A rumor persists to this day that Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and Fidel Castro had some sort of falling out near the end of Che’s life that caused him to leave Cuba and prompted Fidel to withhold support for the guerrilla effort Che lead in Bolivia. But with a little investigation, we find that there is no evidence whatsoever to support this rumor, which, it should be noted, originated with Felix Rodriguez, a wealthy Cuban-born CIA assassin who ordered Che’s murder.
And what is the supposed source of major disagreement between Che and Fidel? Some have suggested that Che was critical of the USSR. A review of Fidel Castro’s speeches in the 1960’s, in which he criticized the USSR several times, easily dispels that myth. Still others have claimed that Che took the side of China while Fidel took the side of the USSR in the Sino-Soviet Split. This too, is easily disproven.
Che wrote that:
“When we analyze the lonely situation of the Vietnamese people, we are overcome by anguish at this illogical moment of humanity.
“U.S. imperialism is guilty of aggression — its crimes are enormous and cover the whole world. We already know all that, gentlemen! But this guilt also applies to those who, when the time came for a definition, hesitated to make Vietnam an inviolable part of the socialist world; running, of course, the risks of a war on a global scale-but also forcing a decision upon imperialism. And the guilt also applies to those who maintain a war of abuse and snares — started quite some time ago by the representatives of the two greatest powers of the socialist camp.”
While, around the same time Fidel wrote in a similar vein that:
“Without a doubt, the South Vietnamese people and the people of North Vietnam are suffering all this and suffering it in their own flesh, because there it is men and women who die, in the south and in the north, victims of the shrapnel and Yankee bombings. They do not have the slightest hesitancy in declaring that they intend to continue to carry all that out because not even the attacks against North Vietnam have resulted in overcoming the divisions in the bosom of the socialist family.
“And who can doubt that this division is encouraging the imperialists? Who can doubt that a united front against the imperialist enemy would have made them hesitate–would have made them think a little more carefully before launching their adventurist attacks and their increasingly more brazen intervention in that part of the world?”
For his part, Rodriguez claimed in his autobiography that upon capture, Che “was bitter over the Cuban dictator’s lack of support for the Bolivian incursion.” But only a fool would believe the words of Che’s enemy and murderer (who, incidentally, wears his watch to this day like a trophy). More reliable sources suggest that Che considered Rodriguez a traitor and refused to speak to him. But that hasn’t stopped the capitalist press from keeping the claim alive.
As Fidel put it in a June 1987 television interview with Italian journalist Gianni Mina:
“What could we have done? Sent a battalion, a company, a regular army? The laws of guerrilla warfare are different; everything depends on what the guerrilla unit itself does.”
Che’s plan to wage guerrilla war in Bolivia to initiate a socialist revolution to overthrow the dictatorship was fully supported by Cuba. Cuba provided training grounds, fighters, weapons, passports and more to the effort.
We need not pretend Che and Fidel agreed on every single question to know that there was no major disagreement that lead to abandonment or a suicidal departure.
According to the survivors of the guerrilla force he led and the pages of his personal diary, which has since been published, Che never once suggested that he felt betrayed or abandoned by Cuba or Fidel. In his farewell letter Che wrote to Fidel, “I am also proud of having followed you without hesitation, of having identified with your way of thinking and of seeing and appraising dangers and principles.”
1. Guevara, Ernesto, Che. “Message to the Tricontinental.”
2. Castro, Fidel. “Live speech from the steps of Havana University on the occasion of the anniversary of the attack on the Presidential Palace (13 March 1965).”
3. Mini, Gianni. “An Encounter With Fidel.”
In 2005, American business and financial magazine Forbes listed Castro among the world’s richest people, with an estimated net worth of $550 million. The estimates claimed that the Cuban leader’s personal wealth was nearly double that of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, despite evidence from diplomats and businessmen that the Cuban leader’s personal life was notably austere. Forbes later increased the estimates to $900 million, adding rumors of large cash stashes in Switzerland. The magazine offered no proof at all of this information.
Of course it was all entirely bogus – the bunk methodology they used was based on the lie that Fidel Castro owns everything in the entire country of Cuba. Even in their article they admitted their “estimate” was “more art than science” — or in other words, bullshit.
