Message from the
• To the conscience of the world and the U.S.
years ago today, September 12, 1998, the brutality
of five simultaneous arrests burst into our homes to
initiate one of the most shameful chapters of U.S.
legal history: the trial of those of us today known
as The Five.
The arrest and trial of The Five will remain in
history as one of the most ignominious and vile
episodes of relations between the United States and
A few months earlier, after the mediation of the
Nobel Literature Prize winner Gabriel García
Márquez, the doors had been opened to significant
cooperation between the two countries in the fight
against terrorism. In June of that year, an FBI
delegation visited Cuba and after receiving copious
information on anti-Cuban terrorist activities
organized with impunity in Miami, promised their
Cuban counterparts that they would take action.
In a low blow, instead of arresting the
terrorists, the William Clinton administration
arrested and brought before its courts those of us
who were gathering information to avert the damage
which these terrorists were inflicting on the Cuba
population. The U.S. legal system was openly
utilized as a means of protecting the terrorists and,
in an atmosphere of lynching, we were subjected to a
rigged trial. Cruel conditions of confinement were
utilized to break us and to prevent us from
preparing an adequate defense. Lies took over the
Evidence was adulterated, damaged and suppressed.
The judge’s orders were openly disregarded.
Terrorists called as witnesses by the defense were
threatened in public with imprisonment if they did
not take the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.
U.S. experts and government officials justified or
openly scorned the damage the terrorists were doing
to Cuba. All this while the press opted to keep the
American public in total ignorance, and the trial
venue mercilessly bombarded with a barrage of
propaganda against the accused.
On June 8, 2001, a jury which went so far as to
register a complaint about their fear of harassment
by the local press – later revealed to have been
paid handsomely by the U.S. government – found us
guilty on all charges, including one for which the
prosecution – in an emergency motion to the Appeals
Court in Atlanta, had recognized in the light of
evidence brought before the court – it would not be
possible to obtain a guilty verdict.
The deplorable conduct of the prosecution
attorneys, judges and the U.S. government in this
case is no accident. It is impossible to conduct
oneself ethically when, for an objective in which
political hatred is mixed with personal arrogance
and revenge, charges are made which can only be
justified by making a mockery of the law, by
prevarication and by abuse of power. The vicious
circle which would begin with the political decision
to overwhelm us with charges – the most serious ones
totally fabricated – to force us to surrender, could
not but rebound in a constantly more deplorable
conduct on the part of the prosecution.
But we did not surrender, because a display of
brute force does not imply possession of morals on
the part of those who exercise it. We did not
surrender, because the price of lying in order to
satisfy the prosecution’s expectations seemed to us
to be far too degrading. We did not surrender,
because by implicating Cuba – the nation we were
protecting – in false accusations in order to swell
a U.S. government file against the island would have
been an unpardonable act of betrayal of the people
we love. We did not surrender, because human values
are still, for us, something precious on which the
transformation of human beings into better people
rests. We did not surrender because that implied
renouncing our dignity, a source of self-esteem and
love of self for any human being.
Instead of surrendering we opted to go to trial.
A trial which, if it had been reported, would have
called into question not only this case, but the
federal system of justice in the United States. If
the knowledge of what took place in that courtroom
had not been concealed from the American people,
whom we never caused, or attempted to cause, the
most minimal harm, it would have been impossible to
stage the Roman circus into which this parody of a
trial was transformed.
Fifteen years have gone by in which the U.S.
government and that country’s justice system have
turned a deaf ear to the demand of United Nations
organizations, Amnesty International, various Nobel
prizewinners, parliamentarians and full parliaments,
legal and religious figures and institutions. Only
the lifting of this other blockade, the one imposed
on the people of the United States to ensure that
they do not know about it, would make possible the
hope that this injustice could be brought to an end.
Today, Cuba will awake covered in yellow ribbons.
The Cuban people will be the protagonists of this
message, which appeals to a symbol that has become a
tradition for the people of the United States. It
will be an enormous challenge to those who have so
successfully undertaken to silence this case, to now
refuse to inform the world of this possibly unheard
of event: that an entire people has adorned its
country to ask another to demand of its government
the liberation of their unjustly incarcerated sons.
Meanwhile we, The Five, will continue to be
deserving of this massive display of affection; we
will continue being the worthy sons of the generous
people in solidarity who are leading it, and of the
support of those who, around the world, have joined
our cause; we will continue denouncing this
injustice which has already lasted 15 years, and we
will never give in, not one inch, from the moral
advantage which has allowed us to resist and grow
while we support the entire weight of a revengeful
hatred on the part of the most powerful government
on the planet.
Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René