Archive for September, 2012

MIRACLE IN MIAMI by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

September 29, 2012

A Fabricated “Murder”  V

MIRACLE IN MIAMI  by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

On May 25, 2001, when the trial in Miami was nearing its end, the prosecution filed an Emergency Petition for Writ of Prohibition with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. The first surprise was the speed – no more than a couple of hours – with which the government prepared this document containing more than forty pages.  Here is how it described what had taken place:

“Sometime during the morning hours of May 25, 2001, following six days of argument, the trial court finalized the instructions to be given to the jury in this matter. After 1 pm that same day, the United States received a draft copy of those instructions from the District Court. The United States objected to several of these instructions.” (Emergency Petition, page 3)

That same afternoon, the prosecution took “the unprecedented step of petitioning this Court for a writ of prohibition” (Idem, Pages 4 and 5)

What was the prosecution seeking to prohibit?  Let’s read the Emergency Petition:

“That the district court be ordered to instruct the jury that it is not necessary for the jury to find that defendant Hernandez or his co-conspirators in Count Three of the indictment agreed that the murders would occur in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

“That the district court be prohibited from giving the pattern jury instruction on first degree murder and from instructing the jury that it must find that defendant Hernandez conspired to commit premeditated murder.

“That the district court be prohibited from giving a theory of defense instruction to the jury as to Count Three that includes provisions of the ICAO conventions and annexes.” (Idem, Pages 39 and 40)

But it just so happened that, upon drafting her instructions to the jury, the judge simply followed the accusation that the prosecution had formulated in May of 1999:

“the defendant Gerardo Hernandez did knowingly, willfully and unlawfully combine, conspire, confederate and agree with persons known and unknown to the Grand Jury, to perpetrate murder, that is the unlawful killing of human beings with malice aforethought, in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1111.” (Second Superseding Indictment, page 14)

One need only compare this government accusation with the judge’s instruction in order to comprehend that the two are identical:

“Count 3 charges that defendant Gerardo Hernandez conspired with other persons to perpetrate murder, that is, the unlawful killing of human beings with malice aforethought and premeditated intent in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” (Transcript of Trial before the Honorable Joan A. Lenard, pages 14587-14588

Consequently, Judge Lenard instructed that Gerardo:

“[C]an be found guilty of that offense only if all of the following facts are proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

“First.  That the victims named in the indictment are dead.

“Second.  That the defendant caused the death of the victims with malice aforethought.

“Third.  That the defendant did so with premeditated intent.

“Fourth.  That the killing occurred within the special maritime or territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” (Idem pages 14598-14599)

How could the government object to an instruction that followed its own allegation to the letter?

Two years had passed since the government had launched its unfounded slander against Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, and during that time it had organized and financed a fierce propaganda campaign with which the jury and witnesses were subjected to countless pressures, despite repeated complaints from the judge herself.  Since May of 1999, Gerardo had been declared guilty not only by the local press but by all Miami’s authorities and leading public figures.

Within the courtroom, however, the clumsily fabricated pretext unraveled against the arguments from the defense and the testimony from specialists on both sides.  Aware of its fiasco, the prosecution felt itself forced to object to the judge’s instructions or, in what amounts to the same thing, negate its own accusation: “In light of the evidence presented in this trial, this presents an insurmountable hurdle for the United States in this case, and will likely result in the failure of the prosecution on this count.” (Emergency Petition, page 21).

The prosecution, finally, acknowledged its failure.  It was an “unprecedented” action, according to its own words.

The Court of Appeals did not accept the petition.  Nor did it grant the temporary stay of the trial that the prosecutors had also requested.  The case returned to Miami. It was time for the jury to give its verdict.

And it did so with unusual speed.  The jurors asked no questions, nor did they express the slightest doubt.  It did not even occur to any of them to request clarification about the Emergency Petition for Writ of Prohibition.  Judge Lenard had spoken.  They were afraid.  That’s why, confronted with those threatening faces, approached one last time by the cameras and microphones that had besieged them throughout those many months, they gave the guilty verdict that had been demanded of them.

Gerardo Hernández Nordelo was condemned to die in prison for a crime that did not exist; for an event with which he had no relationship whatsoever; for a fabricated accusation that the prosecutors themselves admitted they could not prove and had tried to withdraw.

Despite their defeat, the prosecution won, achieving that which it had sought: punishing an innocent man and robbing him of his life.  At the end of the day, it happened in Miami.

 

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Cuba and The United States In the 21st Century

September 28, 2012

By Jane Franklin

Simón Bolívar saw it coming. In 1829 the Great Liberator of Latin American
colonies warned that the United States “appears destined by Providence to plague
America with miseries in the name of Freedom.”

Now, in the 21st century, we witness the global spread of that plague as
Washington, obsessed with being a unipolar power in a multipolar world, demands
that each and every nation adhere to its dictate of “democracy” and “freedom.”
Powerful words have become shibboleths in the service of imperialism.

In an alternate history, things could have been different after the terrorist
attacks of 9/11 in 2001. But this is a history of imperialism, with its
ineluctable imperatives.

As flames, smoke and ashes billowed from the wreckage of the Twin Towers and the
Pentagon, the first country to express sympathy and offer aid was Cuba.
President Fidel Castro expressed his government’s profound “grief and sadness”
about the “violent surprise attacks carried out this morning” and offered Cuba’s
medical aid.

On 9/11 the entire world seemed in sympathy with the United States. But the U.S.
response was unilateral and imperial. On September 20, in a televised address
before a joint session of Congress, President George W. Bush declared a “war on
terror.” He simply announced war, without asking Congress, seated before him, to
declare war as required by the U.S. Constitution. He called it “our” war because
it already belonged to all U.S. citizens, like it or not: “Our war on terror
begins with al Qaeda,” he said, “but it does not end there.”

Bush was looking beyond the war in Afghanistan, which would begin the following
month: “Americans should not expect one battle but a lengthy campaign, unlike
any other we have ever seen.” For his international audience, he warned, “Every
nation, in every region, now has a decision to make: Either you are with us, or
you are with the terrorists.” For his domestic audience, he announced the
creation of the Office of Homeland Security, kicking off an era that would leave
U.S. constitutional rights crumbling amid the destruction.

A few months later Bush’s commencement address to the graduating class of the
U.S. Military Academy at West Point was an order to transform U.S. armed forces
into a “military that must be ready to strike at a moment’s notice in any dark
corner of the world.” “We must,” he commanded, “uncover terror cells in 60 or
more countries.”

Bush’s “war on terror” created a new paradigm in which U.S. imperialism wages a
forever war against “the bad guys” as if the world is a “Call of Duty” video
game. Perhaps the first iconic manifestation of the war’s nature was the
creation on occupied territory in Cuba at the Guantánamo Naval Base of a prison
that quickly became notorious around the world for torture, serving as a
21st-century model for the infamous Abu Ghraib in Iraq as well as prisons in
other countries, including Afghanistan, Jordan, Poland, Romania, and Thailand.

The plan for this imperial crusade had appeared years before the 9/11 attacks as
neoconservatives from the “Project for the New American Century,” like Paul
Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney, developed their strategy for a “global Pax
Americana.” In September 2000, just before the presidential election, PNAC
published Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a
New Century. The report outlined a slow transformation to total global hegemony
unless there were “some catalyzing and catastrophic event — like a new Pearl
Harbor.”

ELECTIONS, U.S. STYLE

How did those neoconservatives place themselves into position to take advantage
of their “new Pearl Harbor” on 9/11? They did it by systematically hijacking the
first presidential election of the 21st century in the key battleground state of
Florida. After the Civil War, Florida (like the other former slave states)
passed laws designed to criminalize ex-slaves and then disenfranchise them
because they were thus “criminals.” The Jeb Bush Administration actually used
the 1868 Florida law that disenfranchised ex-slaves to disenfranchise former
felons. At the time of that crucial 2000 election, disenfranchised former felons
in Florida totaled 600,000. Of those, 256,392 were African-Americans. With a
devious vote count, Texas Governor Bush defeated Vice-President Al Gore in
Florida by only 537 votes. If those African-Americans had been allowed to vote,
the president on 9/11 would have been Al Gore.

