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Women leaders going to D.C. to demand freedom for Cuban Five

Published Sep 20, 2005 11:30 PM

Sept. 20—A delegation of women leaders will travel to the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 23, to demand that Attorney General Alberto Gonzáles immediately free the Cuban Five. This action was called by the New York Committee to Free the Cuban Five in collaboration with the National Committee.

The five Cubans—Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and René González—have been held since 1998 in U.S. federal prisons, under sentences ranging from 15 years to life. They were railroaded into jail amidst the fierce anti-communist climate in Miami for monitoring the terrorist activities of right-wing groups against revolutionary Cuba.

The women's delegation asked to speak with the attorney general in order to protest the continued incarceration of the Five, and to demand visitation rights for the prisoners' families.

On May 27 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that the imprisonment of the Cuban Five was unjust and violated international law. In August, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declared the convictions null and void, and said each defendant deserved a new trial.

The Bush administration has repeatedly denied visas to family members and loved ones who wish to visit the Five. Adriana Pérez, who is married to Gerardo Hernández, has not seen him for over six years. The daughter of René González has never seen her father, although she is a U.S.-born citizen.

Impressive spectrum

Teresa Gutierrez of the New York Committee said about the effort of the women’s delegation, “Despite the significant steps forward witnessed by the U.N. ruling and the August 9 court decision, the struggle to free the Five is far from over. The women’s letter to Attorney General Gonzáles is important so that every sector of the population in this country is exposed to this case.”

Women leaders from an impressive spectrum of human rights, peace, anti-prison, immigrant rights, women’s, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender, anti-war and other organizations signed the appeal.

Individual endorsers included The Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, former general secretary of the National Council of Churches; Brenda Stokely, national leader of the Million Worker March Movement; distinguished academics Beverly Guy-Sheftall, professor of Women’s Studies at Spelman College and Bettina Aptheker, professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz; Gloria LaRiva of the National Committee, legendary singer and cultural worker Ronnie Gilbert; and national anti-war organizer Leslie Cagan.

Code Pink Women for Peace endorsed the action at their national level.

A wide range of groups was reflected in the affiliations of the signers, who included Nieves Ayres, Mujeres de la Rebeldia, La Peña del Bronz; Nellie Hester Bailey, executive director of the Harlem Tenants Council; Mara Bard, School of Americas Watch-Long Island; Heather Cottin, Troops Out Now-Long Island; LeiLani Dowell, FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together); Leslie Feinberg, co-chair, national LGBT caucus, National Writers Union/UAW; Sara Flounders, co-director International Action Center; Joan Gibbs, esq., Harriet's Daughters; Nada Khader, executive director, WESPAC Foundation; Dorothea Peacock and Maureen Skehan, Women's Fightback Network-Boston; and Ruth Vela, Gente Unida: Border Coalition for Human Rights-San Diego and Monica Moorehead, a coordinator of Millions for Mumia.

The breadth of international support for the Five was indicated by signers such as Don Mee Choi of Women For Genuine Security, a member group of the East Asia-U.S.-Puerto Rico Women's Network Against Militarism; Samia A. Halaby of Al-Awda and the New York Committee to Defend Palestine; Esperanza Martell of ProLibertad, an organization fighting for Puerto Rican independence; Eva Golinger, Venezuelan American and author; Zenaida Mendez, president, National Dominican Women's Caucus; Luz Ortiz, Association of Colombian Unionists; and Lourdes Vela of the Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle.

For more information about how you can help free the Cuban Five, contact the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five at www.freethefive.org.