Archive for August, 2012

14 years of injustice for Cuban 5

August 31, 2012

 http://www.freethefive.org,   Free the Cuban Five Now!

For more information visit www.thecuban5.org,

http://www.antiterroristas.cu,

CUBAN FIVE 14 years already – time for freedom !

August 31, 2012
Free The Cuban Five Actions on the 14th anniversary

National Committee To Free The Cuban Five

Actions on the 14th anniversary
of the arrest of the Cuban Five
will demand of the U.S. government:

Free the Cuban Five
Grant entry visas for Adriana and Olga

This coming Sept. 12 marks the 14th anniversary of the Cuban Five’s unjust arrest and prosecution by the U.S. government.

Despite cruel and inhumane conditions of imprisonment for Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio and Fernando, and René being forced to remain in the U.S., the Five remain steadfast and optimistic in the prospects for their freedom.

Important legal developments are taking place, with ground-breaking new documents before the court based on the secret U.S. government payments to Miami journalists. Exposing the government’s illegal actions has been a major focus of research by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five for several years.

But the ultimate goal of the Five’s freedom also critically depends on the mobilizing campaigns of the supporters of the Five and all people who believe in justice across the United States and internationally. The U.S. prosecutor referred during the resentencing of Antonio Guerrero to the need to “quiet the waters of contentiousness that swirl about this case.” In recent weeks and months there has been an impressive growth in Free the Five activities. Let’s join together to increase the mobilizations and demand that the U.S. government the Five NOW!

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is urging all cities and organizations to plan actions – whether a protest rally, a leafleting session to the public, a press conference with local speakers, a forum, visiting government representatives and asking for their support – every action will reach more people and make visible the case of the Cuban Five and their struggle for justice. Together we can reach tens of thousands of people, one on one, in a meaningful way that will grow the movement.

We have prepared a leaflet for publicity and educating the public, which we will be happy to adapt for your local action if you wish. Write us at info@freethefive.org for more details.

You’ll find activities scheduled in cities around the world on our calendar. If you have an activity scheduled, please let us know so we can add it to the calendar. If you don’t, there’s still time! The Cuban Five must be free, and it is up to us to keep the pressure on.

Contact us: info@freethefive.org
Or call: 415-312-6042
Web: http://www.freethefive.org Free the Cuban Five Now!
Allow the families’ visits!
Grant entry visas to
Adriana Pérez and Olga Salanueva!

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 Press Release

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 Announces

The Price 5 Cubans are Paying for Fighting Terrorism

Contact: Nancy Kohn 617-504-9773 nancybkohn@gmail.com
Alicia Jrapko 510-219-0092 ajrapko@yahoo.com

Public Event: Friday, September 14, 7:30 PM
Festival Center: 1640 Columbia Road, NW, Washington DC

On the 14th anniversary of the arrest and imprisonment of the Cuban 5 and in the wake of new legal proceedings, attend an informative evening dedicated to winning their freedom.

The Cuban 5 were arrested in 1998. Although they made no threats or injury to anyone and transferred no U.S. government documents or classified material, they were convicted on conspiracy to commit espionage charges and originally sentenced collectively to four life sentences plus 77 years in U.S. prisons. Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González remain incarcerated in separate U.S. federal penitentiaries. René González served out his 13 year sentence but since his release last October, must remain in Florida on probation for 2½ more years. These men were in the U.S. to defend their country by monitoring the activities of anti-Cuban terrorist groups operating in Southern Florida.

An affidavit for Cuban Five defendant Gerardo Hernández will soon be filed by attorney Martin Garbus in Federal District Court in Miami. The new affidavit supports Hernández’s habeas corpus appeal and seeks to overturn his conviction, based on government payments to Miami journalists during the Five’s prosecution. Garbus, a civil rights attorney known for his defense of the First Amendment, joined the Five’s legal defense team in April, 2012.

Program Includes:

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Rafael Cancel Miranda is a Puerto Rican independence fighter who was sentenced in 1954 to 84 years in the United States, along with Lolita Lebrón, Andrés Figueroa and Irvin Flores Rodriguez, for occupying the U.S. Congress in order to draw international attention to the colonial status of Puerto Rico. Due to international pressure, then President Jimmy Carter granted them amnesty in 1979, after 25 years in prison. Cancel Miranda, is the author of seven books and remains active in the struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico and the freedom of Puerto Rican prisoners.

Tom Hayden was a founding member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1961. In 1968, he played a leadership role in protests outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago for which he was indicted on federal charges of conspiracy as one of the “Chicago Eight.” Attorney Leonard Weinglass defended the Eight and later, before his death last year, represented Tony Guerrero, one of the Cuban 5. Hayden served in the California State Assembly from 1982 to 1992 and the State Senate from 1992 to 2000. Currently he is a writer and editor of The Nation and director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, CA.

Other speakers will include: Lawrence Wilkerson, Retired United States Army Colonel and former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell; Jose Pertierra, an immigration attorney representing the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the case of the extradition of Luis Posada Carriles; and Michele Tingling-Clemmons, a social and human rights activist and organizer in DC, who is a co-founder of the National Welfare Rights Union and the Metropolitan Washington Hiroshima-Nagasaki Peace Committee.

