Archive for July, 2010

Wife of Imprisoned Cuban Antiterrorist Still Banned from Visiting Him in US

July 31, 2010

Olga Salanueva, wife of Rene Gonzalez —one of
five Cuban antiterrorists who remain unjustly imprisoned in the United
States since 1998—, said on Thursday that Washington continues to ban her
from visiting him in prison and that only the permanent struggle of Cuba
and the international community will lead to the release of Rene and his
four comrades: Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino and
Gerardo Hernandez.
   After participating in a meeting of the Foreign Relations Commission
of the Cuban Parliament on Thursday, Salanueva told ACN that the US State
Department continues to deny her a visa to enter the United States to
visit her husband.
   In reference to her repeated visa requests to the US Interests Section
in Havana, she noted that they even denied her a humanitarian parole.
   Salanueva pointed out that in 2011 her husband will have served 85% of
her 15-year sentence although US laws provide that he has to stay in US
territory for three more years because he is an American citizen.
    “However,” she said, “we should work hard to have all five of them
back. We can’t sit and wait for the US authorities to release them one by
one.”

Gerardo Hernández needs our help!

July 30, 2010

Gerardo Hernández has been put into “the hole” despite having committed no infractions, has been denied proper access to attorneys preparing his habeas corpus appeal, and has been denied urgently needed medical treatment. Read more about the story below. Please lend your voice to getting proper treatment for Gerardo by sending this email.

Use the form below to send emails to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and to the Warden of Victorville Prison, demanding proper treatment for Gerardo.

To contact President Obama with this same message, you can do so with this contact information:

President Barack Obama
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Phone Number: 202-456-1111
Fax Number: 202-456-2461
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

I demand proper treatment for prisoner Gerardo Hernandez

It is my understanding that prisoner Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, #58739-004, has been put into “the hole” for more than a week, despite having committed no infractions. His attorneys, who are in the midst of preparing an important habeas corpus appeal for him, have been denied proper access which would allow them to prepare that appeal. Additionally, he has been refused access to urgently needed medical attention.
                
This treatment of prisoner Hernandez is inhumane and unwarranted, and comes on top of nearly twelve years of unjustly being denied visits by his wife, Adriana Perez. I lend my voice to those demanding that you immediately return Hernandez to the general prison population, allow his attorneys proper access to him in order to prepare his appeal, and provide him with urgently needed medical attention.

Sincerely,

———

Alarcón: USA Responsible for Health of Cuban Anti-Terrorist
By Héctor Miranda
July 28, 2010 Reprinted from Prensa Latina
Havana, Jul 28 (Prensa Latina) Ricardo Alarcon, President of the National Assembly of People’s Power of Cuba, held the United States responsible for the health of anti-terrorist Gerardo Hernandez, unjustly held in a US prison and suffering from physical problems.
Gerardo’s health is in danger and the United States is responsible for this situation, warned Alarcon at Havana’s Convention Center, where parliamentary permanent committees are currently meeting prior to the fifth period of sessions of the seventh legislature of the Cuban Parliament.
Alarcon added that justice is being obstructed in the case of Gerardo, as he has been put in solitary confinement in the prison of Victorville, California, without having committed any indiscipline
In Alarcon’s opinion, this is a very serious situation because the prisoner not only is in the hole, but under conditions of punishment in a very small cell, with no ventilation except for a tiny hole in the upper part of the wall of the cell shared with another inmate.
“The US Government is aware that Gerardo has some physical ailments for which he has been requesting medical examination since April,” commented Alarcon, who noted that only on July 20th was he allowed to see a doctor.
The next day he was taken to the hole, a two-meter long, one-meter wide cell, where temperatures reach over 35 degrees, despite the fact that he had been diagnosed with several still untreated problems.
Gerardo seems to be having problems with a bacteria that, according to the doctor who saw him, was circulating among the prison population, with some very serious cases, though it is not known if this is his specific situation because he has not had any tests.
Gerardo also appears to be having problems with his blood pressure. He is a young man, just 45, but he has been under very difficult, tense conditions for 12 years now, he recalled.
Alarcon expressed his concern for the health of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighter, above all because he has no medical care.
“We have protested to the US State Department and have had no reply. Not only is he in that hole, but under conditions of punishment,” recalled Alarcon.
He warned that Gerardo is without communication with his lawyers, at the very time that appeal procedures are being carried out, a situation that has been constantly repeated throughout the entire process.
“Gerardo should be working with his lawyers with evidence to back up the habeas corpus. This is known by the US Government and still at this moment he is without contact with his lawyers, without corresponsence, completely isolated, and on top of that he is ill, involving risks for his physical integrity, stated Alarcon.

