Archive for October 6th, 2011

Concrete Gestures for the Cuban Five

October 6, 2011

Latin American Council of Churches

 

Concrete Gestures for the Cuban Five

 

ANNERIS IVETTE LEYVA

 

Christian communities across Latin America celebrated special liturgies to ask for justice in the case of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters unjustly held in U.S. penitentiaries. The special celebrations were hold amidst songs, stories and prayers at the request of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI).

 

In a recent visit to Havana, Bishop Julio Murray, president of this council, and Reverend Nilton Giese, secretary general, instructed church leaders to offer sermons in support of the Cuban Five and their families. Representatives of the Cuban embassies in Latin America were invited to the liturgies to share information with churchgoers about the Cuban Five.

 

Although similar activities have been held before, Bishop Murray said this was an opportunity to protest the decision by a Miami judge that Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban Five who is soon to be released, will have to spend three years on “supervised released” in that city.

 

“We can’t understand why he must remain in the United States, why can’t he return to his country, to his family, where his life is not at risk. It’s essential our solidarity translate into actions, not only words,” said Murray in reference to taking “concrete steps.”

 

As an example of his efforts in support of the Cuban Five, he recalled he sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama on Auguts 31 in which, on behalf of the CLAI he requested the U.S. government to provide visas for the families of the Cuban Five, whose right to visit them in jail has been consistently violated.

 

The letter also urges the Eleventh Court of Appeals of Atlanta to reopen the case of the Cuban Five immediately.

 

“There is still a lot about the case of these men that remains unknown. Therefore, it is part of our commitment to expose this injustice,” explained Reverend Nilton Giese.

 

It’s essential to do everything in our hands to put a halt to the violation of human rights and to the growing number of victims of systems that promote death instead of life. In the case of the Cuban Five, their families are being punished too.

 

In inquiring how the CLAI became aware of the case of the Cuban Five in a world where mainstream media silences everything that do not respond to their interests; Murray learned the truth from the diplomatic staff who told them about this case five years ago. Later, he got to know more in university forums and conversations with other church leaders.

 

Giese, on the other hand, said he learned about this injustice through the Council, where solidarity with Cuba is constant.

 

CLAI is an organization composed by churches and Christian movements created in Lima, Peru in 1982. It includes more than 150 churches among their members and organizations that assist their work in Latin American and the Caribbean. Ten denominations and four organizations from Cuba are part of the CLAI.

 

BUILDING PEACE

 

Although it is frequent to see them visiting our country, the two religious leaders had a special announcement to make this time.

 

“We came this time to announce and invite all our church members and all our brothers to the celebration of the Sixth General Assembly of the Latin American Council of Churches on February, 2013. And of the two places we shortlisted to hold the meeting, Cuba and Panama, Cuba was chosen,” Bishop Murray said.

 

“We are summoned by the slogan Affirming Ecumenism through concrete gestures, which must be aimed at the environment, the children, the women and the underprivileged,” CLAI president explained.

 

According to the secretary executive, this is the first time the meeting will be held on an island. The five previous meetings were held in the Latin American continent.

 

The preparations of this event, however; will not stand on the way of the attention they will pay to the case of the Cuban Five.

 

Reverend Giese said that they are going to be very vigilant of Rene, who will be among people who wished him wrong. He said that nothing can happen to Rene because they would know beforehand who should be hold responsible for it. All Latin America and particularly its churches will be watching over him.

 

“Peace is built by just acts and we are called to be its instruments so let’s raise our voices so that justice will be done and in this way contribute to consolidate peace among the peoples,” Murray concluded.

 

Ricardo Alarcon: Obama Has Chance to Show a Change

October 6, 2011

Havana, Oct 6 (Prensa Latina) U.S. President Barack Obama has the opportunity to keep on doing the same as his predecessor George W. Bush did or show that he represents a change, Cuban Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon stated.

Cuba: University Student to Pay Tribute to Victims of Terrorism 

It is supposed that Cuban antiterrorist Rene Gonzalez is released from prison on Oct. 7, and this fact will prove Obama’s real willingness, Alarcon told press.

Rene Gonzalez, as well as Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Gerardo Hernandez, was severely condemned for gathering information on anti-Castro actions organized in Florida.

“The least Obama can do is to send Rene to his home in Havana, and avoiding our every day question, whether he is with the terrorists or against terrorism,” said Alarcon by attending a vigil on occasion of the 35th anniversary of Barbados Crime at the Havana’s Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Tribune’s Mount of Flags.

I hope that Rene Gonzalez’ release from prison is normal, with no incidents or provocations, the Cuban parliamentary leader said.

Most of people who participated in the vigil, held in front of the U.S. Interest Section (USINT) in Havana, “have not been born when on October 6, 1976, a Cubana de Aviacion airplane exploded in midair off the coast of Barbados, killing 73 people, Alarcon recalled.