Special Guest: Vicente Feliu, leading voice of the Cuban Nueva Trova Movement, will be traveling from Cuba on a three-city tour accompanied by Cuban Latin Grammy Award Winner Alejandro Valdez. They will be offering a free concert on Wednesday September 12 at 8pm at the Embassy of Venezuela – Bolivarian Hall, Washington DC.

The September 14th event is being organized jointly by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, a network of concerned citizens from several countries of Europe, Latin America and the United States, whose main objective is to raise awareness about the case of the Cuban 5, and the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive multi-issue think tank that has served as a policy and research resource for social justice movements for over four decades.

For more information visit www.thecuban5.org

U.S. aggression towards Cuba continues

August 31, 2012

Cuban people stand firm with socialist government

Cuba has stood strong against relentless attack. Photo credit: Bill Hackwell

There is a public perception that the Obama administration has opened up a new era in U.S.-Cuba relations, in which the United States has “reached out” to Cuba by easing the U.S. blockade. In fact, Washington’s aggression has not let up at all.

The misconception about a shift to a less aggressive policy—what the corporate media absurdly refers to as a “thawing” in U.S.-Cuba relations—comes from the lifting of two provisions implemented by the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks. These had severely limited the right of Cubans living in the United States to visit and to send remittances to their families in Cuba.

These provisions were repealed by the Obama administration mainly because they were detested by the vast majority of the Cuban American community. Most still have family back in Cuba, and wish to visit their loved ones.

In this way, the Obama administration was able to curry favor among larger numbers of Cuban American immigrants without abandoning the principal aspects of a bipartisan strategy to overthrow Cuba’s social system.

Sanctions punish entire population

The U.S. empire’s long-standing strategy is to use scarcity and underdevelopment as a weapon to strangle the Cuban people. That is the essence of the U.S. blockade on Cuba. According to Cuba’s calculations, its economic losses from more than 50 years of the blockade total $975 billion.

Economic sanctions against Cuba, which would otherwise expire, must be re-authorized on a yearly basis. For the first three years of his four-year term in office, President Obama has signed the legislation necessary to extend all aspects of the financial and commercial blockade against Cuba (most recently in September 2011) despite the “change in politics” so often trumpeted by the corporate press.

Sections of the U.S. ruling class view the global economic crisis as an opportune moment to intensify the blockade against Cuba. Because socialist Cuba has no choice but to buy and sell commodities in the global capitalist market, the island is greatly affected by the capitalist crisis. This has led to problems of hardship and scarcity that Washington knows it can amplify by tightening the blockade.

On June 12, the U.S. government announced it was imposing a $619 million fine on the Dutch bank ING for facilitating commercial transactions with Cuba. In half a century of economic sanctions, this is the heaviest fine ever handed out by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, a body responsible for monitoring and enforcing sanctions against Cuba.

The $619 million fine accounted for half of ING’s net profit in the first quarter of 2012. Far from signaling an easing of restrictions against Cuba, the Obama administration’s actions are an open and immediate threat to any foreign company or country that chooses to do business with Cuba.

A press release issued by OFAC states that ING is also required to conduct an internal revision of its future operations, policies and practices, and to assure Washington that no “OFAC-sanctioned transactions” are occurring. This exemplifies the coercive power of U.S. finance capital. In order to avoid U.S. sanctions for doing business with Cuba, Dutch-based ING had to agree to open its books to the U.S. Treasury Department for scrutiny!

Financing internal subversion

The Obama administration has increased funding—through agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development, and National Endowment for Democracy—to counterrevolutionary elements inside Cuba to undermine and attack the Revolution.

Using misleading and false terms like promoting “democracy,” “human rights” and “freedom of information” inside Cuba, the U.S. government has increased funds by tens of millions of dollars to foment subversive activity. Part of the money is used to bribe Cuban individuals to form opposition groups, who are then instructed by U.S. officials to falsely accuse Cuba of repression.

Encouraging acts of sabotage and terrorism are also on the agenda. The groups are tiny, often numbering less than a handful of persons, but they are magnified by the U.S. government to justify aggression against Cuba.

The funding includes the introduction of sophisticated surveillance and communications equipment into Cuba for the opposition to set up a network, undetectable by Cuba.

The people of the United States are barely aware of these programs, even though taxpayers foot the bill. But one case has made recent headlines; that of Alan Gross, a U.S. employee of Development Alternatives Inc., in turn financed by USAID.

Gross received at least $500,000 and traveled to Cuba several times in 2009. Each time he brought in high-tech equipment, including Internet satellite phones. A breaking story by Desmond Butler of Associated Press on Feb. 13 explained that Gross also brought in “a specialized mobile phone chip that experts say is often used by the Pentagon and the CIA to make satellite signals virtually impossible to track.”

