The Cuban 5 arrived in Ecuador Thursday night as a part of a visit to the country and to participate in the Progressive Latin American Conference (ELAP) from Monday to Wednesday.
They will meet with President Rafael Correa, and express solidarity with the Ecuadorean people, who they told press contributed to their liberation from U.S. prison.
The five men were met at Quito’s international airport by the Ecuadorean official Paola Pabon, as well as by supporters – including members of the Cuban medical brigade providing free health care in Ecuador.
“We bring a message of gratitude for all of those people who accompanied us from Ecuador in our struggle for justice for 16 years,” Gerardo Hernandez told press.
The Cuban Five were imprisoned in the United States in 1998 and sentenced in 2001 on espionage charges. The five Cuban nationals had been monitoring Miami-based terrorist groups plotting to attack Cuba, and carried out no known espionage against the U.S. government. They were held without bail for 33 months between arrest and trial, with advocates denouncing that the Cubans were kept in solitary confinement for 17 months and denied communication with the outside world.
After years of an international campaign calling for their release, the last of the five were released in December 2014, coinciding with announcements from Cuban President Raul Castro and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama that the two countries would begin to re-establish ties.
The ELAP confernece will bring together left wing political leaders from around the continent and region to discuss advancing the progressive cause in light of a right wing offensive against left governments in Latin America. Over 60 organizations will be attending and 300 delegates, including Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, politicans from Venezuela, President Rafael Correa and other Ecuadorean leaders, independence leaders from Puerto Rico, and other activists and politicans including all of the Cuban 5.
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