Posts Tagged ‘human-rights’

Ramón Labañino : I’ve Been, and I Am, a Fortunate Man

June 13, 2013

From the low-security prison in Ashland, Kentucky, Cuban anti-terrorism fighter Ramón Labañino sent this message dedicated to all the people he loves on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday.

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Yes, it’s true, I’m a man of 50 summers and I want to dedicate these words of love to all the people I love:
If I look back to these “short years of my life” I can say so many beautiful things – I always stick to beauty, the sin of dreamers.

In 50 years I’ve had the fortune of meeting a special woman who loves me and I love her, who accompanies me with fierce loyalty and tender sweetness. To her I owe my gratitude for making me who I am in so many ways and she knows it.

In 50 years I’ve had the fortune of having three beautiful daughters who are sweet, loving and tender, whom I love crazily just as they love me. To them I owe my eternal gratitude for making me the father I am.

In 50 years I’ve had the fortune to meet and fight next to four exceptional brothers. To them I owe my gratitude for being with me in this determined struggle for Cuba, and for mankind.

In 50 years I was born and have grown in a humble and loving family that has given me the bliss of meeting new families, big families that are with us in this just struggle. To them I owe my gratitude for making me the son I am, the brother I strive to be, the human being that thinks with love and acts for love.

In 50 years I’ve met sisters and brothers from the entire world who are like blood of our blood, who run at our side, who fight side by side with us. To them I owe my gratitude for their eternal company, for the solidarity.

And also in 50 years of life, life has given me the fortune of serving my people, this Revolution that is made from the soul to the infinite. To her I owe everything I am: the son, the father, the comrade, the friend, the patriot, the man.

For all these things I can say today that in the first 50 years of my life I’ve been, and I am, a fortunate man.

Thanks to Life!

That’s how I celebrate my birthday today.

Ramón Labañino Salazar
Labañino Palmeiro Family
2225

Cuban Five’s René Gonzàlez Home in Cuba

June 12, 2013

by Tom Hayden *

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(Olga Salanueva, René Gonzàlez and Tom Hayden at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, June 7, 2013)

René Gonzàlez, one of the Cuban 5 (http://tomhayden.com/home/obamas-cuban-5-dilemma.html) serving long prison terms for their surveillance of violent anti-Castro exiles in Miami, is home in Havana after 13 years in American prisons and 18 months probation in Miami. On the recommendation of the White House and Justice Department, Gonzàlez was released in Havana to serve 18 months of further probation and remain there permanently. A Chicago native, Gonzàlez was required to renounce his US citizenship as part of the settlement.

Right-wing Cuban Rep. Ileana Ross-Lehtinen (R-Miami) denounced the US decision as a “threat” to US national security. But Ricardo Alarcón, former president of Cuba’s National Assembly, declared with a smile that Gonzàlez would be kept under “close supervision” as he lives out his remaining 18 months of probation.

Gonzàlez seemed full of energy during an interview at the Hotel Nacional last Friday. He will devote all his time to advocating the release of his “four brothers” still behind bars in American prisons, especially focusing on outreach to American public opinion. “If the American people had any idea about this case, they would reject it as a complete travesty against the US constitution and rule of law,” he said.

The Five’s mission was entirely to prevent illegal terrorist attacks on Cuba emanating from right-wing exiles in Florida, not spying on the United States. The US mainstream media has devoted scant attention to the release and return of Gonzàlez (http://tomhayden.com/home/obama-shifting-rhetoric-policy-on-cuba-drug-war.html), who was reuinted with his wife Olga Salanueva, and the couple’s two daughters in April.

Before accepting his mission in the US, Gonzàlez served in the Cuban military during the 1977-79 war in Angola against Portuguese colonialism and South African apartheid.

Further Releases?

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(Ricardo Alarcón, René Gonzàlez and Tom Hayden at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, June 7, 2013)

Rumors and speculation are rife in Washington that Gonzàlez’ release is an opening for further releases and a possible future exchange for Alan Gross, a US AID contractor serving a 15 year sentence in Cuba for illegally smuggling high-tech communications devices to dissident groups. Cuban officials have declared there can be no normalization of relations with a country holding five – now four – of its citizens as “terrorists” serving terms ranging from fifteen years to double-life sentences.

Gonzàlez said he knows of no decisions on further releases or swaps, but believes that the US was forced to act in his particular case. If he had served his remaining 18 months of probation in Miami, he would be released as a free US citizen sometime next year, with full First Amendment protections to go on speaking tours for the Five, testify in Washington, or sue for damages in US courts. To avoid those headaches, some say, US officials decided it was more prudent to send him to Cuba.

What is clear so far is that after 13 years of confinement in high-security US prisons, including nearly two years in the solitary “hole,” Gonzàlez will be going on a speaking tour across Cuba and is free to travel and speak in support of the ongoing Cuban 5 campaign.

