Protest Outside White House to Free the Cuban Five

Activists demand freedom for the Cuban Five in Washington DC demonstrations Saturday June 7.Activists demand freedom for the Cuban Five in Washington DC demonstrations Saturday June 7. (Photo: Samantha Sarra)

Hundreds gathered outside the White House Saturday to demand the immediate release of the remaining Cuban Five who have been held in US prisons for more than 16 years. The protesters descended on Washington DC from all over the world to stand in solidarity with the Cuban people and to asked President Obama to release the Cuban heroes who were wrongly imprisoned for defending themselves and trying to protect Cuba from US backed terrorism against their homeland. Chanting for justice and freedom, the protesters marched from the White House to the Department of Justice for the 3rd annual Five Days for the Cuban Five.

Over 6000 intellectuals and artists from around the world have voiced their support for the Cuban Five and their release including former US President James Carter who has said, “I believe that there is no reason to keep the Cuban Five imprisoned.” A sentiment echoed by Noam Chomsky, who has said,”They weren’t criminals, they were heroes. I mean they were exposing the US government crimes that are being committed on US soil; crimes the US government is tolerating and theoretically should be punishing itself.”

In March of this year, the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England held an International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five. The commission brought together 20 expert witnesses to give evidence in the case and the hearings were presided over by three internationally recognized legal figures, Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal, former Chief Justice of India; Philippe Texier, former Judge, French Cour de Cassation; and Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

Activists demand freedom for the Cuban Five in Washington DC demonstrations Saturday June 7. (Photo: Samantha Sarra)(Photo: Samantha Sarra)

In the preliminary report of the Inquiry, the presiding commissioners concluded that “having heard two full days of compelling evidence, we would urge the President of the United States of America, President Barack Obama, to pardon completely all these five persons and to release immediately and unconditionally the three persons who continue to languish in prison in the United States.”

Earlier this week, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law released a comprehensive report on the convictions and disproportionate sentences imposed on the Cuban Five. In a letter addressed to President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the Center concluded that “based on our review of the record, we believe there are strong grounds for the humanitarian release of the remaining three members of the of Cuban Five still serving federal prison sentences in the US…. Both to correct what has been a significant miscarriage of justice in their case, and for the purposes of taking steps towards the normalization of relations with Cuba, the US Government should end its incarceration of Hernández, Guerrero and Labañino, commute their sentences to time already served, and repatriate them to Cuba.”

Graciela Ramírez, chair of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 encouraged those in attendance at the conference and protest saying, “We need to be stronger, stronger than the empire. The empire is strong, but we the people will always be stronger.”

(Photo: Samantha Sarra)(Photo: Samantha Sarra)