As it was, the vote was so close that it triggered an automatic recount. Legal
battles between the Bush and Gore campaigns raged for weeks. When the Florida
State Supreme Court ruled that recounts could continue, Miami’s Radio Mambí
broadcast appeals by Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln Díaz-Balart,
both Cuban-American members of Congress, calling for Cuban-Americans to stop the
vote count for Miami-Dade County taking place at the Government Center in Miami.
Consequently, the rest of the country caught a glimpse of the kind of
“democracy” these Cuban-Americans would like to impose in Cuba. According to The
New York Times, “several people were trampled, punched or kicked when protesters
tried to rush the doors outside the office of the Miami-Dade supervisor of
elections.” Sheriffs restored order. When it was over, the shock troops had
achieved what they wanted: the Canvassing Board shut down the Miami-Dade
recount.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party was operating a machine driven by higher powers
than Republican protesters in the street: Republicans in high places. Florida’s
Republican Secretary of State certified the election results as a 537-vote
victory. Florida’s Republican Governor Jeb Bush signed forms to declare that all
25 of Florida’s electors were pledged to his brother George, thus tipping the
national electoral votes to Bush even though Gore won the popular vote. Then,
when the Florida State Supreme Court ruled for a statewide partial recount, five
U.S. Supreme Court judges overruled the State Court with a 5 to 4 vote to shut
down all recounts. Those five “justices” — nominated by Republican Presidents
Nixon, Reagan, and H.W. Bush — decided that Republican George W. Bush would be
president of the United States.

The battle for Florida in 2000 showed how crucial Florida’s electoral votes have
become. Since 1992, no president has been elected without winning Florida. This
situation gives powerful leverage to about half a million Cuban-American voters
in Florida. Every four years Democratic and Republican presidential candidates
compete aggressively for their favor. This task, however, is more complicated
than it used to be. A developing generational difference among Cuban-Americans
finds many more concerned about domestic issues like employment and health care
than about Cuba. And politicians have to pay attention to the rapidly
increasing number of other Hispanic voters whose interests may not coincide with
prioritizing overthrow of the Cuban government.

President Ronald Reagan had recognized the potential challenge of the changing
demographic and established a hardline Cuban-American organization to serve as
an arm of U.S. domestic and foreign policy, shoring up the goal of restoring
U.S. control of Cuba. In 1981, his first year as president, Reagan created the
Cuban American National Foundation. A major purpose of CANF was to drown out the
voices of Cuban-Americans and other Americans who want to improve relations with
Cuba. President Reagan and Vice-President George H. W. Bush anointed Jorge Mas
Canosa as chairman of CANF, designating him the “liberator” who would “return
democracy” to Cuba. CANF’s multimillionaire board of directors and trustees in
Florida and New Jersey showered congressional campaigns with money and in return
Congress established the National Endowment for Democracy that granted funds to
CANF’s various projects, like Radio and TV Martí. CANF quickly became the most
powerful of all the U.S. organizations aimed at overthrowing the Cuban
Government.

Mas Canosa was a sophisticated politician who worked both sides of the political
aisle, financing campaigns of Democrats as well as Republicans. Moreover CANF
engineered victorious campaigns of Cuban-Americans at all levels of government
in Florida and New Jersey, from town halls to State legislatures and on to the
Capitol in Washington. In 1989, CANF’s choice for a special election in Florida
was Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose campaign manager happened to be Jeb Bush, son of
then-President H.W. Bush. Ros-Lehtinen became the first Cuban-American elected
to the House of Representatives. Others followed her to both House and Senate,
Democrats as well as Republicans, all dedicated to overthrowing the government
of Cuba.

COVERT TERRORISM

Unlike Omega 7, Alpha 66, and other terrorists who boast of their armed
infiltrations, sabotage, and even murders, CANF persisted in claiming it engaged
only in nonviolent activities, giving an aura of respectability. Cuba warned
that CANF had a covert military arm. Who was telling the truth? In fact, CANF’s
plans for getting rid of Fidel Castro included “by any means necessary.” CANF’s
multimillionaires, eager to make more millions in Cuba, expected immediate
collapse in Havana after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. In
1992, frustrated by the delay, while one hand was engineering the lawful
Torricelli Act to tighten the trade embargo, the other hand was secretly
creating CANF’s unlawful paramilitary branch dedicated to assassinating
President Fidel Castro. In 1997, some of CANF’s gang were arrested on their way
to kill Castro at an Ibero-American Summit meeting on Margarita Island in
Venezuela. They were acquitted in Puerto Rico in December 1999 despite the fact
that one of them had bragged to the Coast Guard that they were on their way to
kill Castro. One of the two .50 caliber rifles onboard La Esperanza belonged to
Francisco (Pépé) Hernández, who was then and continues to be the president of
CANF. The FBI visited Hernández and obviously told him to “lay low” for a while
– the message consistently delivered by the FBI to terrorists they harbor. Even
as the five CANF terrorists returned to their mansions, five Cuban
anti-terrorists were facing trial in Miami.

CANF was also clandestinely supporting the two most notorious terrorists in the
Western Hemisphere, Orlando Bosch Avila (who died, unimprisoned, in Miami in
2011) and Luis Posada Carriles (who at this writing continues to walk free in
Miami). Bosch and Posada are known worldwide as the masterminds of blowing up
Cubana Airline’s Flight 455 in 1976, killing all 73 passengers and crew aboard.
Flight 455 was the only passenger plane blown up by terrorists in the Western
Hemisphere – until 9/11. In his autobiography, Los caminos del guerrero (The
Paths of the Warrior), Posada named three major financial supporters: Jorge Mas
Canosa (CANF chairman until his death in 1997), Pépé Hernández, and Feliciano
Foyo (CANF board member until he left to join the even more extremist Cuban
Liberty Council). Posada again named Mas Canosa as a financier during an
astonishing interview by Ann Louise Bardach and Larry Rohter that was featured
on the New York Times front pages for two days, July 12-13, 1998. Posada stated
that U.S. intelligence agents look the other way as he carries out operations
such as a series of bombings in Cuba in 1997 that killed an Italian businessman
in a Havana hotel. Speaking of relations between terrorists and the CIA, Posada
boasted, “`The CIA taught us everything–everything.’” He continued, “`They
taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage.’” He
called Jorge Kiszinski, an FBI agent who was supposedly investigating terrorist
activities by Cuban-Americans, “`a very good friend.’”

Because the CIA and the FBI failed to apprehend terrorists who were plotting
attacks against Cuba, Cuban agents were forced to take on the job. In June 1998,
FBI agents were invited to Havana where Cuban officials gave them reams of
information gathered by Cuban agents. But in September, instead of arresting the
terrorists, the FBI arrested the agents who had gathered the evidence. Gerardo
Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René
González, known as the Cuban Five, were tried in Miami, convicted in 2001, and
incarcerated in different prisons across the United States.

Meanwhile, other Cuban agents uncovered the most potentially deadly
assassination plot of all. As Fabián Escalante, former head of Cuba’s State
Security Department (G-2), meticulously documented in his book, Executive
Action: 634 Ways to Kill Fidel Castro, the CIA began these assassination
attempts in 1959 while the FBI started even before that, in 1958 while Castro
was still in the Sierras. Most have gone unnoticed, but President Castro made
sure to call attention to this one. After arriving in Panama City in November
2000 to attend an Ibero-American Summit meeting, Castro held a news conference
to announce that Luis Posada Carriles and three Cuban-American co-conspirators
were planning to assassinate him by bombing the auditorium at the University of
Panama where he would be speaking. He even revealed where police could find the
assassins. G-2 agents not only saved the life of Fidel Castro yet again but also
the lives of hundreds of people, mainly students, who packed the University of
Panama auditorium to hear Castro speak. This would not have been a single
assassination. It would have been a massacre.

