An appeal from the Cuban Five

The following is a letter from Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, who is one of the five Cuban men imprisoned in the United States for fighting terrorism. Known as the Cuban Five, these men were in the U.S. watching right-wing, anti-Cuba groups known for supporting and planning attacks on the island and its people. The Cuban Five’s story is interwoven with the complex and unjust U.S. policy towards Cuba, which includes a many decade-long blockade prohibiting any trade with Cuba and a ban on travel for American citizens wishing to go to the country 90 miles from Florida.

For more information on the Cuban Five and Cuba search pww.org’s website with key word “Cuba.”

Dear compañeras y compañeros,

We arrive at the 10th anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban Five at a crucial moment of our legal process (That is what they call it, although perhaps 'illegal process' would be more appropriate.) The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Atlanta, has just ended our appeal.

That is to say, if it were up to them, things would stand as is, and some day my bones would be sent to Cuba, after death frees me from two life sentences.

The court in question has given unmistakable signals of the type of 'justice' that the Five can aspire to in this country. When there was a decision 3-to-0 in our favor, with 93 pages of solid arguments in which the three-judge panel characterized our trial as 'The Perfect Storm,' the full panel, against all predictions, not only agreed to review the decision, but reversed it without much explanation. The 'perfect storm' quickly became simply a drizzle.

Yet, this time, when the decision was 2-1 against the Five, with obvious legal errors, with a judge arguing in 16 pages that the prosecution presented absolutely no proof that sustains the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, and with a judge who-although voting against us-recognized that it is a 'very close case,' and with several defense arguments were not even seriously analyzed, the 11th Circuit categorically refused to review it.

As we say in Cuba: 'Not even water is as clear.' We have said time and again that this is a political case, and those who do not see it as such, choose not to see it.

Someone recently mentioned that now the Supreme Court has the last word. I would say the second-to-last word. The final word in the case of the Cuban Five rests with you, our sisters and brothers of Cuba, the United States and the whole world, who throughout all these years have been our principal source of encouragement. Our hopes are not placed in any court. Ten years are more than enough to have cured us of any such naïve notion.

You are our hope, who through sacrifice and swimming against the current, have succeeded in making people on all continents aware of the injustice committed against the Five. You are the ones who are not taking time out or resting in your homes but instead are honoring us with your presence in different activities, commemorating the 10th anniversary of our imprisonment. You continue struggling to unmask the double standard of a government that invades other countries to supposedly fight terrorism, at the same time that it harbors and protects infamous terrorists, and imprisons those who are trying to stop those criminal acts.

We have confidence in you to expose the hypocrisy of the corporate media and of certain international organizations, which portray mercenaries-who betray our people for a handful of dollars or a visa-as suffering political prisoners. Yet they are disgracefully silent in the case of two women who have been deprived for a decade of the basic right to visit their husbands in prison.

We know that right is on our side, but to win true justice we need a jury of millions of people throughout the world, and we need you, defenders of just causes, to make our truth known.

The injustice committed against the Five has kept us away from our homeland for ten years, but it has not kept us from accompanying our people through joyful times and also the suffering. A few days ago Hurricane Gustav caused great damage in Cuba, mainly on the Isle of Youth and in Pinar del Río, two territories from where we have received a multitude of support and love all these years.

We are certain that all the people of Pinar del Río and Isle of Youth, together with local and national leadership, with the solidarity of all dignified Cubans and many friends of the world, will become stronger in these difficult moments and-as is characteristic of revolutionaries-will convert the setbacks into victory. Although it is not possible for us to be there physically, today more than ever the Cuban Five are with you in our hearts, with our brothers and sisters in the Isle of Youth and Pinar del Río, who have done so much to support the struggle for our liberation.

Compañeras y compañeros: Ten years after that September 12, 1998, we thank you once again for walking this long and rough road together with us. We know, that to continue this march, we can keep counting on you, and you can also always count on our firm determination to resist, with our heads held high, for as long as it takes.

¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

Gerardo Hernández Nordelo Victorville Federal Prison, California September 2008