The Cuban 5
Posted 07 October 2011 - 03:40 PM
1st of 'Cuban 5' spy ring out of US prison
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON and CURT ANDERSON - Associated Press | AP – 58 mins ago
MARIANNA, Fla. (AP) — One of the so-called "Cuban Five," convicted of spying in the U.S. for the communist Castro government, walked out of federal prison Friday, the first of the group to complete sentences imposed a decade ago.
Rene Gonzalez, 55, served about 13 years of a 15-year sentence, with time off for good behavior and including time behind bars awaiting and during trial. His attorney, Phil Horowitz, told The Associated Press he picked up Gonzalez at the prison around 5:30 a.m. EDT. Now Gonzalez, a Chicago native who has dual American and Cuban citizenship, must serve three years' probation in the U.S., unless his attorney can persuade a Miami federal judge to let him return to Cuba.
Horowitz said for now Gonzalez wants to remain out of the limelight at an undisclosed location "anywhere from Puerto Rico to Hawaii." Horowitz said Gonzalez is declining interview requests and that he has some concern for his safety.
"He's been in prison for 13 years. I think it's time to give him some peace," he said. "I do believe he needs some time to decompress."
Gonzalez and the other four Cubans were convicted in 2001 of being part of a spy ring known as the "Wasp Network" that sought to infiltrate and report back on South Florida U.S. military installations, Cuban exile groups and politicians opposed to the government of Fidel and Raul Castro.
One of the five was convicted of murder conspiracy for the 1996 shootdown by Cuban fighter jets of planes flown by the "Brothers to the Rescue" operation, which dropped pro-democracy leaflets in Cuba and helped migrants trying to reach the U.S. Gonzalez, a pilot, flew with the group on some earlier missions as part of his intelligence cover as a purported anti-Castro militant, according to court documents.
The Cuban government hails the men as heroes, and they and their supporters have long insisted they were only in the U.S. to detect and prevent violent attacks against their country, mainly by Miami-based exile groups. They also complained that Miami was a patently unfair location for the trial, which took place following the controversial decision by the U.S. to send Elian Gonzalez back to his father in Cuba. The young Cuban boy had been found on an inner tube off Fort Lauderdale, one of three survivors of a boat that sank as those onboard tried to defect to the U.S. His mother was among those who drowned. He is not related to Rene Gonzalez.
At his December 2001 sentencing, Rene Gonzalez was unapologetic, saying the men "were convicted for having committed the crime of being men of honor."
"I have no reason to be remorseful," he said.
Jose Basulto, who heads Brothers to the Rescue, called Gonzalez a "traitor" who should renounce his U.S. citizenship and go back to Cuba.
"If anything were to happen to him, I know we will immediately be blamed," Basulto said. "Let him go to Cuba, and if anything happens to him, let it be there."
The three-year probation term began the moment Gonzalez left the federal prison in Marianna, in Florida's Panhandle. U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard in Miami preliminarily refused to modify probation to allow him to return to Cuba, but said he could request the change again. Horowitz said he will do so in the near future.
Gonzalez has a wife and two daughters in Cuba; his wife was also implicated in the spy network and was deported after the men's arrests. She cannot legally return to the U.S. and the couple has not seen each other for over a decade.
On Friday, the U.S.-based group that has lobbied in favor of Gonzalez and the other Cuban Five members slammed the U.S. for not allowing Gonzalez to return to Cuba.
"He has been a model prisoner, even while suffering the indignity of being inhumanely deprived visits from his wife for more than 11 years," the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five wrote. "However, the U.S. government insists on punishing him and his family even more by requiring him to remain in Florida for the three years of his" probation.
The committee has created an online petition to urge President Barack Obama to allow Gonzalez to return to Cuba.
The case's chief prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Heck Miller, said the U.S. opposes allowing Gonzalez to return to Cuba because he might resume his spy career using his U.S. citizenship and because it would "effectively put him beyond any supervision by the court."
"He poses a particular, long-term threat to this country," Miller said in court papers.
Among the conditions of Gonzalez's probation is one barring him from "associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence (and) organized crime figures are known to be or frequent."
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the U.S. should not keep Gonzalez in this country.
"Rene Gonzalez, like the regime he serves, is an enemy of America," said Ros-Lehtinen, who is Cuban-American. "He has American blood on his hands and dedicated his life to harming our country on behalf of a regime that is a state sponsor of terrorism."
Anderson reported from Miami. AP Hispanic Affairs Writer Laura Wides-Munoz in Miami contributed to this story.
