Communique from the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
31 December 2006
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
The year 2006 was one of much action and organizing, both nationally and internationally for the Five heroes. In the United States, our committee, affiliates and all supporters worked hard to break through the media blockade, to support the defense in the legal battle, and to mobilize visibility and public awareness. Among the year’s highlights were:
• Mobilizing to fill the Atlanta courtroom with international and national jurists and other supporters for the Oral Arguments hearing on Feb. 14, as well as the press conference and evening forum afterwards;
• Utilizing our Five Freedom Fund, we were able to conduct a media campaign through the spring and summer, building a significant database of journalists who cover Cuba-related issues, and organizing several press conferences on each legal and political development of the Five’s case. This resulted in significant newspaper coverage in the Los Angeles Times, Reuters and Associated Press stories, New York Daily News, Washington Post, and many other newspapers, along with numerous radio and other media interviews about the Cuban Five on many stations;
• The inspiring September 23 march and forum from the U.S. Justice Department to the White House, where we brought together more than 600 people from across the United States to demand the Five's immediate freedom as well as the extradition of notorious terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. The Sept. 23 organizing campaign, part of the Sept. 12-Oct. 6 international call, resulted in hundreds of new contacts and individuals wanting to get involved.
• Strengthening our collaboration with many current and new international committees on every continent, and working more closely with our Canadian counterparts from Montreal to Toronto to Vancouver. We look forward to more coordinated actions.
• Keeping up the pressure to demand the extradition to Venezuela of the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles or his prosecution by the U.S. government for the 1976 bombing of Cubana flight 455, by holding protests in El Paso at the detention center where he is held, and by linking the anti-terrorist fight of the Five, with the U.S. hypocritical pro-terrorist support of Posada;
• Our ongoing support of the Cuban Five, with visits, logistical support during some of the families’ visits, as well as the solidarity support for our brothers.
• Our website is much improved, constantly updated, and its new features allow other committees to utilize the calendar, and to submit reports on their support work for the Five. Almost everything posted on the website is now posted in English and Spanish, allowing us to reach even more supporters and potential supporters of the Five. Videos and slideshows of the Sept. 23 march, as well as audio of the important speeches delivered at the press conference which preceded the march and at the forum which followed it, were made available on the web where they were viewed and listened to by thousands of people.
• In various cities we organized for the December international campaign honoring the Five's heroic stance at their sentencing, and reached many new people through our efforts, from San Francisco to Colorado. There is much more to be said about all the U.S. support organized in the United States, the many forums and demonstrations by the Cuban progressive community in Miami and southern Florida, and their inspiring donation of almost $30,000 to the Five Freedom Fund; the William Mitchell College of Law presentation by Leonard Weinglass, to almost 400 people, which we initiated along with the school’s NLG chapter and the Minneapolis Committee to Free the Five; presenting the campaign for the five along with Weinglass at the NLG’s national convention, Austin, TX, in October. The National Committee participated and organized events in Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City, Chicago, Santa Barbara, New Paltz NY, Washington DC, Atlanta, and Miami.
Other efforts supporting the Five have included the Popular Education Project’s ongoing campaign demanding that the New York Times cover the case of the Five; the tour of Salim Lamrani’s Superpower Principles, with a forum featuring Noam Chomsky speaking to more than 400 MIT students in Boston; and many initiatives by other organizations.
• The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five has had a constant presence for the Five at the national anti-war marches and rallies, to reach this indispensable audience of progressive activists. Thanks to the support of the ANSWER Coalition, the Five and Cuba have been represented by speakers at the main rallies.
For more information on the numerous international actions, such as the Madrid protest of 5,000 people for the Five, the actions in Ukraine and Russia, the wide and varied support throughout Latin America, the support of European, Italian and British parliamentarians, and of course the Cuban people’s fight for their compatriots, read our website: www.freethefive.org and www.antiterroristas.cu
Through all the actions and educational work organized by the Cuban Five's supporters on every continent, the foundation has been laid for stronger and broader efforts for 2007. As we enter the New Year, we share with all our sisters and brothers renewed optimism and determination to expose the United States government’s outrageous imprisonment of Gerardo, Antonio, Ramón, Fernando and René, and will not let up our efforts until they are free.
We will soon announce exciting new projects of our committee. In the meantime, let’s keep vigilant for new legal developments on the current appeals of the Five before the two-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. It is very likely that a decision will come this year on the nine remaining issues that were temporarily set aside by the judges (read the Nov. 22 Leonard Weinglass interview on our website describing the appeals).
The New Year brings optimism and hope for victories in the worldwide struggles for social justice. We extend our solidarity to all those fighting for justice.
As we start a new year, we salute the Cuban people for their economic, social and economic successes in the year 2006 and wish them continued victories for 2007, on this, the 48th anniversary of their Revolution. This is what the Cuban Five are defending, a society where the fundamental rights of health, education, employment, housing, equality and social peace are guaranteed. For Cuban President Fidel Castro, we extend our sincere wishes for a complete recovery.
The Cuban Five Heroes Will Return Home!
In unity, peace and friendship,
The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five