* Article originally appeared on tomhayden.com (http://tomhayden.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.
The Peace and Justice Resource Center

Cuban Anti-Terrorist Thanks Religious Groups for Their Solidarity with Cuban 5

May 25, 2013

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Anti-terrorist fighter Rene Gonzalez thanked the many religious denominations in Cuba, Latin America and worldwide today for their solidarity and ongoing efforts to end the incarceration that four of his companions have suffered in the United States since 1998.

Gonzalez, along with Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and Ramon Labañino, were arrested for warning their country about violent plans by terrorist groups operating on U.S. soil.

“We cannot forget that we still have four brothers undeservedly confined in U.S. prisons,” said Gonzalez, speaking to some 300 religious representatives from 20 countries participating in the 6th Latin American Council of Churches which opened here on Wednesday, May 22.

“They, as well as you, are defending the most precious thing known to man: life,” said Gonzalez, who called for continuing a tireless struggle to return the men to their people.

Rene Gonzalez, after completing his prison term, was forced to serve three years more of supervised release in the United States, but those conditions were modified by Judge Joan Lenard on May 3.

Lenard agreed to allow Gonzalez to remain in Cuba, in exchange for his renunciation of U.S. citizenship, a process that began with a certification issued by that country’s authorities on May 9.

More Than 20 Countries to Attend Cuban 5 Campaign Event

May 25, 2013

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More than 20 countries will be represented from May 30 to June 5 in Washington as part of the campaign for the release of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters unjustly imprisoned in the United States.

In addition, around 20 key events are scheduled during the so-called Second “Five Days for the Cuban Five” Campaign in Washington DC, the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five told Prensa Latina.

One of the activities that is arousing the most interest among activists and friends supporting this cause is the June 1 rally in front of the White House, under the slogan “Enough! Free the Cuban Five Now!” a statement said.

That peaceful protest will demand “ending travel restrictions, taking Cuba off the unilaterally created list of state sponsors of terrorism, an end to the genocidal blockade, and the closure of the detention and torture center at the Guantanamo naval base,” the Committee stated.

The source also added that on the evening of June 1, legendary fighter Angela Davis will speak on social justice and the case of the Five at St. Stephens Church.

A delegation of Cuban immigrants resident in Miami will also attend this week of activities.

The text stressed that Rene Gonzalez, who recovered his freedom by renouncing U.S. citizenship after having completed his sentence, urged President Barack Obama to have courage and grant a pardon to his companions, still confined in federal prisons.

Organized by the International Committee, participants at Washington’s event will demand that Obama, as a 2009 Nobel Peace Prizewinner, president and lawyer, end this terrible injustice.”

Along with the hosts, parliamentarians, jurists, writers, journalists, human rights organizations and activists from Argentina, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Italy, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Spain, Sweden, and Venezuela will attend the second edition of this campaign.

http://www.thecuban5.org/wordpress/obama-give-me-five-2/,

Panamanian Lawyers to Impugn Appeal of Annulment in Favour of Posada

May 25, 2013

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( victims of terrorism )

Panama, May 24 (Prensa Latina) Lawyers in lawsuit in the case of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and his accomplices in Panama who were punished because of terrorism and indulted by former president Mireya Moscoso, will impugn a cassation to revoke their penal sentences.

So it was said by Julio Berrios, one of the five lawyers in the trial in Panama against Posada, Pedro Remón Rodríguez, Gaspar Eugenio Jiménez Escobedo and Guillermo Novo Sampoll.

Posada and his friends were going to blow up the Paraninph of the University of Panama in 2000 to try to murder Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro.

After a long penal process, they were sentenced, but only for the attempt of attack with explosives and false documents, and indulted by former panamenian president Mireya Moscoso on August 26, 2004.

Berrios said the defenders want to revoke the sentence and they will give a press conference on Wednesday, on the penal process.

“I think that the Panamanian Supreme Court does not have any other alternative than to keep the sentence. And our courts will have to request the US government to give back those criminals so they finish their penal sentences in our country,” he said.

Berrios also said once the arguments of the defense to revoke the punishment will be rejected, lawyers should proceed for a request of extradition of the criminals, but he had his doubts on the topic, because those criminals are protected by the US government.

Struggle For Peace and Justice

May 16, 2013

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The Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas and the Cuban Pastoral Platform have carried out a meeting of Solidarity with the Cuban Five, for the family reunification of these antiterrorist fighters and the consolidation of the Cuban family’s unity
By: Hugo Garcia
JuventudRebelde

MATANZAS. – The Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas and the Cuban Pastoral Platform carried out a meeting of solidarity with Gerardo, Ramon, Fernando, Antonio and Rene, for family reunification of these antiterrorist fighters and the consolidation of the Cuban family’s unity.