Posted 09 October 2011 - 03:44 PM
Further injustice against René confirms that U.S. government acknowledges presence of terrorists in its territory
• Speech given by Mercedes López Acea, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party, during the central event marking the Day of the Victims of State Terrorism
Posted 10 October 2011 - 03:40 PM
Havana. September 28, 2011
Justice for the Five once again denied
RENÉ González Sehwerert, one of Cuba's five anti-terrorist heroes, will be released from prison October 7 having served in full the brutal and unjust sentence he was given.
On September 16, South Florida District Judge Joan A. Lenard denied a motion submitted by René on February 16, 2011 requesting that he be allowed to return to Cuba and be reunited with his wife, daughters and parents. He has been unjustly obliged to remain in the United States for three years of probation.
This decision, after 13 years of incarceration, constitutes a deliberate additional penalty, motivated by the same desires for political revenge which characterized the original judicial procedures which led to the conviction of the Five in 2001. Standing behind this decision is the United States government which for years has supported terrorism against Cuba, protecting organizations and individuals – within its territory – responsible for the deaths, suffering, pain and suffering of thousands of Cubans.
Since 1998, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labańino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González have been subjected to unusually cruel and degrading treatment. They have withstood pressure and abuse, including separation from their loved ones, with admirable integrity, never wavering in their principles, character or behavior as model prisoners.
The judge's response to René's motion is in no way justified and makes no sense. It is presumed that he must remain in the United States where clearly his life will be endangered, and where the most prominent anti-Cuban terrorist individuals and organizations are located.
In her response, the judge reconfirmed the sentence imposed on René in 2001 which included the absurd special and additional stipulation that, upon his release from prison, he is prohibited from "associating with or visiting specific places where individuals or groups such as terrorists, members of organizations advocating violence or organized crime figures are known to frequent." One must ask how it is possible to comply with this stipulation if René is obliged to reside precisely "where individuals or groups such as terrorists are known to frequent." One must ask as well, although the answer is obvious, what motivates the United States and its legal system to require in a legal document the protection of "individuals or groups such as terrorists" located within its national territory.
Although it is impossible to undo the injustice after so many years of unwarranted imprisonment and political attacks, the only minimally decorous action the government of the United States could take at this point would be to grant René permission to immediately return to Cuba, to put an end to the vengeful sentences imposed on Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando, and to allow the return of all Five to their homeland.
The cause of the Cuban Five is known throughout the entire world. There is a wealth of information, argumentation and legal evidence which demonstrates the arbitrary nature of the proceedings which led to their convictions and sentencing. Also widely recognized is the especially abusive treatment in prison these innocent men have received: extended periods of time in solitary confinement, lack of communication, psychological torture, unjustified family separation, limited contact with legal representatives and the denial of visits by mothers, wives and daughters.
The people of Cuba deeply appreciate all the people and groups who have added their voices to the demand that this injustice end, state leaders and government officials, as well as renowned figures who have publicly or privately advocated for the freedom of the Five.
It is imperative that we emphatically demand that no further injustice be committed; that no additional punishment be imposed on René, putting his life in danger; that his wife and daughters not be forced to continue living without him and that the opportunistic policy of protecting known terrorists – and aggravating the complicity of the U.S. government – be abandoned.
The cause of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René is the irrevocable cause of the Cuban people. It is a commitment made by an entire people to end the injustice which the Five have suffered and an indication of their loyalty to those who have defended the homeland with great courage and sacrifice. Our efforts will not end until we see the Five home, in their land once again, with their loved ones and their people.
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Posted 16 October 2011 - 04:35 PM
Havana. October 14, 2011
Message from René González to the people of Cuba
(Typescript version: Council of State)
THESE words are for my people, to whom I owe them since the day I left prison. I was not able to send them earlier given the circumstances and the need to ensure a safe journey.
It is difficult, really, to address a people who one loves so much, and of whom one feels a part, via a camera, but I needed to communicate with you and express how grateful we are for everything you have done, to explain that we have felt very much accompanied by the thousands of messages, letters from children, from all the workplaces and schools who have sent their messages from Cuba, for the support that has never failed us and which has nourished us during these years of injustice, already too many.
For me, this moment of joy which we share is, simply, a parenthesis in a history of abuses during which not one iota of justice has been done. The fact that I am now out of prison only means that one avenue of abuse to which I was subjected has been exhausted, but we still have four brothers who we have to rescue and who we need with us, with their families, to be among you giving the best of themselves and not in those places where they are. Places where they get up, wake up every morning, go to a canteen in which they should not be eating, move among people among whom they should not be moving, and we really need to continue moving forward with this struggle to get them out.
For me, this is only a trench, a new place in which I am going to continue fighting for justice to be done so that the Five of us can return together to you.