Gross was tried and convicted for “undermining the integrity and independence of Cuba.” He received a 15-year sentence. The White House has demanded his unilateral release. Cuba says it would favor a prisoner exchange on humanitarian grounds between the Cuban Five, political prisoners unjustly held in the United States for almost 14 years, and Gross. But the Obama administration has refused, instead using Gross’s case to justify its ongoing hostility.

The electronic plots continue. As recently as June 28, USAID announced a program for organizations that can establish “digital democracy” inside Cuba through technological means, for a total of $18 million in the next three years.

The government and people are not sitting idly by. Cuba’s security and vigilant population have helped unmask some of these operations, dealing a blow to Washington’s aims.

One example is Raúl Capote, a young Cuban professor who was recruited in 2005 by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, an operating base for the CIA. He revealed his real identity as a double agent for Cuba two years ago, and has since written numerous exposés of the sinister attempts by the United States to create divisions within Cuban society, focusing on youth, Black Cubans, LGBT people, intellectuals and artists—in short, divide-and-conquer.

U.S. government employs right-wing terrorists

A historic outgrowth of the U.S. ruling class’s drive to overturn the Cuban Revolution is the nurturing of an extreme right-wing anti-Cuba terrorist network in Miami, a network the Obama administration allows to operate as freely as all past administrations.

In the run-up to the United States’ failed land invasion of Cuba in 1961, known as the Bay of Pigs invasion, the CIA recruited thousands of members of Cuba’s former ruling class and Batista henchmen. It armed them, trained them and attempted to fashion them into an anti-communist paramilitary force.

With the disastrous U.S. defeat at the Bay of Pigs, the consolidation of Cuba’s revolution and its alliance with the Soviet Union, imperialist hopes of bringing down the revolution militarily were postponed indefinitely.

But the counterrevolutionaries based in Miami did not simply vanish. They increasingly turned toward committing acts of terrorism against Cubans and anyone within reach who sympathized with the revolution, or advocated for a normalization of relations with Cuba.

In one example, during an eight-year period beginning in 1975, Omega 7, one organization of terrorists among many, was responsible for up to 50 bombings and two assassinations carried out in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Miami.

Although the U.S. government may at times contain or restrict the activities of the Miami terrorist network, the U.S. government has always allowed them to exist and operate with impunity.

On April 27, after years without such incidents, the Miami terrorists bombed a Miami charter company specializing in flights to Cuba.

Airline Brokers Co. provided air travel for 340 Cuban-Americans who flew from South Florida to Cuba for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit at the end of March. This simple act of charter service brought terrorist threats and finally a firebombing. “We had to have armed security guard around my house for about a month” said business owner Vivian Mannerud. “There were many, many threats … other threats with a suspicious package in my car and so on,” she added. Weeks after the incident the FBI claims to have no suspects.

It is important to remember that part of Cuba is currently occupied by the U.S. military. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which has been run by the U.S. military since 1898, has thousands of soldiers and a massive arsenal on Cuban soil.

Stand with the Cuban Revolution!

Raúl Capote explained Cuba’s resistance in a recent interview by Aday del Sol Reyes: “The enemy will never stop trying to destroy the Revolution. Why? Because Cuba is an example too powerful and Cuban revolutionaries are by far the most active dissidents within this world of global capitalist power, because we are managers and promoters of a culture that is a deadly opponent of capitalist culture … because we ended half a century of absolute dominion of the empire over the land and we sow hope in the land of a possible better world.”

It is the duty of socialists and revolutionaries to help bring Cuba’s truth to the people of the United States, and stand with Cuba against the relentless onslaught of the U.S. empire.

– credit to LiberationNews.org.

Info Blackout on the Cuban 5 Continues

August 29, 2012

Elio Delgado Legon

 “The five Cubans who have been imprisoned in the United States is something that is a secret from the people of the United States,” stated the now-deceased US historian and political scientist Howard Zinn.

“So we have a very important job to do in the United States for people in the progressive movement.  And that is to make the situation known to people because I believe the American people have a basic sense of decency.  When they learn that something inhuman has happened, they react against it,” added Zinn.

When we say that there’s a blackout to keep secret the case of the five Cubans who were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage and given excessive prison sentences in the United States, we are not exaggerating. A figure as prominent in that country as Howard Zinn spoke about and described that situation as being inhuman.

Numerous events surrounding this case would be headline news in all major newspapers and television stations in the country if the press didn’t have orders from the government to silence it.

Now I wonder: Why is there this interest in keeping such an important case unknown among the American people? Where is the freedom of the press that is advocated in theory in that country?

Obviously there were many violations of laws, prevarications and injustices committed in this case, which is why there are so many well-known people in the world and within the United States seeking the release of the five Cubans.

This is something that isn’t desirable for people to know since they would take sides in favor of the innocent individuals, who did nothing except risk their own lives in trying to save the lives of other Cubans and US citizens.

In the most recent action by the attorney for Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, who was sentenced to two life sentences plus 15 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit, a new petition was just filed with the Federal District Court in Miami, Florida, for his sentence to be revoked.

