Posts Tagged ‘injustice’

The Punishment of Cuba

November 21, 2014

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The USA as Judge, Jury and Executioner
The Punishment of Cuba
by WILLIAM BLUM
Counterpunch

For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We haven’t heard that for a very long time. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):
Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004 179-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau
2010 187-2 US, Israel
2011 186-2 US, Israel
2012 188-3 US, Israel, Palau
2013 188-2 US, Israel
2014 188-2 US, Israel

This year Washington’s policy may be subject to even more criticism than usual due to the widespread recognition of Cuba’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.

Speaking before the General Assembly before last year’s vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez declared: “The economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion.” He added that the blockade “has been further tightened under President Obama’s administration”, some 30 US and foreign entities being hit with $2.446 billion in fines due to their interaction with Cuba.

However, the American envoy, Ronald Godard, in an appeal to other countries to oppose the resolution, said:

The international community … cannot in good conscience ignore the ease and frequency with which the Cuban regime silences critics, disrupts peaceful assembly, impedes independent journalism and, despite positive reforms, continues to prevent some Cubans from leaving or returning to the island. The Cuban government continues its tactics of politically motivated detentions, harassment and police violence against Cuban citizens.

So there you have it. That is why Cuba must be punished. One can only guess what Mr. Godard would respond if told that more than 7,000 people were arrested in the United States during the Occupy Movement’s first 8 months of protest in 2011-12 ; that many of them were physically abused by the police; and that their encampments were violently destroyed.

Does Mr. Godard have access to any news media? Hardly a day passes in America without a police officer shooting to death an unarmed person.

As to “independent journalism” – What would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control most of the media worth owning or controlling?

The real reason for Washington’s eternal hostility toward Cuba has not changed since the revolution in 1959 – The fear of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model; a fear that has been validated repeatedly over the years as many Third World countries have expressed their adulation of Cuba.

How the embargo began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted its suffocating embargo against its everlasting enemy.
Judging and Punishing the Rest of the World

In addition to Cuba, Washington currently is imposing economic and other sanctions against Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, China, North Korea, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa, Mexico, South Sudan, Sudan, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, India, and Zimbabwe. These are sanctions mainly against governments, but also against some private enterprises; there are also many other sanctions against individuals not included here.

Imbued with a sense of America’s moral superiority and “exceptionalism”, each year the State Department judges the world, issuing reports evaluating the behavior of all other nations, often accompanied by sanctions of one kind or another. There are different reports rating how each lesser nation has performed in the previous year in areas such as religious freedom, human rights, the war on drugs, trafficking in persons, and sponsors of terrorism. The criteria used in these reports are often political. Cuba, for example, is always listed as a sponsor of terrorism whereas anti-Castro exile groups in Florida, which have committed literally hundreds of terrorist acts over the years, are not listed as terrorist groups or supporters of such.

Cuba, which has been on the sponsor-of-terrorism list longer (since 1982) than any other country, is one of the most glaring anomalies. The most recent State Department report on this matter, in 2012, states that there is “no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.” There are, however, some retirees of Spain’s Basque terrorist group ETA (which appears on the verge of disbanding) in Cuba, but the report notes that the Cuban government evidently is trying to distance itself from them by denying them services such as travel documents. Some members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been allowed into Cuba, but that was because Cuba was hosting peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government, which the report notes.

The US sanctions mechanism is so effective and formidable that it strikes fear (of huge fines) into the hearts of banks and other private-sector organizations that might otherwise consider dealing with a listed state.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World’s Only Super Power . His latest book is: America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy.

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Expo : 15 watercolors of Antonio Guerrero

November 15, 2014

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For the first time in Belgium . Expo : 15 watercolors of Antonio Guerrero . ” I will die the way I’ve lived “
From nov 14 till dec 11…