I want to send special greetings to the families of the other four brothers, who have really moved me with their joy. It is really deeply touching talking by telephone with a person who you know has an imprisoned son, an imprisoned husband, and who welcomes my liberty as if it was the liberty of one of theirs. That really moves me and strengthens my commitment, and we have to go on waging this fight, because they do not deserve to be where they are.
To all my people, to all the people who have accompanied us over the years, who have been thousands, and through whom we have been able, little by little, to break through this information blockade, to break through the silence that the corporate media have created around the case, I extend to you, on behalf of the Five, my most profound gratitude, my commitment to continue representing you as you deserve, which is definitely what we Five are doing, because we are not only Five, we are a whole people who have resisted for 50 years, and it is thanks to that that we are still resisting, because we are inspired by you, because we know that we represent you and will never fail you and will always rise to the heights that you deserve.
An embrace for all of you.
The Five of us love you, from wherever we might be.
Translated by Granma International
- MIAMI 5
Posted 01 December 2011 - 03:28 PM
Colloquium calls for intensified efforts to free the Five
Leonardo Pupo PupoHOLGUIN, (AIN).— Delegates from more than 50 countries present at the 7th International Conference to Free the Five and Oppose Terrorism called for intensifying efforts around the world in support of these five anti-terrorists.
In the final declaration approved at the event, which took place in the Cuban province of Holguín, more than 300 delegates advocated maintaining pressure on the U.S. government and expanding mobilizations in different sectors of the population.
The delegates' declaration called for the generalization and expansion of positive experiences with the participation of jurists, academics and students.
Also included in the document were plans to hold conferences with U.S. intellectuals who support the Five and the In the Defense of Humanity Network, and to screen documentaries about the case, and terrorist attacks on Cuba, in open spaces, parks and plazas.
The delegates called for the placement of banners and billboards about the Five in public areas, as well as demonstrations in front of the White House, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Supreme Court and other places where significant numbers of people congregate.
The promotion of massive petition campaigns of letters to President Barack Obama from around the world and the involvement of religious organizations within and beyond the U.S, were other activities encouraged by those attending the Colloquium.
Every year since 2005, Holguín has hosted the event in solidarity with René González, Ramón Labañino, Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González, who were working in the U.S. to protect the security of the Cuban people.
The Five, as they are known internationally, were arrested in the United States in 1998 and given heavy sentences for monitoring anti-Cuban terrorist organizations operating from South Florida, such as the Cuban-American National Foundation, Brothers to the Rescue and Alpha 66.
After more than 13 years, four of the Five are still incarcerated, while René González has completed his prison sentence and is serving a three year probationary period of "supervised release" in the United States.
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Editor-in-chief: Lázaro Barredo Medina / Editor: Oscar Sánchez Serra.
Granma International: http://www.granma.cu/
Edited by John Dolva, 01 December 2011 - 03:30 PM.
Posted 17 December 2011 - 12:42 PM
- Olga Salanueva: I want you free ...
- Interview with Father Geoffrey Bottoms
- International Solidarity with Cuban Five Strengthened in the 7th International Colloquium for the Release of the Cuban Five and against Terrorism
- Giustino Di Celmo: The Five Symbolize Human Sensibility
- Cuban Five's Relatives Urge Barack Obama to Honor his Nobel Peace Title
Saul Landau encourages Boston activists to embrace cause of the Cuban Five
By Nancy Kohn, December 5, 2011
Boston: Saul Landau, internationally known scholar, author, commentator, and filmmaker on foreign and domestic policy issues was warmly received by 130 people at the Jamaica Plain Forum on Thursday evening, December 1st. The JP Forum hosts community conversations on the burning issues of the day, most often focused on growing economic inequality. It is a program of First Church Unitarian Universalist and the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies. Saul Landau has been a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies since 1972.
Saul introduced his latest film, "Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up?" This 2010 documentary chronicles half a century of hostile U.S.-Cuba relations and helps explain why the Cuban Five had to come to Miami in the mid-90′s to infiltrate the terrorist cells in south Florida bent on destroying Cuba.
One activist who attended commented that "hearing real people honestly talk was most revealing and amazing. I think it clearly showed the 5′s innocence."
A reviewer wrote about the undeclared war against Cuba: "Perhaps the best cinematic summary of this reality was rendered in the film by none other than the current chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who declared for all to see and hear that she would welcome the assassination of Fidel Castro. .. A U.S. Congresswoman asking for the murder of another country's leader — a most egregious, unbelievable demonstration of this undeclared war with Cuba." What makes this comment especially noteworthy is that it was written by Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired Colonel from the U.S. Army and Chief of Staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005. Wilkerson is interviewed twice in the film.