Less than a year after that terrorism was avoided came the terrorist attacks of
September 11, 2001. Fidel Castro, in his offer of sympathy and aid to the United
States that day, urged that Washington put an end to the terrorism waged from
within the United States against Cuba. However, the U.S. State Department keeps
Cuba on its list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism” even though it no longer cites
any evidence that Cuba is engaged in any terrorism anywhere in the world. By
defining Cuba as a terrorist nation, the State Department gets away with
defining terrorism aimed at Cuba as anti-terrorism. Thus, there is no chance
that the terror cells in Florida and New Jersey would be targeted by the “war on
terror.” In fact, when Posada and his co-conspirators arrived in Miami after
they were pardoned in Panama (by outgoing President Mereya Moscoso who was on
her way to live in Miami), they were welcomed as heroes in their capital city of
terrorism.

And how are these terrorists treated by Washington? The Justice Department
refuses Venezuela’s request for Posada’s extradition to continue facing charges
for the 73 murders of the passengers and crew aboard Flight 455. In Congress,
some Cuban-American members take pride in publicly representing the views of
their terrorist constituents, including threats of assassination. For example,
on March 22, 2004, Florida Republican Representative Lincoln Díaz-Balart
promoted the assassination of Fidel Castro on Miami television, and in an
interview for the 2006 British documentary “638 Ways to Kill Castro,”
Representative Ros-Lehtinen stated, “I welcome the opportunity of having anyone
assassinate Fidel Castro.”

Invasion is openly advocated. When Ros-Lehtinen was a guest on NBC’s “Today”
program in 1996, Bryant Gumbel said that most Americans probably don’t see Cuba
as a threat; Ros-Lehtinen replied: “What was the threat in the Panama invasion?
Did we think that Manuel Noriega’s army was going to invade us? And what about
the threat in the Persian Gulf War? Were they going to send their jets and
invade us? There were no threats and yet we took forceful action.” In the 2010
midterm elections, right-wingers with the Tea Party’s agenda shifted the
majority of the House of Representatives to the Republican Party, meaning that
all House committees would now be chaired by Republicans. This enabled
Ros-Lehtinen to achieve her dream of becoming the chair of the House Foreign
Relations Committee. With that powerful position, she continued to demand
“forceful action” against Cuba. Although there has been no subsequent outright
invasion like the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuba has reported to the United
Nations that 3,478 Cubans have died and 2,099 have been disabled by terrorist
activities.

OVERT TERRORISM

As deadly as it is, covert terrorism has not been as devastating as the overt
terrorism of the U.S. trade embargo which has been aimed at starving the Cuban
people into submission ever since the Revolution. According to a June 24, 1959,
State Department memorandum, Robert Kleberg, owner of the King Ranch in Texas
with a three-million-dollar cattle investment in Cuba, told Secretary of State
Christian Herter that depriving Cuba of its sugar quota privilege would cause
“widespread further unemployment” and “large numbers of people thus forced out
of work would begin to go hungry.” Herter cautioned that such a policy would be
“economic warfare” in peacetime.

Which was it to be? Warfare or peacetime? Within a year the Eisenhower
Administration instituted economic warfare as permanent policy toward Cuba. In
the United States people hear that it is Cuba’s economic system, not the trade
embargo, that hurts Cuban people. Yet the genesis of the trade embargo was
explicitly to starve Cubans into submission. On April 6, 1960, Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Lester Mallory sent a decisive
memo to Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs R. Richard
Rubottom, Jr. It reads like a memo from the 21st century as it points out that
the “majority of Cubans support [Fidel] Castro” and concludes that the “only
foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and
disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship.” Therefore “it
follows that every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the
economic life of Cuba….to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of
government.”

So Washington terminated Cuba’s sugar quota in July, leaving Cuba holding
700,000 tons of unsold sugar (soon purchased by the Soviet Union). A total U.S.
trade embargo took effect in February 1962 as part of the secret Operation
Mongoose that led to the 1962 Missile Crisis. Although negotiations to end that
crisis included an agreement with the Soviet Union by the Kennedy White House
that the United States would not invade Cuba again, economic warfare along with
armed infiltrations continued. At the UN General Assembly in 2011, Cuban Foreign
Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parilla reported that economic damages to Cuba from the
trade embargo totaled $975 billion.

The principal ideological justification for banning trade was that Cuba had
become a Soviet “proxy” spreading communism to the Western Hemisphere. The
professed anti-colonialism of the 1901 Platt Amendment appeared in an updated
form, with the Soviet Union rather than Spain cast in the role of the threat to
Cuban independence. But if the Soviet Union were the real cause, the embargo
would have ended in 1991 when the USSR disintegrated. Instead, Washington
intensified the trade embargo.

First came the Torricelli Act (“Cuban Democracy Act”) signed by President H.W.
Bush in 1992. Its express purpose, in the words of then-Representative Robert
Torricelli, was to “wreak havoc on that island.” Then in 1996 came the bizarre
Helms-Burton law (“Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act”) signed by
President Bill Clinton.

With the Soviet Union out of the way, the Torricelli Act and the Helms-Burton
Law make no pretence of trying to save Cuba from a foreign power. Under the
mantra of “democracy” both claim to be saving Cuba from its own government.
Although the texts ring with calls for “democracy,” “freedom,” and “human
rights,” these two omnibus laws are focused not on Cuba in reality but on Cuba
in the imagination of CANF multimillionaires, fantasizing about their return to
the Batista era, once again assuming ownership of Cuba in alliance with
Washington.

In a frenzy to restore the past, Helms-Burton’s Title III concocted a unique
method of acquiring the right to regain former property: property left behind
by Cuban émigrés is magically converted into U.S. property because those Cubans
later became U.S. citizens! In U.S. courts, Cuban-Americans could sue foreign
investors who “traffic” in property Cubans owned when they were Cuban citizens.
Even some of the closest U.S. allies objected vociferously to its
extraterritoriality with the result that Title III, “Protection of Property
Rights of United States Nationals,” has never been enforced. The president
suspends it every six months.

However, Title I, “Authorization of Support for Democratic and Human Rights
Groups and International Observers,” has become the nexus of policy toward Cuba
in the 21st century. It authorizes the president to give money and goods to
individuals and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for “democracy-building
efforts.” This financial and material support of “dissidents” is of course a
blatant attempt to create a Fifth Column to implement Washington’s agenda.

CUBAN LAW VERSUS U.S. LAW

In 1901 U.S. law became Cuban law. That year, in order to codify control of
Cuba, the U.S. Congress passed the Platt Amendment as part of an Army
Appropriations bill. The amendment provided a blueprint for turning Cuba into a
neocolony. Since Washington made it clear that its military occupation would not
end until the amendment became part of Cuban law, Cuba included the Platt
Amendment in its 1901 Constitution.

Helms-Burton aspires to be the Platt Amendment of the 21st century. But there is
a key difference between Platt and Helms-Burton. Helms-Burton is U.S. law but
Cuba is determined to keep it from becoming Cuban law. In 1999, Cuba passed its
own “Law for the Protection of National Independence and the Economy of Cuba”
(Law 88). It points out that Helms-Burton makes financing subversive activities
part of economic warfare against Cuba. Law 88 makes it a violation of Cuban law
to introduce into Cuba, accept, or distribute materials from the U.S. Government
that would aid in implementing Helms-Burton. Thus, when a U.S. agent (such as
Alan Gross, who was working for the State Department’s USAID when he was
arrested in Cuba in 2009) introduces such materials and distributes them in
Cuba, the agent is implementing Helms-Burton, thus violating Cuban law.

Helms-Burton also dictates precisely how Cuba must conduct “free” elections
during the “transition” between the overthrow of its government and replacement
with an approved government. Title II, “Assistance to a Free and Independent
Cuba,” specifies that neither Fidel Castro nor Raúl Castro can be president of a
“free” Cuba, whether or not elected.