Lawyer Martin Garbus presented this petition that supports the legal concept known as habeas corpus, whereby it is alleged that the US government engaged in misconduct by paying Miami journalists to adversely affect the outcome of the trial.

US authorities sought to frighten jurors into declaring the accused guilty of all charges. This is indeed what happened, with the five Cubans even being convicted on charges that had been dropped by the prosecution.

Gabriela Knaul, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, sent a letter to US authorities expressing her concern about the trial of the Cuban Five and the obstacles in the case of Gerardo Hernandez.

She pointed out that he and his counsel did not have access to all relevant information about the case, as established by the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

Other important personalities have expressed their solidarity with the five Cubans, including the US writer Alice Walker. She has said: “The story of the Cuban Five is one of courage, great sacrifice and love… Where are the members of Congress, senators and representatives who we should be relying on in cases like this?”

Noam Chomsky, the linguist, philosopher and social activist, said: “They weren’t criminals. They were heroes. They were exposing to the US government crimes that are being committed on US soil, crimes the US government is tolerating that theoretically should be punished.”

Gayle McLaughlin, the Mayor of Richmond, California, said: “It’s an atrocity that these five men remain unjustly imprisoned for peacefully protecting their country against terrorist attacks while our judicial system turns a blind eye. It is essential that the people of the United States know about this profound act of negligence committed by our government for not examining the facts of this case. It’s essential to free the Five, and it is essential for the preservation of justice for all.”

Thomas J. Gumbleton, the former bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit (US), released the following statement: “I’m very disappointed with the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the case of the Cuban Five. My hope was that they would review the case and make a decision that would lead to the release of the Cuban Five. But now I realize, again, that some people do not have a genuine chance at justice. I intend to join in with other individuals and organizations around the world to continue working for the freedom of the Cuban Five.”

Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said: “This is a farce. These men were unarmed, did not attempt any physical damage to the United States, and were motivated to protect their fellow citizens from invasion and repeated attacks by Cuban-Americans living in Florida. And we have to ask also, just how is it that we have become a safe haven for alleged terrorists?”

I have cited only some personalities of the United States itself who have spoken out for freedom for Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, the five Cubans who remain in the United States serving long sentences for crimes they didn’t commit.

The full list would be too long for this short space, but the truth is that every day, around the world, more and more people are joining the fight for the release of these five innocent individuals.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media is silent.

 from havantimes

Obama Halts American Trips to Cuba

August 28, 2012
Embargo Games
by KEN SMITH

Until recently, Americans could travel to Cuba as part of academic, religious or research groups. But according to travel writers for USA Today and other major newspapers, government approval for such trips has come to a halt. This is despite a program authorized last year by President Obama that encouraged “people-to-people” visits to Cuba by Americans. (That brings up the question, Who is really in charge? But, that’s another issue.)

The half-century embargo of Cuba has not worked — if anything, it has solidified support of Fidel Castro by the Cuban people. It is time to begin normalizing relations. I’m not interested in politics or commerce, but rather I like Afro-Cuban music and I would like to visit Cuba to learn how much of that tradition remains before it is infected by pop music from elsewhere in the world.

The Detroit Free Press reports that almost no organizations with previous people-to-people licenses from the U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) have received renewals for visits to Cuba. Advertised trips have been scrapped and organizations “are left to wait without any updates or information.”

Here’s one example of how silly the embargo of Cuba is. Late in life, Cuban musician and singer Ibrahim Ferrer became a member of the internationally successful Buena Vista Social Club, formed as a result of a documentary film by Ry Cooder and Wim Wenders. In 2004, Ferrer won a Grammy, but was denied permission by the U.S. government to receive his award in person under a U.S. law that prohibits entry by “terrorists, drug dealers and dangerous criminals.” Ferrer, who was then 77-years-old and quite harmless, had previously performed in concert in the U.S.

Ferrer was dumbfounded by the decision, saying, “I don’t understand because I don’t feel I’m a terrorist. I am not, I can’t be.”

In 2004, the year before Ferrer died, I saw him in concert in Juan-les-Pins, France. It was an extraordinarily good show. As Ferrer came on stage, the French crowd of several thousand became reverentially silent. As he began to sing, the audience would recognize the song within the first few notes, and applaud. The concert was more than two hours long, and yet the 77-year old Ferrer appeared to have even more energy the longer he was on stage. Incredibly great music. Most of the 20-member orchestra were over 60 years old.

Americans are missing much with the embargo of Cuba. In addition to great music, what else are we not allowed to see and hear?

Last year, UNESCO added Mexico’s mariachi music to the list “intangible cultural heritage” in need of preservation, and rightfully so. I have been to the mariachi festival in Cocula, about 35 miles (60km) west of Guadalajara. Cocula is famous for being the birthplace of mariachi and the annual festival attracts Mexico’s top bands. Afro-Cuban music deserves the same UNESCO recognition.

If the American political leaders fear that visitors to Cuba will be impressed by and then embrace communism, an embargo is the wrong answer. The best way to expel any positive thoughts might be to encourage visits to communist countries.

