Archive for October 7th, 2011

We Harbor No Hatred, Says Wife of One of the Cuban Five

October 7, 2011

 

 

Olga Salanueva

We Harbor No Hatred, Says Wife of One of the Cuban Five

 

After serving 13 years in a U.S. prison, accused of being an unregistered Cuban agent, Rene Gonzalez will have to remain in Florida for three years on supervised release. His wife, Olga Salanueva, wonders: “If they really think Rene represents a danger to US society, why do they want to keep him there?”

 

Following his release, your husband will not be able to return to Cuba immediately. He will have to remain in Florida.

 

His sentence established that upon his release he was to remain away from the places where terrorist acts against Cuba were organized, which, by the way, shows that the judge is aware of the existence of these people and their criminal activities against the Cuban people.

 

Why Florida and not another state?

 

They’re being punished because none of them has shown repentance. They have been the target of all the empire’s hate and now they want to make an example out of them so that nobody else dares interfere with the terrorists, who obviously enjoy the protection of the US government.

 

Do you fear for his life?

 

Of course we do. When we say that there are terrorist organizations based in south Florida it is because we have evidence. Just look at the thousands of people who have died or been wounded as a result of violent actions against our country. These are innocent people, like the athletes on flight 455, bombed in midair in 1976, or Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo. What kind of treatment can we expect, then, for a man who has been identified as one of the people who were monitoring their activities, a man who has openly claimed to be an anti-terrorist fighter?

 

Do you think it will be easier for you to go visit your husband now?

 

The last time I applied for a visa I was declared permanently ineligible to travel to the United States, and at the time he was still imprisoned. You can imagine that my chances are even narrower now.

 

When the judicial process began it might have seemed an endless tunnel to you. How do you feel now that your husband’s release is so close?

 

From our family’s point of view it is outrageous because Rene’s home is in Cuba, with his daughters, with his people. Apparently all the harm they did to us throughout the last 13 years was not enough. They are still looking for revenge.

 

How do you picture the future with your husband?

 

For us it will be the end of a cycle. We dream of spending the rest of our lives together and try to put behind this experience because we think it is not healthy to live with resentment. We harbor no hatred. All they did was inspired by the noblest feelings, by their determination to defend life and protect other human beings.

 

Do you think a global solution could have been found for this case?

 

We, their families, always supported each other, even when they were sentenced. Then things got complicated and we started dealing with the US legal system. Everything unfolded very slowly.

 

An American citizen, Allan Gross, is serving time in Cuba. Do you think an exchange of prisoners between the two countries could be possible?

 

There is no possible comparison. Rene already served his sentence and Gross has been in prison barely year and a half. Also, if we look at the time served by the rest of the Cuban Five we’ll find that the comparison it is very disproportionate. And let’s not forget that what Gross did in Cuba is different. He did conspire against the Cuba government.

 

Would the release of the Cuban Five improve relations between Cuba and the United States?

 

The Cuban Five are a priority for the Cuban government, but the US government stubbornly refuses to give this issue a solution. As in the case of the blockade, the solution to this situation is in their hands.

(Taken from La República)

Cuban Anti-terrorist Rene Gonzalez Released from U.S. Prison

October 7, 2011

Cuban Anti-terrorist Rene Gonzalez Released from U.S. Prison
      
Escrito por Dayami Interián García    
 
Havana, Oct 7 (Prensa Latina) Cuban anti-terrorist Rene Gonzalez, imprisoned in the United States for 13 years, was released Friday from a prison in Marianna, Florida, but he must serve a three-year term of supervised release in that country.

Cubans Awaiting True Release of Anti-terrorist

Gonzalez left prison at 4:30 a.m. local time today. His two daughters Irma and Ivette, his brother Roberto, his father Candido, and his lawyer Philip Horowitz were waiting for him outside the prison, Telesur television channel reported.

 
Cubans Awaiting True Release of Anti-terrorist 
     
Escrito por Ileana Ferrer Fonte    
 
Havana, Oct 7 (Prensa Latina) After completing his sentence in prison today, Rene Gonzalez must serve an additional three-year period of supervised release in the United States.

