Have we forgotten the ‘other’ Cuban five?

Christopher Szabo in Digital Journal:

Have we forgotten the ‘other’ Cuban five?

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In the midst of rejoicing at the re-opening of ties between the US and Cuba, the US has not demanded minimum standards of human rights from the Communist state, and the case of five men languishing in jail is forgotten my the mainstream media.

The term “Cuban Five” was used for years by organisations trying to free them, claiming that they were “unjustly” arrested by the FBI, like this webpage.

However, the “Five” were actually intelligence agents, sent to the American state of Florida to spy on émigré groups whose parents had fled the Communist regime. They were later exchanged for the American aid worker, Alan Gross, a contractor for USAID. Later, 53 unnamed political prisoners, many of them pro-democracy activists, were released under a deal with the US.

But the much-touted deal, while offering “normalisation” of relations with the US, did not include demands from the US that Cuba should introduce basic reforms, such as independence of the judiciary or basic guarantees of human rights.

The Cuba Archive, an organisation committed to the memory of the victims of the Castro regime, says 45 people have been killed in Cuba by the authorities in 2014 alone. The organisation says there are another “Cuban Five”. These are not intelligence agents. They are simply young men who tried to get to the US for a better life, as tens of thousands of Cubans have done in the past.

But in today’s Cuba, leaving the county is a crime.

The forgotten “Cuban Five” are: Harold Alcalá Aramburo, 35, Yoanny Thomas González, 36, Maikel Delgado Aramburo, 40, and Ramón Henry Grillo, 40. They are in prison for life.

Their crime was to try to get to the US and live a better life there. The way they did it was reminiscent of attempts to flee the East Bloc in the years 1945-1990. They attempted (and failed) to hijack a passenger ferry and force it to head to the US.

For this, the Other Cuban five were given life sentences, while the masterminds of the plan, Enrique Copello Castillo, 23, Bárbaro, Leodan Sevilla García, 22, and Jorge Luis Martínez Isaac, 40, were executed (by firing squad) on 11 April, 2003. The sentences were handed down five days after the incident. Cuba Archive reports that no one was hurt, but the incident is treated as a “very grave act of terrorism.” (Interesting, considering the fact that Cuba is considered a “State sponsor of Terrorism” by the US State Department.)

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