ACT NOW ! for Gerardo…

July 30, 2010

For Over A Week Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo Has Been Held In The Hole At Victorville Prison Without Committing Any Infraction
Once Again the US government has imposed another cruel punishment against Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban 5 imprisoned in the US for fighting against terrorism.
On July 21st, without committing any infraction, Gerardo was taken to the hole. The hole is an inhumane windowless space of 7 x 3 feet reserved for prisoners who the prison authorities, for what ever reason, want to isolate. Gerardo is sharing this small space with another prisoner and there is very little ventilation because the air comes from just a small vent on the top of a wall. Temperatures in Victorville are running as high as 105 degrees now and in the space of this tiny cell it is around 95 degrees. He is not allowed to take a shower and is being taken outside in a cage only one hour every other day. Gerardo has been seen by his sister Isabel through a glass with a phone.
Although Gerardo is still young, 12 years of living in high security penitentiaries is taking its toll and recently Gerardo began experiencing some health issues including high blood pressure.  In April he requested a medical appointment and finally on July 20, three months later, he was seen by a doctor. Currently there is a bacterium that is circulating through the prison with some of those cases being serious. The doctor had prescribed a blood test for Gerardo but instead of receiving that he was abruptly taken to the hole the next day. 
This new harassment against Gerardo takes place at a critical time when he is preparing his Habeas Corpus presented to the courts in June. It is alarming that this is the third time that Gerardo has found himself in the hole while preparing for an appeal.
The violations against Gerardo are endless and it has to stop immediately. During 12 years he has been denied the basic right to receive visits from his wife Adriana.  Gerardo like his four brothers is innocent and the United States knows that his only crime was to defend his country against terrorist attacks. 
Instead of freeing them and sending them back to their homeland and their families, as has been demanded by the Cuban people, 10 Nobel Prize and thousands of people from all over the world, the Obama Administration has picked up where Bush left off by punishing Gerardo at every turn. 
Along with the Cuban people and the international community we hold the US government responsible for the life and physical integrity of Gerardo.
It is very important for every supporter of the Cuban Five and all justice loving people who receive this message to call, fax, mail or e-mail immediately to the  numbers and addresses below to demand that Gerardo be:

Returned immediately to the general population
Receive urgent medical attention
Allowed visits by his wife Adriana Perez
Given space and respect as he prepares for his appeals

US State Department
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Phone Number: 1-202-647-4000
Fax Number: 1-202-647-2283     
 
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Director Harley G. Lappin
320 First St., NW,
Washington, DC  20534
Phone Number: 202-307-3198.
E-mail: info@bop.gov
 
President Barack Obama
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Phone Number: 202-456-1111
Fax Number: 202-456-2461.
E-mail: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
 
US Justice Department
Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Phone Number: 202-514-2000
Comment Line: 202-353-1555
E-mail: AskDOJ@usdoj.gov.

Washington is Responsible for Weakening Health of Cuban Prisoner, says Parliament President

July 29, 2010

lchirino | July 29, 2010
South Journal—The president of the Cuban Parliament Ricardo Alarcon said that Washington is responsible for the weakening health of Cuban prisoner Gerardo Hernandez, one of the five antiterrorists held for 12 years in US high security prisons and known as the Cuban Five.
Gerardo´s health is at risk and the US administration is responsible for that situation, Alarcon said at Havana´s Convention Palace, host to the current sessions of parliamentarian commissions, prior to the fifth session of the seventh legislature of parliament.
Justice is being obstructed in the case of Gerardo after he has been confined to the hole at the Victorville prison in California, without having had any undisciplined behavior, Alarcon pointed out.
For the president of the Cuban parliament this is a very serious situation not only because the inmate is in being kept in the hole, but also under a punishment submitting him to a very small cell space, without enough ventilation, only a small vent high on the wall.
The government of the United States is aware of Gerardo´s physical complaints and that he has been requesting medical examination since last April, said Alarcon, who noted that the inmate was only allowed to see a doctor last July 20.
The next day, however, he was taken back to the hole; it is a two-meter long by one-meter wide cell where temperature is above 35 degrees Celsius, despite he was diagnosed several health problems which have not yet been treated.
It seems that Gerardo is having problems connected to a bacterium that, according to the doctor who assisted him, was circulating among the penal population with some very serious cases, although we do not know for sure if it is also the situation of the Cuban prisoner, because he has not been given any medical check-up.
Gerardo seems to also suffer from unbalanced blood pressure. He is a young men, just turned 45, but he has spent 12 years under really difficult and stressing conditions, Alarcon pointed out and expressed his concern for the health of the Cuban antiterrorist because he is not receiving medical attention.
Thus far, we have put our claims to the State Department, but we have received no reply. The problem is not only that he is in the hole, but also that he is being punished in the hole, he said. Gerardo has no communication with his lawyers, precisely when an appeal is in the works, a situation that repeated during the whole legal process.
Gerardo was supposed to be working with his defense attorneys in preparing the habeas corpus. This is well known by the US government and happens that at this moment he is deprived of any communication with his lawyers, of receiving any letters, he is isolated and on top of that he is sick and with his health at risk, the Cuban parliament president pointed out.