But Cuba managed its own orderly transition, without Washington’s approval, in
2006 after Fidel Castro removed himself from the presidency because of illness.
Raúl Castro became acting president and then was elected president in 2008. He
took office as recession struck the global economy, including both Cuba and the
United States. In addition, three major hurricanes hit Cuba in 2008 with
devastating economic losses. Aiming to address its problems without giving up
socialist principles, Cuba launched a campaign against corruption and
inefficiency, including major changes in agriculture. In April 2011, the Cuban
Communist Party held its first Party Congress since 1997 and approved about 300
economic, social, and political reforms, including private sales of houses and
property, more self-employment, and increasing foreign investment.

The American people were also looking for change. During that 2008 to 2012
period, the key figure was Barack Obama who ran his 2008 winning presidential
campaign with a promise of change as the U.S. economy was collapsing beneath the
weight of the Bush Administration’s two major wars and reckless economic
policies. As part of his strategy for winning the crucial electoral votes of
Florida, Obama aligned himself with CANF, in favor of loosening travel
restrictions for Cuban-Americans with family on the island. Four years earlier,
President Bush had instituted draconian travel rules that restricted visits to
relatives to once in every three years and allowed scant remittances. This
mobilized 500 Cuban-Americans who attended a press conference in Miami, giving
birth to a new movement for family rights. Reaching for that growing bloc of
voters, Obama promised in a May 2008 Miami speech, “I will immediately allow
unlimited family travel and remittances.” Obama won Florida. When he took office
in 2009, he kept that promise.

But what about travel for other U.S. citizens? George Bush had also terminated
people-to-people exchanges that allow a relatively small number of non-Cubans to
visit Cuba by traveling with groups who manage to obtain special licenses from
the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In 2011
President Obama restored those limited exchanges but in the election year of
2012 once again OFAC made licenses difficult or impossible to get. Moreover,
even though he is a constitutional lawyer, Obama continued the travel ban for
all other people, despite the fact that the Supreme Court in 1958 ruled that
U.S. citizens have a constitutional right to travel.

But what do most Americans think about relations with Cuba? Some organizations
– e.g., the Venceremos Brigade (since 1969) and the IFCO Caravans for Peace
(since 1992) – have continued to organize large groups to visit the forbidden
island without applying for licenses, taking humanitarian aid with them.
Widespread support around the United States for these ventures has made it
difficult for the U.S. government to crack down on their defiance of the bans on
travel and trade. A CBS-New York Times poll taken in April 2009 showed that 60
percent favored freedom to travel to Cuba by all citizens and 67 percent favored
re-establishing diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba.

Meanwhile, the political dynamic among Cuban-Americans was changing dramatically
and hardline Cuban-Americans have been forced to decide how to deal with the
changes. As the 21st century dawned, the CANF was no longer the bulwark that
Reagan had designed. Its charismatic chairman, Jorge Mas Canosa, had died;
several high-ranking members were exposed in a bungled attempt to assassinate
Fidel Castro; and one of CANF’s main protégés, Luis Posada, had bragged to The
New York Times about CANF’s financing his terrorism. Then suddenly, as one
century turned into another, Cuban-American attentions focused on the custody
battle for Elián González, a motherless child being held by relatives in Miami’s
Little Havana to prevent his return to his father, stepmother, brother, all four
grandparents, and his classmates at school. Rescued from an inner tube in the
Atlantic after his mother drowned in November 1999, Elián became major news in
both Cuba and the United States as a great-uncle claimed custody.

The Cuban people mobilized to demand his return. It became a showdown. The issue
divided Cuban-Americans, who demonstrated in Miami on both sides of the battle.
The American people watched on television as Miami relatives tried to turn a
six-year-old against his father by surrounding him with possessions, including
gifts from Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the promise of a life of luxury as CANF got
involved in the battle. Here was a close-up look at hardline Cuban-Americans,
and most people did not like what they saw, deciding that the Miami relatives
were nothing more than kidnappers.

When the U.S. legal system ruled in favor of the father’s right to his son,
Attorney General Janet Reno ordered federal agents to rescue Elián, who was
reunited in April with his father, stepmother, and baby brother, who had come to
Washington. But court battles continued while demonstrations raged in Miami, for
and against keeping Elián. Finally, just hours after the Supreme Court refused
to hear a last-minute appeal by the distant Miami relatives, Elián and his
family flew home to Cuba on June 28, 2000. W

What happened in Florida after that seven-month battle to keep a child from his
father? As polls showed that a majority of people in the United States
disagreed with CANF’s position about Elián, CANF began damage control. José
Cárdenas, director of CANF’s Washington office, admitted in the June 15 Miami
Herald, “There has been an assessment that, in the past few weeks, there has
been damage to the image of Cuban Americans.”

Hardliners complained that CANF chairman Jorge Mas Santos, the son of Jorge Mas
Canosa, had not shown the leadership that his father would have provided to keep
Elián out of Cuba. They vowed to retaliate against the Democrats in the upcoming
November 2000 elections, which they did, helping to win a dubious victory for
Bush in Florida. CANF’s internal divide culminated in a split in 2001 when
almost two dozen board members publicly resigned, stating that CANF had softened
its line. They formed the Cuban Liberty Council (CLC), which continued the hard
line of no contact at all with Cuba.

THE TRADE EMBARGO

Crucially, both CANF and CLC continued full support for Helms-Burton. When Obama
made

that promise in Miami in May 2008 to allow “unlimited family travel and
remittances,” he also made a second promise: “I will maintain the embargo.” On
this issue of trade, Obama could play to both CLC and CANF because this promise
is stamped with the approval of all of those self-professed humanitarians who
want to starve the Cuban people into submission.

But it does not have the stamp of approval from most American people. In fact,
despite opposition by the usual suspects, in the year 2000 agribusinesses and
pharmaceutical industries were able to persuade Congress and President Clinton
to enact a major change to Helms-Burton that allows exports of food,
agricultural and forestry products, and medicines to Cuba. The change has turned
the United States into one of Cuba’s major trading partners. However, the trade
is only in one direction. Cuba can import U.S. exports, but nobody in the United
States can import Cuban exports. In addition, Cuba must pay cash in advance for
those imports.

Why is Washington never persuaded to allow its citizens to trade freely with
Cuba? The answer goes back through history all the way to Thomas Jefferson:
the U.S. government wants Cuba as part of what Jefferson called an “empire for
liberty.” Obama maintained an embargo that has been consecrated by his ten
predecessors.

But the embargo has become a boomerang. According to Helms-Burton, the President
should instruct the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to propose in the
Security Council “a mandatory international embargo against the totalitarian
Cuban Government.” Instead, it is Cuba who has brought the issue to a vote
every year since 1992 in the General Assembly. That year, with 179 nations, the
vote was 59 to 3 against the trade embargo, with 71 abstentions and 46 not
voting. As the years went by, the number of votes against the embargo kept
increasing. By 2011, with 193 nations, the vote was 186 to 2, with 3 abstentions
and 2 not voting. Washington could find only one country — Israel — to vote
for the trade embargo. Aiming to isolate Havana, Washington isolated itself.

What other nations refuse to trade with Cuba? Not one. Even Israel, despite its
vote at the UN, trades with Cuba. Major trading partners — including
Venezuela, China, Canada, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, Russia, Algeria, and
the European Union – are profiting from the flow of goods and services in and
out of Cuba.

In the globalized and multipolar world of the 21st century, the U.S. embargo
becomes ever more anachronistic and self-destructive. An historical development
at the turn of the century created an opening for Cuba that continues to widen
and deepen. After Hugo Chávez, a socialist, was elected Venezuela’s president in
1999, Cuba and Venezuela formed a trading alliance based on the barter system:
Cuba, rich in health care, and Venezuela, rich in oil, traded medical personnel
and oil for the benefit of each population. In 2004 Cuba and Venezuela launched
the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), an alternative to
the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which was promoted by the
United States and would have included all countries in the Americas except Cuba.
Foreign Minister Rodríguez has called FTAA “the United States’ plan to
economically annex Latin America.” FTAA was sidelined in 2005. ALBA has
continued to grow. A dramatic change in political and economic relationships is
underway in the Western Hemisphere.

