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Cuba 5 Convictions Overturned

By Ileana Gadea

From the Federal Penitentiary in Victorville, where he is currently serving two life sentences, Gerardo Hernandez is sending a joyous message of gratitude to the supporters of the campaign to free the Five: “It is the solidarity of the people which has made this victory possible.” Commenting on the Aug. 9 decision by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to revoke the sentences and to order a new trial, Hernandez, one of the Cuban Five, expresses his belief that the victory is certain.

Based on evidence provided by the defense, the three judge panel in Atlanta unanimously determined that Hernandez, along with Ramon Labanino, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez did not have a fair trial at the hostile Miami court, which in 2001 found them guilty for not registering as agents of a foreign country – among other charges – and gave them long sentences, from 15 years to life.

Defense attorneys filed an appeal in March of 2004 indicating that the mission of the Five was not to obtain U.S. military secrets, but rather to monitor terrorist activities against Cuba being planned in Florida. The defense has also provided extensive evidence that the Five never sought or obtained classified information, nor inflicted any damage to any individuals or property.

In response to the court decision, over 650 prominent individuals, including Rigoberta Menchu; Desmond Tutu and four other Nobel Prize winners; and Americans Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Alice Walker, Ramsey Clark, Howard Zinn and Russell Banks wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales demanded that the Five be freed.

In another significant victory in the struggle to free the Five, a United Nations Human Rights Commission working group in May determined arbitrary the deprivation of liberty of the Five and requested that the U.S. government adopt the necessary steps to remedy the situation, “in conformity with the principles stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

For further information on the case of the Cuban Five, visit or

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