Two members of Cuban Five resentenced

12/09/09 Lauren Martinez
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

Yesterday two members of the Cuban Five had their sentences reduced. WMNF spoke with Gloria LaRiva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, who attended their hearings.

"The Cuban Five are five men who've been in prison in the United States since September 1998. They were Cuban agents who came into the United States, specifically Miami and Tampa, in order to infiltrate terrorist organizations. These terrorist organizations have been financed, armed, given the green light by the U.S. government through the CIA and FBI, and the terrorist organizations have carried out countless terrorist attacks against Cuba. So the Cuban Five infiltrated those groups in order to monitor their actions, prevent their terrorist attacks, and save lives. And yet it was the U.S. government which arrested the anti-terrorists who have become known as the Cuban Five."

"Yesterday in court we heard the hearings of two of the five, Ramon Labanino and Fernando Gonzalez, who received a resentencing and their sentences were reduced somewhat but they're still, we believe, every day of their imprisonment has been unjust."

What's your reaction to these new sentences?

"Ramon Labanino had life plus 18 years and life imprisonment in the federal prison means you don't get out until you die. So the fact that his sentence was reduced to 30 years is still extremely long. He has another 14 years to serve if it's to be completed and that's a very long time to be away from his family, his country of Cuba, however it was a step forward. An improvement from life imprisonment. Fernando Gonzalez had 19 years and it was reduced yesterday to 17 years and 9 months. He's already served 11 therefore he'll have 3 years and 11 months more to serve."

" As we said last night after the hearing, not one day of their imprisonment was just. Imagine. Men who sacrificed their personal lives to be involved in terrorist groups in order simply to report on their actions. The Cuban Five have never had weapons, they never harmed anyone. They actually prevented many terrorist attacks from taking place. Therefore they have the highest character as individuals who were really doing a very humanitarian mission and yet here they are in prison for having done that. It's because they were defending Cuba from U.S. terrorism."

Do you think that there will be resentencing for the other three members? If there will be, what goes from here?

"Ramon Labanino and Fernando Gonzalez were two of the three who the appeals court last year ordered to be resentenced because their sentences were ruled excessive. Antonio Guerrero who had life, also, life plus 10 years, was resentenced last October 13th and his sentence was reduced to 21 years and 10 months. He will get out in about 7 years. So every resentencing has been a step forward. Who remains in prison also is Rene Gonzalez who's in Marianna prison here in Florida and he has another 2 years and a few months left to serve."

"But Geraldo Hernandez, who was convicted of two life convictions and is serving two life sentences, our focus is really to knock down those convictions and get him released as well as the other men because for him to serve double life when he was saving lives is just an absolute crime in itself. He's in Victorville prison in California, Southern California, and the conviction and charges against him were absolutely outrageous."

" There's a worldwide movement on behalf of these men. Here in Florida there's a number of organizations from St. Petersburg to Miami to Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida, but hundreds of groups around the world are demanding their freedom. And their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which was rejected however, but in their appeal there were quite a number of amicus briefs filed by a number of Nobel Prize recipients in the world. Hundreds of Europeans, and Latin American Parlaimentarians who called for the U.S. to review their case and grant them a new trial. We believe that in the end it will be the political support for the Five, the worldwide mobilization, the demonstrations, the forums, the lobbying to Congress. All of that pressure, we believe, is what is going to finally free the men by whatever means."

" We call on President Obama to grant them a pardon because they were doing what the U.S. government should have been doing. Stopping terrorism that's directed against Cuba."

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