Five’s treatment in the United States
has a name: fascism
the U.S. political police has systematically used
legal blackmail and imprisonment as a form of
JEAN-GUY ALLARD, —Special for Granma
are really very few ways to describe the
"special" conditions reserved for the five
Cubans who have been prisoners of the empire since
September 1998. In order to try and break the spirit
of these men — who risked their lives by
infiltrating the ranks of Miami’s terrorist mafia
— and in an attempt to get them to betray their
homeland in exchange for their freedom, family
visits or a reduced sentence, the FBI, the DA’s
office, and Miami’s judicial and administrative
authorities have resorted to an infernal series of
maneuvers revealing the true neo-fascist system of
the political police.
fact, imprisonment as a form of psychological
torture is just one of the facets of a concept
currently being illustrated with ever-increasing
force. Witness the one thousand-plus prisoners
without any rights whatsoever in Guantánamo; the
hundreds of detainees suffocated in containers in
Afghanistan; the savage bombardment of Iraqi
civilians; the thousands of Muslims arrested on U.S.
territory solely for being "suspects"; and
the two million prisoners — the majority of whom
are from the ethnic minorities — locked up in
hundreds of U.S. detention centers.
THE MESSIAH OF REPRESSION
the very first day that the Five were remanded, when
Special Agent Hector Pesquera dashed off to inform
Cuban-American Congress members Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
and Lincoln Diaz-Balart — both linked to the most
extreme elements of the Miami mafia — that the
plan to arrest the "spies" had been
effected, up to the latest obstacles placed in the
path of the appeals process by DA Caroline
Heck-Miller, the whole story stinks of fascism.
that fateful September 12, when they were detained
under the close supervision of Pesquera, René
González, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino,
Fernando González and Gerardo Hernández were taken
to the FBI headquarters in Miami. Their first
interrogation was essentially devoted to leading
them into betrayal.
threats and promises succeeded one another in an
attempt to undermine the will of the detainees,
using the most sophisticated interrogation
techniques available to the federal political
with the failure of their usual methods of
intimidation, the investigators put their money on
the effectiveness of the harsh conditions of
solitary confinement over a long period. They
transferred the Five to Miami’s Federal Detention
Center (FDC) located in the center of the city,
where they were immediately placed in special
isolation cells on the 13th floor. They remained in
total solitary, without any contact with anyone, for
17 days until September 29.
OF INNOCENCE TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT
rights, norms of detention and the presumption of
innocence, all those admirable principles of U.S.
justice demonstrated so many times in films by
McCarthyite Hollywood directors, evaporated in the
determination of the FBI agents to achieve their
objectives. None of the Five had ever been arrested
or tried in the United States before, but they were
treated with maximum severity in line with the
fascist arrogance of the imperial police.
September 14, 48 hours after their arrest, the five
Cubans were brought before a federal court, without
having had any access to the most basic requisites
days later, without any reason they were transferred
to the Special Housing Unit punishment cells, a
euphemism for the hole...where they remained for the
next 17 months!
very grim detention conditions were designed by a
fascistic system for recalcitrant inmates by a
fascistic system: locked up for 23 hours a day, with
one hour’s respite from Monday-Friday. On Saturday
and Sunday the Five spent the whole 24 hours in
description of the Miami FDC hole cells says it all:
less than three meters long by two meters wide, a
badly-finished cement floor, a metal bed, mattress,
concrete table and backless chair, metal lavatory, a
rectangular metal slab serving as a mirror, plus a
tiny interior bathroom with a metal shower, all
rusty and mildewed.
were there until February 3, 2000. Regulations state
that the maximum period for a prisoner to remain in
these conditions is 60 days...in disciplinary cases
after serious acts of violence have been committed.
in the "special" cells, detainees always
have their hands handcuffed behind their backs.
Lawyers’ visits are carried out individually
behind thick glass, making it impossible to read
documents and thus extremely hard to prepare a
letter dated March 10, 1999 sent to DA Heck Miller,
(who became the specialist in the role of the Cubans’
"official jailer"), Fernando’s lawyer
reiterated the dreadful confinement conditions,
emphasizing that the defendant had to eat, bathe and
carry out his bodily functions in the cell, was
unable to speak to anyone except his assigned lawyer
or the occasional guard, and had not left his cell
for more than 45 minutes since his arrest except to
appear in Court.
particularly cruel happened on May 3, 1999: René
González received a visit from his little daughter
Ivette; he was handcuffed and chained to a chair and
under the watchful eye of two FBI agents.
16, given René’s refusal to collaborate with the
U.S. government, Pesquera’s FBI detained his wife
and began deportation proceedings against her...one
more act of blackmail that ended on November 21,
2000 when she was sent back to Cuba after having
been subjected to a distressing exclusion process.
FOR A COMMUNIQUE
June 26, 2001, after the end of a totally rigged
trial with the obvious complicity of a corrupt jury
foreman, the Five were once again put in the hole.
