The protest was organized by the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society and the Latin American Social Forum to coincide with the release from prison of René González, one of the Cuban Five, as they are known internationally. The othersGerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando Gonzálezremain incarcerated on prison terms ranging from 17 years for Fernando González to double life plus 15 years for Hernández.
While René González is no longer in prison, his sentence includes a three-year supervised release. He holds dual Cuban and U.S. citizenship. Despite the fact it is common for citizens of another country to be allowed to return to their own country to serve probation, his request to return to Cuba has thus far been denied.
Speakers explained the half-century of hostility by the U.S. rulers against the Cuban Revolution, including Washingtons backing for counterrevolutionary groups with a violent history of assaults and sabotage against Cuba since the 1959 revolution. Before their arrests in 1998, the five were living and working in Miami while keeping the Cuban government informed of the activities of these counterrevolutionary forces.
In a 2001 trial in Miami marked by flagrant violations of constitutional rights the five were railroaded to prison on sweeping conspiracy and other trumped-up charges.
An Irish folk group, the Hungry Phelan, sang their song Free dedicated to the Cuban Five.
The numbers at the U.S. diplomatic offices swelled as more than 200 marchers protesting the decade-long Afghanistan war converged on the same location. Joanne Kuniansky, a member of the Communist League, was invited by rally organizers to explain the political case and international campaign to free the five to the wider audience.
In a Message to the people of Cuba released by the Cuban press October 14, René González reiterated his commitment to continue fighting.
The fact that I am now out of prison, he said, only means that one avenue of abuse to which I was subjected has been exhausted
. For me, this is only a trench, a new place in which I am going to continue fighting for justice to be done so that the five of us can return [to Cuba] together.
Fidel Castro on how Cuban Revolution was won
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