Supreme court refuses to hear Cuban 5 appeal
Jun 18, 2009
The Supreme Court has confirmed the U.S. legal system’s ongoing
hypocrisy in the treatment of the Cuban Five. The court on June 15 made public
a list of what cases it will hear during its coming term—and the appeal
of the Cuban Five was left off the list, with no explanation.
The Five–Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio
Guerrero, Fernando González and René González–were falsely
convicted of committing espionage conspiracy and other related charges. In
reality, they were monitoring Miami-based groups known to have carried out
terrorist attacks against Cuba. In fact, the reason they were arrested in the
first place was that the Cuban government presented to the FBI some evidence
they had collected, in hopes the U.S. would be compelled to stop the
Miami-based terrorist groups. This led the Feds to the Five.
|Free the Cuban 5!
One week before the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of the Cuban Five,
a news conference outside the Federal Building in San Diego, Calif., demanded
freedom for these five political prisoners unjustly held in the U.S. on
trumped-up charges. Demanding freedom for the Five, who came to the U.S. to
defend the Cuban people from terrorist attacks launched from Miami, speakers
also brought up the government’s denial of family visits. Speakers
represented Cuba Sí, the Raza Rights Coalition, the Free Mumia Coalition,
Friends of Cuba, the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, the International
Action Center and Border Meetup. The Obama administration had filed a brief
urging the court to deny the Five a hearing, which it did on June 15.
—Report and photo by Bob McCubbin
The lawyers for the Five presented strong arguments to the Supreme Court on
why it should hear an appeal. Among the reasons cited were racial
discrimination during jury selection and the right to a trial in a venue
outside Miami, the heart of the right-wing Cuban-American community where so
many anti-Cuban terrorist organizations operate.
Their position was further supported by 12 amicus curiae (friends of the
court) briefs submitted by 10 Nobel prize recipients, with the endorsement of
hundreds of parliamentarians and numerous U.S. and international jurist
Despite this groundswell of international support for the Five, and the fact
that their trial was the only in the U.S. ever condemned by the U.N. Human
Rights Commission, the court turned down the request for a hearing.
The court’s decision was met immediately by protests in cities across
the U.S. and the world. There had even been demonstrations earlier, in
anticipation of the court’s action.
It reminds us that the U.S. judicial system has a long history of meting out
punishment, not justice. Without the presence of a grassroots movement, willing
to struggle in the streets, the courts reinforce the violence of the state and
reactionary elements of society.
If the courts, or any other branch of government, act in a progressive
manner, it is always in response to pressure from below. That has been the
consistent lesson of the women’s, civil rights, LGBT and labor
We must remember these lessons as we continue to seek justice and freedom
for the Five. The government didn’t want the court to hear the case
because that would require the authorities to present their untenable position
in a greater public forum than before. Merely hearing this case in the highest
court of the U.S. would expose millions more to the hypocrisy of their own
Gerardo Hernández stated in 2008, on the heels of another legal setback
at the 11th Circuit Court, that their freedom would be won only by the hard
work of activists who continue to spread their story. He stated that “Our
hopes are not placed in any court. Ten years are more than enough to have cured
us of any such naïve notion.”