Contradictions Abound in Cuban Five Case
Contradictions Abound in Cuban Five Case
Contradictions Abound in Cuban Five Case
Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada speaks on the case of five men railroaded by the US justice system for crimes they never committed.
DEISY FRANCIS MEXIDOR
There is no national or international podium that Ricardo Alarcon doesn't use to bring up the case of the Cuban Five, five Cubans held as prisoners in US jails since September 12, 1998.
For more than nine years he has dedicated considerable effort to explain the details of the case and build support for the struggle to free Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, unjustly condemned by a Miami court.
Alarcon spoke with Granma on the sixth anniversary of their sentencing.
Recently you have contrasted the case of the Cuban Five with those of other individuals accused of espionage.
Perhaps more cases will come to light; I will refer to one that eloquently illustrates what we've been talking about. It took place in June of this year. It's the case of a Mr. Aragoncillo, a Philippine born man. He was an FBI officer assigned to the offices of Vice President Richard Cheney. He worked in the White House. He was also tied to the executive mansion back when Al Gore was the vice president. The court record states that from that office he obtained 733 secret documents. I'm not talking about a conspiracy to commit espionage [what the Cuban Five were accused of] but of straight out espionage.
When he left the White House, he went to work with the FBI in New Jersey. It was then that they discovered the fact and they brought Aragoncillo to trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison.
Ten years in prison for real, substantive espionage. Meanwhile, the Cuban Five, who never obtained even one piece of paper, were accused of conspiracy to commit espionage without being accused of espionage itself. A long list of high level US authorities paraded before the court testifying that "there was absolutely nothing pointing to espionage." However, the prosecution managed to convince a Miami jury and they were harshly sentenced to terms including four life sentences and 75 years in prison.
This can be explained because the fact that the jury in this Floridian city was terrified and the farce was played out amid a completely hostile atmosphere towards our compatriots.
Now, in June 2007, with all the repressive laws in the Untied States, and such a climate against foreigners... a man who was really spying during a long period of time, and not in just any place but from the White House, received a 10-year sentence, which could be reduced for good conduct.
Therefore, the first thing that comes to mind is the arbitrariness, the lack of fairness in the Cuban Five case. They were given sentences that were not only out of proportion, but absurd. The entire legal process against the Cuban Five was a political and propagandistic operation against Cuba and to please the Miami Mafia. That's the only explanation.
For the eighth time, the US authorities have denied a visa to Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez, the wives of Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, to visit their imprisoned husbands.
The denial of visas for family members to visit the Cuban Five is totally arbitrary. And not only arbitrary, but also in violation of international and United States norms. It is part of what the United States government has done to punish the Cuban Five while at the same time trying to break their will.
All people in prison have the right to receive visits from family and even other persons. In our case, we are talking about a special situation, because the prisoners are in a country and their relatives in another. When the United States has dealt with this type of situation a resolution has been found, even in more problematic cases.
For example, remember Zacarias Mozawi, born of Moroccan parents in France. He was arrested, charged and sentenced in the United States for supposedly being one of the participants in the 9/11 attacks. According to the charges, he was going to pilot one of the 9/11 planes.
His Moroccan mother, a resident in France, requested a visa to go to the US and visit her son. She was granted an unlimited visa for humanitarian reasons in a situation involving someone that they presented as the only survivor of the commando that attacked the Twin Towers in New York.
Another case involves Johnny Walker, captured in Afghanistan when the US war against that country began. This young man was wearing a Taliban uniform, was armed and fighting against the US forces. They captured him. Since he was a US citizen, they didn't take him to the Guantanamo Naval Base —located on Cuban territory and illegally occupied by the US. They took him to his country of birth, tried him there and he is serving a sentence somewhere in California.
At the sentencing hearing there appears to have been an agreement between the government and this man, including one that allowed him to serve his sentence close to where his family lives in San Francisco, to facilitate them visiting him, to make it easier for the family. That was correct. I don't criticize it.
