“15 years ago, precisely on September 12, 1998, five Cubans were unjustly arrested by the FBI in America despite the information shared between Cuba and US authorities about terrorist activities carried out by US-based terrorist groups against Cuba”, Amilcar Cabral opened. The event was a reception for Fidelia Ricardo Garcia, a female Cuban activist passionate about the campaign for release of five Cubans imprisoned by the United states of America some years ago. Mrs. Fidelia, a member of the Cuban Institute of friendship with the peoples (ICAP), was visiting Nigeria for her first time.
At the reception, coordinator of ACIS, Comrade Mujibat Dabiri expressed in her welcome remarks the resolve of ACIS to popularize the campaign in Nigeria for the FREEDOM OF THE CUBAN FIVE.
Secretary of JAF, Comrade Abiodun Aremu praised the Cubans effort on revolution, relaying the timeline of their historic struggle for freedom and its relative impact on the collective emancipation of Africa by its people.
He said Joint Action Front (JAF), would love forging a strong relationship with the Cuban people and to “realize the potential of learning from the most inspiring revolution that Cuba has given the world in our lifetime”.
The Cuban five; Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzáles and René González were accused of espionage and condemned by American jury to life prison terms. Civil organizations campaigning for their release over the years have perpetually opposed the ground of their convictions.
“The only offense of the Cuban 5 was that they began to live in the US since the early 90s and succeeded in infiltrating the network of terrorist groups based in US, and they provided information that assisted Cuba to neutralize the condemnable activities of the terrorists”, an activist asserted.
Other groups making solidarity with the advocates have alleged convictions of the five, which they described as America’s deployment and breach of its laws and international rules on the defendants, as a reflection of America’s history of hatred for Cuba among other nations that are not in terms with it.
“The Cuban 5 patriots were brutally detained, and through a kangaroo trial by a US court in Miami, crudely convicted in December 2001; with two of them sentenced to life imprisonment, one to 19 years, another to 15 years, and the fifth of them received two life terms”, Fidelia told activists in Lagos.
“However, a US Federal Court of Appeal on August 9, 2005, in a unanimous ruling, ordered the reversal of the convictions and a new trial. Yet the American establishment went ahead to put them in prison.
“Most US citizens abhor the shame of the American establishment in the gross violation of human rights in the arrest, detention, conviction and imprisonment of the Cuban 5″, she said.
The Amilcar Cabral Ideological School (ACIS) says it is now re-launching the campaign just as other Cuban citizens have begun in their country to wear unique symbols reminiscent of the conviction in order to bring Obama’s administration into reckoning for their release.
“There is no better time to join this campaign than now when the Barrack Obama US presidency claims, it is in pursuit of a new US foreign policy of global peace and reconciliation. The US must obey the ruling of its own Court that has already set the Cuban Five free”, said the group.
The group also raised concern that Nigerians are yet to have mass awareness on the issue of the ‘Cuban 5′ as they were in the struggle against Apartheid.
One sympathizer described the five Cubans as patriots, who were only seeking information about an anti-Cuba terrorist group based in the United States in order to facilitate an end to a protracted terrorist attack on Cuba.
A text central to the five Cubans by Rodolfo Davalos Fernandez, a Cuban author passionate about their imprisonment suggests that Cuba has been a victim of actual terrorism for over 45 years.
“Hundreds of terrorist attacks have been launched against our country, leaving in their wake a massive toll of deaths, meanings and almost incalculable material losses.
“All such acts suffered by Cuba have been planned, organized, financed and directed by various agencies of the united States government, acting via, or camouflaged as, anti-Cuba counter-revolutionary organizations.
“In this untenable situation, Cuba has had to defend itself; we have been compelled to protect ourselves against the threats of death and destruction, and it was to that end that five Cuban patriots dedicated the best years of their lives to investigating and forestalling attacks launched by a network of anti-Cuba counter-revolutionary terrorist organizations based in the United States. Their mission was to protect the Cuban people, and also the American public”, Rodolfo authored in his text, ‘Cuban Five’.
The text continued; “But on 12th September 1998, in a controversial FBI operation, they were arrested, thereafter suffering an appalling catalogue of injustices and violations of the most fundamental rules of American law, public international law and the main judicial instruments of the international community relating to matters of human rights.
“All the accumulated prejudices and hatred in Miami Dade county was unleashed on the five Cuban patriots from the very moments of their arrest”.
The text suggests that trial of the five was “another expression of vindictiveness towards the Cuban Revolution, its universal example, and also showed the intensity of the hegemony of those who aspire to direct the world affair from the White House.”
Towards their conviction, trial of the five Cubans was described as a process characterized by irregularities and infractions not just of the rules of due process but also of international law and universal principles of justice.
The Nigerian activists and other participants at the conference with Amilcar Cabral Ideological School (ACIS) shared feelings on the circumstance.
But further to the conviction of the five Cubans, they testified to blockade imposed on Cuba and its relative effects on other nationals.
Abiodun Aremu, scribe of JAF shared one of his experiences when he was to travel recently to Cuba.
“I found out that the Cuban Embassy does not have an account in Nigeria and I had to first overcome the hurdle of making payment through other hassles before I could accomplish that specific step”, Aremu said, attributing the hassle to the blockade on Cuba. He also said the Nigerian government may have compromised against Cuba as a result of America’s blockade on the country.
“Cuba cannot purchase oil crude from their nearest shore despite that they have the money. This is also because of the blockade”, he said.
Relating similar circumstance, Fidelia Ricardo relayed how a young Cuban scholar had won an academic competition but was denied the prize, owing to the blockade.
“The prize was to be a camera, but because the camera was made only 2% by America, he was not given.
“But as he arrived the Country, the first person that welcomed him was Fidel (Castro) and he handed him a camera”, she said to the participants’ cheer.