“PRESIDENT Fidel Castro has challenged and called on Bush, the CIA, the 33 U.S. intelligence agencies, the thousands of banks in the world and the ‘servants’ of Forbes magazine, which claims that Fidel has a fortune of $900 million, to prove that he has even one dollar in an overseas account.
“In exchange for just one shred of evidence, he said that he would offer them everything that they have tried and failed to do over almost half a century, during which time they have tried to destroy the Revolution and assassinate him via hundreds of conspiracies. ‘I’m giving you everything you’ve tried,’ he said, ‘and don’t come with your foolishness and wayside stories. Show me an account, of just one dollar,’ he emphasized.
“If they can prove that I have one single dollar, I will resign from all my responsibilities and the duties I am carrying out; they won’t need any more plans or transitions, if they can prove that I have one single dollar,” the revolutionary leader said emphatically.” – Granma newspaper
“Bush has not uttered a word and neither have the State Department, Congress or the CIA. Only the Nuevo Herald, a Miami newspaper, has tried to defend [the Forbes article] at the request of the Cuban-American mafia [the handful of rich white Cubans who left the country after the revolution because they didn’t want to be equal with the rest of the people]. This silence by the US Administration demonstrates the extent of its weakness.” – Radio Habana
Even the Miami Herald, a rightwing newspaper with ties to the Cuban-American mafia that is historically hostile to the Cuban Revolution admits that Fidel Castro lives in about the same conditions as everyone else in Cuba. The newspaper has previously printed articles in which it acknowledges that “The houses of Fidel and Raúl are large but simply appointed…. The living room of [Fidel’s] house is described by visitors as furnished with simple wood and leather sofas and chairs and Cuban handicrafts…. The only luxury visible to visitors is a big-screen television….”
Juan Almeida Bosque, a leader of the Cuban Revolution that toppled the bloody, U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, has died at age 82.
Almeida, who was born in a poor neighborhood of Havana, Cuba, left school at age 11 to begin work in construction.
In 1952, he joined Fidel Castro and a group of young Cubans in an attack on the Moncada Military Barracks in Santiago de Cuba which was aimed at securing arms for a popular uprising against the Batista dictatorship. Many of the participants in the failed incursion were tortured and murdered. Almeida, along with Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and others, were able to escape temporarily before being apprehended.
Almeida and the other captured rebels were imprisoned on the Isle of Pines. They were freed after nearly two years in prison as a result of popular pressure.
The rebels soon after went to Mexico where they formed a guerrilla nucleus and began training for a war to overthrow Batista.
In 1956, 82 rebels set out for Cuba on a rickety yacht. Their landing, delayed and disrupted, was a disaster. Not long after touching ground, all but 16 of the guerrillas had been killed by government forces.
Almeida led a small group that included Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, the Argentine-born revolutionary who joined the Cuban revolutionaries, out into the jungle during that bleak early period.
The guerrillas were eventually able to regroup. They begun to win battles, recruit new members and supporters, establish new ties and advance.
Almeida, a crack shot, quickly became a comandante, the highest rank in the rebel army. He led one of the few guerrilla fronts during the revolutionary war.
On January 1, 1959, “Batista the Butcher” fled Cuba, realizing his overthrow was imminent. Immediately afterward, the victory of the Cuban Revolution was secured by an island-wide general strike.
The Revolution opened the doorway to equality for Almeida and other Black Cubans who previously suffered under conditions of degradation and discrimination.
Almeida held a number of positions in the revolutionary government. He was a General in the Revolutionary Armed Forces, a member of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, president of the Association of Combatants of the Revolution and Vice-President of the Cuban Council of State.
At the time of his death, Almeida was one of only three living Cubans holding the title Commander of the Revolution.
Almeida was also an artist and writer, having written more than 300 songs and several books on Cuban History.
Thousands of Cubans showed up at memorials across the country to bid farewell to Almeida. According to his wishes, his body is being interred at the Mausoleum of the Mario Muñoz Monroy Third Eastern Front, which he led.