  On September 16, a court ruling issued by Florida district court Judge Joan A. Lenard frustrated his intention to return to Cuba.

On September 12, during a central act for the Campaign of Solidarity with the Cuban Five, Parliament President Ricardo Alarcon stated that Gonzalez´ impossibility to immediately return home is also an unjust additional sentence for him and his family.

This also means a challenge for the Obama administration that “I hope he knows to cope it with wisdom and common sense,” Alarcon noted.

Cuban officials and mass media, along with solidarity voices worldwide, have agreed to warn on the dangers of the judge´s decision to Rene´s life.

Cuban-American congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen recently stated that Gonzalez is a “villain” with “blood on his hands,” adding that his release was “very worrying.”

For Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the U.S. National Committee to Free the Five, that accusation should be regarded a call advocating violence against the antiterrorist.

“From afar, I dream with the moment in which Rene releases from prison, because I have no visa to be there,” stated Irma Sehwerert, mother of Gonzalez, to whom the U.S. government has not allowed to witness the moment of the release of his son.

 
Cuban Anti Terrorism Proposal to US Still Unanswered    
  
Escrito por Ana Julia Suarez Cruz    
 
Havana, Oct. 6 (Prensa Latina) The repeated cooperation proposals made by Cuba to United States in terms of terrorism have not received any response yet by the White House, confirmed the local press on Thursday.

  Cuba has followed the same cooperation line with the United States in that matter, ratified in November and December 2001, March 2002, and July 2009, and repeatedly expressed by the Cuban government, added an editorial of Granma daily.

The leading article ratified Havana’s decision to continue fighting against terrorism, which has claimed the lives of about 3400 Cubans.

It also recalled that the Caribbean country signed the 13 international agreements against terrorism and rigorously enforces the commitments put forward by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.

The National Assembly of People’s Power passed a Law against acts of terrorism in 2001, said the source before expressing the indignation for Washington’s position in relation to terrorists who freely walk the streets of Miami City, chiefly the case of Luis Posada Carriles.

The pain caused to the Cuban people increases due to the impunity, said the editorial which makes reference to many acts of terrorism such as the mid-flight blow-up of a Cubana de Aviacion airplane on October 6, 1976, in which the 73 people on board lost their lives.

 

Welcome to America’s war on terrorism (fighters)… continued

October 7, 2011

by Stephen Kimber on October 6, 2011
http://cubanfive.ca/,

On Friday, October 7, René González will become the first member of the Cuban Five to be released from an American prison. In 2001, the Five were convicted in Miami of spying for Cuba. Cuba insists they were—justifiably—trying to prevent anti-Castro exiles from launching terrorist attacks against their homeland. The Five have since become heroes in Cuba, and their case has sparked international controversy—as has González’s pending release. Last week, the same Florida judge who originally sentenced him decided González must remain in the United States during his parole rather than granting his request to return home to his family in Havana. Why?
On the eve of René González’s release Friday from an American prison—but not his prison America will now become—it’s worth reminding ourselves what terrible crimes he committed.

Why was he sentenced to 15 years in jail? And why do American officials now insist he serve his post-prison parole in The United States instead of in Cuba?

In 1998, González—a member of the Cuban Five spy ring— was charged with failing to formally register as an agent of a foreign government.

Guilty as charged.

In December 1990, González “stole” a small plane from a Havana airfield and “defected” to Florida. Not surprisingly, he didn’t tell authorities he was a Cuban intelligence agent whose mission was to infiltrate militant Miami exile groups.

The reason he didn’t—the reason he’d been sent to Florida in the first place—was that U.S. authorities rarely charged Cuban exiles, even those clearly violating American Neutrality Act prohibitions against launching armed attacks on another country from U.S. soil.

Cuba certainly isn’t the only country to dispatch clandestine agents to other countries in order to protect its homeland from attack. Consider… well how about post-9/11 America? How many American agents are currently operating secretly inside Pakistan because the U.S. government believes Pakistan is unable or unwilling to deal with terrorist threats there? How many of those agents registered with Pakistani authorities?