In 1989, I was visiting friends in Würzburg, Germany. During this visit, it was announced that the Berlin Wall was coming down and that Germans would be allowed to travel to the East and West. My friends had cousins they had never met in Meiningen on the East German side, about a 90-minute drive from Würzburg on the West side. We decided to go.

At the border, I was surprised to see a tall wire fence. This was far south of Berlin and there was no wall. But, the gate was wide open and there were no guards, nobody, not even other tourists joining us on the drive. There was a guard tower, made of wood, that looked something like the U.S. Forest Service fire watch towers. The East German guards did not even shut the door of the tower as they left.

It was a sad scene in the plaza of Meiningen, a town that now has a population of 20,000, but was much less then. The river running through the town was obviously polluted with garbage and a thick cover of oil streaks (“gasoline rainbows” was how J. D. Salinger described such things, but that makes it sound too benign). Buildings were covered with industrial soot. Nothing had been painted in decades. It looked like a movie set for a World War Two movie, and this was 44 years after the end of the war during which Meiningen was greatly damaged by bombing raids.

This visit was two days after the border was opened. The plaza was filled with local East Germans and street peddlers, including many Vietnamese, selling such things as Madonna T-shirts for US$20. How did the peddlers get there so quickly? How did the East Germans get so many American dollars? In addition to the T-shirts, there was other junk being sold and the East Germans were clearly unsophisticated about the prices of such consumer items.

My German friend angrily spoke to a dozen or more peddlers, saying, ”Das ist nicht richtig”. Meaning, it is not right to take advantage of these people by selling junk at such inflated prices.

Then, two Soviet army troops walked into the plaza. They had Asian facial features and were likely from the eastern part of the Soviet Union. I was told the East German government would use Soviet guards from other parts of the communist bloc because they would be less likely to become friendly with the local Germans.

The Soviet guards wore dirty, cream-colored uniforms. They held their AK-47s with a finger near the trigger guard. They looked like mean and stupid bullies and my German friends were clearly intimidated.

One German friend whispered to me, “Sie sprechen kein Englisch”, don’t speak English (difficult because I don’t speak German). I wanted to stay, but my German friends insisted that we leave immediately and get back to West Germany.

I do ramble. My point here is that a visit to authoritarian Cuba might convince most people to avoid that system of government. Further, Cubans and Americans meeting each other would likely do some good. So, I recommend (not that anybody asked) full and open travel by Americans to Cuba. I’ve heard that some Americans are visiting Cuba and that Cuban immigration officers oblige these Americans by not stamping their passports. But, that would not work for me because I would want to write about a visit to Cuba.

Ken Smith is a semi-retired American living in Mexico for the past five years, after four years in France, two years in Denmark, and another year bouncing around Europe. He recently edited and wrote an introduction for a book of essays by his friend Joe Bageant, Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: the Best of Joe Bageant. Smith’s blog is at http://kvsmith.com

 

Open Letter to Republican and Democratic National Committees

August 28, 2012

To the Republican and Democratic National Committees:

In light of both the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions we, as Cuban Americans and American citizens, urge both parties to not fall into the trap of viewing our community as a monolithic voting bloc that is in favor of the United States’ embargo on Cuba.  During these conventions the platforms for each party will be decided upon and put into action. For the past fifty years, a strategy of blind support for the embargo has become the norm for political candidates from both parties in order to garner the support of Cuban Americans. We would implore all candidates to not look upon our demographics as one that unanimously supports this failed policy of hostility. Rather, we are a diverse body of voices with a majority that favors a policy of engagement, and ultimately, normalization of relations between the two nations.

Numerous polls of the Cuban American community in southern Florida and throughout the nation demonstrate that a majority of these citizens favor the policies that the Obama administration put in place in 2009 and then expanded in 2011.  These moves have eased the process of reunification of Cuban families by allowing Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba more frequently and send more remittances to loved ones on the island. Overwhelmingly, Cuban Americans have voted with their feet and pocketbooks by traveling to Cuba, sending money, and acting as ambassadors for our great nation.  As Cuban Americans we feel that we are not any better than any other American citizen and would hope that the U.S. government takes steps to eliminate the travel ban placed on all American citizens.

We ask Mitt Romney, the presumptive candidate, and the Republican Party to abandon the Cold War rhetoric. Easing the embargo is not an act of “appeasement”.  It is our hope that Paul Ryan will remain consistent to his well-documented stance against the embargo. We urge all candidates to consider the vast support among congressional Republicans who represent the Midwest and many other districts across the country to end the embargo in order to open up a potentially dynamic market for agricultural and other manufactured goods made in the USA.

True conservatives cannot defend our policy towards Cuba. The travel restrictions violate American citizens’ individual right to travel. Also, our government’s stance towards Cuba is an absolute contradiction to free market capitalism. Furthermore, it is our hope that the GOP will understand the historic ties that Tampa, the host city of their national convention, has with Cuba. The majority of the Cuban American community there favors normalization of relations with Cuba. We reject any attribution of Cuban American congressional members of the Republican Party from southern Florida such as Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio, David Rivera, and Mario Diaz-Balart to speak on behalf of Cuban Americans as a whole within the state, let alone throughout the nation.

