Clergy and Community Leaders Call for Release of Cuban
Prisoners Unjustly Held in the
US / Appeal to Be Filed by Defense Team in 11th Circuit Court

April 5, 2003

Contact: Free the Cuban Five NYC Committee
Teresa Gutierrez, 917-328-6470
Jennifer Wager, 212-926-5757

12:30 pm @ Manhattan Federal Building, 26 Federal Plaza

 Clergy, labor and other community leaders will call for the release of five Cuban prisoners, who have been unjustly held in US maximum security prisons for more than three years, at a press conference in front of Manhattan Federal Building, 26 Federal Plaza at 12: 30 p.m. Speakers include:

Rev. Luis Barrios, San Roman and John Jay College, Rev. Danilo Lachepel, Attorney Michael Smith, National Lawyers Guild leader and author, Zara Khan, Student Liberation Action Movement and former President Hunter Student Government, Ray Laforest, New York City Labor against the War, District Council 1707, Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr. IFCO/Pastors for Peace, and Teresa Gutierrez, International Action Center.

The five Cuban prisoners are serving sentences from 15 years to double life plus 80 months for monitoring the activities of far-right Cuban exile paramilitary organizations in Southern Florida. It is well documented that these groups have conducted terrorist campaigns against Cuban civilians for decades and have resulted in the deaths of more than 3,800 people over the last forty years.

In early March, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez were suddenly put into solitary confinement in their respective prisons in five U.S. states, suffering severe conditions and denied elementary rights. They were prohibited from contact with their families and friends, denied reading or writing material, and are greatly restricted from attorney visits, which impedes their ability to work on their appeal.

“These are some of the worst conditions I have ever encountered”, said Leonard Weinglass, lead attorney for the fives defense team, commenting on the five prisoners treatment in solitary confinement.

Attorneys for the five plan to file their appeal in Atlanta’s 11th court circuit on Monday April 7th.

The Cuban Five are five Cubans who were trying to stop the ultra-right terrorist groups in Miami from carrying out violent actions against the people of Cuba. Since 1959, these organizations have conducted bombings, assassinations and other sabotage, killing hundreds of innocent Cuban civilians. Groups like Alpha 66, Omega 7, Brothers to the Rescue, and Cuban American National Foundation have terrorized the Cuban people for years with impunity.

The Free the Cuban Five New York Committee was formed in June 2001 to demand the release of the five prisoners. An international campaign has been launched to win freedom for the Cuban Five and prominent legislators and personalities have called for their release, including just recently 89 members of the British Parliament. Activities in 24 countries are planned during the week of April 7th to coincide with the Fives appeal.


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