Feb. 4th Mission Against Terror
- The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5
Free the Cuban 5 Hotline: 718-601-4751
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has a new Project email addrerss, so please update your address books:
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At a critical juncture, Two weeks before the historic hearing at the 11th
Circuit Court of Appeals...
MISSION AGAINST TERROR AND A LEGAL UPDATE ON THE CUBAN 5
Saturday February 4th, 2006 1pm-Reception / 2pm-Film and Program
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Center � Auditorium 310 W. 43rd St. (btwn.
8th & 9th Ave.)
Suggested Donation $5 Wheelchair accessible
In August of 2005, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals,
determined that the Cuban 5 didn�t get a fair trial due to the biased
political environment in Miami and ordered a new trial.
Federal prosecutors requested and were granted an appeal before the entire
eleven judge panel which is scheduled for Atlanta the week of February 13th.
Prospects for a fair trial are in jeopardy as the U.S. government
continues to do everything in its power to illegally keep these 5 Cuban
brothers in prison.
At this critical time for the 5 and Cuba, the East Coast Tour of Mission
Against Terror by Bernie Dwyer and Fr. Geoff Bottom is a significant
opportunity to counter media disinformation and support efforts to educate
about the case of Cuban 5 ironically imprisoned because of their activities
IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM!
1. ANALYSIS/UPDATE: Representative Cuban Mission to the United Nations
2. Screening of Mission Against Terror
3. Bernie Dwyer, Co-director Mission Against Terror
4. Fr. Geoff Bottoms, British Cuba Solidarity Campaign, President UK Free
the Cuban Five Committee
Convener: Ministry of Solidarity with Cuba, Church of San Romero de las
Sponsors: National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, New York Committee to
Free the Cuban Five, Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5,
Venceremos Brigade, Casa de las Am�ricas, Cuba Solidarity New York,
IFCO/Pastors for Peace, ProLibertad Freedom Campaign, International ANSWER,
International Action Center, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Fuerzas de
la Revoluci�n Dominicana, Workers World Party, Frente Socialista de Puerto
Rico � NY (list in formation).
Cuban 5 Prisoner Endures Notorious US "Control Unit"
Spotlight on the Control Unit at US Penitentiary, Florence, Colorado
by Bernie Dwyer
Antonio Guerrero - one of the five Cubans held in US prisons for defending
their country against terrorism - has recently been released from a month in
solitary confinement in what is known as the worst "Control Unit" in the
United States Federal penitentiary system in Florence, Colorado. This
article by Bernie Dwyer spotlights the prison in which Antonio is confined,
describing the dehumanising and brutal effects of this type of imprisonment
in a country that locks up more of its population than any other on the
Background to Florence USP
The control unit in Florence USP replaced Marion, Illinois, as the highest
security federal prison in the country. Prisoners are kept in permanent
solitary confinement, and are not even allowed to congregate for religious
services. The cells are set up so that prisoners can't see each other, and
can go days without seeing guards. The furniture in their cells is not
movable, physical contact is prohibited among prisoners and during visits,
and telephone calls are limited even more than in regular prisoners.
Florence is located in an area whose water, soil, and air is known to be
contaminated with dangerous radiation levels from a nearby uranium milling
When the US Federal Bureau of Prisons closed down Alcatraz as its highest
security prison in 1963, prisoners from Alcatraz were moved into Marion
Prison and placed in what was known as 'lock-down'. Lockdown was used to
control and suppress disruptive prisoners by severely restricting prisoners'
rights. Marion was the first prison in the US to make lockdown a permanent
condition. It combined permanent lockdown with sensory deprivation and
special administrative measures, (rather than disciplinary) known as S.A.M.
This means that the conditions are officially justified not as punishment
for prisoners, but as an �administrative� measure. As there are no rules
governing such moves prisoners are denied any due process and prison
officials can incarcerate any prisoner in a control unit for as long as they
choose, without giving a reason.
On October 22, 1983, there was an isolated incident in Marion Prison that
was to effect prison conditions until the present day. Two handcuffed
inmates at the federal prison killed two guards in separate incidents.
In the first, the inmate was walking down the hall, with his hands cuffed in
front of him. He was able to suddenly turn and shove his cuffed hands into
the cell of a friend, who quickly unlocked the cuffs with a stolen key,
handed his friend a knife and the inmate turned around and killed the guard.
Later that day, another inmate used the same lethal tactic.
That was the day that special maximum security measures, known as Management
Control Units were introduced.
Conditions in Management Controlled Units
According to the US Campaign to Abolish Control Unit Prisons, these
Management Control Units are now the new model for prisons in the United
States. Control Units go beyond the usual constraints of even maximum
security prisons. While conditions vary from prison to prison, the goal of
these units is always to cause spiritual, psychological, and physical
breakdown of the prisoners. Included in the oppressive conditions are:
* Years of isolation from both prison and outside communities while
being housed in solitary or small group isolation (it is legal in
the US to lock prisoners up for 23.5 hours / day).