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Outline of my artistic development
BY ANTONIO GUERRERO
Nov. 15, 2007
At the beginning of 2003, when I had just completed my first year of imprisonment in
this penitentiary in Florence, Colorado, I searched, anxiously, for something that would
occupy my time, far from the tense and violent atmosphere that reigned in this prison.
Poetry had been an effective weapon to overcome the long periods of unjust punishment
in the cells of the so-called “hole,” as well as the prolonged “lockdowns,” which the
whole prison population here was subjected to after any violent incident. But with the
constant commotion during the “normal” routine of the prison, my muse, sometimes
startled, would fade away and fail to inspire me.
So, one fine day, I went to the so-called “Hobby Craft,” (Department of Recreation) and
I found a prisoner giving pencil drawing classes; basically everyone was making a
portrait. I was impressed above all by the work of the instructor and I asked him how I
could participate in his class. It turned out this person was very enthusiastic about
teaching what he knew, and even more fortunate, he was in my dorm unit.
He gave me some materials and by the following day I had decided on my first project:
a portrait of my beloved mother.
Before I even finished this first work, that sudden and vile punishment came in which
we were isolated in cells in the “hole,” the five of us in our five prisons. It was the result
of the application of the Special Administrative Measures (SAM), ordered by the U.S.
Attorney General. International solidarity and the energetic demands of our attorneys
made it possible for that unjust punishment to be lifted in one month.
It so happened that upon returning to my dormitory unit I had “lost” my placement and
they had no cell in which to put me. I noticed that the inmate who gave the drawing
classes was alone in his cell, and I told the guard: Put me with him. He was surprised
because that prisoner was Black, what they call here Afro-American, and here it is
rarely seen (nor is it accepted by the prisoners) that prisoners of different races or
groups (or gangs) live together.
As I hoped, Andre accepted me into his cell. Living together my interest in drawing
grew and we formed a good friendship.
Every day I dedicated several hours to drawing. My first five works required the help of
the instructor. But I remember we were locked down for almost a month, and Andre
told me, “Now you are going to do portraits on your own.” And it was during that
lockdown that I made the portraits of José Martí and Cintio Vitier on my own. When I
finished I realized that I could now continue my independent course, and it was the right
moment because Andre was transferred to another penitentiary in California as soon as
that lockdown was lifted.
A Native Indian, also imprisoned in my unit, took Andre’s place as instructor. We also
became good friends. Every night we worked together on different projects. The
combination of Andre’s and the new instructor’s teachings allowed me to create my
own method of work.
On some occasions I was able to finish a painting in one day. Up to now I have created
more than 100 works with pencil.
In 2005 I met a prisoner who offered to teach me calligraphy. I was interested in making
a clean copy of all the poems I had written in these years of imprisonment. I acquired
some essential materials, but I realized that the watercolors that I used as ink were not
good, nor was there enough. Looking for something that could take the place of the ink
(which they don’t authorize for purchase) a bunch of watercolor paint tubes fell into my
hands from another prisoner. But using it for the calligraphy proved to be another
disaster and I asked myself, “What do I do with all this?” I decided to try them out with
small paintings. Nobody here painted with that technique, so I could only count on the
help of some books I had bought with the paintings. Little by little I was gaining
confidence in my strokes with the handful of brushes that I had and I started setting
bigger goals.
Color gave another life to my creations. Painting made me happy. In one or two days
now I finished each work.
With the help of a great friend of Cuba and the Five, Cindy O’Hara, who sent me books
and photos, I was able to finish two interesting projects in watercolor: the birds that are
endemic to Cuba and the species of Guacamayos. Other caring friends in the United
States, like the tireless Priscilla Felia, have sent me books that have been very useful for
my self-taught progress in these and other techniques.
At the end of 2005 a prisoner arrived from Marion in Illinois, who began to show
impressive pastel photo works. They placed him in my dormitory unit and right away I
became interested in this new technique. I acquired some materials, following his
instructions. He had a great will to teach, but soon he had problems and was taken to the
“hole.” He never returned to the general population.
Once again I found myself wondering what to do with the painting materials I had
acquired and once more I returned to the books to immerse myself in an unfamiliar
technique. I decided a portrait of Che would be my first work in pastel and after that I
undertook a project of 14 portraits of the most relevant figures of our history. I have
continued using pastels without interruption in my artwork. The most recent with this
technique are a group of nudes which I have used to study the human figure and the
different skin tones under the effect of lights and shadows.
Just two months ago, also being self-taught, I broached painting in acrylics, using an air
gun (in English this technique is known as “airbrushing”).
And oil painting didn’t escape my interest either. Here they only authorize a type of oil
paint that is soluble in water and although it is not the traditional paint it is similar
enough in its use and results. Up to now I have completed five works with this
technique.
Without a specific plan or guide, I believe that it was the right path to first do pencil
portraits, and then to take on watercolor, pastels, and finally, oils. Of course, all of these
works have been without benefit of the professional instruction that an art school would
give, or the guide of an instructor with real knowledge of plastic arts.
What is most important, I think, is that I have overcome imprisonment with a healthy
and useful activity like plastic arts. Each work expresses not only my human essence
but that of the Five, united by unbreakable principles.
The little I have learned I share unselfishly with other prisoners, and, at times, with
great patience. “Truth desires art” as José Martí said, and truth reigns in our hearts,
forged with love and commitment to the just cause of our heroic people: That is my
motivation for each work of art!

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The Far Reach of the Helms-­Burton Act