PARADIGM SHIFT

In 1962, as part of Operation Mongoose, a covert plan for overthrowing the Cuban
Government, the Kennedy Administration launched a major campaign to isolate
Cuba. A crucial component was to get Cuba suspended from the Organization of
American States (OAS). Since the OAS is headquartered in and dominated by
Washington, 14 of the 21 members went along with the White House, barely
providing the necessary two-thirds vote for suspension. In 2009, the OAS, having
grown in numbers as well as political power, rescinded Cuba’s suspension.

The paradigm shift was boldly manifest the following year in the creation of the
Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which aims to
strengthen economic and political ties among its members, completely independent
from Washington. When the 21st century opened, OAS members included all 35
nations of the Western Hemisphere, with Cuba suspended. By the end of the first
decade of the 21st century, CELAC members included all 33 Latin American and
Caribbean nations of the Western Hemisphere, with the United States and Canada
excluded.

As if oblivious to the consensus of Latin America and the Caribbean regarding
the status of Cuba, President Obama declared in September 2011, “It’s clearly
time for regime change in Cuba.”

When it seemed that President Raúl Castro would attend the OAS Sixth Summit in
2012, Cuban-Americans in Congress demanded that President Obama boycott the
meeting if Castro attended. Obama promptly agreed. Ecuadorian President Rafael
Correa, in a letter to the Summit’s host, Colombian President Juan Manuel
Santos, explained that he would not be attending if Cuba were excluded. When the
Summit met on April 14-15 in Cartagena, Cuba’s exclusion became a major agenda
item. Disagreement led to no Final Statement. As an Associated Press headline
put it, “U.S., Canada stand alone insisting on the exclusion of Cuba from
summits.” Seeking to alienate Cuba, President Obama alienated the United
States.

Yet in Washington and Miami there is no sign of recognition that the center has
shifted both within the Hemisphere and within the United States. During the 2012
presidential campaign, the gravitational pull continued to move Republicans
around CLC and Democrats around CANF, all upholding the trade embargo and
disregarding the creation of Cuban-American groups like Cuban Americans For
Engagement (C.A.F.E.) and the Foundation for Normalization of US-Cuba Relations
(FORNORM), not to mention all the polls showing that a majority of all Americans
want improved relations with Cuba.

Indeed, in the heat of the 2012 presidential campaign, the candidates of the two
major political parties ignored voices of dissent and predictably engaged in
outdoing each other in their fervor for empire. Just as President Obama called
for regime change in Cuba, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
promised hardliners that “we will hasten the day when the regime will come to an
end.”

AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM

What ideology allows this policy toward Cuba to continue despite almost
universal condemnation around the globe? American exceptionalism.

Describing his own book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Romney
stated, “I make no apology for my conviction that America’s economic and
military leadership is not only good for American but also critical for freedom
and peace across the world.” In a speech in May 2012, he explained, “We have
two courses we can follow: One is to follow in the pathway of Europe, to shrink
our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs. The other is to
commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to
none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world.” At a campaign stop in
March, he told supporters, “Our president doesn’t have the same feelings about
American exceptionalism that we do.”

Speaking at the Air Force Academy Commencement in May, President Obama, not to
be outdone as an exceptionalist, dutifully followed those neoconservatives from
the “Project for the New American Century” with their strategy for a “global Pax
Americana.” He told the graduating pilots of Forever War that “the United
States has been, and will always be, the one indispensable nation in world
affairs” because “America is exceptional” and “the 21st will be another great
American Century.” Explaining these pilots’ duties in this New American
Century, he invoked “American Century” seven times as he promised “military
superiority in all areas – air, land, sea, space and cyber.” The goal is “an
international order where the rights and responsibilities of all nations and
peoples are upheld and where countries thrive by meeting their obligations and
face consequences when they don’t.” In this Pax Americana, consequences will be
decided by Washington. The United States with its alleged democratic ideals is
free — free to do anything it wants to do, from toppling governments with
massive destruction to sending drones on assignments for the assassination of
anybody anywhere.

The doctrine of American exceptionalism emerged dramatically alongside U.S.
policy toward Cuba, from Jefferson’s vision of Cuba as part of an “empire for
liberty,” to the Platt Amendment’s platform for domination, and on to
Helms-Burton’s blueprint for starving Cuba into submission in the New American
Century – all under the banner of democracy, freedom, and human rights. Bolívar
called it “miseries in the name of freedom.”

From: Z Net – The Spirit Of Resistance Lives
URL:
http://www.zcommunications.org/cuba-and-the-united-states-in-the-21st-century-by\
-jane-franklin

Jane Franklin
http://www.janefranklin.info

Media Show Orchestrated by Cubans at Service of the USA Dismantled

September 26, 2012
 
Cuba dismantled another media circus orchestrated from the U.S. as part of the smear campaign against the revolution, this time starring citizen Martha Beatriz Roque.
Cuban television showed footage of an alleged hunger strike by Roque and other 19 people classed as Washington-paid workers, who were determined to draw the attention of the major media and build up lies against the island.

The braocasted material shows that during the political farce Roque received from his neighbor Humberto Gonzalez a continuous supply of food, such as fruits, vegetables and meat products.

The special television program reported that at the request of the strikers, doctors from a polyclinic went to assist them..

One of them, Dr. Anabel Cardenas explained that in spite of being diabetic and hypertensive, Roque, who pretended decay-could move with great vitality and there was no danger to her life.

At her home, Roque held talks with known international media and the Cuban American National Foundation based in U.S. territory, and was visited by the official of the Section of Interests of the United States in Havana (SINA) Maureen McGovern, as shown the report.

Previously, Roque had met with the head of the U.S. Interests Section, John Patrick Caufield as it was described in the footage.

The program denounced the support of the major media to the smear campaign against the Caribbean island, which at the same time, are silent on the case of the five Cubans imprisoned in the United States since 1998.

Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez were sentenced to harsh sentences for reporting on violent plan actions by terrorist groups based in U.S. territory against Cuba.

Prensa Latina News Agency

TRANSLATED BY ESCAMBRAY

Ruling from the Peoples’ Tribunal : case of CUBAN FIVE

September 25, 2012

The following is the ruling from the Peoples’ Tribunal and Assembly that was held September 21st to 23rd, 2012

The Ruling:

This People’s Tribunal was convened in Toronto fourteen years after the arrest and detention of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González Llort and René González in the United States.

After considering all the evidence before this Peoples’ Tribunal, we find:

1. There is overwhelming and compelling evidence as to the activity of terrorist groups in Southern Florida, groups which have planned and executed terrorist actions against the people of Cuba for decades in contravention of U. S. and international law.

2. Every country has the right to defend itself and in that context, the Cuban Five acted in the least adversarial and nonviolent manner to prevent acts of terrorism without engaging in actions against the national security of the United States.

3. The U.S. failed to take any action to prosecute the actual terrorists in Southern Florida.

4. We find that men that are peacefully trying to prevent terrorism should not be in prison.

5. This Peoples’ Tribunal condemns the cruel and unwarranted treatment of the Cuban Five during their incarceration.

6. We find the Trial was a political trial against the Five.

7. We find there was no credible evidence to support a conviction of conspiracy to commit espionage against the Five.

8. We find there was no credible evidence to support a conviction of conspiracy to commit murder against Gerardo Hernandez.

9. We find the U. S. Government interfered in the trial by spending considerable sums of money to pay reporters to write over one thousand printed articles and other television and radio coverage amounting to propaganda which had the unequivocal effect of influencing the outcome of the trial.

10. We find the court’s decision to deny the motion for change of venue was patently unreasonable in light of jury intimidation and a pervasive environment of hostility against the Five.

