Cuban Five: Justice or Injustice draws 200
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Posted by: Joe Libertelli
Cuban Five: Justice or Injustice?
(To See all event photos, click HERE)
On September 13, 2013 nearly 200 gathered in the UDC David
A. Clarke School of Law Moot Court Room for a panel discussion entitled The
Cuban Five: Justice or Injustice that headlined actor/activist Danny
Glover. Moderated by School of Law
Professor Crisarla Houston, the panel included Gloria La Riva, Coordinator of
the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five; Richard Klugh, trial and
appellate attorney for The Five; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of
the Civil Justice Fund; and Eugene Puryear, a Howard University undergraduate,
author and activist. School of Law
alumni director Joe Libertelli and law student Jino Ray made brief welcoming
remarks. In attendance were numerous law
students, law alumni, faculty and staff, as well as University Board Chair
Elaine Crider, among others.
Ms. La Riva started off the panel by providing historical
context, describing the modern history of US/Cuban relations from the late 50s
onward, beginning with the Batista regime and its overthrow by Fidel Castro and
the Cuban Revolution. She described how
many Cubans opposed to the revolution settled in Miami, Florida and detailed a
few of the numerous illegal and violent efforts by them, often aided and
abetted by the US government, to disrupt
and overthrow the Cuban government.
Mr. Klugh described some of the more recent history of
violence against Cuba in the 1990s which led to the efforts of The Five to infiltrate
and investigate the groups planning this violence and highlighted the irony of
their jailing for their efforts to thwart illegal violence. Their prosecution, he maintained, was the
only one in American jurisprudential history to proceed with charges of
conspiracy to commit espionage against defendants who were never accused of
even attempting an act of espionage.
Mr. Glover spoke with eloquence and passion about the
injustice of The Five’s incarceration and of his own longstanding relationship
with the men and his ongoing visits to them in prison. He exhorted those in
attendance to join together to fight for justice and argued that the current
halt to what appeared to be an impending war against Syria came about in large
part as a result of people organizing and speaking out.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, whose DC-based organization has
been at the forefront of protecting protesters’ civil liberties, described her
organization’s current successful federal Freedom of Information Act suit which
is requiring the Justice Department to disgorge information about how the US
paid Miami journalists to create a climate of hatred against Cuba and the
defendants at the time of their trial. She
also spoke highly of the commitment to justice of the UDC Law students with
whom she has worked over the years and urged current students to participate in
her organization’s ongoing efforts on this case.
Eugene Puryear, author of the newly published book "Shackled
and Chained: the History of Mass-Incarceration in the United States” pointed
out that the District of Columbia, thanks in part to the efforts of Mara
Verheyden-Hilliard, is one of the places in the US where first amendment rights
are most respected – and urged those in attendance to exercise those rights!
presentations by the panelists, a spirited question and answer session ensued,
which was followed by a reception in the 5th Floor Lobby area.
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The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, www.law.udc.edu,
is among the nation's most racially, ethnically, class and age-diverse
law schools. Its minimum of 740 hours of clinical public interest legal
service - a sum exceeded by most of its students - is clear evidence
that the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law is America's preeminent
public interest law school.