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The importance of the appeals process to Gerardo, Ramón, and Antonio

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By Andres Gomez

Washington-cinco-heroesThe extraordinary appeals (Habeas Corpus) process of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, three of the Cuban Five whom the United States government arbitrarily and unjustly keeps imprisoned, is of fundamental importance in the development of the campaign to achieve their freedom.

First and foremost, it contributes to the possibility of a political solution of the case. The case of the Five has always been a political case. From the start that is how the United States government during the Clinton administration treated it. And that is how successive U.S. governments have conducted it to this day.

With the commendable exception of the unanimous ruling of the three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal government succeeded in steamrolling the respective courts and impose its view that for the federal government, it is a matter of greatest interest and national security to obtain the Five’s guilty verdict, along with arbitrary and excessive prison sentences.

In foreign policy matters since the end of World War II, the United States federal courts have acceded to the Executive branch’s arguments of national security interests, even when it violates the Law and established judicial procedures guaranteed by the federal Constitution. The case of the Cuban Five has clearly demonstrated this.

In the same way that the federal government succeeded in the court’s outcome of guilt for the Cuban Five, today for many reasons, given that circumstances have changed, in seeking a political solution to the case, the federal government could convince the pertinent courts to find merit in the solid arguments of the defense appeals of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio. Thus it would be the courts that decide their freedom. The courts would do it as they would if the pursuit of justice were their function.

This is the way it happened 14 years ago with the case of the Cuban child Elián González, when the courts ruled in favor of returning the child to his father. This also happened during the time of the Clinton administration.

Of course, there is always the option of presidential pardon or clemency as a political solution to the situation of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio. It is a constitutional right of the Presidents of the United States that has been utilized thousands of times.

The possibility of a political solution through a court decision for Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio is much less costly for President Obama, a President whose political capital has diminished considerably and whose administration is besieged by grave international crises of greater urgency for his country. Moreover he has shown extensively during his tenure as President that he is not inclined to take political risks.

So then, the extraordinary appeal (Habeas Corpus) currently before the Court: Is it or is it not a vitally important factor in the development of the campaign to win freedom for Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio?

Keeping the international campaign for the Five’s freedom alive and growing, as it is, has always been a big challenge. From here on out it will be more so. To sustain and deepen it we have to base our work on solid arguments that demonstrate how and why the injustice was committed, and why it continues to be waged against the fundamental rights of three of the Cuban Five.

We need to base our work on a constant denunciation of the policy of State terrorism by the United States, a policy imposed on the Cuban people and its Revolution for more than 55 years with the aim of making it surrender its independence and most cherished freedoms and rights, by the use of vile force; a policy that has cost the Cuban people dearly in thousands of deaths, disabled and countless sufferings. Doing it we must try to convince conscious and politically committed persons, as well as, countless of others who aren’t, yet are people of good will living all over the world.

We must never forget that that is the reason the Cuban Five were infiltrated in the terrorist organizations of the Cuban extreme rightwing who’ve carried out from U.S. soil that despicable policy. That is why they arrested the Five, tried to subjugate them and have kept them cruelly imprisoned for so many years.

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