November 10, 2014

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By Richard Grassl
!
The Economic War Against Cuba
by Salim Lamrani (Monthly Review Press NY, 2013) is a valuable
resource on the 53-­‐year-­‐old U.S. economic blockade of Cuba. Through an objecNve descripNon of
documented facts, Professor Lamrani explains how an obsolete policy that ignores “just cause” has led
eleven consecuNve residents of the White House to conNnue a program doomed to fail.
U.S. policy toward Cuba originates from an expansionist desire to possess Cuba. The
Helms-­‐Burton
Act
passed by Congress in March 1996 reflects U.S. contempt for internaNonal law. Lamrani’s Chapter 5,
“Extraterritorial ApplicaNons of the Economic SancNons,” provides an understanding of the complex
relaNons involved with 3
rd
countries as a result of such an anachronisNc law. Foreign businesses and
financial insNtuNons are forbidden to engage in transacNons with direct or indirect connecNon to Cuba.
Helms-­‐Burton’s primary objecNve was to consolidate all previous U.S. regulatory codes, amendments,
laws and ExecuNve orders “on the books,” in order to strengthen the U.S. posiNon against Cuba. To
accomplish this, one strategy was to remove discreNonary power from the President to conduct certain
foreign policy. This enabled self-­‐interest groups to manipulate the Cuban-­‐American community -­‐-­‐ and to
pressure Congress -­‐-­‐ for their own narrow purposes. Although hosNlity had existed many years before
the collapse of the Soviet Union, “Strengthening InternaNonal SancNons against the Castro government”
was the focus of Helms-­‐Burton Title I. Helms-­‐Burton has o^en been referred to as the modern day
equivalent of the Pla` Amendment (1901). This was an appendix to the Cuban ConsNtuNon that, among
other sNpulaNons, allowed U.S. military intervenNon in Cuba’s internal affairs whenever a U.S.
“governor” deemed that popular rebellion threatened U.S. corporate interests on the island.
Helms-­‐Burton further provided codificaNon that allowed the Florida-­‐based anN-­‐Cuban old guard to
obstruct normalizaNon of relaNons through Congressional roadblocks. Not unNl codificaNon of the
blockade did U.S. foreign policy move from being an internaNonal issue to a domesNc
cause
, thereby
damaging U.S./Cuba relaNons. When Radio MarN moved from Washington DC to Miami in 1996, U.S.
hosNlity toward Cuba intensified, resulNng ulNmately in the convicNon of five Cuban anNterrorists (the
Cuban Five).
The right of a sovereign, independent naNon to conduct its own affairs free from external interference by
foreign powers is a fundamental asserNon of internaNonal law. Lamrani points out: “Numerous United
NaNons resoluNons condemn the use of unilateral and arbitrary economic sancNons and extraterritorial
measures… Not all of these principles are respected by the United States.” Helms-­‐Burton is controversial
because it violates these very principles. Title II makes demands on Cuba that would result only in a
collision course with their revoluNonary government; it purports to define the type of government most
desirable for Cubans. The cynicism does not stop here. In an a`empt to twist the meaning of democracy
and solidarity that are contained in the official name,
The Cuban Liberty and DemocraNc Solidarity
(Libertad) Act of 1996,
the law is perversely worded. SecNon 204 describes steps to “terminate the
economic embargo of Cuba” pending the destrucNon of the revoluNon, i.e. once “a transiNon
government is in power,” while SecNons 205 and 206 list requirements for a Cuban government
subservient to U.S. interests. Finally, SecNon 207 establishes that the essenNal condiNon for full
resumpNon of economic and diplomaNc relaNons between the U.S. and Cuba remains the return of all
land and property [legally] naNonalized by the Cuban government a^er January 1, 1959. In this regard,
U.S. refusal to accept a Cuban offer for compensaNon, authorized by the Agrarian Reform Law of May 17,
1959, precipitated the breaking of diplomaNc relaNons with Cuba on January 3, 1961.
Obviously, the complexity of economic and poliNcal relaNons makes li^ing the blockade a lengthy and
formidable task. It may indeed be impossible to negoNate terms using an incremental approach.
However, one imagines that taking Cuba off the State Department list of naNons supporNng terrorist
organizaNons would be a priority. Furthermore, the U.S. President must be willing to “relinquish
the
exercise of authoriNes
” under the Trading with the Enemy Act , in order to use his consNtuNonal
prerogaNve to influence a change of direcNon in foreign policy. And, Congress could reverse travel
sancNons and arrange financial credit approval for U.S. banking insNtuNons to do business with Cuba. In
this way, the ExecuNve Order 3447 “Embargo on all trade with Cuba,” imposed by President Kennedy in
February 1962, would be li^ed.
Resolving the case of five
Cuban anN-­‐terrorist fighters
, three of whom sNll remain unjustly incarcerated
in U.S. prisons, is another challenge. Cuba is a signatory to the Montreal ConvenNon, January 26, 1973,
that commits governments to prosecute any act of air piracy or bombing related to commercial airliners.
U.S. officials fail to exonerate innocent men, calling them “bad terrorists” for exposing violent criminal
plots against Cuba. Yet Luis Posada Carriles, who is responsible for the bombing of a
Cuban plane in 1976
among other crimes, and an internaNonal fugiNve from Venezuelan jusNce, walks the streets of Miami in
freedom and is called a “good terrorist”.
The secret to dialogue with Cuba does not require “back channels” if discussions are done in public.
What is keeping President Obama from discussing issues with the Castro government, when 188 naNons
repeatedly vote YES for the Cuban resoluNon to condemn the U.S. economic, commercial and financial
blockade?
!
Richard Grassl lives and writes in Washington.
http://www.letcubalive.org/news–views.html,

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson Sends Letter to Obama in Support of the Five

November 3, 2014

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Lawrence Wilkerson is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
His last position in government was chief of staff to Colin Powell at the U.S. Department of State (2002-2005). He served 31 years in the US Army (1966-1998).

November 5, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

It is time to correct an injustice that is in your power to amend. This injustice mars majorly the American system of justice, the U.S. record on human rights and, as importantly, the lives of five men whose dedication to the security of their own country against terrorist attack should be admired and respected, not punished. No doubt you have heard of these men: Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labaniño Salazar, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez, Fernando González Llort, and Rene González Sehwerert. The world knows them as The Cuban Five.

Two of these men are today out of prison, two more might be out in the far future, and one might never see the dawn of a free day. This latter individual, Gerardo Hernández, I tried to visit-unsuccessfully-in the maximum security prison in Victorville, California. Though I was unable to visit him, a true and trusted colleague who accompanied me, the late Saul Landau, was able to do so and reported to me that Gerardo remains as courageous and undaunted as ever yet still puzzled over the failure to act of what is supposed to be the world’s greatest democracy.

