Since 1959, 3,500 Cubans
have died as a result of terrorist attacks directed at Cuba from groups based within the exiled community of Miami, Florida.
The Cuban Government has repeatedly asked for cooperation from the US Govt in reigning-in these terrorist groups but
none is ever forthcoming. During the mid 90’s after a spate of hotel bombings designed to destroy the their fledgling
tourist industry the Cuban Government took matters into their own hands and sent 5 men into Miami to infiltrate these groups
and gather information. These men are known as the Miami Five. They were successful and sent the information back to
Cuba which saved the lives of many innocent Cubans and tourists alike. The evidence of terrorist planning they amassed was
passed to the FBI and Cuba, not unreasonably, hoped for news of early action against the terrorists.
Two weeks later, on
September 12th 1998, instead of arresting the terrorists, the Miami Five were arrested and charged with conspiracy
to commit espionage against the US. From the time of their arrest to their trial they were illegally held in solitary
confinement and, despite defence request for a change of venue, they were tried in Miami with the very terrorists they were
infiltrating arraigned as the witnesses for the prosecution. They were collectively sentenced to two life sentences
plus 75 years. Denied family visits in what Amnesty International have characterised as "a form of torture", they have
also been denied consular visits and access to their lawyers at critical times in their defense. The United Nations
regards them as "arbitrarily detained", diplomatic speak for framed by the USA on trumped up charges.
Last June their lawyers
filed 12 global ‘friend of the court’ briefs to the US Supreme Court, including an Irish brief signed by former
President Mary Robinson and 47 Irish TD’s and Senators. The US Supreme Court, at the request of President Obama,
refused to hear the appeal. With the final legal avenue closed to them, it is now left to the court of public opinion
to get justice for these men.
This annual vigil is
part of a global struggle to break the media silence around the case as they begin their 13th year in prison for
crimes they did not commit.