11. Therefore this Peoples’ Tribunal concludes that the Cuban Five were unjustly detained, unjustly prosecuted, and unjustly sentenced, all contrary to international and U.S. domestic law including the U.S. Constitution. This Peoples’ Tribunal proposes the convictions be quashed, and that Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González Llort and René González be set free immediately, without any restrictions on their liberty.

12. In the alternative, and in the interest of justice and healing, this Peoples’ Tribunal proposes that the President of the United States should exercise his prerogative of a Presidential Clemency and allow the Five to return home.

‘Fight to free the Cuban 5 is a fight for ourselves’

September 24, 2012
Puerto Rican independence fighter Rafael Cancel Miranda keynote speaker at D.C. event
BY GLOVA SCOTT AND PAUL PEDERSON 
WASHINGTON—“Why do we fight for the five? This is a fight for ourselves. We are not doing them a favor, we are doing ourselves a favor.”This was the message Rafael Cancel Miranda, a leader of the fight for Puerto Rican independence who spent 27 years in U.S. prisons for his intransigent opposition to U.S. colonial domination of his country, conveyed when he spoke at a meeting here Sept. 14 demanding freedom for five Cuban revolutionaries: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González.

More than 100 turned out for the meeting, marking 14 years since the FBI’s Sept. 12 night-raid arrests and subsequent frame-up of the Cuban Five, as they are known internationally.

Cancel Miranda, the event’s keynote speaker, was imprisoned in 1954 after he and three other Puerto Rican independence fighters walked into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, unfurled a Puerto Rican flag and fired pistols, wounding five congressmen. In 1979 he and four other Puerto Rican nationalist prisoners were released under mounting political pressure.

A resurgence of the Puerto Rican independence movement—heightened by the struggle for Black liberation and mass opposition to the U.S. war in Vietnam—accelerated in the early 1970s. Leading up to the prisoners’ release, working people were dealing major blows to U.S. imperialism around the world, including Washington’s 1975 defeat in Vietnam and the 1979 revolutionary victories in Nicaragua, Grenada and Iran only months before they were freed.

“There was an international campaign,” Cancel Miranda explained. “The United States was going around the world talking about human rights—human rights!—but then people would ask, what about the five nationalists? Why have they been in jail for so long?”

“Today the international campaign is helping to keep the Cuban Five alive,” said Cancel Miranda. “We’re protecting their lives. The more people know about this, the more indignant they will be and more people will fight for them. I am still alive because of people like you.”

“Thanks to the five,” said Cancel Miranda, “thousands have been enlightened about who the enemy is.”

Other speakers included Tom Hayden, editorial board member of the Nation; Liz Derias of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement; Michelle Tingling-Clemmons of the African Awareness Association; and José Pertierra, a lawyer for the Venezuelan government in its efforts to extradite CIA-trained Cuban counterrevolutionary Luis Posada Carriles, wanted in Venezuela on 73 counts of murder.

In the front row of the audience was Ambassador Jorge Bolaños, Chief of the Cuban Interests Section here. Vicente Feliú, a world renowned nueva trova musician from Cuba, performed several numbers. Two days earlier, a concert here by Feliú, dedicated to the five, drew a standing room only audience of nearly 200.

Derias talked about the conditions millions of men and women, disproportionately African-Americans, face in U.S. prisons today. She drew attention to the expanding use of long stints of solitary confinement like those meted out to the Cuban Five, designed to break and demoralize workers behind bars.

Pertierra described in detail the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner, masterminded by Posada, that killed 73 people. The bombing is an example of the kind of murderous acts the five were trying to prevent by monitoring and informing the Cuban government of activities of armed counterrevolutionary groups in southern Florida.

Arrested, framed up and convicted by Washington, they were given sentences ranging from 15 years to double life plus 15 years, opening yet another front in the U.S. rulers’ unrelenting campaign to punish Cuba’s working people for making and defending a socialist revolution 90 miles from U.S. shores.

“Cuba sent five men to protect themselves from these terrorists,” Pertierra said. “Cuba provided files of information on their activities, assuming the U.S. government would arrest them. Instead, they arrested the five.”

Pertierra was referring to a June 1998 meeting between officials from the FBI and Cuban State Security in which the FBI was given voluminous evidence collected by Cuban intelligence on plans for assassinations, bombings, and other murderous acts by counterrevolutionary groups based in the United States.

A message from Angela Davis was read at the meeting. “There can be no doubt that my freedom and that of others, like Rafael Cancel Miranda, was won because of relentless pressure by a movement that refused to go away,” said Davis, who in 1972, and at the time a member of the U.S. Communist Party, was acquitted on trumped-up charges of murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy after 18 months in jail.

“While Cuba stands as a beacon of possibility for other nations striving for sovereignty,” Davis said, “the Cuban Five represent the ongoing commitment to protect a people who have chosen the path of socialism.”

The meeting opened with a short video in which actors Danny Glover and Peter Coyote reenact testimony at the 2001 trial of the Cuban Five from then retired Gen. James Clapper, a government witness who is today director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Clapper testifies that Cuba is “absolutely not” a military threat to the United States and states that there is no evidence they ever engaged in espionage.

The event was sponsored by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five and endorsed by the D.C. Metro Coalition to Free the Five, Institute for Policy Studies, National Network on Cuba and the Takoma Park Free the Five Committee.

One of the highlights of the event was a message from Labañino.

“We have lived truly difficult moments, lockouts in cells of hellish punishment for prolonged periods (something that in spite of being against every human right, is becoming more common in this country), violation of our legal and constitutional rights, lies, distortions, infamies,” wrote Labañino.

“But the struggle continues. We should be more united and stronger each time, with more solidarity, until we achieve final victory.”

In a similar message, read at the Feliú concert two days earlier, Guerrero asked, “Why does the United States blockade us? Why does it support terrorism against Cuba? Why does it nourish a group of mercenaries who call themselves dissidents? Why does it constantly distort our reality? My first answer, and I believe it summarizes everything, is: Because they want to kill the example.”

  The Militant Vol. 76/No. 35      October 1, 2012

What took place in the legal trial of the Five has no precedent

September 19, 2012

by Nyliam Vázquez García
Sept. 17, 2012
Reprinted from Juventud Rebelde
Translation by http://www.freethefive.org

Although it has been shown that the U.S. Constitution was flagrantly violated, the Government of that country is silent despite the proof. The legal team of the Five explained to the media gathered this Monday in Washington and Havana, through means of a video-conference, the arguments of the current appeals process, based on new evidence.

Martin Garbus, attorney for Gerardo Hernández, stated that Judge Joan Lenard has 30 days to respond to the submitted motion, but that in Miami nothing occurs within that time and less so if it deals with the Five, explained the jurist, who also said that the only thing they request is an oral hearing to show all the compiled documents that prove millions of dollars invested by the Government to pay journalists.

“We have presented three groups of documents to the Federal Court,” expressed Garbus, which demonstrate that journalists were paid with government money to condemn these five men beforehand, in a propaganda campaign without precedent in the United States.

“These men have been in prison 14 years and we believe that it is time that they are freed,” expressed the attorney from the Cuban diplomatic mission in Washington, in a panel where he was accompanied by Raymond Steckel, also a member of the legal team; Ramsey Clark, ex-Attorney General of the United States, and Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five in the United States. Attorney José Pertierra was moderator there, while in the panel in Havana the participants were Adriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo, the journalist Aleida Godínez, who referred to the payments to the journalists, of which she had first-hand information, and moderating was journalist Raúl Garcés.

“The verdict should be annulled and seen as an insult to our system of justice,” pointed out Raymond Steckel and he said that he was there as an American who understands that in this case two important principles were violated: freedom of the press, essential and part of the Constitution; and the right of all accused persons to a fair trial.

“My Government violated its responsibilities according to the Constitution,” denounced the attorney.

The ex-U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, highlighted the millions of dollars destined to corrupt the process, through hundreds of articles and radio and television programs to transmit false information. He asserted that if he were Attorney General today, he would do what anyone in that office should do: overturn the case, as an ethical and legal responsibility.

