(FinalCall.com) – The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled Aug. 9 that the Cuban Five did receive a fair trial in Miami. This court overturned a three-judge panel that ruled last year that the five defendants should receive a new trial because of the anti-Castro environment in Miami.

“Miami-Dade County is a widely diverse, multiracial community of more than two million people,’’ the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in their 10-2 decision.

“Nothing in the trial record suggests that 12 fair and impartial jurors could not be assembled by the trial judge to try the defendants impartially and fairly,” wrote Judge Charles Wilson for the majority.


Judge Stanley Birch Jr. wrote in dissent that, “this case is one of those rare, exceptional cases that warrants a change of venue because of pervasive community prejudice making it impossible to empanel an unbiased jury.”

The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Rene Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez and Antonio Guerrero. They were arrested in 1998 by the FBI and sentenced in 2001 on spy charges in a politically-heated federal trial in Miami. The group’s charges included the conspiracy to transmit information related to the national defense of the United States.

“We’ve never denied the facts that these men were working for the Cuban government, seeking intelligence against those planning terrorist acts against Cuba,” explained Paul McKenna, Miami attorney for Mr. Hernandez who is in Lompoc Prison in California. “The Cubans complained about terrorism and planned attacks against their country, but the U.S. did nothing.”

Cuba responded to that lack of action by having the five Cubans monitor the actions of anti-Castro terrorist organizations in Miami.

“These five heroic Cubans are being punished precisely because of the fact that they truly did fight against terrorism, even at the cost of their own lives,” Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba’s National Assembly, told The Final Call.

“Those who have taken away their freedom and sought to slander and denigrate them have done so because they dared to combat the heinous criminals who were created and continue to be protected by those very same authorities.”

The Five, according to their website, freethefive.org, pointed out vigorously in their defense that they were involved in monitoring the actions of Miami-based terrorist groups, in order to prevent terrorist attacks on their country of Cuba.

The Five’s actions were never directed at the U.S. government. They never harmed anyone nor ever possessed nor used any weapons while in the United States. These facts were substantiated in their defense during the trial.

However, since the Cuban revolution, terrorist organizations based in Miami have allegedly engaged in numerous terrorist activities against the island nation, and against anyone who advocates a normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

More than 3,000 Cubans have died as a result of these terrorists’ attacks.

Therefore, Cuba decided to respond by sending the five Cubans to Miami to monitor the terrorists. The Cuban Five infiltrated the terrorist organizations in Miami to inform Cuba of imminent attacks.

The aim of such a clandestine operation by the Cuban Five–at great personal risk–was to prevent criminal acts, and thus protect the lives of Cubans and other people.

The U.S. courts disagreed.

This is not the end

“We can take the case to the Supreme Court,” explained Leonard Weinglass, attorney for Antonio Guerrero. “After we digest the 120 pages of opinion, we will have 90 days to perfect our appeal. If not, we can take the case back to the three- judge panel.”

“We are very disappointed in the decision by Judge Wilson. We felt, as the dissent felt, that they overlooked the coercive environment in Miami,” Atty. Weinglass stated, adding, “The dissent wrote that it was a perfect storm of prejudice and the case should never have proceeded in Miami. The majority whitewashed the preexisting community prejudice for anyone supportive of Cuba.”