It’s also worth noting how the U.S. has dealt with other unregistered foreign agents. Last year, 10 Russians pled guilty to being long-term Moscow agents inside the United States. Instead of sending them to prison, Americans authorities sent them home in a swap for four foreign nationals the Russians had convicted of spying on them.

The Cold War was over. Except, of course, when that hot-cold war involved Cuba. Welcome to America’s war on terrorism (fighters).

In addition to feloniously failing to tell American authorities he was not an anti-Castro “freedom fighter,” René González also stood accused of… “general conspiracy”?

General what?

Despite thousands of seized documents and two years’ of pre-arrest surveillance, prosecutors couldn’t produce a shred of evidence González had ever stolen—or tried to steal, or even thought about stealing—any of America’s state secrets.

So they charged him with… general conspiracy. Which apparently means if they can’t arrest you for what you’re doing, they’ll get you for what you’re thinking… or what they think you’re thinking.

What did González really do?

While researching a book on the Five, I spent months poring over 20,000+ pages of their trial transcript and other evidence.

Here’s what the record shows René González did.

He infiltrated—and reported back to Havana on—a militant Cuban exile organization called Partido Unidad Nacional Democracia, or PUND.

PUND trained in Florida for armed attacks against Cuba. They did so openly. In 1995, the FBI questioned members of the group in connection with one plot—but released them without charges.

González also infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue, a supposedly humanitarian group that boasted of illegal incursions into Cuban air space. Thanks to González and other agents, Havana learned:
• Brothers’ founder José Basulto inquired about purchasing a used Czech fighter jet;
• Exile militants wanted to use a Brothers’ planes for a mid-air attack on an aircraft carrying Fidel Castro to the United Nations;
• Brothers to the Rescue members test-fired anti-personnel weapons for possible use in Cuba.

And González infiltrated another supposedly peaceful group— Movimiento Democracia—whose members openly violated Cuban territorial waters.

During his time as an agent in Florida, González even served briefly as an FBI informant. A PUND member had enlisted him to ferry cocaine from Puerto Rico to Florida to raise money to buy more weapons to attack Cuba. González tipped off the FBI.

Based on the evidence, that is the sum of René González’s “general conspiracy.”

U.S. prosecutors were so unsure of their conspiracy case they offered González ever sweeter—and more sour—inducements to cop a plea before his trial.

At one point, they dangled the carrot of avoiding trial by pleading guilty to a single count of being an unregistered agent. But “the last paragraph of the plea agreement draft,” González recalls, included “a not-so-veiled invitation to consider my wife’s resident status is at stake.”

González drew a middle finger in the space left for his signature.

The next day, August 16, 2000, immigration officials arrested his wife. In one final effort to change his mind, they brought her—now dressed in orange prison jumpsuit—to visit him in jail. When he didn’t relent, they deported her. He has not been allowed to see her since..

René González has now done his time. He’s been in jail since his arrest in 1998. He spent his first 17 months in solitary confinement. He has been, by all accounts, a model prisoner. He’s studied economics, taken up running, even completed a few half-marathons in his medium security prison. As required by Florida law, he will have served 85 per cent of his sentence inside prison before being paroled.

Now he wants to go home to Havana to see his family.

There’s no public benefit to forcing him to serve his parole in hostile Florida. He is not about to be “reintegrated” into American society, and he could be in physical danger from vengeful exiles. Still U.S. prosecutors opposed his application. The same judge who originally sentenced him sided with prosecutors.

The issue is that González continues to defend what he did.

“I have no reason to be remorseful,” González told his original sentencing hearing. He condemned the hypocrisy of the American justice system for charging him and his fellow defendants for the non-crime of trying to protect their country from terrorist attack while ignoring the real crimes of exile terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch who stood accused of the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, and a string of 1997 attacks on Cuban tourist hotels that killed a Canadian.

So on Friday René González was be released from his physical prison but only into another, psychic one.

Welcome to America’s continuing war on terrorism (fighters)…. Continued.

***

Stephen Kimber is a Canadian journalist who’s writing a book on the case of the Cuban Five.


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