of the oddest “espionage” cases on record is that of the so-called
“Cuban 5.” The US Supreme Court is presently being petitioned to
hear this case, a petition that has been accompanied by twelve amicus
briefs from significant individuals and organizations.
essence of this case is in some respects quite straight forward.
Terrorist attacks have been conducted against Cuba, in one form
or another, since the success of the Cuban Revolution in 1959. These
terrorist attacks have ranged from assassinations, to bombings,
to an ill-fated attempt in the mid 1960s to set up anti-government
guerrilla bases within Cuba itself. What these terrorist attacks
have had in common has been the explicit or implicit support of
the US government. What they have also had in common has been the
support of right-wing Cuban exiles in the USA.
that context it should come as no surprise that the Cuban government
would have an interest in knowing - in advance - of the plans by
right-wing exile groups to carry out terrorist attacks. This is
no different than any of the rhetoric we have been subject to by
the US government since 11 September 2001 regarding the need to
get ahead of the curve in knowing about terrorist assaults. Yet
when the Cuban government deployed 5 individuals to investigate
exile activity directed against the government of Cuba, and
not investigating anything connected to the US government,
arrests were carried out and convictions brought about in what can
only be described as a kangaroo court.
there is a committee
organized for the defense of the Cuban 5 (National Committee
to Free the Cuban Five:), the case has received little objective
attention in the US and there has been almost no US public awareness
of the efforts to bring the case to the US Supreme Court. The activities
of the Cuban 5 have been treated as if they were out of a Cold War
Soviet spy operation, rather than being a response to nearly fifty
years of aggression by the US government and its right-wing Cuban
arrest and conviction of the Cuban 5 was a hypocritical action by
the US, particularly in light of its rhetoric regarding a war against
terrorism. Yet fear of an indictment for hypocrisy has never dissuaded
the US from taking actions that the rest of the world condemns.
is all old news. We now have a new President - President Obama -
and confronting him is not only the challenge of whether he will
continue Bush’s so-called war against terrorism, but whether he
will alter the on-going, hostile approach of the US against Cuba.
Step #1 should be the freeing of the Cuban 5. They have been imprisoned
under inhumane conditions after their convictions and their imprisonment
stands as testimony to a foreign policy that has lost all credibility
in the eyes of the global community.
Obama has sent signals to the effect that US policy toward Cuba
will change…slightly. It may become easier for families to reconnect
and ultimately travel restrictions may be eased. But this is insufficient.
The totality of US policy toward Cuba must be revamped. After all,
it has not been Cuba that has launched attacks against the USA.
Had Cuba carried out periodic incursions into the USA; had it supported
individuals who bombed airplanes and hotels; and had it carried
out assassination attempts against US Presidents, we would not even
be having this discussion: Cuba would be a cinder.
Obama: the “Cuban 5” must be freed.
Executive Editor, Bill Fletcher, Jr., is a Senior Scholar with the
Institute for Policy Studies,
the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum and co-author of, Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path
toward Social Justice (University
of California Press), which examines the crisis of organized labor
in the USA. Click here
to contact Mr. Fletcher.