The Cuban Five suffered a gross injustice when they were arrested in 1998. After their arrests they spent 17 months in solitary confinement. Their trial took place in Miami, Florida and in 2001 they were sentenced to long prison terms. At a legal minimum, the trial through which they suffered in Miami should have been moved to another location, as change-of-venue arguments alone were not only persuasive they were overwhelming, testified to amply when the appeals court in Atlanta, voting in a three-judge panel, supported a change of venue. Later, however, this decision was reversed when the political power of George W. Bush’s administration-an administration in which I served-compelled the court, voting in its entirety to reconsider the three-judge panel’s decision and vote differently; they ratified the sentences of two of them, and the case of the other three were sent back to the court in Miami for re-sentencing. The court recognized that the guide of sentencing were wrongly applied and as a result reduced their prison terms.

But there is more, much more. In fact, there is the now-indisputable fact that the five were not guilty of the substantive charges brought against them in the first place. The politics surrounding the trial were in the hands of hard-line Cuban-Americans in Florida, as well as in the US Congress. Without their blatant interference with the course of justice, the trial never would have taken place. Moreover, these people spent taxpayer dollars to enlist journalists in Miami to write condemnatory articles, to influence the jury pool for the trial, and to predispose public opinion to a guilty verdict. This trial was a political payoff to hard-line Cuban-Americans and every person in the United States and across the world who pays attention to these matters, knows it. Indeed, you know it, Mr. President. This kangaroo-court trial is a blemish on the very fabric of America’s democracy. It sends a clear signal to all the world-who judge us not as we judge ourselves, by how we feel about issues, but by our deeds.

You, Mr. President, cannot erase this blemish; it has lingered too long and too many years have been stolen from these men’s lives by it. But you can mitigate it, you can make it less formidable. And, vitally, you can clean the reputation of our justice system, and, in the case of Gerardo and the other two men still in prison, you can free them.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, in May of 2005, declared the imprisonment of the Cuban Five to be a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, placing the United States alongside some of the most heinous countries on earth. The Working Group requested that the U.S. take action to remedy the situation. You, Mr. President, can do just that.

Mr. President, you said that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” But in certain instances, that is wrong and you know it. Would you have us not look back to our Civil War? To the depredations of Black slavery that led to it? To the century-long economic slavery that followed that war? To the racism of our past-a racism that still plagues us today? I think not. And you should not deny the need to look back, review and reverse this mockery of a trial.

Take action, Mr. President. Release immediately the three remaining imprisoned members of the Cuban Five. Admit publicly the gross injustice done to all of them and elaborate the reasons. Apologize to the Cuban people and to our citizens and, most of all, to the Cuban Five and their families. Listen to “the better angels of our nature” and put the United States back on the side of justice.

Very Respectfully,

Lawrence B. Wilkerson
Colonel, US Army (Retired)

November 5th for the Cuban 5
Remember: On Wednesday November 5th, call Obama and demand the freedom of the Cuban 5

CALL THE WHITE HOUSE TO JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND FOR THEIR FREEDOM.

By phone:
202-456-1111 (If nobody answers the phone leave a message)
If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code
+ 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111

By Fax: 202-456-2461
If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area
Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461

To send an e-mail: president@whitehouse.gov

To send a letter:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
United States

To learn more about the Cuban 5 visit: http://www.thecuban5.org,

The importance of the appeals process to Gerardo, Ramón, and Antonio

November 1, 2014

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by Andrés Gómez, director, Areítodigital

The extraordinary appeals (Habeas Corpus) process of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, three of the Cuban Five whom the United States government arbitrarily and unjustly keeps imprisoned, is of fundamental importance in the development of the campaign to achieve their freedom.

First and foremost, it contributes to the possibility of a political solution of the case. The case of the Five has always been a political case. From the start that is how the United States government during the Clinton administration treated it. And that is how successive U.S. governments have conducted it to this day.

With the commendable exception of the unanimous ruling of the three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal government succeeded in steamrolling the respective courts and impose its view that for the federal government, it is a matter of greatest interest and national security to obtain the Five’s guilty verdict, along with arbitrary and excessive prison sentences.

In foreign policy matters since the end of World War II, the United States federal courts have acceded to the Executive branch’s arguments of national security interests, even when it violates the Law and established judicial procedures guaranteed by the federal Constitution. The case of the Cuban Five has clearly demonstrated this.

In the same way that the federal government succeeded in the court’s outcome of guilt for the Cuban Five, today for many reasons, given that circumstances have changed, in seeking a political solution to the case, the federal government could convince the pertinent courts to find merit in the solid arguments of the defense appeals of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio. Thus it would be the courts that decide their freedom. The courts would do it as they would if the pursuit of justice were their function.

This is the way it happened 14 years ago with the case of the Cuban child Elián González, when the courts ruled in favor of returning the child to his father. This also happened during the time of the Clinton administration.

Of course, there is always the option of presidential pardon or clemency as a political solution to the situation of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio. It is a constitutional right of the Presidents of the United States that has been utilized thousands of times.

The possibility of a political solution through a court decision for Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio is much less costly for President Obama, a President whose political capital has diminished considerably and whose administration is besieged by grave international crises of greater urgency for his country. Moreover he has shown extensively during his tenure as President that he is not inclined to take political risks.

So then, the extraordinary appeal (Habeas Corpus) currently before the Court: Is it or is it not a vitally important factor in the development of the campaign to win freedom for Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio?

Keeping the international campaign for the Five’s freedom alive and growing, as it is, has always been a big challenge. From here on out it will be more so. To sustain and deepen it we have to base our work on solid arguments that demonstrate how and why the injustice was committed, and why it continues to be waged against the fundamental rights of three of the Cuban Five.

