On the 16th anniversary of their incarceration in the imperialist gaols of the USA, members and supporters of Rock around the Blockade celebrate the Cuban Revolution and demand the freedom of all the Cuban 5, heroes of the revolution. 

 For a brief and brilliant introduction to the case of the Cuban 5, watch and share this video produced by Discover the five

The Cuban 5 are five Cuban men unjustly imprisoned in US gaols since 1998. Falsely accused of espionage and in one case murder, they are in fact guilty of nothing more than peacefully trying to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba being planned from within the US.

During the early 1990s Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, René González, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González came to Miami from Cuba to monitor right-wing Cuban exile groups.  They compiled evidence of attacks against Cuba being planned by these groups. The Cuban authorities gave this information to the FBI, urging them to take action. But instead of arresting those planning the attacks, the five Cuban agents were themselves arrested on 12 September 1998. They were charged with conspiracy to commit espionage and Gerardo Hernandez was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder. In July 2001, after a biased six-month trial in Miami, the Cuban 5 were convicted and sentenced to a combined four life sentences plus 77 years.

In October 2009, as a result of repeated challenges in the US courts, combined with political pressure from campaigners, the Miami Federal District Court replaced the life sentence plus 10 years for Antonio Guerrero with a sentence of 21 years and ten months. The same court later replaced Ramón Labañino’s life plus 18 years with 30 years and Fernando González had his 19 years replaced with 17 years.

After years of international campaigning, led by Cuba, Rene González was released on 7 October 2011, forced to remain in the US for a further 18 months but since May 2013 has been in Cuba, finally free. Fernando González was also freed in February 2014, returning to Cuba after completing his sentence.

The cruel and unusual punishment of the Cuban 5 is part of a political war aiming to destroy the socialist Revolution in Cuba. Since 1959 Cuba has withstood invasion attempts, sabotage terrorist attacks and an economic blockade from the US which has cost the country an estimated $975bn dollars in the last 50 years.  With legal avenues nearly exhausted, the international campaign for the Cuban 5 is more important than ever. Rock around the Blockade (RATB) is part of a global network of committees and solidarity groups in 152 countries calling for justice for the Cuban 5. Gerardo Hernandez refers to this international solidarity as a ‘jury of millions’.

The Cuban 5 are heroes who exposed US links to reactionary terrorist organisations intent on over-throwing the Cuban revolution. They have paid the price of exposing US terrorism. The Obama administration in the US has used the Espionage Act to charge twice as many whistleblowers than all previous governments combined. Most recently private Manning received a 35 year sentence for leaking thousands of files detailing US state terrorism. These included footage of Iraqi journalists and unarmed civilians being murdered in cold blood. Julian Assange, founder of wiki-leaks which has released thousands of cables exposing US military and diplomatic documents exposing imperialist collusion, war crimes and state terrorism, remains under threat of extradition to the US. We must defend all the political prisoners of imperialism, demand their release and use the vital information they provide to break through the war mongering media propaganda we are fed on a daily basis.