Every few years the entire nation of Cuba is mobilized against what they consider a grand injustice perpetrated by the United States. The Helms-Burton Law. The cause of Elián González. And, most recently, the imprisonment of the "Cuban Five."
The faces of these five Cuban men have for the past few years been ubiquitous throughout Cuba, from billboards and daily news items to T-shirts and every website, while massive demonstrations for their cause continue to be held nationwide. Every hotel in the country (even foreign-managed hotels) feature posters of the five in the lobby.
Accused by the U.S. government of "espionage," the five Cubans–Fernando González, René González, Antonio Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández, and Ramón Labañino–were convicted in U.S. federal court on June 8, 2001, and sentenced to from 15 years to life terms.
The five "innocents," as they are called in Cuba, were indeed spies. However, the agents of Cuban intelligence weren't spying against the U.S. government. Instead, they had infiltrated extreme right-wing Cuban-American groups, such as Omega 7 and Alpha 66, that continue to plan and perpetrate terrorist acts (including bombings and assassinations) against moderate Cuban-Americans espousing dialogue with Cuba; against Cuba-bound travelers and Cuba-travel suppliers; and against Cuba, including machine gun raids on Varadero and, in 1997, a bombing campaign in Havana that killed an innocent Italian tourist.
Such groups have acted with impunity for decades, and the U.S. government has basically turned a blind eye to their terrorist acts. (For example, anti-Castroite, CIA-trained Bay of Pigs operative Orlando Bosch was convicted of conspiring in the bombing of a Cubana airliner on October 6, 1976, that killed 73 passengers, but he was granted a pardon by President Bush. His co-conspirator, Luis Posada, was convicted of the bombing in Venezuela but escaped from jail and returned to Miami, where he has never been prosecuted, despite bragging about his terrorist exploits.)
Because the U.S. government refuses to prosecute Cuban-American terrorists, Cuban agents have infiltrated such groups to monitor them and identify future threats. However, in 2001, when Cuban authorities contacted U.S. authorities and reported a plot to bomb a Cuban-bound airliner, the FBI uncovered and arrested the "five," who were promptly sentenced to prison.
An effort to free the "five" has garnered the support of leading international figures. For more information, visit the Free the Five website .