Also in the film, Antonio Veciana described three failed assassination plots he directed against Fidel Castro – with the help and encouragement of the CIA. In 1960, Maurice Bishop had recruited Veciana for CIA dirty trick operations in Havana. Veciana described how the CIA, working with the Catholic Church, forged a Cuban "law" in which the revolutionary government would substitute for parental authority. Using this forged document, CIA agents circulated the story throughout Cuba, and included an offer by the Catholic Church to bring Cuban children, ages 8-19, to the United States. As part of Operation Peter Pan, 14,000 Cuban children, mostly from the propertied class, got smuggled out of Cuba between 1960 and 1962. Veciana also told Landau that on April 13, 1961, his agents torched El Encanto, Havana's largest department store.
Following the film, Landau was asked why he had not provided more in depth information about the Cuban Five. He explained that despite many formal requests, he was never allowed to interview inside any of the federal penitentiaries where the five Cubans have been incarcerated since 1998. He did speak of his many visits with Gerardo Hernandez who is serving two life sentences at Victorville prison. He said that he had never met anyone of such internal strength and integrity.
Landau also answered questions about the unconscionable decision by Judge Joan Lenard of Miami, which prevents Rene Gonzalez, the first of the five to have served out his sentence, from being allowed to return to his homeland. Saul said it is obvious that Rene's life is in grave danger in south Florida where he has been told he must now serve 3 years of supervised release.
At the end of the evening, more than 100 people signed a petition to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting his intervention in the case of Rene Gonzalez. Holder's family is from Barbados, so the cover letter accompanying the petition reminded him of the first mid-air bombing of a civilian airplane that occurred in 1976 when a Cubana Airliner was downed after taking off from Barbados. The letter stated, "We should all be horrified by that act and understand why Cuba needed eyes and ears in Miami to prevent further attacks."
As people left the church they took postcards to send to President Obama and to the Attorney General. All were encouraged to write letters to editors about the Five and to take magnets reminding them that on the 5th of every month they need to contact President Obama to demand the immediate return of René Gonzalez to his homeland and to immediately free all of the Cuban 5.
The audience was made up primarily of activists involved in a host of issues. Some acknowledged that they are sometimes cynical about the difference that a petition or a postcard campaign can make. It was helpful to point out that three of the five Cuban heroes had their sentences greatly reduced in 2009 because of international pressure that called into question the prosecutorial misconduct in the court case. Every public act of solidarity that can be made to break the silence that surrounds the terrible injustice of the Cuban Five is worth making.
Posted 19 December 2011 - 04:03 AM
Due to the U.S. government's denial to approve visas, Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo and Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert have not seen their wives since their incarceration!! Others in the Cuban 5 have not seen their parents, wives and children with regularity. The U.S. government has taken prolonged periods of time to issue them visas.
The U.S. government's denial of visitation rights is a cruel and horrible form of psychological torture. Their rationale for denial is ridiculous and baseless; none of these family members are a threat to national security.
We are asking people to fax or mail out this letter to Ms. Navanetham Pillay, The NEW High Commissioner of Human Rights of the Office for Human Rights-United Nations Office at Geneva. We are asking her to intercede on behalf of the Cuban 5's mothers/wives to pressure the U.S. government to
grant them VISAs to visit their husbands/sons!!
Sign it and mail/fax to: Ms. Navanetham Pillay, High Commissioner of Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights-United Nations Office at Geneva 8-14 Avenue de la Paix 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland Fax: + 41 22 917 9011
Sign it and mail/fax to:
Ms. Navanetham Pillay, High Commissioner of Human Rights
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights-United Nations Office at Geneva
8-14 Avenue de la Paix 1211
Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 917 9011
Edited by John Dolva, 19 December 2011 - 04:06 AM.
Posted 19 December 2011 - 06:05 AM
Introduction to the case
• Who are the Cuban Five?
• What you can do to help
• Write the Five
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Posted 27 December 2011 - 03:21 PM
Forty-three prisoners of conscience were released throughout the year. The rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly continued to be restricted and scores of critics of one-party government were harassed. The US embargo against Cuba remained in force.
Prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo died on 23 February following a prolonged hunger strike. He was one of 75 people arrested during a crackdown by the authorities in March 2003, and was serving a 36-year prison term at the time of his death. A few months later, between July and December, the Cuban government released 41 prisoners of conscience following an agreement with the Spanish government and dialogue with the Catholic Church. All of those released, except one, left Cuba with their relatives.