Rector of the Evangelical Seminary of Theology in Matanzas, Dr.Reinerio Arce Valentin said at the Resurrection Chapel that the Cuban Five unjustly held in the US were working for peace and justice, against violence and terrorism: “Sooner than later the truth will come to light,” said Arce in his welcome speech.

Theology senior student Yamilka González read the proclamation Necessity for the family reunification of the Five, to put an end to an unnecessarily everlasting injustice.

“The Cuban Five are more than a mere number: It is the Cuban cause that represents the patriotic struggle of all Cubans for the complete independence and freedom of our country”, Yamilka said.

Coordinator of the Cuban Pastoral Platform, Reverend Pablo Odén Marichal spoke highly of the union of the seven religions established in Cuba, as well as institutions like the Cuban Yoga’s Association. The Cuban Five have achieved the religious unity that cannot be found in any other part of the world. Because of their example nobody in Cuba can lead the people into separation or division on the basis of doctrinal differences,” said Marichal.

“The Five have showed us the real meaning of Marti’s idea about the world balance. That’s why we support them and their relatives”, he added.

René’s mother Irma Schewerert, said that it is important to break the silence, and with her son joining the campaign for the release of his brothers, together with the press, the people in the US will become aware. “We have to draw Obama’s attention, so that he realizes that this is a big truth and a tremendous injustice”.

Fernando’s mother Magalis Llort said that, ideally, they will decide to free the four remaining in jail and not let them serve their sentences. “I would be happy to have Fernando back, but I would still be sad knowing that his comrades were still imprisoned.”

Various artists performed at the cultural patriotic meeting for the family reunification of the Five. The Matanzas Chamber Choir, directed by Dr. José Antonio Méndez; oral narrator Iliana Hernández recited Regresaré, a sonnet by Cuban Five Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, as well as solo guitarist Idelfonso Acosta and young singer-songwriter Rey Montalvo.

Translated by ESTI

Release of Rene Gonzalez Boosts Cuban Antiterrorists” Struggle

May 13, 2013

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The release of Rene Gonzalez is a tremendous source of joy and impetus in the struggle for the definitive return to the homeland of the Cuban antiterrorist fighters still held in the United States, an U.S. activist said today.

Gloria La Riva, coordinator of the National Committee to Free the Five in the United States, said in statements to Prensa Latina via email that she imagines how the Cuban people feel “to see his brother at home.”

She stated that in the current situation, the solidarity movement, particularly in her country, should press even more the government of President Barack Obama to achieve a solution of the case.

La Riva recalled that next September 12 will marks 15 years since Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, and Rene Gonzalez, internationally known as The Five, were detained in the city of Miami.

She stressed that more news coverage than normal has been in that nation with the freedom Rene is now enjoying, not only because it is news, but also because he is free to express what he never had in prison or in the limited supervised release.

I personally feel a great emotion after hearing the public affirmation of Rene Gonzalez that he and his colleagues are “The Five and will always be The Five.”

Rene’s smile in all photos, the love between him and Olga (Salanueva, his wife) gives us much encouragement, La Riva said.

She stated that some members of her Committee will travel to Washington from May 30 to June 5 “for the important week of activities for The Five.”

In addition, “we continue organizing events for this summer and the 15th anniversary (of the detention of the antiterrorist fighters), even several forums at universities and law schools of the country.”

La Riva also announced that June 7 in New York, the great Left Forum, where thousands of people participate in forums and workshops about progressive struggles and issues of justice, will feature a panel of U.S. and Canadian writers to demand the release of the four still imprisoned antiterrorist fighters.

The activist, a member of the anti-war ANSWER coalition, stated that “Rene surpassed the unjust revenge of the U.S. government and won. He returned with his head held high. He fulfilled every day of his injust sentence and held firm.”

On May 3, District Judge Joan Lenard Florida accepted to modify the terms of Gonzalez’ supervised release, which he was serving in the United States since his release from prison on October 7, 2011.

The judge agreed that he remains in Cuba in exchange for his renunciation of U.S. citizenship. Gonzalez was born on August 13, 1956 in the city of Chicago.

After necessary formalities, the authorities of that country will spread to Rene Gonzalez on May 9 the certificate supporting the loss of that nationality. He is just a Cuban patriot, as he publicly expressed.

The Five monitored plans by Cuban-origin violent groups and individuals based in the south of Florida, and with impunity have executed terrorist attacks against the Cuban people.

