by Jane Franklin | Zmag.org
It has been said over and over again for a long time now. Firstly, they said it themselves - Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez - to the very Court which, as part of the macabre farce, sentenced them with perverse severity. The voices of solidarity which, little by little were beginning to speak out around the world, denounced it time and again.
The Five young Cubans arrested in Miami in September of 1998 were the victims of a huge injustice. They hadn’t harmed anyone. Their only crime was to fight against terrorism there, in the city that is a lair for terrorists. The trial against them was corrupt from the outset and riddled with scandalous violations of the law. From start to finish it was, in short, illegal. The Five innocent men, victims of a government’s abduction, were more than just prisoners. The US authorities have an unavoidable obligation; to put an end to the unjust imprisonment, or rather, the official abduction, and free them immediately.
To inform the public of these facts, and in particular, let the American people know about them, has been extraordinarily difficult. The mass media of ‘information’ has, with disciplined uniformity, opted not to communicate information on this issue.
One of the most curious examples of ‘globalization’ is the redefinition of which issues constitute news and which don’t. For example, the fact that the United States has officially expressed its support of terrorism and has repeated this conviction several times over the years, in writing and before a court of law, has never made the news. They have done this, letter by letter, in official documents issued by that Government and in numerous statements made by their district attorneys to the Court, all of which appears verbatim in the transcripts taken during sessions in the Court of Miami and in texts which have been made public, but which the American and European press have never reported on. (1)
Nor have they ever deemed it pertinent to relate how the accused were denied access to supposed incriminating ‘evidence’, or how it was almost impossible for them to have contact with their lawyers, from whom this ‘evidence’ was also withheld. This never made the news.
Something else which wasn’t considered newsworthy was the unusual, to say the least, fact, that generals, admirals, colonels and government experts all appeared before the Court, and stated, under oath, that the accused were innocent of the charges against them. The mass media based outside of Miami never found out about this, despite the fact that with incessant furore, the local pseudo-journalists insulted and threatened these persons, and that their testimonies have been available, in the trial transcripts, for five years (2)
What about the fact that with regard to the most serious charge the US Government itself acknowledged that they couldn’t prove it and in the end, unsuccessfully requested that it be withdrawn? The fact that this request (3), an unprecedented one in American history, was rejected by the Court and the Court of Appeals, but that regardless of this Gerardo Hernandez was later found guilty, without any hesitation, of the charge that no-one wanted to accuse him of? The fact that on this charge they also sentenced him to a second life sentence? None of that interests the communicators.
What about the fact that all contact between the abducted Five and their families is restricted? Their visits reduced to a minimum? The fact that two of them are prevented from seeing their wives? The fact that a six year old girl is not allowed to meet her father? These are not matters to occupy the time of busy journalists, or even the imaginary defenders of human rights.
The case of the Five was conveniently ignored by the large corporations trying to monopolise information worldwide. However, in Miami, the so-called local media, those spokespeople for the terrorists who run the city as well as its radio, television and written press, did pay attention to this issue. They did so with the stridency that has made them famous. They went so far that the Court itself, as subjugated as it was by the terrorist mafia, felt obliged to protest and complain. Recall, if you may, the situation described by the judge: supposed journalists, brandishing cameras and microphones, following members of the jury through the passageways and up and down the steps of the Court building and out onto the street, to their vehicles, choleric, threatening. ‘They, the jury are afraid, they feel threatened’, admitted the judge. This is what is recorded in the transcripts (4) and this is how the Miami press reported it. Outside of Miami however, there was an imposed silence. These events weren’t reported either. The denouncement made by the judge, the anguish felt by the jury, the furore created by the ‘journalists’, all met with the same response: it wasn’t happening, it wasn’t news.
The news items that were reported, and repeated to the point of exhaustion, day and night, were Kobe Bryant’s affairs, Martha Stewart’s outfit, the comings and goings in Michael Jackson’s bed and their visits to courtrooms besieged by avid ‘informers’. There isn’t precisely an absence of news about the law, the police and courtroom activity among American television networks, radio stations or newspapers, or among their European clones.
In this ‘globalized’ world, from the Himalayas to the Patagonia, many people are aware of the sexual liaisons of any celebrity you could mention, but millions of Americans are not allowed to know that their government protects terrorism in its own backyard and punishes with exceptional cruelty all those who are there fighting it.
That was the situation up until Thursday 14 July. Only time will tell if it just happened by chance or if this coincidence is to bring us a glimmer of hope, but it was on this very day and no other when the news began to circulate. The BBC information service based in London and the American press agency, Associated Press, whose dispatches would later be reproduced by other organs of the printed press and radio, announced each in their own way, that the UN had declared arbitrary and illegal the arrest of the Five Cubans and their subsequent trial.
This is relative to the report issued by a panel of independent experts, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention established by the Commission on Human Rights (5)
It is the result of a long process of analysis, investigation and inquiries that included the Government of the United States.
In their conclusion the group underlined three main aspects: the 17 months of solitary confinement imposed on the Five at the time of their arrest, the limited access that the accused and their lawyers had to the evidence and the climate of strong hostility that they had to face.
It is worth noting that on three occasions the United Nations Group mentioned that the United States government had admitted in their communiques to the serious violations that had been committed. As we see here:
‘The Government has not contested the fact that defense lawyers had very limited access to evidence…, negatively affecting their ability to present counter evidence’.
‘The Government has not denied that…, the climate of bias and prejudice against the accused in Miami persisted and helped to present the accused as guilty from the beginning. It was not contested by the Government that one year later it admitted that Miami was an unsuitable place for a trial where it proved almost impossible to select an impartial jury in a case linked with Cuba’.
Taking this into account, ‘The Working Group concludes that the three elements that were enunciated above, combined together, are of such gravity that they confer the deprivation of liberty of these five persons an arbitrary character’, and ‘the deprivation of liberty of Messrs. Antonio Guerrero Rodr�guez, Fernando Gonz�lez Llort, Gerardo Hern�ndez Nordelo, Ramon Laba�ino Salazar and Rene Gonz�lez Schweret is arbitrary, being in contravention of article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’, therefore, ‘the Working Group requests the Government to adopt the necessary steps to remedy the situation’.
How can this situation be remedied? What are the necessary steps that the United States Government must adopt? The answers are obvious. The entire process against the Five is null and void, invalid. The abducted Five must be freed immediately.
Since 12 September 1998, for 7 years now, that Government has been arbitrarily and illegally depriving five young men of their freedom. Worst of all they are doing this in order to protect the terrorist groups that operate with total impunity in the United States. So far they have managed this with the conspiratorial silence of the mass media.
Now we have the UN report and the fact that its content has been made public by some important media organs. Let us hope that the message will spread to the millions of people who have been refused their right to receive information. Let us hope that, finally, the moment of truth is upon us.
Published in [url=http://www.rebelion.org]http://www.rebelion.org[/url] on July 20, 2005
1. The United States vs. Hern�ndez et al, Case 98-271-C R-Lenard.
2. Trial Transcript (verbatim of the Court sessions, pages 8196-8301, 11049-11199, 11491-11547, 13089-13235)
3. Emergency Petition for writ of Prohibition presented by the S. Florida district attorney to the Court of Appeal on 25 May 2001.
4. Trial Transcript, pages 14644-14646
5. Conclusion reached by the Working Group on Arbitrary Deprivation of Liberty. Opinion No. 19/2005 (United States of America) 27 May 2005.