Noam Chomsky : An oral history of Terrorism against Cuba

July 27, 2010

Noam Chomsky exclusive
 
27 July 2010
 
CubaSí, the quarterly magazine of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in the UK features an exclusive article by US academic Noam Chomsky in the summer issue, out on 29 July 2010.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign has been given permission to print the article which also appears as the introduction in a new book, ‘Voices from the other side: An oral history of Terrorism against Cuba’ published in August 2010. In his details the history of US governments’ violent and often bizarre reactions to its small but defiant neighbour.

Keith Bolender, author of ‘Voices from the other side’ will be on a book signing tour of the UK in September 2010.

The first and final paragraphs of the 3,000 word article are reproduced below. CubaSi will be out on 29 July and is mailed direct to all CSC members.

“Perhaps the most striking feature of Washington’s war against Cuba since it dared to liberate itself at last in 1959 has been the frenzy with which it has been waged. Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs invasion soon after taking office was authorized in an atmosphere of “hysteria,” Defense Secretary Robert McNamara later testified before the Senate’s Church Committee. At the first cabinet meeting after the failed invasion, the atmosphere was “almost savage,” Undersecretary of State Chester Bowles reported, describing “an almost frantic reaction for an action program.” The core component of the “action program” was a major terrorist war. Robert Kennedy, who was assigned the task of coordinating the massive campaign of state-directed international terrorism, repeatedly declared that overthrowing the government of Cuba was “the top priority of the United States Government—all else is secondary—no time, money, effort, or manpower is to be spared.”………….

……………..The “virtual colony” gained authentic liberation in 1959, apart from its Eastern region. And within months the assault began, using the weapons of violence and economic strangulation to punish the inhabitants of “that infernal little Republic” who had so angered the racist expansionist Theodore Roosevelt “that I would like to wipe its people off the face of the earth,” he declared in fury as they continued to rebel, not recognizing that we had set them free. And to this day refusing to comprehend that their role is to serve the master, not to play at independence.

The valuable study that follows permits us to hear the voices of the victims of the international terrorism launched by the Kennedy brothers—for the first time, a remarkable comment on the reigning culture of imperialism in the US and its Western allies.”
Noam Chomsky, 25 December 2009
 
http://www.cuba-solidarity.org.uk/news.asp?ItemID=1858,

Cuban Five Send Messages for the National Rebellion Day

July 26, 2010

 Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando
González, three of the five Cuban antiterrorists unjustly imprisoned in
U.S. sent congratulation messages to the Cuban people for the 57
anniversary of the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes
Garrisons, reported today the national press.

Labañino, from the Jesup prison in the State of Georgia, where he is
serving a sentence of 30 years, sent a message on behalf of his four
companions and his own for this historical date.

“Belonging to this glorious, fighting and unwavering people, is a great
honor that we defend every day, with the tremendous pride of being Cuban”
said Labañino.

Antonio Guerrero (Tony), who was sentenced to 21 years and 10 months in
prison in Florence, in the State of Colorado, recalled in his greeting
passages from the book “This is Fidel” by Luis Baez.

Tony wonders: What made us fight? What made us win? What makes us stand
and move? “Martí and Maceo, Fidel and Raul, the Moncada,” were the
categorical responses this Cuban anti-terrorist hero provides in his
letter to the Cuban people.

Fernando Gonzalez, imprisoned in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he is serving
an unjust punishment of 17 years and nine months, congratulated the people
of Villa Clara, for having earned the venue of the national central act on
July 26.

“We will continue forward, united in the task of making ever more just the
work we build,” said Fernando.

Ramón Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Antonio Guerrero, along with Gerardo
Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez are unjustly imprisoned in the United States
since September 12, 1998, for monitoring Florida-based anti-Cuban
terrorist groups.

ACN

Infocuba

W.S.Smith wants Cuban FIVE free !

July 20, 2010

Free the Cuban Five!
By Wayne S. Smith

The Nation
July 13, 2010

Quite apart from Fidel Castro’s rare TV interview on Tuesday, there have recently been a number of encouraging developments in Cuba. A leading dissident, Elizardo Sanchez, the head of the Human Rights Commission, announced in June that the number of political prisoners had fallen to 167, the lowest number since the Cuban Revolution took power back in 1959. And then on July 7, after a meeting that included President Raúl Castro, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the Archbishop of Havana, the Cuban government announced that over the next few months it would be releasing some fifty-two more prisoners. This was enough to prompt Guillermo Farinas, a prisoner who has been carrying on a hunger strike to demand the release of others, to call off his strike.