The Baader Meinhof Complex, a German film directed by Uli Edel, attempts to tell the story of the RAF (Red Army Faction or Red Army Fraction depending on the translation), a group describing itself as an “urban guerrilla” that operated in Germany.
The title of the film alone betrays its approach to the subject. The group depicted called itself the RAF. It was the German press that labeled the group the “Baader-Meinhof Gang” in an attempt to portray it as a non-political criminal outfit.
The founders of the RAF saw themselves as a section of an international movement actively fighting against imperialism. They didn’t expect to take power or have a strategy for doing so. They viewed their actions as attacks which would draw some of the attention of the imperialists away from the forces fighting against their domination in places like Indochina and Latin America.
There is much to be criticized in the RAF’s politics and actions, but The Baader-Meinhof Complex doesn’t give a complete enough picture of them to serve as the basis for any real discussion.
While a few references are lightly interspersed throughout the film, no real focus is given to the brutal imperialist war lead by the U.S. in Viet Nam, the occupation of key positions in the German government by former Nazis, the export of guns to bloody African dictatorships by the German imperialists, the repressive actions of the west German state against dissidents or the outright lies meted out by the capitalist media – all of which served as the background for the formation of the RAF.
The RAF arose in a “democratic” west Germany governed by a “Grand Coalition” of the Social Democratic Party and Christian Democratic Union with a former Nazi at its helm, in which the Communist Party was outlawed, radicals were gunned down in the streets and individuals with “unacceptable politics” were blacklisted from jobs. This is not brought out in the film.
The closest thing to an explanation of the RAF’s motives and politics The Baader Meinhof Complex offers are snippets of political statements written by Ulrike Meinhof, a left wing journalist and original member of the group, and a few pieces of dialogue from a police commissioner who states that terrorism can only be prevented by the elimination of poverty in the Third World.
While important facts and events are ignored, too much attention is given to episodes of violence and infighting.
Large segments of the two-and-a-half-hour film are dedicated to the RAF’s bombing campaigns and dramatic gun battles between the group’s members and police in pursuit. Predictably, the police stories that the RAF members always shot first, and without provocation are presented as unchallenged fact.
Little is done to show how the group was able to continually draw members into its ranks and gain the sympathy of a large number of Germans. Instead, excessive focus is given to arguments and break downs among the group and its members. Bitter disputes are shown in full detail.
In the latter part of the film, RAF members Ulrike Meinhof, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Ensslin and Jan-Carl Raspe are shown having killed themselves while in prison. In reality, the circumstances of their deaths are still very much in question.
Ulrike Meinhof is shown having committed suicide after becoming ostracized by the rest of the RAF prisoners. But this tale of her separation from the others is simply a theory cooked up without any concrete proof. Indeed, many continue to believe she was killed by the German state, and for good reason.
The films also shows defense attorneys smuggling weapons into the prison for Baader, Ensslin and Raspe to use on themselves if they so chose. When the three prisoners were found dead in their cells, this “premeditated suicide” explanation is what was provided by German officials. But later tests showed that it would have been impossible for Baader to have shot himself at the angle that would have produced the fatal wound at the base of his neck. On top of this, the left-handed Baader had powder burns on his right hand while Raspe had no powder burns at all. In spite of all this, and more, the official story is never questioned.
A film that purports to depict historical events must be held to a high standard. At the very least, it should stick to the known facts. Instead, The Baader Meinhof Complex presents a flawed picture in a quest to represent the RAF as nothing more than a band of hopeless romantics with guns completely isolated from reality.
The acting in The Baader Meinhof Complex is superb, but it’s not enough to rescue the film from its own inadequacies. The same can be said of the film’s fine cinematography.
In their attempt to create a historical “action film” acceptable in modern capitalist society, the creators of The Baader Meinhof Complex produced a film that falls flat.
(The English version of this entry can be found here).
전국경제인연합회(The Federation of Korean Industries)는 다른 자본가들과 힘을 합쳤고 한국에 있는 모든 노동자들이 비정규직으로 되기를 요구하고 있다.
연합회는 노동자들이 세계경제위기로 인해 가장 큰 고통을 받고 있음에도 불구하고 그들을 비난한다. 연합회는 “요즘 문제들은 노동자들이 유연하게 대처하지 못하기 때문이라고 주장합니다.