Compare this treatment with the situation of the Cuban Five. The process to request a visa lasts months: The US Interests Section gives you an appointment, you go there, they give you forms to fill out, and these are submitted to the US consul. Then you wait... A wait that can be several months, until they call you and say yes or no. In practice this has meant that for those who have been able to travel it has been at most once a year. In the case of Adriana and Olga, the situation is worse; they have never been able to visit their husbands.
On one occasion Adriana was given a visa, but the treatment was even crueler because when she arrived in Houston they wouldn't let her stay in the US and she was returned to Cuba. Olga was also given a visa once that was later revoked. Since then it has been all negative replies. They have said "No" to eight consecutive requests.
In this entire context, what role does solidarity play?
It is very important that people make statements around the world as the case becomes more known, so in some way we can jump the wall of silence surrounding it in the United States. To accomplish that, solidarity is very important.
If US citizens knew half the truth, just a piece of the truth, they would see that they are governed by a terrorist mafia that supports, harbors and protects active terrorist groups, while incarcerating people who fought against terrorism.
International Commission to Demand U.S Visas for Wives of the Five
by Juan Diego Nusa Peñalver
Dec. 11, 2007
Reprinted from ACN
An international commission in defense of the rights of Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez to visit their husbands in jail, Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez, will be joining the world campaign for the release of the Cuban Five.
In a press conference in Havana, Argentinean Graciela Ramirez, coordinator of the International Committee for the Release of the Five, announced the participation of the Commission in the world campaign.
The American government has denied the two Cuban women entry permits to the United States to visit their husbands who have been imprisoned for more than 9 years in that country. They are part of the five political prisoners known as the Cuban Five.
Ramirez told the media that some of the relatives of the men have been expecting to travel to the U.S for 18 months, and they still do not know when they will be able to do so. The White House's refusal to allow the visits is a violation of its own national legal regulations.
Gerardo and Rene, along with Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, were sentenced in a politically biased trial in Miami to four life sentences in all and 77 years in prison. They were arrested in 1998 while trying to collect information about terrorist activities planned against Cuba by groups based on Southern Florida.
The International Commission is made up of 100 world scholars involved in human rights organizations and in the cultural sector. These include Argentinean Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchu, both of them are Nobel Prize Laureates; also France's former First Lady Danielle Mitterrand is on the list.
The commission's claim for the granting of visas to Olga and Adriana is expected to reach out to national and international human rights organizations, women's and social movements, religious sectors, workers unions, political and governmental organizations.
The group will address in particular Secretary Condolezza Rice, the Attorney General and the Congress of the United States; and also the UN's Human Rights Council, Amnesty International and the Ibero American Federation of Ombudsman.
International Commission supports visitation rights for wives of Cuban Five
by Deisy Francis Mexidor
Dec. 12, 2007
Reprinted from Granma International
More than 100 prominent individuals from 27 countries, among them Nobel Peace laureates Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina and Rigoberta Menchú of Guatemala, as well as actor Danny Glover and writer Alice Walker from the United States, are members of the International Commission for Family Visitation Rights, supporting Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez, wives of René González and Gerardo Hernández respectively, two of the Five Cuban anti-terrorists imprisoned in the United States for nine years. The U.S. government has denied the women visas to visit their husbands eight times; they have not been able to visit them since their arrests.
The initiative taken by the International Committee to Free the Five was announced yesterday to the Cuban and international press through a press release, in which the group indicates that its position is based on humanitarian rights and family rights defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention Against Torture.
Graciela Ramírez, coordinator of the committee, reiterated the call for action by human rights organizations, women's organizations, social movements, religious groups, trade unions, political and government officials, to be directed in particular to the U.S. Secretary of State, Attorney General and Congress, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council, among others.
Olga Salanueva indicated that the battle was part of a broader struggle to free the Five and that "The pain we feel grows stronger every instant they remain in prison."
Roberto González, René's brother, insisted that political efforts "that go beyond the courts" need to be intensified.
Also present were Rosa Aurora Freijanes and Magali Llort, wife and mother of Fernando González; Mirta Rodríguez and María Eugenia Guerrero, mother and sister of Antonio Guerrero and Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Ramon Labañino.
In Great Britain and Ireland:
"Mission against Terror":
"Bacardí, the bat's secret":
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