For her part, from Havana, Adriana Pérez, Gerardo’s wife, called on the media not to be complicit by remaining silent about this evidence, nor about what the families have denounced during these 14 years.

“Who does Obama fear today,” asked Adriana, “that he is not doing what he could do?”

And if the President has any doubt about the innocence of these men, that he ask the current director of Intelligence; that he ask James Clapper, retired lieutenant genera, who was a witness in the trial of the Five and who asserted that they had done nothing against U.S. national security, insisted Adriana on behalf of the family members of the Cuban patriots.

“The Government says that the payments to the journalists didn’t affect the case, but if that is true, why don’t they let us have access to them?” asked Gloria La Riva, who from the solidarity movement has headed up the collection of the information that includes the contracts with the journalists. Some, she said, received up to a quarter of a million dollars to create a hostile environment in Miami against the Five.

Regarding the veracity of the payments before, during and after the Five trial, Aleida Godínez related her experiences as a witness of specific payments and editorial missions of these bought pens.

Later, Martin Garbus said that now they focus on the wrongful conviction. He considered it extraordinary that these evidences have been revealed — a good deal of the contracts that prove the payments to journalists are published in an Internet page [freethefive.org] — and that nothing has been said.

Gloria La Riva said that, as the Five are political prisoners, the political struggle and the legal struggle are the way to achieve their liberation, so she urged all to read and study these now public documents.

In response to one of the questions put by the press, Martin Garbus said he assumes that the Government is still paying journalists to maintain a negative opinion.

In another time during the videoconference the same lawyer said that if the judge does not agreed to an oral hearing, an appeal is an option.

Adriana referred to the jury [of millions] that her husband speaks about and she mentioned the importance of the pressure so that Obama does what he can do.

“I try not to think — after 14 years — that more will pass without Gerardo,” expressed Adriana, affected by her suffering. But she also said, her resistance is greater than that, as is that of the Five and each one of the family members.

video : http://www.freethefive.org/legalFront/LFJointVideo91712.htm,

‘Case of Cuban 5 is case of Cuban Revolution’

September 19, 2012

Below is the introduction to the third edition of The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should Be Free now available from Pathfinder Press. Mary-Alice Waters and Martín Koppel, both active builders of the campaign to win freedom for the five, edited the book and are the authors of many of the articles, which originally appeared in the Militant. Copyright © 2012 by Pathfinder Press. Reprinted by permission.

BY MARY-ALICE WATERS
AND MARTÍN KOPPEL

This new, expanded edition of The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should Be Free is the third to be published in less than a year. That fact alone is a measure of the thirst for more information from those around the world who are learning about Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González and want to join the fight for their freedom. In addition to the English and Spanish-language editions produced simultaneously by Pathfinder Press, work is under way on translations into Farsi and French. We are confident other languages will follow.

Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando, and René are five Cubans who were living and working in southern Florida in 1998 when each of them was arrested in coordinated predawn raids by the US government. At that time William Clinton was president.

They were framed up on charges that included conspiracy to commit espionage and, in the case of Gerardo Hernández, conspiracy to commit murder. More than two years later, the five—who proudly acknowledged they were working for the Cuban government—were brought to trial and convicted in federal court in Miami on all counts. The judge imposed maximum sentences. Three were given life without parole.

On September 12, 2012, each of the five will begin serving his fifteenth year in US custody. For Gerardo, Ramón, and Antonio those years have for the most part been hard time in maximum security penitentiaries. Gerardo Hernández, handed two life sentences the court generously allowed him to serve concurrently, and René Gonzalez, now out on parole, faced an additional arbitrary and brutal penalty. Throughout their imprisonment the US government has refused to grant visas to their wives, Adriana Pérez and Olga Salanueva, to enter the United States to visit them.

What were the alleged criminal activities of the Five?

They organized to infiltrate paramilitary and other counterrevolutionary Cuban American groups that have a fifty-year record of planning and carrying out bombings, assassinations, and other assaults on Cubans as well as other supporters of the Cuban Revolution—on the island, in the United States (yes, inside the US), in Puerto Rico, and elsewhere. Their assignment was to keep the Cuban government informed of those deadly operations in order to prevent as many as possible from coming to fruition.

The Cuban Five: Who They Are, Why They Were Framed, Why They Should Be Free tells this story as fully as possible. The articles reprinted here, along with dozens of photos and other graphic displays, are selected from almost 200 news reports and special features on the Cuban Five that have appeared over the last fourteen years in the pages of the Militant, a socialist newsweekly published in New York.

The book has three objectives above all.

The first is to explain why “the case of the Cuban Five” is in fact “the case of the Cuban Revolution.” Why does the US government so hate and fear the men and women who made the Cuban Revolution and the younger generations who today join them in defending and fighting to advance it? Why are they holding these five—all exemplary products of that revolution—hostage to the Cuban people’s refusal to renounce their socialist course and go down on bended knee before Washington?

The second aim is to help working people and youth in the United States recognize the common web of class interests connecting the “justice” meted out by the US cops and courts to the Five with our own life experiences at the hands of that same “justice” system. Especially whenever we resist, whenever we refuse to simply submit to the increasingly brutal exploitation imposed on us by a capitalist system in deepening crisis, whenever we say “enough!” and take up the struggle, whatever the odds.

The United States holds a higher percentage of its population behind bars than any other country on earth. For the US rulers that is not a choice but a necessary precondition for their continued domination at home and abroad. Today Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, and Fernando find themselves among the 2.3 million men and women in US prisons, and the nearly five million, like René, under some form of probation, parole, or “supervised release.” Through no choice of their own, they stand in the front ranks of the class struggle in the United States. And working people in the US who in increasing numbers are finding ways to fight back discover in them a worthy example.

The third goal is to provide information that will be a help to all those engaged in this fight worldwide. The new edition for the first time includes not only a presentation of the book made at the Havana International Book Fair in February 2012, but several recent Militant articles that continue to deepen our appreciation of the character and revolutionary caliber of each of the Cuban Five—and members of their families.

A number of special features have also been added. These include a political “timeline” of the case of the Five, a summary of charges each was convicted of and sentences each received, and excerpts from opinions by US appeals court justices who reviewed the trial record and would have thrown the convictions out if their rulings had been allowed to stand. Also included is a list of some among the thousands of organizations, institutions, and individuals in the United States and around the world who have voiced support for the fight to win freedom for the Five, as well as statements by some of the most prominent of them.

Credit for these additions goes to individuals and organizations in different parts of the world—from Indonesia and Iran, to France and the United States—who have insistently asked for further information and materials to help them understand and present the case to others who are just now learning about the Cuban Five and coming to support them.

Those requests prompted the preparation of answers in a form designed to be useful to all who are involved in this worldwide effort, including the 350 committees in 114 countries, and the thousands of individuals and hundreds of political organizations, that are working to build what Gerardo Hernández rightly described as the “jury of millions that will make our truth be known.”

September 1, 2012

A Fabricated “Murder” Hidden Images

September 14, 2012

by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

The question of the imagery registered by US satellites of the events of February 24, 1996, imagery that was unsuccessfully ordered by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for the report it was to send to the U.N. Security Council, came up again at the trial in Miami. The determination of the exact location where the incident occurred was irrelevant as far as Gerardo was concerned, since he was completely removed from the action, regardless of wherever it occurred. But it was decisive in terms of the court, since it could only have jurisdiction if the regrettable event had taken place outside Cuban territory.

In Miami the argument about the contradictory radar data was repeated. It was an expert witness for the government, a retired senior Air Force official, who let the horse out of the barn. Perhaps believing that it might be a way to resolve the dispute, he asked simply, why don’t we just look at our satellite imagery?

The defense immediately backed the idea, appropriated it and presented a motion for the judge to instruct the government to present the imagery. The prosecution stubbornly opposed the motion. Now the dispute was no longer about the location of the aerial incident but the location of the imagery that would supposedly clarify the affair. The court took the side of the government and did not grant the petition.