We need to base our work on a constant denunciation of the policy of State terrorism by the United States, a policy imposed on the Cuban people and its Revolution for more than 55 years with the aim of making it surrender its independence and most cherished freedoms and rights, by the use of vile force; a policy that has cost the Cuban people dearly in thousands of deaths, disabled and countless sufferings. Doing it we must try to convince conscious and politically committed persons, as well as, countless of others who aren’t, yet are people of good will living all over the world.

We must never forget that that is the reason the Cuban Five were infiltrated in the terrorist organizations of the Cuban extreme rightwing who’ve carried out from U.S. soil that despicable policy. That is why they arrested the Five, tried to subjugate them and have kept them cruelly imprisoned for so many years.

from: http://www.freethefive.org,

Letter of november to Obama

October 31, 2014

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Mr. President Obama November first, 2014
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington DC 20500 (USA)

Mr. President,

In 1973, Henry Kissinger, the American Secretary of State, received the Nobel Peace Prize and, thirty-six years later, in 2009, it was you, Mr. President, who received it.
The world is waiting, to say the least, on the part of such a Nobel prize-winner, a political policy turned towards Peace!
Last October first, when the National Achieves had just been declassified, we found out that, three years after having been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Henry Kissinger had seriously envisaged crushing Cuba. This was under the Gerald Ford presidency. It does not surprise us, we already knew that at this time the CIA enlisted mercenaries, such as Luis Posada Carriles to organize attacks against Cuba.
Among the exchanges between Kissinger and Ford, a conversation evoked the American government’s project to invade Cuba, after the Cuban government had decided to send military forces to Angola during Angola’s war for independence.
According to the declassified documents, Kissinger told Ford, “I think we are going to have to smash [Fidel] Castro”. When Ford approved his plan, he added:  
“The circumstances that could lead the United States to select a military option against Cuba should be serious enough to warrant further action in preparation for general war”. Then he treated President Fidel Castro as “a little runt” because of his military aid in Angola, all the while promising to “demolish the Cubans”. 
Luckily for Cuba, as well as for Africa and the United States, President Ford was not reelected, and his successor, Jimmy Carter, did not launch the United States in this mad project.
Cuba’s intervention during the civil war in Angola was decisive in putting to rout South Africa’s and Zaire’s racist troops, which were armed and trained by the United States, fighting alongside Angola mercenaries. The independence of Angola put an end to apartheid and thusly permitted Namibia, and then South Africa to finish with their racist regimes.

Concerning you, Mr. President, during your stay in South Africa in July of 2013, during a private visit to his family, you declared that Nelson Mandela was a source of personal inspiration for you and for the entire world. Such a declaration seems to be light-years away from those of Henry Kissinger.
Nevertheless, your political policy towards Cuba is extremely deceiving. Of course you’re not calling for a direct military intervention, but your interference in this little country is a reality. You have not lifted the blockade against Cuba despite the almost unanimous vote of all the countries belonging to the U.N.

Your government is financing, through the USAID program among others, campaigns to destabilize Cuba, under the fallacious pretext of “a return to democracy” on the island.

You are keeping three Cubans locked up in prison for more than sixteen years now in your country.
René Gonzalez, Fernando Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero came to Florida to infiltrate the terrorist underworld so as to avoid terrorist attacks against their country, attacks that were fomented with the complicity of the United States government. If the first two on the list have served their sentence, it is not the same for the last three, who were more heavily sentenced. The destiny of these five patriots has a lot in common with that of Nelson Mandela.

Cuba is proposing to you a humanitarian exchange between Alan Gross and these three Cubans, still imprisoned.
Alan Gross, subcontractor for the USAID, smuggled into Cuba highly sophisticated communications equipments, such as undetectable cell phones equipped with SIM cards. This kind of technology is usually used by the Defense Department and the C.I.A. Arrested in 2009, Gross was judged and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The missions of Alan Gross and that of the Cubans was not the same!
Don’t stay on the wrong side of History, Mr. President, and accept this humanitarian exchange without further delay.
Please receive, Mr. President, the expression of my most sincere humanitarian sentiments.

Jacqueline Roussie
64360 Monein (France)

Translated by William Peterson

Copies sent to: Mrs. Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Kathryn Ruemmler and to Mr. Joe Biden, John F. Kerry, Rand Beers, Harry Reid, Eric Holder, Denis MacDonough, Neil Eggleston, Rick Scott, and Charles Rivkin, United States ambassador in France.

Death, Taxes and the Cuban Blockade

October 29, 2014

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It Must End
Death, Taxes and the Cuban Blockade
by MATT PEPPE ( Counterpunch )

The famous expression about the only things that will happen with absolute certainty, death and taxes, is actually missing one: the annual vote in which 99% of the world’s nations declare that the blockade against Cuba is illegal and must end. Yesterday, for the 23rd straight year, the United Nations General Assembly voted to end the U.S. blockade against Cuba by the astounding margin of 188 to 2. The annual resolution may seem like mere political theater meant to embarrass the U.S. government, but in reality it is a sincere objection to an inhumane policy.

Washington will now ignore this resounding rejection, as it always does, and and go on breaking the law with impunity since there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. Don Corleone would be envious of their gall.

Since the last vote against the blockade, it was revealed that the top 10 recipients of U.S. aid all practice torture. During the last year, at least half of these allies have reportedly tortured people on a “massive scale.” This doesn’t even include the U.S.’s close ally Saudi Arabia, who in the last year has beheaded 59 people and sentenced a popular activist to death by crucifiction.

