Brisbane highlights injustice against Cuban 5


The Australia Cuba Friendship Society (Brisbane) held a screening of the film Will the real terrorist please stand up? in solidarity with the Cuban 5 on September 7. The film was introduced by the Cuban ambassador to Australia, Pedro Monzon, who was in Brisbane as part of an official visit to Queensland.

The Cuban 5.

Through interviews the film documents half a century of terror campaigns waged by small groups of Cuban exiles based primarily in Miami, Florida against Cuba's revolutionary government. Terror campaigns backed by the U.S. government and the CIA in particular. Not only have these terrorists attacked civilian targets like passenger planes and hotels in Cuba, but they also have a long history of murdering anyone who opposes them in the US as well.

In the early 1990's after the US repeatedly refused to implement measures to stop these terrorist attacks, Cuba sent a group of unarmed agents to the US with the sole purpose of infiltrating these Cuban exile terror groups to warn Cuba of any further attacks. When the Cubans had gathered a large amount of damning evidence about the activities and future plans of the terrorist groups the Cuban government handed over the information to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Instead of arresting the terrorists the FBI used the information to identify the Cuban infiltrators. On September 12, 1998, five men, who would later be known as the Cuban 5, were arrested by FBI agents and kept in isolation cells for 17 months before going to trial in Miami – a city in which it would be impossible for such a trail to be fair. Despite some jurors openly stating that they feared for their lives and lives of their families if they gave a verdict the terrorists didn't like the lawyers defending the Cuban 5 were unable to get the trial moved to another city.

Found guilty, the 5 were given unprecedented long sentences and imprisoned in five completely separate maximum security prisons. Hernandez Gerardo was given two life sentences, Antonio Guerrero and Ramon Labanino a life sentence each, Fernando Gonzalez 19 years and Rene Gonzalez 15 years. There have been appeals for the 5 but most legal avenues have been exhausted.

As Monzon pointed out in his introduction, “everything about the case of the Cuban 5 is political, from their arrests, solitary confinement, absurdly long sentences, the fact that their families aren't allowed to visit them, it is all political. Because of this only a political campaign will set them free.” Monzon added that the international campaign to free the 5 needed to look at new ways to raise the issue and co-ordinate better internationally.

For more information on the Cuban 5 click here.

Australian News & Analysis