US Supreme Court will not review the case of the Cuban Five

In 1998 five members of Cuba’s intelligence agency were arrested in Miami and indicted on 26 counts. Their crime? Risking their lives to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians at the hands of unscrupulous murderers. In May 2009, on behalf of President Barack Obama, Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed a brief asking that the review of their trial be denied and on June 15th, 2009 the Supreme Court denied the review.

On September 12th, 1998, five members of Cuba’s intelligence agency, Dirección de Inteligencia, were arrested in Miami and indicted on 26 counts including conspiracy to commit murder, false identification and espionage.

The Cuban FiveGerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, also known as “The Cuban Five” were part of an operation to observe and infiltrate various right-wing, terrorist Cuban exile groups. Their crime? Risking their lives to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians at the hands of unscrupulous murderers.

One of these terrorist groups, Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU), has been involved in assassinations, like that of Orlando Letelier in 1976, who was once ambassador to the US under left-wing Chilean President Salvador Allende. CORU, with the help of former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles, also orchestrated the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 which killed 73 people.

After the “Five” were arrested they spent 17 months in solitary confinement while “evidence” proving their guilt was classified as secret. Evidence that Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, President of the Cuban National Assembly, says consisted of nothing more than “family photographs, personal correspondence and recipes.”

At the Five’s trial, which began in November 2000, their defense requested a change of venue because of Miami’s right-wing Cuban exile community. This was denied and they were charged with all 26 counts. A year after the initial trial the Five applied for annulment of the trial and a change of venue, this was denied. The Five also appealed to a higher court, but this was inhibited by solitary confinement in which they were denied access to their attorneys.

There was a glimmer of hope when on August 9, 2005 a panel of three judges in the US Court of Appeals overturned the convictions and sentences of the Five and ordered a new trial outside of Miami. However, in August of 2006, after a US government request to review the decision, the ruling for a new trial was reversed by a 10-2 vote of the same Court of Appeals.

In January 2009, the Five appealed to the US Supreme Court. Just a few months later in May 2009, on behalf of President Barack Obama, Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed a brief asking that the review of their trial be denied and on June 15th, 2009, sure enough, the Supreme Court denied the review.

This is quite showing of the utter hypocrisy that is the US legal system. Although Obama is singlehandedly responsible for the denial of their review he has the power to pardon the Five. While terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles, who participated in the murder of 73 people, roam free in the streets of Miami, five heroic men are confined to prison cells, denied visitation with their families. The IMT is in solidarity with the movement to free the Cuban Five, but the struggle to free them can only come about as a mass struggle to defend the Cuban Revolution as a whole.


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