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PEP COLUMN: Barbados and the Cuban Five

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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The Cuban Five are five patriotic Cuban men – Gerardo Nordelo, Ramon Salazar, Rene Sehweret, Fernando Llort and Antonio Rodriguez – who are currently locked away in prison in the United States, serving sentences ranging from 15 years to life, imposed upon them by the Federal Court of Miami in the state of Florida, for the alleged crime of espionage against the United States and other associated alleged offences.
Over the past 12 years these five men have been treated by the judicial authorities of the United States as if they are the most vile criminals, and yet, in the Republic of Cuba itself, and in numerous countries around the world, these men are regarded as heroes and have been the subject of a multiplicity of campaigns and petitions demanding their release.
Indeed, right here in Barbados there is a small Cuban Five Defence Committee. Furthermore, our own Clement Payne Movement has also done some considerable work on petitioning the United States government to release these unjustly convicted and imprisoned fighters against United States-based terrorist attacks on the Republic of Cuba.
And this is as it should be! In fact, Barbados should be playing an even greater role in the international campaign to free the Cuban Five, because, in a very real sense, the journey of these five Cuban patriots to their imprisonment in the United States began right here in Barbados, almost 25 years ago!
It was on October 6, 1976, that within minutes of a Cuban civilian airliner taking off from Seawell Airport in Barbados, a bomb planted in the aircraft exploded, causing the deaths of every single one of the 73 Cubans, Guyanese and North Koreans on board.
The Barbados Government’s Commission of Enquiry into this terrorist act identified Ricardo Lozano and Freddie Lugo as the two functionaries who had been responsible for placing the bomb on the Cubana plane. And significantly, in evidence before the commission, it emerged that the Cuban government’s own investigation had determined that Lozano and Lugo were subordinates of anti-Cuban, CIA-supported terrorist organisations run by arch-terrorists Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles.
The Cubana mass murder shocked the entire Cuban nation and brought about a national realisation that the campaign of terrorism by the Cuban-American mafia had reached a new level of barbarity.
Bosch and Carilles were never brought to justice, and in fact continued to be given succour and support in the United States by the plethora of Cuban-American counter-revolutionary organisations stationed in the city of Miami. Indeed, Carilles and Bosch became so emboldened that in the mid-1990s Bosch embarked upon a new conspiracy to assassinate Fidel Castro, and Carilles masterminded a terrorist campaign to blow up hotels in Cuba.
It was this intensification of terrorist attacks on Cuba that led these five Cuban patriots to station themselves in Miami in order to infiltrate the various terrorist organisations, and to collect advance intelligence that could be used to forestall pending attacks on their homeland. As a result, in June 1998, Cuba’s ministry of home affairs was actually able to provide the FBI with dossiers of information on several acts of terrorist violence being planned in Miami.
Ironically, the end result was that on September 12, 1998, the Cuban Five were arrested in Miami by the FBI, subjected to a biased and deeply flawed political trial, and sentenced to unjust and inordinately long prison terms.
• The PEP column represents the views of the People’s Empowerment party. Email [email protected]