Humanity should not forget this event, and one of the masterminds of this crime, Luis Posada Carriles, is walking freely in the United States. That northern country neither charged, not extradited him to Venezuela as it is required to do so, and nor tried as terrorist, Alarcon noted.

Orlando Bosch, who died this year and received all honors in Miami, said in front of cameras and microphones that he participated in that horrific crime, with prior knowledge of Washington, Alarcon said.

October 6 recalls us that after 35 years, the United States keeps on being guilty of international terrorism.

Members of the diplomatic staff accredited in Havana, youth leaders and students from different education centers attended the vigil.

Cuban Five: The Risk of Living in Miami

October 6, 2011

By Ana Ivis Galán García, ACN
October 5, 2011

Miami´s federal judge Joan Lenard ruled an absurd verdict last September
16th: Rene Gonzalez which served 13 years of unjust imprisonment in the US is
forced to live in Miami for the next three years under a term called supervised
release.

Among the surprising conditions that the court has imposed is the prohibition of
“getting close or visiting specific places where terrorist individuals or groups
are located or visit”.

In the meantime, Rene will be set free next October 7th and will be punished to
live another three years in a city that is a hotbed for terrorists whose actions
Rene and his four brothers were monitoring in an attempt to stop criminal acts
against the Cuban people.

If it is hard to understand, that his life is not subjected to permanent risks
–in addition to the one faced in maximum security prisons-, we must take a look
at the sinister history in the case of the Cuban Five from the first day they
were detained.

It is important to look back at some facts –found in the book “Atlanta and the
Case of the Cuban Five: the long road towards justice”-, to evaluate the reality
that Rene is forced to confront once he is out of prison.

He was sent to solidarity confinement for 17 months, used to punish prisoners
–after being sentenced- guilty of aggression and other violent conducts. They
were sent to those cells before even knowing the verdict of the court.

They were ripped from their families and small children. They were not able to
communicate to each other. The charges of espionage and assassination related
to the downing of the two aircrafts violating Cuban waters were not registered
as crimes that were committed, but as conspiracy –something never seen in US
law-, which the prosecution exempted proof that these crimes were really
committed.

As denounced by the President of the Cuban parliament Ricardo Alarcon, this is
an act that confirms the manipulation of evidence on behalf of the government,
the fact that they were not able to demonstrate the accusation of assassination
formulated against Gerardo of the downing of the terrorist aircraft that were
violating Cuban airspace on February 24th, 1996.

Despite having heard 74 witnesses, the jury in Miami only deliberated during
short periods of time, did not even express doubts or request a revision of any
of the testimonies and proceeded to declare them guilty. To say that Miami is
currently the capital in which Cuban exiles work with the support of the
government at all levels” federal, state and local, is a proven denunciation”.

In several of its press articles the human rights organization Americas Watch
itself has documented hundreds of bomb attempts and premeditated fires in
addition to threats and extortion used to control public opinions of Cuban
Americans against Cuba.

Dr. Lisandro Perez, Sociology and Anthropology Professor and Director of the
Cuban Research Institute at the International University of Florida wrote: “The
possibility of selecting 12 citizens in Miami-Dade County that would be
impartial in a case that involved recognized agents of the Cuban government is
practically impossible”.

Jim Mullin, Miami journalist said in an extensive news article that was
presented in the court to prove that Miami was not a neutral venue, openly
denounced “the excessive violence and intimidation that has characterized the
Cuban exile during over 30 years”.

He also gave a detailed description of dozens of aggressions, assassination
attempts and even killings in Miami and other places in the country.

Let us recall the horrendous crime committed in Washington DC against Chilean
Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier during the constitutionally elected
administration of Salvador Allende whose car was bombed and in the explosion his
legs were mutilated and bled to death and his secretary US citizen Ronni Karpen
Moffitt drowned from her own blood from the serious wound.

Miami is the only city in which the accused had to face as at least 20 percent
of possible members of the jury that were anti Cuban.

Among those that were presented to become a member of the jury was for example,
the director of the Cuban American National Foundation that contributed funds
for the illegal flights headed by Jose Basulto who is President of the ultra
right wing Brothers to the Rescue organization. This did not flourish.

The potential jurors immediately admitted that they feared reprisals “if they
their verdict was not in tune with the Cuban community”.

Without a doubt, the power of a sector of the exile community in Miami has been
able to dominate local politics in a unique way among its immigrants.

Three inflexible anti Cuban elements have been elected members of the US
Congress during the last two generations.

One of them is extreme right-wing Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Six of the County’s
commissioners are Cuban, as well as the mayor, state prosecutor, head of the
county police, firefighters, school superintendent and the Dean of the public
university.

These right wing elements will only support candidates that adopt a harsh
position regarding Cuba. Only those will be able to progress and gain power.
They also control the local media outlets.

How, then, will Rene’s life be in that city? If the Barack Obama administration
has recognized that there are terrorists living in the country and does nothing
to confront it, then the intense battle now lies in demanding the return of Rene
and his four brothers back home.


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