평균적으로, 비정규직 노동자들은 남한에서 일하는 보통 노동자들의 60% 임금밖에 받지 못한다.
남한의 총 노동인구 33% 정도인 약 5,400,000명의 노동자들은 현재 “비정규직” 노동자이다.그 중 절반이 한 시간에 4,000원 정도의 최저 임금을 받는다.
세계 경제 위기가 지속되면서 자본가는 노동 계층에게 압박을 주고 있다. 이러한 압박으로부터 우리를 보호하기 위해서 우리는 조직화하여 싸워야 한다. 효과적으로 이 싸움을 해나가기 위해 힘을 모아야 한다. 우리는 이러한 문제들을 만들어내는 자본주의 시스템을 폐지할 때까지 공격을 계속해 나가야 한다.
노동자(쌍용 자동차) 중 일부는 이미 싸움을 시작했다. 그들은 파업을 하고 있고 그들의 일터를 장악하고 있다 . 이제 우리가 함께 해야 한다. 우리는 함께해 이길 것이다.
Rather than capturing the essence of the tumultuous times which it portrays, Everlasting Moments, a Swedish film directed by Jan Troell, is dull, dry and drawn out.
Based in early 20th century Sweden, the film follows the working class Larsson family through its ups and downs.
Maria Heiskanen plays Maria Larsson, a housekeeper and mother of seven broken down by her work, her abusive, lying, alcoholic husband Sigge (Mikael Persbrandt) and the banality of domestic servitude.
The Larsson family is plagued with contradiction. Sigge is a loving and carefree one minute and violent and demanding the next. He’s saddened immensely by his addiction to alcohol, but yet still unable to shake it. Religion and social pressures keep Maria trapped in this seemingly endless cycle, even when she wants to escape.
Impoverished and concerned with the well being of her family, Maria tries to sell a camera she won in a lottery to a Danish photographer (Jesper Christensen). But when the photographer sees the one picture Maria has taken, he urges Maria to keep the camera and shoot more, even giving her the materials she needs.
Maria has an on and off attraction with the camera and the photographer (although she never gives in to the temptation to act on it). At one point, she sets up a makeshift studio in her undersized apartment and becomes a popular photographer, drawing the contempt of Sigge, whose ego is bruised by her independence.
In some of the best scenes of the film, Maria uses her camera to help one mother accept the death of a daughter and another to see the beauty within her Down’s syndrome stricken child.
For his part, Sigge becomes swept up in the emerging labor movement. A hard working dockhand, he becomes convinced of the need for socialist revolution through a combination of life experiences and conversations with fellow workers. But it is not his only focus. When Sigge gets involved in a militant strike on the docks and is falsely accused of carrying out an explosive attack in support of it, he is forced to reveal that he was having sex with a barmaid to prove his innocence.
Not enough attention is given to the rising tide of working class militancy of the period. Such a long film could have easily spent more than the few moments it did on the suicide of Sigge’s best friend, an active anarchist who hung himself out of despair. And what’s worse, after that event we don’t hear any mention of the proletarian struggle at all.
Eventually, the Larssons move to an old house in the country and Sigge opens his own transportation business that quickly grows. Maria is shown taking the first and last picture of herself. She died soon after, we’re told, content of the life she’d lived.
Everlasting Moments does a good enough job of depicting the life of the Larsson family, and the acting is strong and believable. But in the end, the film serves the status quo with its moral that everything will eventually work out if you just hang in and bear whatever misery you are faced with.
Because of that, the film looses whatever worth it may have otherwise had. After all, the point is not simply to observe the world as it is, but to change it
The involvement of a plethora of well known comedians isn’t enough to save The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, a comedy directed by Neal Brennan.
The Goods revolves around a failing used car lot in California owned by an aging salesman played by James Brolin. The lot is staffed by a group of unsuccessful salespeople played by Tony Hale, Charles Napier, Ken Jeong and Jonathan Sadowski.
While Jeremy Piven seems like the perfect choice to portray Don Ready, the fast-talking traveling car salesman called in to turn things around, he comes up very short on laughs.
