Party for Socialism and Liberation Presidential nominee and National Committee to Free the Cuban Five Coordinator Gloria La Riva was arrested outside the White House Friday along with four colleagues from the Committee, the ANSWER Coalition, and the Venezuela Solidarity Network. The five arrested were attempting to deliver 102,000 petition signatures from 78 countries to demand the release of Five Cuban citizens whose convictions on espionage related charges were recently denied appeal in the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals. The number of arrestees was coordinated to match the number of Cubans. According to the PSL:
Press in attendance included CNN, Al Jazeera English, Associated Press television, EFE of Spain, Russian TV and Univision.
The civil disobedience actions followed a successful press conference. The featured speaker at the conference was Wayne Smith, former chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Gloria La Riva, Brian Becker and Banbose Shango, Regional Coordinator of the Venezuelan Solidarity Network and Co-chair of the National Network on Cuba, also spoke strongly in support of the Cuban Five. There were also special remarks given by Judge Claudia Morcom of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute.
Earlier in the week a letter was delivered to George W. Bush in support of the Cuban Five, signed by Howard Zinn, Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Martin Sheen and Ramsey Clark, among others.
Simultaneous events are being organized all over the world in solidarity with the Cuban Five on this important date. Before the Washington, D.C., action there were also events in Australia, Europe the Middle East and Latin America. Additional actions are planned over the next period of action.
During this critical time, when three of the Cuban 5 are awaiting re-sentencing in Miami, and the case of the Cuban Five heads to the Supreme Court, activists in the United States are committed to continuing the struggle.
A video of the protest and and arrests can be found here: