Archive for June, 2010

Case of the Cuban Five Is a Breach of Justice, Says US Retired Colonel

June 19, 2010

Case of the Cuban Five Is a Breach of Justice, Says US Retired Colonel

 US Col. (Ret.) Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s
former chief of staff, said the case of the five Cuban antiterrorists who
remain unjustly imprisoned in the United States is “an egregious breach of
justice.”
   The Cuban Five —as Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero,
Ramon Labañino and Fernando Gonzalez are internationally known— were
arrested in 1998 and given harsh sentences for monitoring anti-Cuba
extremist groups in South Florida that were planning and carrying out
terrorist attacks against the island.
   According to the website www.antiterroristas.cu, Wilkerson said that
“there are just so many violations of what I would call justice, fair
play, in the course of putting these people in prison. And to give someone
two life sentences for essentially trying to protect his country against
people in Florida?”
   Speaking to The Real News Network, he mentioned that the FBI recently
discovered a whole cache of munitions in southern Florida, including
dynamite, machine guns, small arms and grenades used by the CIA to train
Cuban-Americans in the 1960s for the invasion of Cuba.
   Wilkerson also criticized Cuba’s inclusion in the US State Sponsors of
Terrorism list. “And we have Posada Carriles, who killed 70-plus Cubans on
an airliner he bombed, in Miami, living scot-free,” he said in reference
to international and self-confessed terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, who
masterminded, among many other crimes, the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cuban
airliner off the coast of Barbados that killed all 73 people on board.

Press Release by Cuban Delegation to Migration Talks with the United States

 The Cuban News Agency reproduces a press
release issued by the Cuban delegation to the migration talks between Cuba
and the United States held on Friday, June 18, in Washington.

On June 18, 2010, a Cuban delegation headed by the Deputy Minister for
Foreign Affairs, Dagoberto Rodríguez, attended a new round of migration
talks with the United States Government. The U.S. delegation was headed by
Craig Kelly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western
Hemisphere Affairs.
   The meeting took place in an atmosphere of respect. Both delegations
evaluated the evolution of the migration accords in force between the two
countries. They also held a fruitful discussion on the establishment of
more efficient mechanisms of cooperation to combat illegal alien
smuggling. The Cuban delegation suggested to organize workshops between
experts of both countries to cope with the use of false traveling documents.
   Deputy Foreign Minister Dagoberto Rodríguez expressed: “During this
round, progress was made in the identification of aspects that will allow
us to enhance the combat against aliens smuggling, which validates the
usefulness of these meetings.”
   Likewise, the Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister reiterated that human
smuggling could not be eradicated nor a legal, safe and orderly migration
between the two countries could be achieved as long as the Cuban
Adjustment Act and the wet foot/dry foot policy remain in force.
   The Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister further added that “these components
of the U.S. migration policy towards Cuba contravene the spirit and the
letter of the Migration Accords. They are also the main incentive to
illegal departures from Cuba and the trafficking in persons, since they
ensure that all Cuban citizens arriving illegally in U.S. territory are
automatically accepted in that country, regardless of the ways and means
used in the pursuance of this objective, which may include the use of
violence and the risking of the lives of persons by unscrupulous traffickers.”
   The Cuban delegation invited the U.S. delegation to continue holding
these discussions in Havana by the end of 2010.

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A Goal in the Media War against Cuba

June 19, 2010

Distortion: A Goal in the Media War against Cuba (I)
By Miguel Jose Maury Guerrero – acnnews

Media outlets, mainly European and also from the United States, allies or
independent from the extreme right wing powers continue their war against
Cuba.
The alleged human rights violations on the island continue at the center
of interests in the media outlets, slander insistence of course, ignoring
the thousands of examples that justify the contrary.

The current media war against Cuba technically includes many aspects, but
the most curious and used for over five decades by the United States to
attack the island is the terminology used in accordance to Washington´s
interest and needs at the moment.
This is what history shows us of the anti Cuba insistence on the issue.
At the time, the terms “friendly government” and “ally” were used by the
US media regarding the bloody tyranny of Fulgencio Batista, defeated in
1959 by the rebel army.

While the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro and the Rebel Army, were
according to those same media outlets at the time, “subversive” and even
more insulting: “fugitive” or “bandits”, characterized the same by the
real bandits they were fighting against.
The explosion of the French vessel La Coubre in Havana Port on March 4th,
1960 was justified by the press as an “accident” by those same media
outlets attempting to hide the truth.
The surprise air attack on April 15th, 1961 against the airports in Ciudad
Libertad located in Havana and Santiago de Cuba that served as a prelude
to the mercenary invasion at the Bay of Pigs was the great surprise in the
US press, “an uprising of the Cuban Air Force against Castro”.
The new sabotages against sugar plantations during the 1960’s and 1970’s,
mostly provoked by aircrafts flying from US territory were simply “forest
fires that affected the sugar industry”.
The viruses introduced in the country by the laboratories of the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) attacked animals, crops and the Cuban population
itself inflicted a large number of deaths, including children, never
received any coverage from the US media and were simply considered
“epidemics”.
The bandits that were supported by the CIA in the Escambray mountain range
during the 60’s were considered “freedom fighters” or “anti Castro rebels”
in the US press.

This terminology survived until today to call what many critics of the so
called US anti terrorist crusade have called “good terrorists”.
Certain terrorist are termed as “freedom fighters” like Luis Posada
Carriles and Orlando Bosch, two renowned assassins protected by the White
House in the era of the anti terrorist crusade which began in 2001.
For those large media outlets, television channels, radio, press agencies
and magazines, the current leaders of the Revolution are the “Castro elite”.
The anti Cuban media war, location and use of the slanderous or distorted
terminology, although old tactics are being used once again.

Cuban Medical Cooperation in 77 Countries

 (acn)—Cuba´s Deputy Health Minister Dr. Luis Estruch
Rancaño said on Thursday in Havana that a total of 37 041 Cuban health
professionals are currently offering their services in 77 countries.
The health official made the statement during the 8th International
Congress on Disasters underway at the Convention Center.
He pointed out that since the creation of the Henry Reeve International
Medical Contingent in September of 2005 by the leader of the Revolution
Fidel Castro, the group has already carried out 12 missions aiding victims
of earthquakes, flooding and other catastrophic situations in Guatemala,
Pakistan, Bolivia, Indonesia, Belize, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, China, Haiti,
El Salvador and Chile.
The Health Deputy Minister highlighted the particular case of Haiti where
Cuban health personnel are aiding the victims of the devastating
earthquake that hit that Caribbean nation last January.
The medical group include 66 percent of Cuban doctors and paramedics and
34 percent are personnel from 22 nations that have graduated from the
Havana based Latin American School of Medicine.
He stressed that Cuba has also contributed in the creation of new Medical
Schools abroad, while at this moment there are 240 professors offering
classes in 15 countries.
Estruch indicated that if Cuba can currently offer this level of
cooperation it is because the island has a rich human capital trained by
the Revolution as well as a health system that is available to all its
citizens.
Among some of the participants to the 8th International Congress on
Disasters that will run until Friday in Havana are, the Secretary of State
for Social Assistance and Natural Disasters of East Timor, Jacinto
Rigoberto Gomes; Paraguay´s Executive Minister of Social Action, Pablino
Cáceres; Regional Coordinator of the International Atomic Energy Agency,
Anita Nilsson; the representative of the UN´s Coordination Office on
Humanitarian Affairs, Vladimir Sakhorov and the head of Peru´s Civil
Defense, General Luis Felipe Paulino Rodriguez.

Leonard Weinglass on habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Gerardo Hernández

June 17, 2010

Interview with Leonard Weinglass, attorney for Gerardo Hernández

by Gloria La Riva
June 15, 2010
Exclusive to freethefive.org

It was announced yesterday that a habeas corpus petition was filed on behalf of Gerardo Hernández. What is a habeas corpus petition and why it is also known as collateral?

Following his conviction Gerardo had a right to appeal it to the circuit court of appeals in Atlanta, which he did and then seek a review in the U.S. Supreme Court, which he also did. That process is the direct appeal. When that process is completed, which it is in Gerardo’s case, then one has the right to launch a collateral appeal or a collateral attack, which is a very limited form of appeal (only constitutional issues not previously litigated, plus a claim of actual innocence)), in what was previously known as “federal habeas corpus.” Now it is called a “Section 2255,” motion. And that is where we are now.

We filed the section 2255 motion on June 14, with our brief to follow within 30 days, indicating those constitutional violations which had not been part of the previous appeal, and a claim of actual innocence.

Why is this a final appeal for Gerardo? Isn’t a habeas corpus without time limit or restrictions?

There is definitely a time limit on habeas corpus. You must file within one year of the last litigation event. In Gerardo’s case, that was when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected our petition for review on June 15, 2009. That gave us one year to June 14, 2010, to file the collateral attack or the habeas corpus. However, if it should come to pass, that even after this deadline is over, new evidence that was not previously available should arise, you can still go back to court in a very narrow band of opportunity and argue for actual innocence, which is what we are also arguing in these papers we have filed.

Any evidence of actual innocence or grevious government misconduct could possibly be a basis for going back to court even though we have a one-year statue of limitation.

Why is there a one year limit?

It was set by Congress i believe in 1996, and signed by President Clinton. There used to be no limitations on federal habeas but in the 1996 reform they set a one-year limit for filing. Many people feel it is unfair because what happens in a number of cases is that evidence surfaces after the one year deadline. Now a defendant is presumptively barred – unless he or she can convince the court of the right to accept a late filing, not easily done.

What court was Gerardo’s filed in and what are the next steps if it is denied?

The case is filed in the federal district court in Miami, which is the southern district court of Florida. That is the same district that had the trial. And ordinarily it goes back to the same judge. However, in the Miami practice – as well as in a number of other federal districts – the sitting judge frequently refers the motion to a magistrate and the magistrate examines the papers preliminarily and holds a hearing if necessary.

In certain cases which are complex, the federal district court trial judge could actually keep the case and have a hearing before herself or himself. We don’t know yet whether Judge Lenard, who was the trial judge, will keep this case for herself or whether she will refer it to a magistrate.

If the magistrate or judge believes it has merit what will happen?

If either one believes it has merit, an opinion is written. And in that opinion the court will set forth the remedy. The remedy we’re seeking of course is a new trial for Gerardo. Then you have the regular course of appeals should we lose. You can go back to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and they will review the case if the trial court or the appellate court certifies issues for review. And if you lose there, you can once again may petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

One of the issues of the appeal, is that of the journalists who were being paid without the defense knowing, journalists who were supposedly independent but were receiving money from Radio and TV Martí.

This is a classic case of newly-discovered evidence of a constitutional dimension. The trial occurred in the period of 2000 and 2001. No one knew that these journalist were being paid by the government at that time. But in 2006 it was revealed that in fact some of the regular reporting journalists were also on the payroll of the federal government in connection with Radio and TV Martí. Since that was not revealed until 2006, it is newly-discovered evidence. Since it is evidence of the government’s manipulations of attitudes within the community, it is of a constitutional dimension since it violated Gerardo’s constitutional right to a fair trial.

And it is a violation of due process. So in our papers we are citing the 2006 revelation, and all the excellent work that has been done by the National Committee to give substance to these revelations and to also seek under the Freedom of Information Act, further information which is still forthcoming to buttress the claim.

There is still additional information, as the litigation under the Freedom of Information Act proceeds, to develop more and more information on these journalists, their agreements with the government, what they did, and under whose auspices.

We expect the case will be in the district court for at least six months, probably longer. So as we get new information it can be added to the papers we’ll be filing this and next month.

You have a long history defending people who were prosecuted for being involved in social justice issues. How do you see the case of the Cuban five in the context of your history defending political prisoners?

This case is very similar to those cases. Once you have a prosecution where the government has a political interest in the outcome, there’s always a strong likelihood that steps will taken that were improper in initiating and prosecuting the case.. And steps were taken here that were not known at the time of the trial but became known later.

We are going to be finding additional information that the government withheld, that they didn’t provide, that they used to manipulate this process in order to gain a conviction. As has happened in past cases, this is going to be a revelatory process where we’re going to find out things that were not known at the time of the trial and which only became known later through additional prodding and pressure.

What attorneys are involved in the appeals?

Most of the attorneys have remained in the case, and others have joined.

That is a typical process. Frequently, as in the case of Tom Goldstein, you need the special expertise of an attorney who practices before a particular court. Goldstein of course is an expert in U.S. Supreme Court litigation. He teaches seminars at both Harvard and Stanford on supreme court litigation.

When we got to the level of the Supreme Court we turned to Tom Goldstein and we used all of his expertise to good advantage, although we were not successful there.

With respect to myself, I came into the case in 2003, seven years ago, at the point was about to be heard on appeal. My work injury selection and venue was needed at that time and I became an appellate lawyer arguing the issue of venue and jury selection, which virtually succeeded, in the first go-around, but it was reversed by the en banc court a year later.

As the case moves up through various stages, there are various requirements and certain lawyers have certain skill sets that meet those requirements.

Some people have asked if there is any relief after the final appeal, is there any relief, any courts in the international arena available to the Five?

In May of 2005 a subcommittee of the Human Rights Committee of the UN the sub on arbitrary detention did issue an opinion by five judges that the venue violated international norms of due process, and they urged the US to move the case to another venue The us of course did not respond. There are other venues, in other courts, the inter-American court on human rights, after all of our appeals have been exhausted and we no longer have any rights to go into any American court.

We can then appeal to international courts. The Int’l Court on Human Rights in Latin America is the one we would probably go to.

No actual enforcement of courts. They have ruled in the past with respect to Mexican American men who are on death row and have not been given their rights to counsel under the Warsaw Pact.

We are talking about law and legal issues. What other means do you think there is to win justice for the Cuban Five?

The filing on June 14 was behalf of Gerardo Hernandez. His case now is exemplary in terms of the need for intervention by international bodies, organizations and individuals, because he is serving two life sentences plus 15 years, in a situation where most would acknowledge he is innocent of the charges. Also he is the first person in U.S. history to be charged for the shootdown of an aircraft by the armed forces of another country.

This has never happened before. And I would say with respect to him being actually innocent: This is also an unprecedented case in that the United States prosecutors acknowledged at the end of the trial in an emergency appeal to the appellate courts that they did not have sufficient evidence, they called it an “unsurmountable obstacle” to gaining a conviction in his case. That appeal was rejected by the Circuit Court. The case was submitted of course to a Miami Jury and evidence was not apparently necessary for that jury to convict.

So under ordinary U.S. law, Gerardo is clearly demonstrably innocent of these charges but it is also an unprecedented case internationally where an individual has been singled out for prosecution as a result of a sovereign country using its military force tot protect its borders.

Gerardo’s case is really one that calls for interventions by non-judicial, non-legal bodies and people interested in human rights around the globe.

What message do you have for Gerardo and for the movement?

I spoke to Gerardo two days ago, he called me from his maximum security prison in California. He wanted an update on where the case stood right now. He is a very strong, firm person who believes in his own innocence, his country, who believes he has done nothing wrong to violate any laws. He has been an exemplary prison, not a single violation in his 12 years living under the rigors of maximum-security confinement. He is hopeful that ultimately his case will see justice. And he looks to people outside to raise their voices, to make known their concern about his plight. He feels extraordinarily confident that ultimately, he will be vindicated.

Good ? notice : Ramón finally in better ? conditions !

June 17, 2010
Good ? notice : Ramón finally in better ? conditions !
 
write to:
 
Luis Medina ( his arrest name)
U.S. PENITENTIARY ATLANTA
P.O. BOX 150160
ATLANTA, GA 30315
USA

E.U. postpones any decisions on Cuba pending dialogue between Church, state

June 15, 2010

The Spanish minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, on Monday announced in Luxembourg that the European Union would not approve any conclusions on Cuba, to give time for the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Cuban authorities to bring fruit.

Moratinos, who presides the current E.U. session, said the 27 foreign ministers in the organization unanimously agreed not to approve any conclusions on Monday, during the annual review of its relations with Cuba, and said he had accepted a mandate from his partners in the European community to continue a dialogue with Havana, with a view to making a new appraisal in September and possibly lifting the E.U’s “common position” toward the island.

Collateral Appeal Presented for Cuban Prisoner in the United States

June 15, 2010

-Luis Chirino – South Journal
–A collateral appeal (also known as habeas corpus) was filed in Miami Federal Court, June 14, in the name of Hero of the Republic of Cuba Gerardo Hernandez. This is the last legal recourse for him within the U.S. system, reads the article published on the website of the US National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
Gerardo Hernandez was arrested in September 1998 and sentenced in December 2001 to two life plus 15 years in jail. During the last 12 years Gerardo has been in maximum security prisons under a particularly severe regime and has been forbidden to receive visits from his wife, Adriana Perez. The U.S. government knows for a fact that he is absolutely innocent.
The article keeps reading that an important aspect of this appeal is the presentation of new evidence. Recently the U.S. National Committee to Free the Five, the civil rights organization Partnership for Civil Justice and the National Lawyers Guild prepared a well-documented denunciation on payments made by the U.S. government to reporters who, during the trial, were systematically slandering our comrades, instigating a hate campaign against them and harassing and threatening judges and jury members. The government payoffs were only discovered in 2006, five years after the trial was over.
Also included in the appeal will be the violations committed by the government with the handling and falsification of evidence and, in many cases, its concealment to obstruct justice.
Technical aspects in the performance of the defense will also be analyzed.
Regardless of the final results that can be achieved within the legal order, this process will allow us to demonstrate stronger legal bases for the innocence of our comrade, once again explain the procedural violations, the government’s prevarication throughout the entire process and how holding the trial in Miami was a denial of justice.
The collateral appeal is only in Gerardo’s name because his case was closed by the Supreme Court denial of review on June 14, 2009, and therefore he is left with only this extraordinary procedure. His four comrades still have other opportunities and resources that will be used by the defense.
We will keep fighting for justice for all of them. We will continue demanding freedom for Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.
Each day they spend in prison is an affront to justice. Gerardo himself has said that justice will only come when rendered by a jury of millions. Many actions are needed to overcome the silence so that the American people can learn the truth and so insist that their government officials free the Five immediately and unconditionally.
It’s time to multiply the denunciations as well as the solidarity. Let’s demonstrate to Washington that, YES, we can. That for honest people it is not an empty slogan, but a demand that always will pursue them, the article concludes.
Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez and Antonio Guerrero infiltrated Florida-based ultra-right organizations that have undertaken terrorist actions against the Cuban people over the past 50 years. They were framed and condemned to unfair prison terms in biased Miami trial; the action that has been strongly rejected around the world. The Cuban Five as they are known are Heroes of the Republic of Cuba.

Habeas Corpus for Gerado: Extra time for Court

June 13, 2010

By Istvan Ojeda Bello

Adriana, Gerardo’s wife

The defense team of Gerardo Hernandez will apply for habeas corpus on June14, so the federal court in Miami now has extra time to reconsider the situation of this prisoner.

Habeas Corpus is an ancient common law prerogative writ – a legal
procedure to which you have an undeniable right. It is an extraordinary remedy at law. Upon proper application, or even on naked knowledge alone, a court is empowered, and is duty bound, to issue the Extraordinary Writ of Habeas Corpus commanding one who is restraining liberty to forthwith produce before the court the person who is in custody and to show why the liberty of that person is being restrained.

The goal of defense is to get U.S. authorities to reconsider the case.

Gerardo, confined to a maximum security penitentiary in Adelanto,
California, could spend a lifetime in prison because he was sentenced
in 2001 to two life sentences plus 15 years in prison for conspiracy
to commit espionage, using a false identity, not being designated
as an agent of a foreign government and conspiracy to murder, the
latter an incredible accusation that the prosecution itself was unable to prove and confessed during the trial.

The above uniqueness of habeas corpus, together with anything
encouraging in the track record in Miami federal court in its decisions
related to Cuba, forcing to tread on eggshells when it comes to issuing any forecast about the possibility of a favorable decision.

The truth is that the political nature of this case indicates that the
executive power in a stroke could solve this case, removing a major
headache for the courts and, above all, doing something really
important to improve relations between both countries.

Rarely does the court of a country have the opportunity again to prove
its commitment to justice. Of course it has to thank both the enormous movement of solidarity that has never left the Five, and a
defense team that confirms its determination to exploit any formula to
end the injustice done to a Cuban anti-terrorist.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa Supports Release of the Cuban Five  
    Cuban News Agency 
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa reiterated on Monday his support of the release of five Cuban antiterrorists who remain unjustly imprisoned in the United States since 1998.
 During a meeting in Quito with Irma Sehwerert, mother of Rene Gonzalez “one of the five men internationally known as the Cuban Five”, Correa asked her to pass on greetings to her son.
According to Prensa Latina news agency, Irma also met with the Ecuadorean committee for the release of the Cuban Five. The encounter was attended by the Cuban ambassador in Quito, Benigno Perez, and by other Cuban diplomats.
Hernan Rivadeneira, president of the committee, said they will continue creating groups in solidarity with the Cuban antiterrorists in education centers, working places, towns and cities.
Irma thanked them for their support and praised the international movement of solidarity with the cause of the Cuban Five.
 

 http://www.antiterroristas.cu/,

No Change in EU’s Cuba Policy

June 12, 2010

Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Urges European Union to End Obsolete Policy towards Cuba
 (RHC).- Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called on the European Union on Thursday to change its obsolete position toward the island, saying that it amounted to meddling in Cuba’s internal affairs.
He said “The European Union’s common position must change because it amounts to interference and is obsolete.” Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez made these comments following talks in Paris with the European Union troika headed by his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos, who described the meeting as “constructive and positive.”
The Paris talks were held before a meeting Monday in Luxembourg of European foreign ministers who are to decide whether they want to change their so-called common position toward Cuba.
Spain, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, has argued that the position has yielded few results since it was adopted in 1996 and should be abandoned altogether.
According to a statement posted on the website of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Bruno Rodriguez reiterated Cuba’s willingness to strengthen cooperation and continue the political dialogue with the European Union on reciprocal, unconditional and non- discriminatory grounds; always respecting the principles of sovereignty and non- interference in domestic affairs.

         No Change in EU’s Cuba Policy
BRUSSELS – The European Union’s “common position” toward Cuba, which makes warmer relations with the “communist-ruled” island contingent on progress in human rights, will remain in place for now due to lack of unanimity in the 27-member EU on adopting a softer approach, Spanish official sources told Efe Friday.
They said opposition from Germany, France, the Czech Republic and Sweden is thwarting Spain’s aspiration to change the policy during its six-month term in the EU rotating presidency, which ends June 30.
Though the common position is set to remain in force, a source with the European Commission said next Monday’s discussion of the issue by EU foreign ministers will center on a “process of reflection taking into account the future of relations with Cuba.”
At the same time, the ministers’ formal findings will include “clear references” to human rights in Cuba and specifically to the February death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata after an 85-day hunger strike, European Commission sources said.
Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos met Thursday in Paris with Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodriguez, who told reporters afterward that Havana did not plan any concessions to induce the EU to change its policy.
Officials in Madrid say Spain’s bid to scrap the common position was derailed by a combination of Cuban President Raul Castro’s unwillingness to make gestures on human rights and the inflexibility of some EU nations.
The EU adopted the common position on Cuba in 1996 at the urging of then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, a conservative.
Since taking office in April 2004, the Socialist government of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has worked to improve Madrid’s relations with Havana while trying to persuade Spain’s EU partners to follow suit.
Spain says the EU should replace its unilateral stance toward Cuba with a genuinely bilateral relationship, but without abandoning the goals of fostering democracy and respect for human rights on the island.
Cuba’s foreign minister said Thursday that while the common position is an irritant, deciding whether to maintain the policy or change it is strictly an EU internal matter. EFE

The Cuban Five case is in the hands of the American People !

June 9, 2010

 Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Ramon Labañino, said
the case of the five Cuban political prisoners incarcerated in the US for
fighting terrorism, was “in the hands of the American people”
At the end of an activity to celebrate the birthdays of Gerardo Hernandez
and Ramon Labañino, two of the Cuban Five, organized by the Cuban
Friendship Institute (ICAP), Palmeiro gave a short interview to ACN news
agency to update the public on the latest developments of their case:

ACN: Elizabeth, you were recently on a European tour to meet activists in
favor of the release of the Cuban Five . Can you tell us a little about
this tour?
Elizabeth Palmeiro:  Two weeks ago I was at the European Solidarity with
the Five Convention.  It was a very good experience; there were a lot of
friends of the Cuban Revolution and new ones, because I was able to see
young people united in the fight for the release of the Five.
I was also in Turkey and Sofia, Bulgaria.   I met with members of the
Bulgarian Parliament and from the Bulgarian Socialist Party.  In Turkey I
was also able to see members of the parliament and the head of the
Cuba-Turkey Inter-Parliamentary Commission and people from Istanbul and
the Cuba-Turkey Friendship Association.
They carried out lots of activities in solidarity with Cuba and the Cuban
Five.   For me it was very good, because I was able to see many friends
that I had met in other countries and was able to see others that I had
not met in person but had some kind of contact with them, email and even
by phone.  They all agreed in uniting their effects in favor of the Five
during the solidarity conference.

ACN: Is there anything left in the legal aspect of the case?
E.P: All our hopes are in the hands of the millions of people around the
world that are untied in the campaign.
That is why I told them that I need them unite and keep in touch work
together.  What is most important is to mobilize the public opinion in the
United States. They do a lot in their own country, Europe is important,
but we need to focus our actions toward the US government to change its
position and mobilize the public opinion.
Barack Obama has the executive power to sign the release the Five, but he
will never do that on his own conviction, he must be pressured, not only
from abroad but within the United States.
All our friends at the solidarity convention in Europe agreed with that
and they assured me and the relatives of the Five that they will do
everything in their power to mobilize the US public opinion.

ACN: Do you think that the people in the United States will finally know
the truth?
E.P: Some day they will know the truth but it all depends on the media. I
am an optimistic person and I know that they will be aware some day of the
case of the Cuban Five.  I don’t know when, that is why I am asking our
friends to increase their solidarity and their action in favor of the five
anti terrorist fighters.
The case is in the hands of the American people, the release of the Five
is also in the hands of President Obama who can sign their pardon.  For
the public opinion in the US is very important. I know that once they get
into the core of this case, they will support their freedom.
The US is sending young people to fight terrorism abroad in Afghanistan
and Iraq, but they have terrorists in their own soil like Luis Posada
Carriles who is living in Miami, Orlando Bosch is also living in Miami, so
I think that once the American people know the reality, they will support
the cause of the Five and open their eyes to the double standard of their
government in the so call war on terror.  The real reason of this so
called war is economic and not to protect their national security.

ACN:  Have you heard from Ramon recently?
E.P: I had not received any information from Ramon for about a month; he
is now in the “hole” waiting for his transfer.  We expect him to be out in
a few days.  I know he is ok; he called me on May 30th after a long period
without hearing from him.

I Love him, Ramón, like the first Day

June 9, 2010
Elizabeth Palmeiro, wife of Ramón Labañino, one of the five Cubans
unjustly imprisoned in the United States, opens its heart to the readers
to share views on 20 years of marriage, whose anniversary was marked this
June 2.
 
Although the old tango by Gardel and La Pera persists in saying that
twenty years is nothing, for Elizabeth Palmeiro is a long time, in the
midst of the circumstances in which she has lived two decades of marriage
with Ramon Labañino.
 
If you had the opportunity to send a message to Ramon for these 20 years
of marriage, what would you tell him?
 
– That I love him as the first day. I would reaffirm him that I will be by
his side no matter what, supporting him in this situation and that my
love, far from diminishing from such sorrow, pain and the enormous
frustration that exists in this circumstance, grew. These things I would
repeat to him as simply as ever.
 