(prensalatina)

Cubans march against homophobia in Havana

May 12, 2013

_1-DSC00618-580x435 ( Mariela is also fighting to free the five, 4 to go)

Hundreds of Cubans have staged a protest against homophobia and for gay rights, in the capital, Havana,
The march was led along Havana’s central streets by Cuban gay rights campaigner Mariela Castro.
Ms Castro is the head of Cuba’s National Sexual Education Centre – an organiser of the march – and daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro.
Before Raul Castro came to power in 2008, no gay rights marches had been allowed in Cuba.
‘More inclusive’
Forming a long line and dancing the conga, the marchers wound their way through Havana. Many were carrying rainbow banners and chanting “Homophobia, no! Socialism, yes!”.
One marcher, 29-year-old Jesus Rios, told the Associated Press news agency that Cuba “had made great progress over the past years”.
“I’ve noticed it with my father, who has accepted me step by step, and now also with the neighbours and colleagues. I feel more included,” he said.
Mr Rios credited Mariela Castro and the work of the National Sexual Education Centre for that change in what he referred to as Cuba’s “macho culture”.
Ms Castro said she was optimistic that Cuba would eventually legalise gay marriage, but that the hardest part would be overcoming prejudice.
In the 1960s and 70s, gay men and lesbians in Cuba were fired, imprisoned or sent to “re-education camps”.
Ms Castro’s uncle, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, has claimed responsibility for the persecution suffered by homosexuals on the island after the revolution of 1959.
In a 2010 interview he said they had traditionally been discriminated in Cuba, just as black people and women.
There has been a growing acceptance of homosexuality in Latin America, with Uruguay last month becoming the second country after Argentina to legalise gay marriage.

BBCnews

Tony: We were, are and will always be the Five

May 11, 2013

- antonio2012 (Tony)

To my brother René in freedom
by Tony Guerrero
May 10, 2013

That September 12, with no adjective to describe its violence, I was the last one who arrived in Miami [detention center], and consequently the last one to be placed in an extremely cold cell, with a bare mattress, a blanket and a roll of toilet paper; all of us isolated.

It was a gloomy silence on that 13th floor of the Miami Detention Center. By purely animal instinct, one begins to walk in circles within that tiny space. From time to time, I would stop before the narrow window on the metal door, where a guard on duty had us under constant surveillance. In a cell in front, at the far edge of my sight, I saw a man who would also stop from time to time at his window. An austere bearded face, his chest bare and I wondered: who is that guy? Isn’t he cold?

It was René, I didn’t know him yet.

In those first days, the first of many countless ones to come, they took us, him and me, to the Courtroom. We had to declare ourselves innocent or guilty, which in our case meant declaring ourselves honorable or dishonorable, honest or dishonest, loyal or traitors. We two were very certain about our innocence. But there was one, whom I also didn’t know, who would declare himself guilty. Each one of us was brought separately before the Judge, but René read the treason in the face of that twerp, who tried to wrap me up in his fable. Later, René told me: I have to talk with that guy. I just asked him to be calm.

That is how I knew him.
That is how we five became brothers.
That is why his freedom is our freedom, his pain and happiness is also ours.
That is why our unjust prison will continue being his prison.
That is why we were, are and will always be the Cuban Five, forged as one man, one Cuban like millions of compatriots, loyal to his people and his homeland.

Tony Guerrero Rodríguez
May 10, 2013
Marianna Federal Prison

Certificado de Pérdida de Nacionalidad de EE.UU-g

( confirmation of René’s loss of US-citizenship )

René Gonzalez: I’m in Cuba, but we are still the Cuban Five

May 10, 2013

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I’m in Cuba, but we are still the Five, said today at a press conference in Havana René González, one of the five Cubans convicted in the U.S. for fighting terrorism against Cuba

Along with his wife, Olga Salanueva, René showed the US Certificate of Loss of Nationality, which he had just received, a document that allows him to stay permanently in Cuba.

However, he said that he will not feel free until his brothers in arms return: Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Antonio Guerrero.

He noted that the granting of the Certificate, awarded by the U.S. State Department does not constitute any humanitarian gesture.

He thanked the international solidarity with the Five and stressed the need to intensify actions, with the goal of American public opinion knows of the case and the injustice done to them

The U.S. Government has to overcome the pressures of the most reactionary anti-Cuban sector and start a dialogue with Cuba, he said.

The philosophy of confrontation between the two countries is very harmful, and I hope one day terrorism and aggression against Cuba are things of the past, he added.

René read a message recently sent by Gerardo from the maximum security prison in Victorville, Calif., where he is serving an unfair sentence of double life plus 15 years.

In an exclusive interview with ACN, René said he was honored that Gerardo considered him a champion of the cause of the Cuban Five.

He noted that this condition is shared as a team with the mothers, wives and families who have made the world aware of the case.

The commitment for us is “not to separate but stay together until we’re all here in Cuba,” he said.

The Five were arrested in 1998 in Miami and convicted in 2001 in that city for monitoring violent groups in U.S. territory who were planning terrorist actions against Cuba.

HAVANA, Cuba, May 10 (acn)
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