The lone supporter of the blockade, Israel, even tortures Palestinian children, who make up several hundred of the more than 5,000 prisoners held in military custody. All of Israel’s colonial subjects are subjected to “slow-motion genocide” and collective punishment.

Israel’s human rights violations drastically intensified this summer after they declared war on Hamas and carried out the slaughter of 2,150 Palestinians, including 578 children. Civilians accounted for at least 70% of all Palestinian deaths. Recently, the jury of the Russell Tribunal in Brussels found evidence of “war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution and also incitement to genocide.” Israel is the number one recipient of U.S. aid – receiving $3.1 billion per year from Uncle Sam to carry out its criminal atrocities, in violation of U.S. law and international law.

Torture does happen in Cuba as well – but only at the Guantánamo Bay detention center. U.S. military personnel there practice “torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” of prisoners who are denied protections of the Geneva Conventions. It would hardly be fair to hold Cuba responsible for the war crimes of the U.S. military, which is illegally occupying the country.

Cuba is the only country the United States applies the Trading With the Enemy Act to because the blockade has never had anything to do with human rights. From the beginning, the blockade was instituted to cause “disenchantment and disaffection and hardship” in order to “bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government,” wrote former State Department official Lester Mallory. These savage measures were necessary, Mallory reasoned, because “the majority of the Cuban people support Castro. There is no effective political opposition.” [1]

The blockade against Cuba has been strengthened over the course of the last half century to include various extraterritorial provisions that violate the sovereignty of impartial countries. These include sections of the Torricelli Act that prohibit subsidiaries of U.S. companies in third countries from trading with Cuba. Ninety percent of such trade with Cuba consists of food and medicines. Additionally, the Helms-Burton Act prevents international financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank, from granting credit to Cuba. This violates the policies of these institutions as well as those of other international organizations. [2]

Many foreign companies have been caught in the U.S.’s illegal, extraterritorial web of laws in the past year. An Argentina-based travel agency settled for $2.8 million fine for offering services to people who traveled to Cuba. A large Dutch travel company settled for $5.9 million for similar charges. A Canadian subsidiary of the insurance giant AIG, which sold policies to people traveling to Cuba, was levied a $279,038 fine. Energy drink maker Red Bull was forced to pay a $90,000 fine for sending seven people to Cuba to make a documentary.

This year the blockade has cost Cuba an estimated $3.9 billion in foreign trade, which brings the inflation-adjusted total to $1.1 trillion lost since the blockade was implemented 55 years ago, according to the Cuban government.

It is civilians in Cuba, especially children, who are suffering the worst. Many antiviral medications are unavailable to minors because of the blockade. North American companies who make these medications don’t respond to requests for their purchase or claim they cannot sell them to Cuba, according to diplomat Jairo Rodríguez, who recently testified at the UN.

Nearly 80 percent of patents in the medical sector are held by American corporations and their subsidiaries. Cuba cannot gain access to these pharmaceutical medications and medical equipment because of restrictions imposed by the U.S. government. [3]

To purchase Braille machines, the Cuban Ministry of Education has to pay triple the price it would cost to purchase them from the United States, as they have to buy them from third countries for a much higher price, according to CubaInformación.tv.

The nickel industry in Cuba suffered more than $50 million in losses in the last year, according to Cuban officials. Not only are they deprived of a huge market close to their borders, forcing them to ship much farther away, but products made in foreign countries containing Cuban nickel are not allowed by the U.S. to be imported there. [4]

The U.S. denies Cuban baseball players visas to play in Major League Baseball if they reside in Cuba. Mexico, on behalf of the U.S. government, enforces the same policy for their professional league. If they want to play in the Major Leagues, Cuban athletes must seek refugee status in the U.S. and give up living in their native country. When they do, it is used as propaganda. The press declares a “wave of defections” while purposefully omitting the context.

The blockade is selectively enforced, allowing for a Cuban like Yoani Sánchez who parrots Washington’s ideological position to operate her 14ymedio.com Web site. Companies like Paypal, GoDaddy, IBM and Akami appear to violate the blockade by providing financial and technological support to a Cuban national, facilitating the subversion of Cuba’s socioeconomic system.

But when companies do business with Cuba without trying to destabilize the country, the U.S. government uses its full power to punish them. In June, the Justice Department levied the largest fine in the history of the blockade against French bank BNP Paribas, who paid $9 billion to settle criminal charges brought against them for transactions with Cuba and other countries. For comparison, there has not been a single criminal charge brought against an American bank for the subprime mortgage crisis that would have collapsed the entire financial system if the government had not stepped in with a taxpayer bailout.

The BNP Paribas case demonstrates how enforcement of the blockade has significantly increased under President Barack Obama. During the last 5 years, 130 extraterritorial actions were taken against Cuba resulting in $11.4 billion in fines. With the case against the huge French financial giant setting a precedent, the door is open to fines possibly even greater in the future.

French Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg said in June “the U.S. has an unfair advantage in the global ‘economic war’ because of a law that authorizes prosecution of foreign companies for activities outside American soil. He called for fair and equitable treatment of the bank,” according to USA Today.

The French complaint is not a new one. It was pursued by European countries nearly two decades ago but never settled. In May 1996, the European Economic Community argued against the Helms-Burton Act in the World Trade Organization. President Bill Clinton, eager to pander to reactionary Anti-Castro voters in Florida and New Jersey, a strategic group important for his re-election, had signed the bill into law that year.

