By Minnie Bruce Pratt | [url=http://www.workers.org]http://www.workers.org[/url]
The Bush administration has intensified its attack on revolutionary Cuba by attempting to freeze funds going to the bank account of the International Peace for Cuba Appeal (IPCA). IPCA has been working in conjunction with the National Committee to Free the Five (NCFF) to receive donations for a planned full-page New York Times ad in support of five Cuba patriots held as political prisoners in the U.S. The Cuba Five were convicted in U.S. courts in 2001 for their efforts to counter terrorist violence by unmasking the activities of the vicious right-wing movement based in Miami.
At a Feb. 25 press conference, Ian Thompson from the National Lawyers Guild, representing the two organizations, reported that Wachovia Bank stopped wire transfers of money for the ad from pro-Cuba organizations in Spain and France on Feb. 5 and 12, at the behest of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). Bank officials’ explanation was that the word “Cuba” appeared in the name of the bank account. Thompson pointed out that the right-wing Cuban American National Association has had no funds stopped, to his knowledge.
The Bush administration has stepped up prosecution of individuals defying the travel ban and the U.S.-imposed blockade of Cuba. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, of the Partnership for Civil Justice Legal Defense and Education Fund, commented that the attack on the Free the Five campaign shows the U.S. government has increased hand-in-glove work with big business to carry out illegal acts against groups and people opposing U.S. foreign policy. The Partnership for Civil Justice currently represents Voices in the Wilderness, under attack by OFAC for carrying medical supplies to Iraqi people dying under U.S. sanctions.
Both Thompson and Verheyden-Hilliard praised the fight-back resistance of the Free the Five campaign, which forced the bank to retreat and release the frozen funds.
The $50,000 New York Times ad is now paid for, thanks to donations from 42 U.S. states and 210 countries. Miami’s progressive Cuban community raised more than $10,000. According to Andreas Gomez, editor of Areito magazine, that community wholeheartedly supports justice for the Cuban Five. The offices of Areito have been targeted with three bombings by the Cuban rightwing.
Gloria La Riva, of the Committee to Free the Five, expressed hope that the Times advertisement will “shine the light of media attention on the Cuban political prisoners,” and encourage a groundswell of support ranging from students and working people to politicians.
For more information see [url=http://www.fivethefive.org]http://www.fivethefive.org[/url]