His cohorts, played by David Koechner, Kathryn Hahn and Ving Rhames, don’t fare any better.
It’s not that Piven and company don’t try. The film is littered from beginning to end with punch lines and gags. The problem is that they just aren’t funny.
Most of the “jokes” come at the expense of workers, women and homosexuals.
In what has to be the most difficult to watch scene, the staff of the car lot is provoked by a nationalist “inspirational speech” and anti-Japanese slurs to carry out a mob attack against an Asian-American salesman. After the attack comes to an end, the perpetrators admit to committing a hate crime but plan to defend themselves with the false claim that the Asian-American came at them with a samurai sword. For his part, the victim of the attack (Jeong) agrees to dismiss the whole thing, saying, “Actually, I’m Korean.”
A cameo appearance by Will Farrell and a boy band spoof by Ed Helms add little.
Similarly, the obligatory love interest that arises between Ready and the daughter of the car lot’s owner (played by Jordana Spiro) fails to rescue the film in any way.
Watching The Goods, one gets the feeling that the writers may have intended the film’s more over-the-top aspects to serve as some form of social commentary. If that is indeed the case, they definitely missed the mark.
But even if, on the other hand, their goal was simply to illicit a few cheap laughs, they still fell short.
The Goods could have been something much more. There was no lack of comedic talent and the used car business, marked as it is by fierce competition, predation and deception, is ripe for parody. Unfortunately, The Goods simply doesn’t deliver.
Indian movie star Shahrukh Khan, who just finished a shoot for an upcoming movie about racial profiling called “My Name Is Khan,” was recently detained in a U.S. airport.
After being held for hours, SRK was finally allowed to make a call. He phoned the Indian consulate in the United States which confirmed his identity.
SRK, as he is known to fans, said he was angered and humiliated by the experience.
“I was really hassled perhaps because of my name being Khan. These guys just wouldn’t let me through,” he told reporters.
Of course this sort of thing happens every day in the land of the free. It’s only when it happens to someone famous that any real mention is made.
After a Myanmar court convicted Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the main liberal opposition party, to 18-months of house arrest for allowing an uninvited U.S. citizen to stay in her home, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton condemned the trial and called for the ruling military junta to release of all political prisoners in the country.
Meanwhile, a number of political prisoners continue to languish in U.S. prisons, largely unmentioned. Below is a very incomplete list of some of those political prisoners. When will the U.S. government allow their release?
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist who has been on death row since 1982, falsely accused of the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
The State of Pennsylvania claims that in 1981, Mumia, then a cab driver, saw his brother being beaten by Officer Faulkner across the street from where he was parked. They claim he ran over and shot Faulkner in the back, was in turn shot by Faulkner, and then shot Faulkner several more times in the head. The facts do not bare these claims out.
At trial, the prosecution’s main eyewitness was a prostitute named Cynthia White. White claimed she say Mumia run across a parking lot with a gun, but two other prostitutes and another woman who knew her have since stated that White was coerced by police into giving this testimony. Two other eyewitnesses say that White wasn’t even on the corner in question when the shooting occurred.
Pamela Jenkins, another prostitute, says other police officers were present at Faulkner’s shooting and that Cynthia White was an informant who regularly preformed sexual favors to cops.
The prosecution’s other “eyewitness,” a cab driver named Robert Chobert, now admits to receiving favors in exchange for his testimony. He also stated that he wasn’t even in a location that would allow him to witness the shooting, a fact backed up by newly discovered photos of the crime scene.
Another key piece of “evidence” provided by the prosecution is a supposed confession made by Mumia as he lay on a hospital bed recovering from his gunshot wound. But no police officer claimed to hear a confession by Mumia until two months after it supposedly took place. In fact, a police officer who watched over Mumia the night of the shooting stated that he “made no comments.” The police “suddenly” recalled his confession immediately after he filed charges of police brutality.
Vietnam War veteran and small business owner William Singletary, who was at the scene of the shooting, reported to police that the shooter was wearing a green army jacket and that Mumia didn’t arrive on the scene until after Faulkner had been shot. For this he was repeatedly threatened, his gas station was vandalized, and he was eventually run out of town altogether.