– Ramon is more romantic (than me). He writes poems, very nice letters,
and although I am more timid on that side, I prove it to him with deeds,
with works of love I do for him, like keep going with the family and our
daughters.
 
The wife of the Cuban hero Ramón Labañino, unjustly imprisoned since 1998
in the United States, where he is serving an unjust sentence of 30 years,
opened his heart to ACN  in this anniversary that could not be celebrated
on Wednesday June 2. Ramon, with his brothers Gerardo Hernández, René
González, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, is deprived of his
liberty because of fighting the terrorism that, from the US, is prepared
against Cuba.
 
How do you deal with these 20 years of marriage with Ramon?
 
– It is not in the best of circumstances, because Ramon, has been in
solitary confinement for more than a month in the Mc Creary prison, after
he got the documentation to be moved to a lesser security facility,
according to the sentence of 30 years that was imposed on him last December.
 
– We spoke over the phone on April 25 for my birthday, and he took the
opportunity to congratulate me for Mother’s Day, and on the 27 they put
him in the hole, for safety reasons, he was told by the prison
authorities, to wait for the transfer.
 
– The last call he made was on May 30, a month later and he told me that
he didn’t know when he was being transferred.
 
– You can imagine that in the midst of so many celebrations, this
situation happens, about the time to celebrate Mother’s Day, our wedding
anniversary, his birthday on June 9, the month in which we also celebrate
Father’s Day, and this uncertainty of not knowing when we will be able to
restore communication.
 
What do you feel in the midst of this isolation Ramon is subject to?
 
– You imagine how I can be in the middle of such a rare situation, unable
to communicate normally, and the correspondence that comes when it can.
I’m not in the mood to celebrate.
 
– The only thing I have left is the satisfaction of having withstood all
the pressures and the efforts of our enemies to destroy the family,
because the purpose of unjustly having them in jail, among other things,
other than pouring all the hatred they have on the Cuban people on these
five men, is also to destroy them as human beings and destroy their
families, through isolation and distance.
 
– But they haven’t succeed and we got to these 20 years as on the first
day when he had to leave the house and I was pregnant of the older girl,
Laura, who is now 17 years, and he spent 18 months without seeing her.
 
– Little by little I grew accustomed to having Ramon away, but never too
far, despite the distance he was always present.
 
Of Ramon, the husband, what do you remember the most in these 20 years?
 
 – Ramon and I had a very short time of coexistence, because he, within a
mere three years of marriage, began to carry out these missions against
the enemies of Cuba, which kept him away from the house, and it required
much patience and understanding from the two to cope with that situation
 – We both knew that he could not help me much in many normal things that
a man does in the house, but I’ve always said, that a man is good in a
house, even to argue with. We didn’t have the normal dynamics of a family,
although we have been able to fulfil the dreams of any marriage, but in
very abnormal conditions.
 
 – I had to be alone with the girls, Laura first, Lisbeth later, who met
her father in prison, and I had to face everything, but I was always
supported by him, very involved in his life.
 
Did you go over these years in your wedding anniversary?
 
– The worst that can happen is to go over these 20 years, because there
are many beautiful moments we shared together. Reviewing them now can
sadden you a little and there is no reason for sadness.
 
– There are better reasons to cheer yourself up, to grow stronger, to
further increase the love we have for each other, to endure what we still
have to go through, that no one can say how long it will be, but what is
real is that the conviction of Ramon is 30 years, and if we don’t achieve
the great movement of international solidarity to take the Five from
prison, is a long way that I have left.
 
 Is this anniversary a day of reflection?
 
 – Maybe it can be a day to reflect for other couples, but I do not want
to think much, because this has been very hard and it caused years to fly,
so fast. I did not do the math and it has been 20 years.
 – What I do want to do is to prepare for the future and to be well, and
not to think on what I have lost or what I have not enjoyed with him.
 – I repeat that I will be to the bitter end by his side, always
supporting him and loving him as on the first day.
( By Miguel Fernandez Martinez )

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