The National Lawyers Guild International Committee’s Cuba, Puerto Rico and Palestine Subcommittees co-sponsored a
workshop at the NLG Convention in Puerto Rico, October 25, 2013, entitled “Political Prisoners and Liberation Struggles: Palestinian Prisoners, the Cuban Five, Puerto Rico and Assata Shakur & the Black Liberation Movement.”
Video of the workshop is now available online!
This workshop connected developments in political prisoners’ movements for Cuban Five, Puerto Rican political prisoners, Palestinian prisoners, and the Black Liberation Movement, with a focus on Assata Shakur. The workshop addresses the current state of the respective struggles and their political prisoners.
The U.S. has imprisoned the Cuban Five since 1998 for trying to prevent Florida based terrorism against Cuba. An update on legal & political developments, including newly discovered evidence.
The Puerto Rican people have always resisted colonialism, and have waged campaigns for the release of the thousands of their compatriots who have been imprisoned for their commitment to independence, and have always advocated for their human rights.
The movement of Palestinian political prisoners has received growing attention internationally. The struggle of Palestinian prisoners, given the role of US aid and funding to Israel, is directly connected to that of other prisoners held by the US.
Recently, the FBI named Assata Shakur as the first woman on its “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, funding a $2 million bounty for her capture and return from Cuba. The workshop will address Assata’s case as an illustration of the criminalization of the Black Liberation Movement and numerous political prisoners that emerged from it.
Alberto Rodriguez is a Puerto Rican Independentista who in 1983 was arrested by a FBI led task force and charged with the impossible crime of Seditious Conspiracy for fighting for the independence of Puerto Rico. After a lengthy federal trial during which many important political issues like the illegality of U.S. colonialism over Puerto Rico were raised, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison. After 16 years of incarceration, he along with most but not all the Puerto Rican Political Prisoners received Executive Clemency from then President Bill Clinton and was released.
Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of the Correctional Association of New York, is the first woman and the first person of color to lead the nearly 170-year old organization in its mission to create a fairer and more humane criminal justice system. She served previously as Deputy Director and Clinical Instructor at the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, and before that was a member of the faculty and Director and Supervising Attorney of the Defender Clinic at the City University of New York School of Law. Ms. Elijah has also worked as a Supervising Attorney at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, a Staff Attorney at the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society, and in private practice.
An accomplished advocate, scholar, and educator, Ms. Elijah is a frequent presenter on national and international media and at forums on criminal justice policy and human rights issues. Some of her work on behalf of political prisoners has included: post trial/appellate representation of Sundiata Acoli (the other African American survivor besides Assata Shakur from the NJ turnpike shooting), and of Marilyn Buck (who was charged and convicted of involvement in Assata’s escape); representation of the San Francisco 8, and of organizations such as the Venceremos Brigade.
Brad Parker is Staff Attorney and International Advocacy Officer with Defence for Children International Palestine, an independent child-rights organization dedicated to defending and promoting the rights of children living in occupied Palestine. He was previously the Legal Advocacy Officer with MADRE.
Rafael Anglada López is a lawyer and a civil rights activist. He was a member of the Federación de Universitarios Pro Independencia (FUPI-Federation of Pro-Independence University Students), a delegate for the Puerto Rican Socialist Party before the United Nations, and a reporter for Claridad, the major pro-independence newspaper. Anglada has dedicated his life to the struggle for Puerto Rican independence from the United States and, as an attorney, defending the rights of political dissidents. Atty. Anglada-Lopez has been associated with the defense of the Cuban Five since their trial in Miami in 2000-2001.