Others, including two police officers, also said the shooter was wearing a green army jacket. Mumia was wearing a red quilted jacket the night of the shooting. Other witnesses also say they saw someone running from the scene. Mumia was found shot at the scene.
Dessie Hightower, one of the witnesses who saw someone running from the scene of the shooting, says he was pressured by police to withhold his testimony.
Veronica Jones says she witnessed someone fleeing from the scene of the shooting, but was told by police that unless she testified against Mumia she would be forced to serve a long jail sentence.
What’s more, a man named Arnold Beverly has confessed that he was the person who shot Faulkner. Beverly stated that he and another man were hired by a group of cops and mobsters to kill Faulker because he was causing them problems by interfering in their illegal activities. Beverly said that it was another police officer, not Faulkner, that shot Mumia. Beverly also stated that he was wearing a green army jacket on the night of the shooting.
Ballistics evidence is nonexistent. Mumia was found with a gun the night of the shooting, but he was licensed to carry it. Police never ran any tests on the gun to see if it was fired or on Mumia’s hands to see if he had fired a gun. Different police reports make different claims as to the type of bullets found in Mumia’s gun. A fragment from one of Faulkner’s wounds and a medical examiner’s X-ray of Faulkner’s body have disappeared.
There is no reliable evidence connecting Mumia to the shooting of Daniel Faulkner, let alone establishing his guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” By all accounts, Mumia is and has always been a calm and collected person. In fact, his only “record,” was that of a former member of the Black Panther Party and a well known journalist who exposed and fought against exploitation and injustice — including the firebombing of the back-to-nature MOVE commune’s house by Philadelphia police.
His trial was presided over by Judge Albert Sabo who has sentenced more people to death than any other sitting judge in the United States. During Mumia’s trial Sabo said “I’m going to help them fry the nigger.” He allowed the prosecutor to argue for the death penalty on the basis of Mumia’s former membership in the Black Panther Party.
Mumia’s imprisonment has been condemned by a large number of political organizations, artists, unions and educators.
Mumia is confined to a tiny cell 23 hours of each day. He describes it as living in a bathroom. He is denied contact visits with his family and has been punished for continuing to write from behind bars.
Marshall “Eddie” Conway, falsely accused of the murder of a Baltimore police officer, has been in prison for close to four decades.
On April 25, 1970, two police officers were fired upon while sitting in their patrol car. One officer was killed and the other was injured. Soon after two men were arrested at the scene. The next day, Conway, a postal worker and member of the Baltimore Branch of the Black Panther Party, was arrested on the (supposed) word of an “unnamed informant” and an officer who arrived at the scene of the shooting and claimed to have seen a third man “at a distance.”
Eddie Conway has never been linked by any physical evidence to the shooting. According to police, Conway confessed to a repeat informant that was placed in his cell against his protest (which was made, in writing, to prison guards). The use of such informants was well known to the Black Panther Party, which was subject to attack for years. The third police officer who arrived at the scene of the shooting claimed to have “followed a man who seemed to be acting suspiciously.” He originally failed to identify Conway from a set of photos. It was only after he was shown a second set of photos, in which Conway’s photo was the only one repeated from the first set, that he identified Conway as the man “acting suspiciously.” The “identification” took place in the same station house that Conway was being held in. A lineup could have easily been arranged, but never was.
At the time of Conway’s arrest, the Baltimore Branch of the Black Panther Party had already come under attack. Recently released documents show that Conway and the rest of the branch were under constant FBI surveillance prior to his arrest and that the branch was infiltrated with government agents and informants. A mass arrest of members the Baltimore Branch took place immediately prior the police shooting on claims that they tortured and murdered an informant. The first of those members to stand trial was acquitted after a mere two and half hours of jury deliberation. The charges against the remaining members were dropped.
At trial, prosecutors relied on the testimony of this informant and the third police officer. Conway wanted to defend himself, but was denied the ability to do so by the judge. On most of the days of the trial, Conway wasn’t even in the courtroom. The jury was not sequestered and was no doubt exposed to the inflammatory anti-Black Panther Party rhetoric which filled the local media (and which has since been connected to the FBI’s counter intelligence program which had the stated goal of destroying the Black Panthers).
The Cuban Five are five men from Cuba imprisoned for long terms in the United States on false charge of espionage.
Anti-Cuban terrorist groups have waged attack after attack on Cuba for close to fifty years, leaving more than 3,000 Cubans, along with several tourists, dead or injured. These groups operate with the full knowledge, and support, of agencies like the FBI and CIA.
Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González volunteered to come to the United States to infiltrate the terrorist groups in order to prevent future attacks on Cuba, at great risks to themselves.
But far from being embraced as anti-terrorists, the Five were rounded up by U.S. authorities and held in solitary confinement for seventeen months. Their trial was held in an atmosphere of absolute hysteria in Miami, home to the largest number of opponents of the Cuban Revolution in the world. The judge repeatedly denied attorney’s motions for a change of venue despite the obvious fact that a fair trial could never be held there.
In 2001, after a seven month trial, the five were convicted of four life sentences and 75 years in prison.
The Five are held in separate, maximum-security prisons around the United States. The wives of two of the Cuban Five have repeatedly been denied visas that would allow them to enter the U.S. in order to visit their husbands.
Their trial, and subsequent treatment, has been condemned by groups and individuals in twenty U.S. cities and more than thirty countries, along with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, and eight international Nobel Prize winners.
In 2009, the Supreme Court refused to review the convictions of the Five after Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed a brief on behalf of U.S. President Barack Obama requesting that they refuse to reopen the case.
Leonard Peltier, a former leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM), has been imprisoned for more than 32 years on false charges of murdering two FBI agents. He is serving two consecutive life sentences.
In the early 1970’s, the tribal leader of the Pine Ridge Reservation hired a group of vigilantes, who referred to themselves as GOONS, to rid the reservation of AIM members and supporters by force. Dozens of people were injured or killed as a result. The FBI supplied the GOONS with information and even ammunition.
In response, a number of people asked Peltier and other AIM members for help. Peltier and a small group of young AIM members set up camp on a ranch inside of the reservation.
On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents in unmarked vehicles drove onto the ranch. They originally claimed they were in pursuit of a man in a pick-up truck. No pick-up truck was ever found. Later, after they found that the truck could not be tied to Peltier, one of the agents changed his claim and said that they were in fact in pursuit of a red and white van that Peltier was occasionally known to drive.
The arrival of the FBI agents frightened residents of the ranch. Shots broke out. Soon a full out shootout was taking place. Before long, more than 150 FBI agents, law enforcement agents and GOONS surrounded the ranch.
After the smoke had cleared, two FBI agents and one Native American boy were dead. The death of the Native American, Joseph Stuntz, has never been investigated.
The U.S. government moved quickly to charge Peltier and two other AIM members (Bob Robideau and Darrell Butler) with the shootings. Robideau and Butler were acquitted by juries who found they acted in self-defense. No charges were ever brought against any of the other 37 people the FBI claimed were involved in the gun battle.
Peltier managed to escape to Canada but was eventually captured in 1976. Peltier was extradited to the U.S. on the basis of affidavits signed by a women Myrtle Poor Bear who claimed that she was Peltier’s girlfriend and had witnessed the shooting. In fact, Myrtle had never even met Peltier. She later admitted that she was forced to sign the affidavits by the FBI.
Peltier’s trial took place in 1977. The judge refused to allow Myrtle to testify and excluded other evidence which had been allowed in the cases of Robideau and Butler.
A ballistics test showing that the bullets that killed the FBI agents did not come from the gun was initially hidden. Another 140,000 pages of FBI documents concerning the case were also kept out of the hands of the defense and view of the jury.
Three Native teenagers testified against Peltier, though none of them identified him as the shooter. Later, they admitted they were forced to testify by the FBI. The FBI openly admits it paid another woman who testified against Peltier $42,000.
Amazingly, the prosecution admitted during the trial that they did not actually know who shot the two FBI agents. Still, they claimed, Peltier was guilty whether or not he was the one that killed the agents since, according to them, he participated in the shootout.
Peltier has repeatedly been denied parole despite admissions by the Parole Commission that “the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that he personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.”
Peltier’s case has won the support of numerous individuals and organizations around the world.