The inclusion of Cuba on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism is counterproductive. This designation undermines American national security because it eliminates the possibility of working in concert with Cuban leaders on important matters of regional security.  Our policy towards Cuba is also looked upon with derision by most of our allies in Latin America and this also compromises our position of influence in the hemisphere. Finally, the embargo effectively denies the very real potential of sustained gains in various sectors of the economy that would result from the opening of a very close market that yearns for American goods and services.

President Obama and his administration are well aware of these circumstances and have encountered opposition from our partners in the western hemisphere regarding such policies. We welcome a proactive response to deal with these challenges.  Regardless of the outcome of the elections in November we would hope that liberals and progressives within the Democratic Party continue to work to bring about a relationship that is more beneficial for both the Cuban people and the American populace.

In closing, we reiterate to all political candidates of both Republican and Democratic parties that Cuban Americans represent a plurality of views pertaining to U.S.-Cuba relations. Any posture by any politician that insinuates that we are all in favor of the embargo is misleading.  It is our desire that the members of the American political class resist the urge to repeat the same tired lines about Cuba and the embargo from past campaigns.  Such an attempt to pander to a community whose grasp of the issue of U.S.-Cuba relations is quite sophisticated and nuanced could cause negative results at the ballot box.

Respectfully,

Members of the Board of Directors of CAFE (Cuban Americans for Engagement) and from the Executive Committee of FORNORM

Dr. Maria Isabel Alfonso, New York, NY. CAFE

Dr. Romy Aranguiz, Worcester, MA. CAFE

Dr. Eduardo Araujo, Boulder, CO. CAFE

Alejandro Barreras, Miami, FLA. CAFE

Isidro Borja, Miami, FLA. former President of FORNORM

Ernesto Cabo, Alexandria, VA. CAFE

Amaury Cruz, Miami, FLA. Vice President of FORNORM

Elena Freyre,  Miami, FLA. President of FORNORM

Arturo Lopez-Levy, Denver, CO. CAFE

Andres Ruiz, Worcester, MA. CAFE

Dr. Julio Ruiz, Miami, FLA. Secretary of FORNORM

Benjamin Willis, New York, NY. CAFE

Antonio Zamora, Miami, FLA. former President of FORNORM

 

Contact: Benjamin Willis

benjamin@cafeporcuba.com

US Government paid to influence Cuban 5 jury

August 25, 2012

by: W. T. Whitney Jr.

The U.S. government has taken extraordinary measures to defeat the Cuban revolution and undo Cuban independence. For sheer wrongness, the most notorious include the Bay of Pigs invasion, terrorist attacks, medical supplies blockaded, and persecution of the Cuban Five political prisoners. Now proceedings in the latter case take up previously neglected material confirming its place on the short list.
On August 20 lawyer Martin Garbus filed an affidavit with the trial judge in the Cuban Five case on behalf of prisoner Gerardo Hernandez, who is serving two life sentences. His earlier appeals having been denied, Hernandez filed a Habeas Corpus appeal on June 14, 2010. The affidavit is part of that process. It details a story of illegality and arrogance.

Garbus and Bill Norris, lawyer for prisoner Ramon Labañino, participated in an August 20 telephone press conference organized by the National Committee to Free the Five. Summarizing the affidavit, they indicated that the Miami Herald, Nuevo Herald, and other Miami area newspapers and television outlets blanketed the region with reports and editorials directed against the Five before and during their trial that ended in 2001. The affidavit demonstrates, they said, that the U.S. government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (previously USIA) paid the responsible reporters, editors, and broadcasters, ostensibly for services to Radio Martí, the propaganda outlet beamed at Cuba and based in Miami since 1996.

The idea, Garbus said, was to influence the community, sway the jury, and convict the Five, who came to Florida as Cuban agents in the 1990’s to monitor and report on private groups carrying out anti-Cuba terror attacks. They were arrested on September 12, 1998.

The court never considered the issues of government money and U.S. assistance to the prosecutors. “The defense team had absolutely no knowledge… we were not able to do anything that would have protected our clients.” lamented Bill Norris. Asked about legal precedents, Garbus explained that although cases of harmful publicity are legion, there has never been “a case where you have seen so much government involvement in trying to influence a jury.” This one “stands by itself.”

According to the affidavit, El Nuevo Herald published 806 prejudicial articles during 194 trial days; the Miami Herald, 305 articles. “The entire community” knew who the 12 jurors were. Most of the factual material contained in the affidavit had been unearthed by the National Committee using the Freedom of Information Act.

Separate but overlapping Habeas Corpus pleas are underway for four of the prisoners still in jail. Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, and Gerardo Hernandez received one life sentence each for conspiracy to commit espionage. On appeal, Guerrero was re-sentenced to 21 years, 10 months, Labañino to 30 years. Convicted on lesser charges, Fernando González and René González received 19 and 15 year sentences, respectively. Fernando’s sentence was reduced to 17 years. René González was released on probation in 2011. Hernandez’ second life sentence stems from conviction on a murder conspiracy charge. .