This time it was in reprisal for a communiqué to
the U.S. people, coinciding with a visit by the
attorney general...who openly and brazenly met with
the capos of the Miami terrorist groups!
were divested of all their personal possessions,
including letters, photos, poems, a typewriter, even
the tiniest stub of pencil. Letters of protest from
their lawyers ended up in Caroline Heck Miller’s
June 28, a federal official visited Gerardo
Hernández. He informed him that the decision to
return the Five to the hole was due to "a
question of security," taking into
consideration that with all the publicity the trial
had received, the Cubans could have
"problems" with the rest of the prison
inmates. An absurd pretext that has never been
demonstrated during the contact that the Five have
had with other prisoners in almost five years of
on July 4 Gerardo was put in a cell with a man who
had serious discipline problems.
July 12, without anyone seeing or denouncing the
grotesqueness of it, Pesquera took part in a lavish
function offered by the Cuban-American National
Foundation (CANF)— whose very own operatives have
confessed to previous terrorist actions — for FBI
chiefs involved in the case of our five compatriots’
detention and trial.
renewed attempt at breaking their spirit, during
August 13-14 the Five were assigned to new cells on
different floors and wings of the FDC. Antonio was
sent to the 11th floor of the east wing; Ramón, to
the 10th floor of the west wing; Fernando, to the
ninth floor, east wing; René, to the eighth floor,
east wing; with Gerardo sent to the seventh floor.
December 5, a few hours before the sentencing
hearing and almost three years after the Five were
arrested, the mothers of Gerardo, Fernando, Antonio
and René received visas to travel to the United
States. The visa for Ramón’s wife Elizabeth was
delayed by a decision evidently inspired by Pesquera’s
first day of that hearing, jury foreman David Bucker
— who had declared them guilty in a lightning
decision — was seen sitting in the courtroom
alongside infamous terrorist José Basulto and other
THEN THE SENSELESS SENTENCES
enough to mention the sentence that Gerardo received
— two life terms plus 15 years — to demonstrate
the intention of continuing to crush the Five’s
fascism, in all its majesty, once again raised its
head as Pesquera, Lewis, Heck Miller and all the
other actors in this never-ending session of legal
torture were congratulated.
the punishment of prison continued with even more
obstinacy on the part of the neo-fascist team.
February 5, 2002, a cable from French agency AFP
reported a statement by Patricia Ward, spokeswoman
for the Miami FDC, affirming that the Five had been
transferred to five different prisons in five
different locations, all at a far remove from each
other. Gerardo was sent to Lompoc, California;
Ramón to Beaumont, Texas; Antonio to Florence,
Colorado; René to Loretto, Pennsylvania; and
Fernando to Waseca, Minnesota.
their initial stay in the various holes of their
respective detention centers, they continued to
endure their situations, adapting to the different
conditions of imprisonment, fighting to maintain
communication with their families, lawyers and the
Cuban representatives in Washington, plus all the
problems caused by the enormous distances imposed on
them for purely sadistic reasons by the Miami mafia’s
July 25, Gerardo’s wife Adriana was held for over
10 hours at Houston Airport on her way to visit her
husband; the FBI minions subjected her to an intense
interrogation, then fingerprinted and expelled her.
APPEAL SABOTAGED FROM MIAMI
fresh attack by Pesquera and his troops came on
February 28 whilst the Five were preparing their
appeals to be presented before the Atlanta Court.
Gerardo, Ramón and René were placed in solitary
confinement, totally incommunicado, without access
to their families or lawyers, and all this just a
few days away from presenting their appeal briefs.
February 3-4, 2003, Fernando and Antonio were also
put in the hole, totally incommunicado, and not even
allowed to see their lawyers.
March 5, 2003 Lompoc prison officials informed that
in Gerardo’s case, Heck Miller from the Miami DA
Office or a Los Angeles area FBI officer must be
informed of any visits from lawyers or Cuban
March 12, the lawyers presented an urgent motion to
the Southern Florida District Federal Court, in
order to immediately end the solitary confinement
arbitrarily imposed on their clients.
motion highlighted how the measure prevented the
defendants from having any communication whatsoever
with their lawyers, not even by telephone, and was
taken by a government fully aware that such
communication is indispensable for preparing the
appeal documents; that it clearly obstructed the
legal process, ignoring the rights of the defenders
and their legal team, and violating the Fifth, Sixth
and Eighth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
March 14, chief torturer DA Heck Miller told lawyer
Leonard Weinglass that the attorney general had
authorized the so-called special administrative
measures against the Five, in force for one year, on
February 24, and that they could be extended for an
on March 28, the U.S. authorities allowed the Cubans
to rejoin the prison population, without explaining
these new special measures.
was the reason for that?
the Miami-style torture was reaching a level that
threatened to endanger the external image of a
country that had proclaimed itself the champion of
liberty and justice at the Human Rights Commission
in Geneva. Despite all its savagery, camouflaged
with an extraordinary agility by its communications
the facts remain: the interminable imprisonment of
the Five, the cruel treatment of their families, the
five different prisons in which they are being held,
their sentences outside any jurisprudence, all
illustrate a sadistic desire to maltreat, crush and
destroy five individuals who are now symbols of
unshakable courage in their own country, by using an
arsenal of methods belonging to a system that does
have a name: fascism.