02/09/13 - The Militant - 1 of Cuban 5 wins transfer out of Miami prison
Vol. 77/No. 6 February 18, 2013
1 of Cuban 5 wins transfer out of Miami prison (feature article)
BY LOUIS MARTIN Ramón Labañino, one of five Cuban revolutionaries framed up
and jailed by the U.S. government for more than 14 years, recently won his
demand to transfer from a Miami prison where he was sent in mid-January.
The Bureau of Prisons consented to the transfer following protests by
Labañino's lawyers and supporters, who argued the move to Miami put his
personal safety in jeopardy.
In a Feb. 1 message from the medium security federal prison in Jesup, Ga.,
posted on the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five website, Labañino
explains what happened.
"Since June 2012, the authorities of this institution informed me that I
could be assigned to an institution of low security, due to the low points
and clean record that we have maintained in all these 14 years of
imprisonment," he wrote.
Labañino was later assigned to the low-security federal prison in Miami
"despite the fact that Ramón told the Bureau of Prisons that this was not a
good idea," his lawyer William Norris wrote in an accompanying article. In
Miami, wrote Norris, "both some inmates and some staff hold deeply rooted
animus to the regime in Cuba that makes Ramon's safety, let alone fair
treatment, a problem."
Labañino eventually left the prison in Jesup Jan. 11 and arrived at the
Miami facility Jan. 14.
"When I was interviewed by the official who receives the new 'tenants,'"
Labañino said, "she told me in a few words that I should not be in the
population of that institution for obvious reasons of personal security,
and therefore she decided to send me to the 'hole' where I should wait for
the decision that the management of the place would make later.
"Thanks to your phone calls, the efficient actions or our [Cuba's]
revolutionary government and our attorneys, they finally decided to remove
me quickly not only from Miami but from all Florida."
After being held eight days in solitary confinement, Labañino was sent back
to Jesup, where he is now waiting for a decision to be made on where to go
In agreeing to the transfer, the government has drawn attention to one
facet of its frame-up: the insistence of U.S. prosecutors and the presiding
judge to hold the 2001 trial of the five in Miami, despite seven defense
motions to move it to any other location in the country.
"What happened is significant," Norris said in a phone interview. "If the
Bureau of Prisons can't guarantee his safety in a Miami jail today, what
does that say about the trial?"
The 2001 trial in Miami took place against a backdrop of a constant
sensational and negative media against the five, as well as harassment and
intimidation of the jury by the press and counterrevolutionary Cuban
In August 2005, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in
Atlanta unanimously overturned the convictions and ordered a new trial
outside Miami. They ruled that "an impartial jury in this case" was "an
unreasonable probability" and "the perception that these
[counterrevolutionary Cuban] groups could harm jurors that rendered a
verdict unfavorable to their views."
But the U.S. government appealed and the decision was reversed the
following year by a full 12-judge review by the same appeals court. The
Supreme Court refused to hear the defense's appeal of the reversal.
Starting in 2010, lawyers for four of the five filed habeas corpus motions
arguing for new trials on the basis that some of the journalists who wrote
false and inflammatory articles during the trial were at the time on the
U.S. government payroll. These motions and related court documents from
both sides are before Judge Joan Lenard, who presided over the 2001 trial.
Related articles: 'Women and Revolution: Living example of Cuban
Revolution' Montreal Labour Council hosts Cuban 5 art exhibit Who are
the Cuban Five
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