Hernandez’ habeas corpus appeal filed in 2010 calls for his conviction being vacated on grounds of ineffective counsel, a biased trial venue interfering with due process, prosecutorial misconduct, governmental failure to disclose evidence favoring Hernandez, and a “separate denial of due process resulting from the Government’s payments to journalists.”

Defense lawyers, unable to introduce new facts into their habeas corpus appeal like payments to journalists, took steps. On June 6, 2012, Hernandez’ lawyers filed a motion asking for “an opportunity for discovery prior to an evidentiary hearing.” Garbus filed the affidavit in support of that motion. It produces the facts he wants on the record. The motion “asks only for discovery [on] the claim relating to paid journalists.” It leaves Hernandez’ other claims for another day.

Garbus’ affidavit, which follows a government critique of the June 6 motion, covers the journalists’ personal histories, how much U. S. money they received, and what their articles, editorials, and broadcasts said. Radio Marti is castigated for illegally serving as a conduit for domestic propaganda. The affidavit notes prosecutorial and defense agreement that the government did make the payments.

Concluding the affidavit with the essence of Gerardo’s legal claim, Garbus writes: “Every dollar for every article, image, radio or television show that was spent on this secret program violated the integrity of the trial.”

That the Miami atmosphere remains poisoned five years after the trial was clear following the Miami Herald’s publication on September 8, 2006 of a report titled, “10 Miami Journalists Take U.S. Pay.” Author Oscar Corral and his story were discussed at the press conference and in the affidavit. For disclosing facts elaborated upon in the affidavit, Corral was accused of being a Cuban spy and threatened with death. Forced to move to a secret location together with his family, he soon resigned from the paper.

from PEOPLE’S WORLD

CHE AND THE CUBAN FIVE

August 25, 2012
Escrito por Estela McCollin   
 
 
Adriana Pérez, wife of Cuban Antiterrorist Gerardo Hernandez  

La Paz, Aug 25 (Prensa Latina) Adriana Pérez, wife of Cuban Antiterrorist Gerardo Hernandez honors today Cuban-Argentine guerrilla Ernesto Che Guevara in La Higuera, Bolivia, where he was murdered October 1967.

  Perez began last Wednesday a five-day visit in Bolivia. She travelled Friday to Vallegrande to lay a wreath at the 30-year burial site until Che’s remains were ferried to Santa Clara, central Cuba.

Adriana -wife of Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Five Cuban prisoners in US jails- paid tribute to the mythic guerrilla and assured that an old dream has come true in visiting a place she always wished to visit.

She also met with the Cuban medical brigade working in the region, whom she updated on the Cuban Five situation. Perez related their actual living terms and that of his comrades, their incongruous legal process and the media slant praying on their case.

With the visit to La Higuera, Pérez ends her stay in Bolivia where she gave an interview to numerous media and government personalities, among them with President Evo Morales in Palacio Quemado.

Morales promised to write a letter to US President Barack Obama to plead for the Cuban Five release, and whose cause he has joined from assuming power in 2006.

Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez were arrested on September 1998 and submitted to unlawful processes that resulted in harsh verdicts, namely against Gerardo who was given two life sentences plus 15 years.

Rene Gonzalez already completed his sentence but must fulfill in US territory three-year supervised probation.

The Cuban five were monitoring terrorist organizations financed by the US and operating from south Florida to denounce their activities.

Their anonymous work helped frustrate numerous terrorist plans that ranged from infiltrating weaponry and large arsenals in Cuba to mid-flight blast of civilian planes and the assassination or the leaders of the Cuban Revolution.

Visions of socialism in Cuba

August 25, 2012

by Steve W. ( UK )

I have just finished reading an article that appears HERE in the current edition of Temas magazine from Havana written by Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, of the Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana (pictured). For those who can read Spanish it is well worth a look.

She identifies three tendencies of thought in Cuba today about the way forward for socialism in the country. These she labels as the ‘statist’, ‘economistic’ and what she calls the ‘autogestionaria’ which I translate as the ‘collective self-manager’.