* denial of access to educational, religious, or work programs.
* physical torture such as forced cell extractions, four-point
restraint and hog-tying, caging, beating after restraint, backroom
beatings, and set-up fights.
* mental torture such as sensory deprivation, forced idleness,
verbal harassment, mail tampering, disclosing confidential
information, confessions forced under torture, and threats against
family and visitors.
* denial of access to medical and psychiatric care.
Prisoners are placed in Control Units for administrative and/or
disciplinary reasons. The classification hearings, if they occur at
all, can only be called a "kangaroo court" at which the prisoner is
denied due process.
Various names are assigned to Control Units -- Adjustment Center, Security
Housing Unit, Maximum Control Complex, Administrative Maximum (Ad-Max),
Special Housing Unit, Violence Control Unit, Special Management Unit,
Intensive Management Unit, etc., also known in prison parlance as the
�Hole�. While every prison has Administrative Segregation cells (Ad-Seg)
used for holding prisoners in short-term disciplinary or protective custody,
Control Units are usually used for long-term punishment.
The "Worst of the Worst"
The isolation unit at Florence penitentiary has the reputation of being the
most brutal. US attorney Leonard Weinglass said that he when he eventually
succeeded in visiting his client Antonio Guerrero, he was shocked to see his
visiting conditions and said that they were worst he had ever encountered
even when visiting his former client, Mumia Abu Jamal on death row.
According to prisoner rights experts, ADX-Florence is the place where the
federal government puts its ``worst of the worst'' prisoners. Florence is
the leader in a nationwide trend toward supermax prisons. More than half the
inmates have murdered somebody in or out of prison. The average sentence is
Antonio Guerrero was sentenced without a shred of evidence to life plus 12
years in Florence USP, Colorado. He has the reputation within the
institution of being a model prisoner. He is trustworthy enough to have
special teaching duties. He is not a threat to anybody or country. As far as
the people of Cuba are concerned Antonio was working for a better world.
They feel that to keep him locked up is a miscarriage of justice and putting
him in the �Hole� was a crime. We all believe that it is time he came home
to his country and family.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta has ruled against the U.S.
government in accepting, on January 6, two amicus briefs (friends of the
court documents presented in support of one side) by the National Lawyers
Guild, the Florida branch of the National Association of Criminal Defense
Lawyers, and the National Association of Federal Public Defenders, presented
in favor of five Cubans imprisoned in the United States.
The U.S. Attorney had motioned the court to reject the two amicus briefs
alleging that they did not offer a different perspective than that presented
by the defense attorneys of the Five, and was a means by which to avoid the
limited number of pages imposed on the defense in its petition to the court.
However, on January 13, in a motion of response to the court, the U.S.
Attorney also included an amicus brief by the Cuban-American Bar Association
supporting its arguments. The court has yet to pronounce on this.
The U.S. Attorney's motion to reject the defense amicus briefs was a
surprise to the legal community by virtue of the fact that it was extremely
unusual. It provoked a strong reaction from criminal defense attorneys who
referred to the protection offered by the Sixth Amendment in relation to
race, ideology, religious, ethnic and other irrational prejudices.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, its Florida branch and
the National Association of Federal Public Defenders argued in their joint
amicus that the accused should be able to count on Constitutional guarantees
for a fair trial.
The importance of this resides in the fact that National Association of
Criminal Defense Lawyers is the only organization of its kind in Miami-Dade
For its part, the National Lawyers Guild presented its amicus on the right
to a fair trial and the right to due process � both established by the Sixth
Amendment - and emphasized the error of the Florida court in not authorizing
a change of trial location as well as the inappropriate conduct of the
prosecution during the trial.
Once accepted by the appeals court, the two amicus now become part of the
case file it will review. According to procedures established by the Atlanta
court, on December 15 the defense attorneys presented documents
corresponding to questions asked by the court. The U.S. Attorney presented
arguments on January 13, and now the defense can respond to the latter on
January 27. During the week of February 13, a day will be held for an oral
presentation by both the defense and the prosecution, designed to respond to
any concerns or questions the 12 judges may have.
In recent comments on the legal process against the Cuban Five, the
President of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarc�n, underlined the
violations that had begun from the very day of the arrest of the five men in
1998, saying "that there should never have been a trial, let alone an
arrest" and pointed out violations of the Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments
of the U.S. Constitution. "In the case of the Cuban Five, the fight should
go beyond obtaining a new trial for them, but be a battle for their
immediate release, so they not remain in prison one more day". Alarc�n drew
attention to the decision by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary
Detentions, which in May of last year � after two years of analysis of the
case � determined that the trial had been illegal. Following this on August
9, a three-judge panel of the Atlanta appeals court declared null and void
the original trial in the Miami federal court. Thus, eight important experts
from two different forums have expressed their condemnation of the legal
process against the Five and the illegal sentences imposed upon them.
The National Assembly President stressed the need to continue fighting to
convert the cause of the Five into an international campaign against
injustice, and condemn their manipulated trial, demanding their immediate
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