Considerable effort has been expended since that time to locate the imagery as famous as it is lost. The Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, a respectable private institution has initiated countless efforts to obtain them, all fruitless to date. Backed by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the center has made repeated requests to the official agencies that manage US satellites. All have refused to facilitate those requests. The Center has also resorted to legal means and is currently awaiting a ruling from the State of California Court of Appeals.

A similar claim is part of the Habeas Corpus presented in the name of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo. As the reader will surely have guessed by now, in its response, the prosecution has already opposed the release of the imagery.

The United States government has proven itself rigorously consistent in its tenacious refusal to release the images taken by its own satellites. The only people to examine them, obviously, are US authorities who, at the same time, have taken it upon themselves to impede anyone else from seeing them. Neither the ICAO, the UN Security Council, the federal court, nor US civil society have been allowed to see them. Only the government. No-one else. More than 16 years have passed since they were hermetically sealed away. The satellite images were, quite simply, kidnapped, disappeared.

How can such conduct be explained? What other explanation could their possibly be besides the fact that those in the US government who have seen the images – the only ones in that privileged position – know that they prove that the incident took place within Cuban territory? It is the only way to explain the fact that the imagery should also have been condemned, put in solitary confinement and sunk in a bottomless “hole”.

Reprinted from antiterroristas.cu

A Fabricated “Murder” A Strange Investigation

September 14, 2012

by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

On March 6, 1996, at its headquarters in Montreal, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council designated a commission to carry out an “investigation on the February 24 incident in all its aspects, taking into account all the factors that conditioned the incident and led to it” and charged the commission with the presentation of a report 60 days later. On March 19, the president of the commission sent a communiqué to the governments of Cuba and the United States indicating the data and information that would be required, while simultaneously requesting permission to visit both countries.

Cuba responded immediately and received the investigators a few days later, on March 24. The commission worked intensely until the 31st of that month. From there, it went on to Washington, from April 2 to 4, and to Miami, from April 14 to 19.

But by May 6, the report wasn’t ready. The Commission could only report what it had done during its visits to the two countries and had to ask for an additional month to collect the information that remained missing.

What had happened? With respect to Cuba, the commission stated the following: “by March 30, 1996 the Cuban authorities had fully met all the requests formulated by this team regarding interviews and declarations by civilian and military personnel involved, interviews and declarations by witnesses, civilian and military data, documents and letters, as well as communications registers and transcripts.” In regard to the United States, however, it mentioned that it had met with authorities on a number of occasions, had met with only one witness – José Basulto – and was still waiting to receive US radar data. Even at that level it had still not been handed over.

The ICAO, of course, extended the commission’s mandate for another month, until June 6. But by the second week of June, the report had still not appeared. The Council continued to wait and the Commission did not present its report until the end of June, to be considered at the last meeting of the Council before its summer recess.

What the Commission had done after it left Havana, the only place where it was able to collect all the necessary information three months earlier, was also evident. According to the final report, the Commission did not return to Washington or Miami. It met only with US officials, in Montreal, on May 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9, and again on June 3 and 4. One need not be an oracle to figure out that these secret conclaves facilitated the final drafting of the report.

Even the data from the US radar stations was surprising. From one, the data had been destroyed, from another it was lost, from others it was confused, while generally coinciding with Washington’s official version, which was that the event had occurred outside Cuban airspace, although very near to it.

In Cuba, certainly, not only did the investigators receive radar data promptly, they also visited installations, checked equipment and interviewed operators. They were unable to do anything of the kind on the US side.

In view of the circumstances, the ICAO commission decided to forget the radar information. In a moment of rare lucidity, it asked Washington to deliver the images taken by its special satellites. But the request was rejected. Although it made no complaint, the ICAO recorded the curious negative response.

Instead, the commission preferred to use the captain – of Norwegian origin but resident in Miami – of the Majesty of the Seas, a tourist cruise line that, it was said, had been in the area on the day of the incident. He was made available thanks to the kind selection of US authorities, who recommended him and set up the meeting. No other crew or passengers were interviewed. The commission chose, as though at random, the visual observation of a person who said that the downing had occurred over Cuban airspace.

The investigators were prudent enough to clarify that they had been unable to make an independent determination of the real location of Majesty of the Seas. But they did not mention that this ship belonged to a company located in Miami and that its owners and executives were among the founders and largest donors to the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), the main promoter of anti-Cuban terrorism, and the group that provoked the incident on February 24, 1996. Nor did they recall that in a report on the CANF published in 1995 by the New York Times, the same Majesty of the Seas boss had said “We want to help the Cuban community here in their efforts to move Mr. Castro out.”

In effect, the intrepid sailor lost no time making good on his promise.

Reprinted from antiterroristas.cu

A Fabricated “Murder” The Plan

September 14, 2012

by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Charge No 3, added in May 1999, against Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, almost eight months after his incarceration is based on a false –more than false, absurd’- premise: the made-up existence of a Cuban Government plan to attack US planes in international airspace. This is equivalent to saying that Cuba wanted a military confrontation with its powerful neighbor. Can anybody believe that such was the intention of a country that had never attacked anyone and, at that moment, was going through the worst economic crisis in its history? What could it win from a war with the United States?

The first problem in fabricating something so feverish is that there is plenty of documentation proving exactly the opposite. Apart from denouncing it publicly, Cuba protested through diplomatic notes each violation of its territory. These notes requested Washington to act in order to prevent repetitions of such actions. Simultaneously, we conducted discreet contacts at very high level with the State Department and the White House where we expressed our concern and requested their help to avoid a confrontation. President Fidel Castro personally participated in these efforts. Bill Clinton promised the provocations would not be repeated.

In response to our diplomatic notes, the State Department informed us they had started the process to take away the pilot´s license of Jose Basulto –the leader of the group of provocateurs– and asked for additional information, which they received and formally acknowledged in writing.

Mr. Basulto, by the way, took his stupidity as far as declaring openly that the deterioration of Cuba’s economy was such that the country had no means to protect its borders, and promised to continue the provocations.

February 24, 1996 was a lukewarm and sunny day: a pleasant Saturday when nobody could foresee the tragedy. Along the Malecón many were watching a speedboat competition. Others were busily preparing the penultimate parade of the carnival. Many others were heading to the stadium to enjoy a decisive baseball game in which the team of the capital would be facing its main rival. At the University we had just celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the creation of the Revolutionary Directorate of FEU (Federation of University Students) and at noon, old combatants and students were celebrating the date together along the shore.

Thousands of Havana residents were involved in these various activities, carefree, without the hint of an idea that, somewhere beyond the sea, somebody was planning to fly over the city to confirm the foolish hypothesis of our helplessness.

Others, across the Florida Channel, did know what was about to happen. According to the information Washington would later hand out to the delegation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that investigated the incident, the State Department had asked an official to be in permanent contact with the Opalocka Airport before the fatidic flight took off. Afterwards, when the National Transportation Safety Board, discussed the issue –because they finally took away Basulto’s license- an official by the name of Houlihan, in charge of monitoring the US radars from the control center in California, testified that a few weeks earlier and the day before February 24, he had been alerted by Washington to watch carefully the flights of Basulto’s group on the 24th, because there was going to be an incident.

Somebody knew what might happen, but did nothing to prevent it –as was his duty– nor alerted Cuba.

Yes, there was a plan, but it was not a plan of the Cuban Government and much less of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo.

Gerardo probably was, as many fans of the Industriales [the baseball team of Cuba´s capital city] waiting to see his team win. He did not know, as nobody else in Cuba did, of the incoming airborne provocation. He could not have guessed that what others were planning would be having so serious consequences for him.

He knew nothing of what was going to happen on that day. He could not have imagined that this beautiful early spring afternoon would, years later, be transformed into the infamous slander that would drive him through a real hell.

Reprinted from antiterroristas.cu


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