In October the Council of the EU decided to maintain its Common Position on Cuba for another year. This calls on the Cuban government to improve respect for human rights.
The visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on torture was postponed on at least two further occasions during 2010. The Cuban authorities had extended an invitation to the Special Rapporteur to visit the country in 2009.
Cuba had not ratified the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by the end of the year, despite having given an undertaking to do so at the UN Human Rights Council in February 2009.
In October, Raúl Castro announced the next Congress of Cuba’s Communist Party for April 2011, the first to take place in 16 years.
Freedom of expression – dissidents and journalists
All media remained under state control, impeding Cubans’ free access to independent sources of information. Content on and access to the internet continued to be monitored and, on occasion, blocked. Police and state security officials continued to intimidate and harass independent journalists, scores of whom were arrested and imprisoned only to be released days or weeks later without charge or trial. Many of the detainees reported that they were put under pressure to stop taking part in dissident activities, such as anti-government demonstrations, or sending reports to foreign media outlets.
• Calixto Ramón Martínez, a journalist for the independent news agency Hablemos Press, was arrested on 23 April as he tried to cover a private function in Havana in honour of Orlando Zapata Tamayo. Calixto Ramón Martínez was released the following day, but rearrested moments later. He was detained at a police station for seven days and then transferred to Valle Grande, a maximum security prison on the outskirts of Havana. He was released on 14 May and threatened with charges of “contempt of authority” and “aggression”. State security officials also asked him to stop his reporting activities.
Prisoners of conscience
Eleven prisoners of conscience from the group of the 75 arrested in March 2003, remained in prison at the end of 2010.
• Darsi Ferrer, who had been arrested in July 2009, was finally brought to trial on 22 June 2010. He was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and three months’ “correctional work” outside the prison after being found guilty of receiving “illegally obtained goods” and “violence or intimidation against a state official”. He was immediately released as he had already been held in prison for almost a year. Amnesty International considered Darsi Ferrer to be a prisoner of conscience held on politically motivated charges brought by the state in reprisal for his human rights activism.
Dissidents continued to be arbitrarily detained in order to prevent them from exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
• On 15 February, Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, José Cano Fuentes and other members of the Eastern Democratic Alliance were arrested by state security officials in Guantánamo and held in detention to prevent them from taking part in the Alliance’s anniversary celebrations. They were released without charge four days later.
• On 12 August, state security officials detained Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina, his brother Rolando, and three other members of the organization Youth for Democracy at Néstor Rodríguez’ house in the town of Baracoa, Guantánamo Province. The five were protesting at the arrest of two other members of the organization at the time. The two initial detainees were released on 16 August without charges while Néstor Rodríguez Lobaina and the four others were released after nearly three weeks in detention and warned that they would be charged with “public disorder”. However, no formal charges had been filed against the five men by the end of the year.
Prisoners of conscience
At the end of the year, 55 prisoners of conscience continued to be detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
Human rights activists Ivonne Malleza Galano and her husband Ignacio Martínez Montejo continue to be held without charge since their arrest on 30 November. They were detained for staging a peaceful demonstration in a park in Havana City, Cuba.
Eleven members of a dissident organization and three of their relatives have been detained, without being told of any charges against them, since their arrest on 28 August 2011 in Cuba. They have not been allowed access to their families.
22 August 2011
Cuba’s ‘Ladies in White’ targeted with arbitrary arrest and intimidation
The Cuban authorities must end their intimidation of a group of women campaigning for the release of political prisoners, Amnesty International said after 19 of the group’s members were re-arrested yesterday.
The latest detentions took place yesterday in and near the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, where the women were due to march silently and pray for the end of political imprisonment.
Over the last month, the “Ladies in White” (Damas de Blanco) and their supporters have repeatedly faced arbitrary arrest and physical attacks as they staged protests in several towns in the region.
“The ongoing harassment of these courageous women has to stop. The Cuban authorities must allow them to march peacefully and to attend religious services as they wish,” said Javier Zuñiga, Special Advisor at Amnesty International.
The latest arrests took place as “Ladies in White” gathered in several locations to make their way to a planned march at the Cathedral in Santiago de Cuba.
Eleven of the “Ladies in White” gathered yesterday morning at the home of a supporter in the town of Palma Soriano. A crowd of some 100 people, including police, officials and government supporters, surrounded the house for several hours.
When the women attempted to leave, police pushed them and pulled their hair before forcing them into buses. They were driven a few kilometres away where they were transferred to police cars and dropped near their hometowns in the provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Holguín.
See also http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/cuba
EDIT - Formatted for clarity
Edited by Len Colby, 27 December 2011 - 03:41 PM.
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