The statists are those who still cling to a strong, centralised and authoritarian state as the best means of defending the socialist system. They do see the need for some economic reform but wish to go only so far as to alleviate the immediate economic problems. They oppose the idea of a broad opening to the market and political as well as economic liberalisation or democratisation.
The economists, she describes as being in their purest form actually very frighteningly close to being neoliberals (though not admitting it in so many words), advocating root and branch adoption of market mechanisms and privatization of enterprises as the best means of delivering growth and improvements in living standards.
The third and final group (to which I suspect Camila belongs) are those who wish to see a decentralisation and democratisation of the social economy, greater workers’ control, more accountability and more cooperatives. This she says is criticised as utopian and is a view confined mainly to intellectuals who are wary of the pitfalls for the other two tendencies, which, she says, predominate in the public discourse. However, she points out that the ‘statist’ view is not shared by all those within the state, nor is the ‘economistic’ vision confined or monopolised by those who might be defined as economists.
If what Camila is describing does accord with the current reality, I draw three conclusions. Firstly, Cuba is going through a true period of societal change that involves a broad ranging discussion of the future and the options available to it. Secondly, there is a very real division of opinion within society as to what is the best direction forward. However, thirdly, despite these very divergent visions, the society is not visibly separating out into camps that define themselves along these ideological lines.  There is evidently something overlaying that binds the society together. My reading inclines me to believe that there is a consensus that whatever route they take, the accepted need is to find a path to preserve what they have and that implies keeping the United States out.
The United States should take on board the writing such as this that is coming out of Cuba and understand that this is not a society that is cowed by ‘totalitarianism’ nor is it a society that will be subverted from outside. If Camila is correct, it is a society that is genuinely trying to find its own path to socialism and sustainability in the 21st Century.
My point in saying this is to suggest that while this may be reason enough for the US to oppose it, I think it would be fairer for all concerned if the political class in the US would just say so, rather than to pretend that Cuba is ‘totalitarian’ (see: ‘The weird world of Mit’ – below) or does ‘not respect human rights’ or is a ‘sponsor of state terrorism’ – all of which, as Camila’s erudition and apparent freedom to write shows, are palpably false and utterly insulting to anyone with half a brain who lives in the United States or elsewhere in the so-called liberal democracies.

source : http://thecubabug.blogspot.co.uk/,

The Habeas Corpus of Gerardo Hernandez

August 24, 2012


Fernando Ravsberg*

 UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, officially expressed her concern over the lack of transparency and the legal procedures employed in the trials of five Cuban agents arrested in the US over a decade ago.

Apparently the prosecution and the judge played with cards up their sleeves by preventing the defense from having “access to all available evidence and documentary archives.” This was a violation of procedures so elementary that it even appears in TV series.

But the procedural mistakes don’t stop there. According to the UN rapporteur, the habeas corpus writ presented by the defense is being reviewed “by the same judge who was previously in charge of the case,” thereby making her the judge and the jury.

To top it all off, the hand of the US government can be seen in its pressuring of the courts for tougher sentences. Before and during the trial, several journalists in Miami received money to write articles against the five Cuban agents.

It really doesn’t seem legal for the executive branch to exert influence over the judiciary, nor is it very ethical for a journalist to agree to receive money from the government in exchange for writing articles to influence the outcome of an ongoing trial.

US attorney Martin Garbus says that between 1998-2001 an arsenal of propaganda was received by the Miami community through print, radio and television — paid for by the government — to interfere with the trail and to persuade the jury.

According to Garbus, fifteen journalists received money to write against the five agents. Apparently some received their funds secretly, with not even their media outlets knowing that they were working for another more generous employer. For this, one of the reporters was paid $175,000 USD.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) of the US government was forced to admit to the accusation when reporter Oscar Corral revealed that 50 of his colleagues in Florida were paid by government-funded Radio Marti for articles supporting the position of the US Department of State against Cuba.

The scandal was such that Jesus Diaz, the editor of the largest newspaper in Miami, fired several journalists claiming that the press can’t “ensure objectivity and integrity if any of our reporters receive monetary compensation from any entity, especially a government agency.”

The head of the Cuban agents, Gerardo Hernandez, was sentenced to two life sentences. Photo: Taken from Cubadebate

Despite the harsh words of the editor, this lack of ethics and professionalism seem not to have been considered too serious because a few months later several of those journalists returned to their old jobs, writing as if nothing had ever happened.

Certainly, there have been so many legal and ethical anomalies that make it seem logical for UN Rapporteur Gabriela Knaul to look askance at the independence of the judges in this case. Just the same, one would have expected such occurrences given the place where the trial was held.

Miami is a city where Cuban exiles have enormous political, economic and media power. It was highly unlikely to obtain a fair verdict in relation to these five agents who confessed to monitoring and reporting to Cuba on the activities of [terrorist figures] within that same community.

The atmosphere in Miami surpasses even their hatred of Fidel Castro and extends to citizens who live on the island. In the largest newspaper in the city diatribes appear ensuring that any relaxation of tensions “will have to be built by the submissive Cubans living on the island.”

The island’s residents are described as “those who have endured everything, who collaborated with everything, who have beaten Cuban dissidents, those who have betrayed their compatriots, who have tortured them, who have thrown them into the sea, and who have spent fifty years filling Fidel’s Revolution Square applauding and sniffing his ass.”

But it seems that the natural environment of that city wasn’t enough for Washington, so they decided that their official information apparatus would “burn up” hundreds of thousands of dollars to further inflame the situation and create a bonfire through the press.

In such an environment, Gerardo Hernandez was sentenced to two life sentences, ensuring that he would remain behind bars even if reincarnated in another life. Now his defense is demanding a fair trial in an unbiased city and without pressure from governmental or media campaigns.

The issue is worrisome even to the United Nations, because — as American lawyer Martin Garbus has expressed — “every dollar for every article, photo or radio or television program that was spent on this secret program violated the integrity of the trial.”
—–
(*) An authorized translation by Havana Times from the Spanish original published by BBC Mundo.


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