightening. Since 1996 no one has been able to see them. It has refused the International Civil Aviation Organization, the UN Security Council, and the Court of Miami. It has rejected the various gestures made by prestigious North American institutions. How do you explain such stubbornness? The only possible explanation at this point, 17 years after the fact, is that the incident occurred in Cuban territory, and therefore the U.S. court never had jurisdiction regarding this.
Washington can behave like this because it always had the complicity of the media.
Now, instead of showing the evidence that they are hiding, the prosecution has called for the elimination of the matter from the appeal presented by Gerardo. But this unusual action has not been either newsworthy.
So, what to do?
To wait for the big media corporations to divulge the truth would be, to say the least, naïve. Or we, the ones who are committed with this cause, do it, or nobody else will do.
Using all the tools at our disposal, the traditional ones and the ones offered by new technologies, to spread the truth and explain it beyond the rhetoric, with clear and direct language, and with arguments understandable to anyone.
The most convincing ones, ones that no one can refute, those that prove the terrible injustice done to our colleagues, are contained in official documents of the U.S. authorities themselves. Let’s use them.
These documents show that the Five did not commit any crime and that the process used against them had a single purpose, which was to support the terrorists whose criminal actions our brothers had tried to deter. Prosecutors, witnesses, experts and judges said it over and over again in their own words.
Where and how did they say it?
Let’s recall some especially enlightening moments:
1) The indictments presented by the prosecution. In the first one the incident with the planes on the 24th of February 1996 is not mentioned. In the second one, seven months later, they add the infamous and blatant slander against Gerardo. Both indictments state that the FBI knew of Gerardo’s activities several years before that incident and, therefore, they knew that he had nothing to do with that matter. That vulgar hoax was incorporated arbitrarily at the specific request of the terrorists, who unleashed an intense smear campaign with the government-paid “journalists”.
2) The declarations and motions from the prosecution. Since its initial presentation at the opening of the trial until their requests on sentencing, and throughout the court sessions, the prosecution expressed many times their determination to protect the terrorists and harshly punish the defendants for their peaceful unarmed struggle against these groups.
3) Statements by the judge. On several occasions the judge acknowledged the existence of terrorist groups in Miami and that the “crime” of the accused was their action against these groups, and acceded to the government request, not only imposing the most severe penalties, but also imposing other special conditions so that, after serving their prison terms, the defendants could never attempt anything against the terrorists. Such an unusual condition was reiterated by the Judge to René González as he left prison in October 2011.
4) Statements by witnesses and experts. There were several witnesses and experts, some offered by the Government, who testified under oath that the defendants had done nothing against the national security of the United States, and that in this case there had been no attempted espionage. They were generals, admirals and other retired senior officers of the U.S. armed forces. One of them, Colonel Bruckner, proposed that the satellite images of the incident on the 24th of February 1996 be presented, which was vigorously rejected by the prosecution with the support of the judge. Another was General Clapper who is now, nothing more and nothing less than the Director of National Intelligence, the highest government authority in this regard.
5) Emergency Motion to amend Count Three. The Prosecution filed this in late May 2001 when the trial was coming to a conclusion, recognizing it was taking an unprecedented step in the U.S. jurisprudence. In essence they asked to substantially modify Count Three (“conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree”) because “in light of the evidence presented at the trial it is an insurmountable obstacle for the prosecution that may lead to its failure.” Despite that, Gerardo was convicted and given the maximum penalty possible for an alleged crime he did not commit, and for which he was not charged. This result is an irrefutable proof that he was already condemned and that it was impossible for him and his comrades to have a fair trial in Miami.
6) Decision by the panel of the Court of Appeal in 2005. It was a unanimous decision of the three judges. It contains extensive information on the terrorist activities against Cuba, and has a solid analysis of the atmosphere created by the local media in Miami that they described as “a perfect storm of prejudice and hostility” that led them to call a mistrial. Although, with pressure exerted by the W. Bush regime, this decision was cast aside in a split vote by the full court, it is an exceptionally important document that is being studied in several law schools of U.S. universities.
7) Decision of the Court of Appeals in 2008 annulling the sentencing with respect to Count Two (“Conspiracy to commit espionage”) and ordering the resentencing of Ramon, Antonio and Fernando. Although Gerardo was arbitrarily excluded, while recognizing that it was also applicable to him, this paper is important because it reiterates, on several occasions, that in this case there was nothing threatening the national security of the United States, that there was no attempt of espionage and that the original sentences were excessive and issued contrary to the law.
8) The prosecution’s requests of sentences. In addition to ask, in all cases, for disproportionate and illegal terms of imprisonment, as it was later determined by the Court of Appeals, the prosecution insisted on something they said was as important to them as the terms of imprisonment. This refers to the “incapacitation clause”, the measures to be imposed on defendants to ensure that on completion of their prison sentence, upon being free they cannot attempt anything to damage the terrorists. Such a clause was included in all sentences, including those who were sentenced to life imprisonment. In the case of Antonio and René, who were U.S. citizens by birth, the judge expressed it in these terms: “As a further special condition of supervised release the defendant is prohibited from associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence, and organized crime figures are known to be or frequent.” As noted above, this amazing restriction was reiterated to Rene on his release from jail in October 2011.
9) The dissenting vote of Phillys Kravitch irrefutably argued against Count Three, insisting that the government presented no evidence to prove Gerardo had any connection with the incident of the 24th February, or anything like that.
10) The recent government motion to remove a substantial part of Gerardo’s habeas corpus. The prosecution intends to remove the declaration by its attorney, Martin Garbus, and the annexes with substantial information on government paid journalists. In its brief the Prosecution recognizes that its request is very unusual, but preferred to avoid a discussion on the merits of the defence approach.
These ten aspects are conspicuous by their absence in the media. It is rare to find them in the so-called alternative media, even in areas that are supposedly dedicated to the Five.
We must honestly ask ourselves if we have done everything in our power to allow North Americans to access to these truths that are jealously guarded by Washington. Let us try to answer the question asked by the children of the Colmenita “Now what else can we do?”.
Havana, 4th June, 2013
Words in the ceremony held at the Polytechnic Institute
“Jose Antonio Echeverria” in the Campaign Five days for the Five.