The Guardian February 20, 2002


"We will be able to withstand anything"

by Pedro A Garcia*

Five anti-terrorist fighters, unjustly condemned to long prison sentences 
in the United States, have been sent to different maximum-security prisons. 
Shackled and handcuffed, they received no food or water during the 12-hour 
transfer.

Among the demands of protestors during the World Economic Forum in New York 
was the release of the five Cuban prisoners.

Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero and 
Fernando Gonzalez were given long prison sentences at the end of a 
manipulated trial in which they were found guilty of espionage and other 
false charges.

What they had actually been doing was collecting information from within 
terrorist organisations located in Florida, in order to defend their 
country against acts of sabotage and crimes that are planned and financed 
on US territory.

Devices called "black boxes" were attached to the handcuffs of Gerardo, 
Ramon and Antonio, the three given life sentences. This apparatus, which 
reinforces the handcuffs' lock and electronically tracks allegedly 
dangerous prisoners over long distances, is very uncomfortable and 
lacerates the skin.

When they arrived at the Atlanta penitentiary, they were photographed, 
fingerprinted and placed in "the hole" (punishment cell). At that time, 
Rene was separated from the others, who have not seen him since.

Unlike the time they spent at the Miami Federal Detention Center, they had 
to go into the corridor to receive their food, and at that time Gerardo, 
Ramsn and Antonio were able to see each other. Occasionally they were able 
to distinguish Fernando, on a lower floor.

A spokesperson for the Miami Federal Detention Center quoted by AFP 
confirmed that the five Cuban patriots had been sent temporarily to a 
maximum-security prison in Atlanta, from where they would be transferred to 
their final destinations.

He announced that Gerardo would be in the prison in Lompoc, California; 
Ramon would go to Beaumont, Texas; Antonio to Florence, Colorado; Rene to 
Loretto, Pennsylvania; and Fernando to Minnesota.

In a telephone conversation with Cuban TV journalist Miguel Angel Masjuan, 
Gerardo's lawyer Paul McKeena said that the legal team is working on an 
appeal and does not feel that the trial was fair.

He commented that the sentences for espionage should be revoked, because he 
knows that they never intended to hurt the United States or its citizens.

In the meantime, solidarity with the five Cuban patriots continues to grow 
around the world.

In Peru, the Cuban-Peruvian Friendship House has collected thousands of 
signatures on a petition, and the Puerto Rican Committee of Solidarity with 
Cuba organised a large demonstration in front of the federal court in San 
Juan, calling for the prisoners' release.

In Uruguay, representatives of leftist parties also demanded the liberation 
of the Cuban heroes, and the same is true of rallies recently held in Porto 
Alegre, Brazil. In France there is a letter-writing campaign in solidarity 
with those anti-terrorist fighters. 

* * *
* Granma daily staff writer, (abridged).

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