So far, credit for these developments goes largely to the Spanish government and to the Catholic Church, especially to Cardinal Ortega. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton described the moves as “welcome.” Yes, but the United States could encourage that trend by releasing the so-called Cuban Five-something it should do anyway to help restore the image of the United States, which has been damaged by international condemnation of its handling of the case.

Who were the Cuban Five? They were members of the Cuban Intelligence Service who were sent to the United States not to spy on the US government or any of its entities but to penetrate certain Cuban exile organizations and gather information on terrorist activities they were carrying out against Cuba-information the Cubans would then provide to the FBI so that it could move to halt those activities. In June 1998 three FBI representatives were invited to Cuba to meet with Cuban counterparts. They returned with some sixty-four folders of pertinent information. The Cubans then waited for the United States to take action against the terrorists. But they waited in vain. Rather, the FBI, apparently able to determine from the evidence the identities of the sources, arrested the Cuban Five a few months later. In 2001 they went to trial in Miami, where anti-Castro sentiment was so strong there was no chance even of empaneling an impartial jury. Defense lawyers asked for a change of venue, arguing that without it, there could not be a fair trial. Incredibly, their request was denied.

In addition to the biased atmosphere in which the trial was held, prosecutors could present no evidence that the five had engaged in espionage or indeed any other crime, other than being the unregistered agents of a foreign power. So the prosecutors resorted to the time-worn ploy of charging them with “conspiracy” to commit illegal acts, which is what the government does when it has no evidence tying the accused to the commission of such acts. Evidence or no, all were convicted in 2001 and given long prison sentences. Worst of all was the case of Gerardo Hernández, who was accused of conspiracy to commit murder and given two consecutive life sentences-this in connection with the shooting down of the Brothers to the Rescue planes in February 1996, in which four were killed. Never mind that there was not a shred of evidence that Hernández was in any way involved.

Not surprisingly, given the questionable nature of the case against the five, in August 2005 three judges of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District in Atlanta overturned the Miami court’s convictions and ordered a new trial outside Miami. Their arguments were devastating but did not sway the Bush administration. And so, on October 31, 2005, the US government requested that the entire appeals court, all twelve judges, review the findings of the three who had overturned the Miami court decision. This was done, and as expected, the ruling that had called for a new trial was reversed. On June 4, 2008, the appeals court upheld the convictions of the Miami court and remanded the case back to it. The will of the White House had been done.

The next year, however, there was some hope that with a new resident in the White House, the way might be open for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court. But in May 2009, Barack Obama’s solicitor general, Elena Kagan, recommended that the request for a hearing be denied, and the following month it was. How unfortunate. The five were, to be sure, guilty of being the unregistered agents of a foreign power. But if that was their only crime (as it almost certainly was), they could have served out their sentences long ago and been back with their families. Instead, all have now been imprisoned for some twelve years under trying conditions. In all that time, for example, Gerardo Hernández and Rene Gonzalez have not been allowed a single visit from their wives. That is cruel and heartless punishment.

The case, meanwhile, has become something of an international cause célèbre, with widespread condemnation of the Miami court’s decision as arbitrary and unfair. That has been the expressed view of ten Nobel Prize winners, of hundreds of jurists, members of parliaments and various other organizations from all over the world, many of whom joined twelve amicus briefs asking the Supreme Court to review the case. And for the first time in history, the UN Human Rights Commission condemned the trial, noting that the Miami court could not possibly have enjoyed “the objectivity and impartiality that is required in order to conform to the standards of a fair trial.”

The pain and anguish of the five and their families need not go on for yet more interminable years. Nor must the continuing damage to the US image. There is a near-term solution in which all sides could come out ahead: President Obama has the right, constitutionally, to commute the sentences. That may appear unlikely, given his solicitor general’s recommendation last year against a Supreme Court hearing. But given that there was never any evidence with which to convict the five, and given that bringing about the release of Cuban political prisoners has always been a US objective, the president should commute the sentences forthwith. The way would then be open to release them and allow them to return to Cuba. If that were to happen, the Cuban government should respond by releasing most of its remaining political prisoners-with the exact number and the disposition of those released to be agreed upon. Neither government would suffer any adverse consequences from such a reciprocal release. On the contrary, both would be applauded and their international images enhanced.

And for good measure, the case of Alan Gross, the American citizen arrested last December in Cuba and suspected of subversive activities, should be included. The Cubans should release him-and Washington could encourage that by formally suspending any further programs “to promote democracy in Cuba” that do not follow normal diplomatic protocol and have host country authorization.

Wayne S. Smith, wsmith@ciponline.org, now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, DC, is a longtime Cuba expert and former chief of the US Interests Section in Havana (1979-82).


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