Monday April 30, 2012
By the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
All across Washington D.C. and the surrounding region, readers of the Washington Post will open the Monday, Apr. 30 edition of the Post to see a dramatic full-page ad demanding freedom for the Cuban Five, political prisoners unjustly held in United States for almost 14 years.
The ad is an effort spearheaded by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and supported by more than 325 organizations and individuals who raised the funds to publish the ad.
Prominent political leaders and human-rights organizations are quoted in the ad, including: Lt. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Colin Powell during his tenure as U.S. Secretary of State; former U.S. president Jimmy Carter; 10 Nobel Prize recipients; former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark; Miguel D’Escoto, U.N. General Assembly president from 2008 to 2011; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker; Amnesty International; and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions.
The U.S. government’s misconduct in the political prosecution of the Five is exposed in the ad as well. Unknown to the Cuban Five and their defense team during trial, Miami reporters were secretly on the government payroll while demonizing the Five in the media, which “goes to the heart of the unjust conviction of the Five.”
Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio, Fernando González and René González were arrested on Sept. 12, 1998 by the FBI, and subjected to a politically-motivated U.S. prosecution that has been condemned worldwide. Their trial took place in the virulently hostile environment of Miami, despite defense motions to change the venue.
Although public awareness of the Five has grown since their arrest, their case is still far from being widely known in the United States.
“Every inch of newspaper coverage, every minute of television and radio coverage about the Cuban Five’s anti-terrorist mission and the campaign for their freedom has been a struggle.
This is why we decided a full-page ad was needed in the Washington Post, to demand that the political establishment, from President Obama to Congress members to the Justice Department, right this terrible injustice and free the Five,” said Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee. “We are deeply appreciative of so many people who helped make the publication of this ad possible.”
The National Committee published its first full-page ad in The New York Times on March 3, 2004, in what was up to that point the biggest exposure of the Five’s case in the media. Since then, it has helped to publish other ads, and conducted numerous press conferences as part of a much larger media strategy designed to break through the wall of silence surrounding the case.
The Post is the most read newspaper in the Washington, D.C., “beltway” with the 6th largest reach in the country. Daily print circulation is 545,345 and estimated readership is 1,080,000. According to the Nielsen Ratings company, it is the most read newspaper in Congress and the Executive branch, and the only newspaper that political leaders in Washington read on a busy day.
“Letting the people of the U.S. know about the wrongful imprisonment of the Cuban Five is the most important task for winning their liberation,” said National Committee member Chris Banks.
Habeas Corpus appeals for Gerardo, Ramón, Fernando and Antonio are actively underway in the Southern Florida federal district court. Support actions, protests and forums are multiplying on every continent and across the United States.