The European Committee “claim(ed) that U.S. trade restrictions on goods of Cuban origin, as well as the possible refusal of visas and the exclusion of non-U.S. nationals from U.S. territory, are inconsistent with the U.S. obligations under the WTO Agreement.”

The U.S. government took the illogical position that the Helms-Burton Act was a matter of “American national security,” of which the WTO “has no competence to proceed” and stated they would refuse to take part in the proceedings.

The U.S. didn’t end up invoking its national security exemption, which the European countries feared would wreak havoc on the whole international trade system, as negotiations continued. In the end, the European countries backed down and the WTO panel convened on the matter was suspended with the issue unresolved.

Salim Lamrani writes that French President Francois Hollande was mistaken to accept the argument that BNP Paribas had committed a crime even though no such crime exists in the French legal code.

“Instead of defending national sovereignty and condemning the extraterritorial and illegal application of American law against the fundamental interests of the nation, Paris limits itself to pleading for a less severe punishment,” Lamrani writes. “By folding so docilely to Washington’s orders, France renounces its independence and tarnishes its image on the international stage.”

It is not just the rest of the world that is against the blockade. A majority of Americans – even a majority of Cuban Americans – favor lifting the blockade and normalizing relations with Cuba. The U.S. government cannot even claim the political support of its own population to justify its policy.

With the human cost and the economic cost growing every day, there is a possibility that in the near future the unanimous opposition to the blockade will manifest itself in a stronger challenge than a non-binding measure without teeth. When the blockade is finally removed, many years later than it should have been, the expression can go back to being just “death and taxes.”

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy and Latin America on his blog. His writing has appeared in CounterPunch, MintPress News, Dissident Voice, Latino Rebels, and other outlets. You can follow him on twitter.

Works Cited
[1] Lamrani, S. (2013). The Economic War Against Cuba: A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade. Monthly Review Press.
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid

Media discipline

October 13, 2014

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Ricardo Alarcón

On the 16th anniversary of the imprisonment of the Cuban antiterrorists, the real role of the United States’ major communications media was exposed once again. To them, Sept. 12 went by unremarked, same as the acts of protest against the injustice.

Nor did they publish anything about the Miami court’s delay in responding to the petition for a writ of habeas corpus that Gerardo Hernández Nordelo submitted in June 2010, more than four years ago, or to the petitions filed later by Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero.

These are three appeals that, in great measure, are based precisely on the manipulation and payment by the government, with public money, to the journalists who promoted the campaign of hatred and disinformation that a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta, when overturning their convictions in 2005, described as “a perfect storm.”

Curiously, the operation was disclosed in 2006, when The Miami Herald found itself forced to fire some of its employees who were involved in the scandal. That violation of professional ethics was criticized by prestigious institutions such as the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York City, among others that, beyond Florida, expressed their alarm.

The lady judge has not responded to a request for the Government to surrender the information it still conceals about an episode that’s offensive to a profession that she should respect. Or to a petition from Gerardo for an oral hearing at which he could rebut the lies that have condemned him to die in prison. The lady judge does not respond, as if the lives of three human beings to whom she imposed the most exaggerated sentences were not within her purview.

Faced with this situation, the press is silent, but that shouldn’t surprise us. Language specialist Noam Chomsky defined the U.S. media in one word: DISCIPLINED.

Ironically, the silence itself is news. For half a century, Washington has aimed at Cuba a colossal and systematic propaganda that has missed no chance to inculpate its Government for anything and everything. If the Five had caused any harm to the United States, if their work had been so dangerous, [Washington] would have talked about them day and night, unceasingly.

The obedient silence of the media is proof eloquent of their innocence and the infamy of which they are victims.

Cuban Hero Rene Gonzalez Recalls Plane Explosion in Barbados

October 7, 2014

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Mexico, Oct 6 (Prensa Latina) Cuban antiterrorist fighter and hero Rene Gonzalez, a member of the well known Cuban Five, recalled the explosion of a Cuban plane facing the coasts of Barbados, on October 6, 1976, leaving 73 victims.
In an article published in Mexican newspaper El Universal, Rene Gonzalez talked about other terrorist attacks, just as the one on the fall of 1962 in the city of Havana against a hotel from boats with Miami licenses.

He listed attacks or murders of fishermen in the north of Cuba, attacking coastal villages with the result of innocent citizens killed or mutilated, sabotage against nursery houses putting at risk the life of children, as well as the killing of literacy campaign workers by counter-revolutionary bands.

‘This story, unknown to the rest of the planet, has been nailed, however, in the collective memory of the Cuban people’, said Gonzalez, one of the Cuban Five, convicted 16 years ago by alerting Cuba of violent actions by anti-Cuban groups, who were subjected to arbitrary and rigged trials against the Caribbean nation.

The terrorist actions against Cuba have been a constant since January 1st, 1959 , when the Revolution forever rescued the aspirations of sovereignty for the Cuban people, he said. ‘It was that same memory which prompted me without hesitation to the acceptance of the mission that would take me to inform the author of that terrorist act of my early experiences, José Basulto,’ he said.

As one more Cuban citizen, it became a natural duty for me to avoid, by sneaking up on violent groups that are still in common places in Miami, the consummation of such activities, he stressed.

Gonzalez explained in detail the story of the longest trial in the history of the United States, which after being started it would be abrupt and mysteriously covered by the absolute silence of the media corporations ‘.

Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino and René González – this last the author of the article – were arrested in the United States in 1998, when performing activities of prevention of terrorism against Cuba.

Of them, only Rene and Fernando returned to Cuba after serving all of their sentences, but Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio are still in US prisons, although hundreds of personalities in the world are calling for his release, including 10 Nobelists, in addition to organizations of lawyers and parliaments.

Retired U.S. Army Colonel and former Diplomat Ann Wright Sends Letter to President Obama

October 2, 2014

Retired Col. Ann Wright spent 29 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves. She was a diplomat in the State Department for 16 years, serving in the U.S. embassies of Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada and Nicaragua. She resigned in 2003 in protest of the then-impending invasion of Iraq. In 2009, she co-authored, Dissent, Voices of Conscience.
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Photo: Bill Hackwell

October 5, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

I am a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Army and retired as a Colonel. I was also a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy Iraq. Since my resignation eleven years ago, I have spoken and written frequently about my deep concern about policies and decisions taken by the United States government.

I am writing to you with my concerns about the cases of the Cuban Five. I suspect you have been briefed on the history of the decision of the Clinton Administration to prosecute the five Cuban citizens who were residing in the United States for their unarmed, non-violent monitoring of Miami-based terrorist organizations to prevent further attacks against the people of Cuba who have suffered more than 3,478 deaths and 2,099 injuries from terrorist acts from U.S.-based criminals.

I would like to bring to your attention that in 2005, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, concluded that, based on the facts and the circumstances in which their trial was held, the nature of the charges and the severity of the convictions, the imprisonment of the Cuban Five violated Article 14 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Liberties, to which the United States is a signatory. This was the first time the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had denounced a conviction in a case in the United States because of the violations committed during the legal process.

A three judge panel at the Appellate level overturned the conviction of the Cuban Five. I strongly believe that due to intense political pressure from the powerful Cuban community in Miami, a full panel of the Court of Appeals reinstated the conviction.

Ten of your fellow Nobel laureates and other international notables, among them East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Rigoberta Menchu, Jose Saramago, Wole Soyinka, Zhores Alferov, Nadine Gordimer, Gunter Grass, Dario Fo and Mairead Maguire, Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland (1992-1997) and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), and UNESCO General Director Federico Mayor, among others, signed the amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court asking a review of the decision of the Court of Appeals.

They were joined by hundreds of parliamentarians from around the world, including the Mexican Senate, the National Assembly of Panama. 75 members of the European Parliament, including two ex-presidents and three current vice-presidents of this legislature have signed petitions asking for the US Supreme Court to take the case. Numerous legal and human rights associations in Europe, Asia and Latin America, as well as international personalities and legal and academic organizations in the United States have signed these documents.

As you probably know, the Bush administration paid reporters to write negative stories about the Cuban Five during their trial in Miami, Florida jeopardizing the fairness of the trial and appellate process.

Despite the appeals from the international community and the United Nations, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of the Cuban Five.

I, like many others who have served in the United States government, am deeply concerned about the lack of fairness of American law enforcement and judicial systems for the Cuban Five. Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General; Larry Wilkerson, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell; and Wayne Smith, former Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana have publicly expressed their concerns, most recently to an international audience at the event “5 Days for the Cuban Five” in Washington, DC in June, 2014.

I am proud to add my voice as a retired U.S. Army Reserve Colonel and a former U.S. diplomat to their statements of concerns of the American prosecutorial and judicial processes and the American penal system concerning the Cuban Five.

Two of the Cuban Five, René González and Fernando González, have finally been released after serving their sentences. Three of the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, still remain in U.S. maximum security prisons facing decades more of imprisonment.

I first met families of the Cuban Five in 2006 in Havana, Cuba. I had travelled there as a member of a human rights delegation that went to the gates of the U.S. military base in Guantanamo to protest the torture and inhumane conditions of the prisoners who had been kidnapped, tortured and imprisoned following the events of September 11, 2001. Hearing the stories of the challenge of visiting their family members in U.S. prisons caused by purposeful United States government bureaucratic measures intended to make visiting as difficult as possible, was hard to hear as a defender of human rights.

At the time of our 2006 trip to Cuba, the Cuban Five had been in U.S. prisons for eight years. During those years the U.S. judicial system was deeply influenced by the events of 9/11 and the subsequent curtailment of civil and political rights in the United States for U.S. citizens and extraordinary abridgement and violation of legal rights for non-U.S. citizens.

I hope that your administration, now that there are only two years left in your tenure as President, will be willing to challenge the strangle-hold the right wing Cuban lobby in Miami has on American politics to ultimately correct the injustices the Cuban Five have suffered and give a Presidential pardon to the remaining three members of the Cuban Five who are in prison.

Thank you,

Ann Wright
U.S. Army Reserve Colonel, Retired and former U.S. diplomat


Remember: On Sunday October 5th, call Obama and demand the freedom of the Cuban 5

CALL THE WHITE HOUSE TO JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND FOR THEIR FREEDOM.

By phone:
202-456-1111 (If nobody answers the phone leave a message)
If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code
+ 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111

By Fax: 202-456-2461
If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area
Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461

To send an e-mail: president@whitehouse.gov

To send a letter:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
United States

SEND AN ONLINE MESSAGE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments,

To learn more about the Cuban 5 visit: http://www.thecuban5.org,


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