Free the Cuban Five
The Cuban 5: A Matter of Human Rights and a Case of Justice for Canadians
On September 12, 1998, five Cuban anti-terrorists (the Cuban Five) were arrested in Miami, Florida and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, René González, and Fernando González were then convicted on June 8, 2001 after being subjected to solitary confinement for eighteen months prior to their seven-month trial.
Evidence obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that their conviction was unwarranted, and while the Cuban Five's attorneys wanted to change the location of the legal proceedings in the United States, their request was denied and the five innocent men were forced to go to trial without any hope of justice. In fact, many journalists were paid by the U.S. government to saturate the media with sensational stories of terrorism supposedly carried out by the Cuban Five in America, and these baseless allegations influenced the outcome of their trial.
Cuba is no stranger to terrorism. Following the overthrow of the Batista government in 1959 by Fidel Castro, proven terrorists, such as Luis Posada Carriles, continue to walk freely on the streets of Miami, even when the evidence is clear that he masterminded a plot which resulted in the murder of 73 people who travelled on the Cubana Airliner in October 1976. On April 26, 2014, four terrorists were arrested in Havana, Cuba and confessed to their plans to perform terrorist attacks on the island. These four men worked with well-known, anti-Cuban terrorists in Miami who are tied to the Carriles scheme. In fact, it is estimated that terrorist attacks in Cuba over the past 50 years have led to the deaths of 3,478 Cubans and the injury of 2,099 more. The horror of these tragedies is hard to imagine, especially considering that Cuba’s population is only 11 million.
The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five was formed in 2001, following the arrests of the Cuban Five three years earlier. Through protests at U.S. embassies and government offices, as well as petitions and special speaker events, the Committee has worked with many nongovernmental organizations to ensure that justice for the Cuban Five is achieved in our lifetime. UFCW Canada is proud of the support that we have garnered for the Cuban Five by way of the petitions, speaking engagements, and events that we have endorsed and participated in, and many of our union members and allies vehemently oppose the wrongful imprisonment of these men.
Thankfully, Fernando González was released from prison on February 27, 2014, after completing 17 years and 9 months of jail time for a crime that he did not commit. On October 7, 2011, René González finished his prison sentence after completing more than 13 years of imprisonment in the U.S., followed by nearly three years of “supervised release” in Florida. On May 11, 2013, he was finally granted the ability to renounce his U.S. citizenship and permanently reside in Cuba.
While worldwide pressure and protest have resulted in two of the Cuban Five brothers being freed from prison, three of these men remain wrongfully imprisoned in the U.S. Federal Justice System.
UFCW Canada joins the Canadian Labour Congress in advocating for the freedom of the Cuban Five. “As the leading private-sector union in the country, and on behalf of more than 250,000 UFCW Canada members, we pledge our commitment to fight for justice in the case of the Cuban Five brothers who remain wrongfully imprisoned," says National President Paul Meinema. Gerardo (serving a sentence of two life terms plus 15 years), Ramón (serving a sentence of 30 years), and Antonio (serving a sentence of 21 years and 10 months) can count on our commitment to exert much needed pressure on the U.S. government to end the senseless punishment of the Cuban Five brothers who remain imprisoned.
To find out more information about this issue, and to add your voice to the Free the Five campaign, visit: