Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

The president in his labyrinth

March 26, 2015

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by René Gonzàlez Sehwerert –

A story by Reuters gives an account of the process which would have taken to the events on last December 17th, whose impact on the relations Cuba-United States is impossible to foresee. Assembled with fragmentary information, from several sources, it is probably a partial approach to a portion of a more rich and complex history, told mostly by one of the parties and adorned with inferences from the writers.

It has probably the virtue of being the first attempt to take up the process, at least on what refers to the options and tribulations of the American administration. It is to be expected that many more attempts will be helping to complete this puzzle, which with all certainty would make a good movie script.

It is because of this quality that we offer it to the readers, even though it is only a part -probably on some degree inaccurate- if a bigger story.

Insight – How Obama outmaneuvered hardliners and cut a Cuba deal

BY WARREN STROBEL, MATT SPETALNICK AND DAVID ADAMS

WASHINGTON/MIAMI Mon Mar 23, 2015 10:43am IST Reuters – The December breakthrough that upended a half-century of U.S.-Cuba enmity has been portrayed as the fruit of 18 months of secret diplomacy.

But Reuters interviews with more than a dozen people with direct knowledge of the process reveal a longer, painstakingly cautious quest by U.S. President Barack Obama and veteran Cuba specialists to forge the historic rapprochement.

As now-overt U.S.-Cuban negotiations continue this month, Reuters also has uncovered new details of how talks began and how they stalled in late 2013 during secret sessions in Canada. Senior administration officials and others also revealed how both countries sidelined their foreign policy bureaucracies and how Obama sought the Vatican’s blessing to pacify opponents.

Obama’s opening to Havana could help restore Washington’s influence in Latin America and give him a much-needed foreign policy success.

But the stop-and-start way the outreach unfolded, with deep mistrust on both sides, illustrates the obstacles Washington and Havana face to achieving a lasting detente.

Obama was not the first Democratic president to reach out to Cuba, but his attempt took advantage of – and carefully judged – a generational shift among Cuban-Americans that greatly reduced the political risks.

In a May 2008 speech to the conservative Cuban-American National Foundation in Miami, Obama set out a new policy allowing greater travel and remittances to Cuba for Cuban-Americans, though he added he would keep the embargo in place as leverage.

“Obama understood that the policy changes he was proposing in 2008 were popular in the Cuban-American community so he was not taking a real electoral risk,” said Dan Restrepo, then Obama’s top Latin America adviser.

Six months later, Obama was validated by an unexpectedly high 35 percent of the Cuban-American vote, and in 2012 he won 48 percent – a record for a Democrat.

With his final election over, Obama instructed aides in December 2012 to make Cuba a priority and “see how far we could push the envelope,” recalled Ben Rhodes, a Deputy National Security Advisor who has played a central role in shaping Cuba policy.

Helping pave the way was an early 2013 visit to Miami by Obama’s top Latin American adviser Ricardo Zuniga. As a young specialist at the State Department he had contributed to a 2001 National Intelligence Estimate that, according to another former senior official who worked on it, marked the first such internal assessment that the economic embargo of Cuba had failed.

He met a representative of the anti-Castro Cuban American National Foundation, and young Cuban-Americans who, according to one person present, helped confirm the waning influence of older Cuban exiles who have traditionally supported the half-century-old embargo.

But the White House wasn’t certain. “I don’t think we ever reached a point where we thought we wouldn’t have to worry about the reaction in Miami,” a senior U.S. official said.

The White House quietly proposed back-channel talks to the Cubans in April 2013, after getting notice that Havana would be receptive, senior U.S. officials said.

Obama at first froze out the State Department in part due to concern that “vested interests” there were bent on perpetuating a confrontational approach, said a former senior U.S. official. Secretary of State John Kerry was informed of the talks only after it appeared they might be fruitful, officials said.

Cuban President Raul Castro operated secretly too. Josefina Vidal, head of U.S. affairs at Cuba’s foreign ministry, was cut out, two Americans close to the process said. Vidal could not be reached for comment.

The meetings began in June 2013 with familiar Cuban harangues about the embargo and other perceived wrongs. Rhodes used his relative youth to volley back.

“Part of the point was ‘Look I wasn’t even born when this policy was put in place … We want to hear and talk about the future’,” said Rhodes, 37.

“THE CUBANS WERE DUG IN”

Obama’s people-to-people Cuba strategy was complicated by one person in particular: Alan Phillip Gross.

The U.S. government had sent Gross, a USAID contractor, on risky missions to deliver communications equipment to Cuba’s Jewish community. His December 2009 arrest put Obama’s planned “new beginning” with Cuba on hold.

The secret talks were almost derailed by Havana’s steadfast demand that Obama swap the “Cuban Three,” a cell of Cuban spies convicted in Miami but considered heroes in Havana, for Gross.

Obama refused a straight trade because Washington denied Gross was a spy and the covert diplomacy stalled as 2013 ended.

Even as Obama and Castro shook hands at the Johannesburg memorial service for South African leader Nelson Mandela, the situation behind the scenes did not look very hopeful.

“The Cubans were dug in … And we did kind of get stuck on this,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes and Zuniga spent more than 70 hours negotiating with the Cubans, mostly at Canadian government facilities in Ottawa.

By late spring 2014, Gross’ friends and family grew alarmed over his physical and psychological state. The White House and the Cubans knew that if he died in prison, repairing relations would be left to another generation.

With Gross’ mother, Evelyn, dying of lung cancer, the U.S. government and his legal team launched an effort to convince the Cubans to grant him a furlough to see her.

That bid failed, despite an offer by Gross’s lawyer Scott Gilbert to sit in his jail cell as collateral.

But a turning point had occurred at a January 2014 meeting in Toronto. The Americans proposed – to the Cubans’ surprise – throwing Rolando Sarraff, a spy for Washington imprisoned in Cuba since 1995, into the deal, U.S. participants said.

The White House could claim it was a true “spy swap,” giving it political cover. But it took 11 more months to seal the deal.

Castro did not immediately agree to give up Sarraff, a cryptographer who Washington says helped it disrupt Cuban spy rings in the United States.

And Obama, stung by the outcry over his May 2014 exchange of five Taliban detainees for U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, was wary of another trade perceived as lopsided, according to people close to the situation.

He weighed other options, including having the Cubans plead guilty to the charges against them and be sentenced to time served, according to the people.

Gilbert worked with the Obama administration, but urged it to move faster. From his vantage point, the turning point came in April 2014, when it became clear key Obama officials would support a full commutation of the Cuban prisoners’ sentences.

“TEARS IN OUR EYES”

The last puzzle piece slid into place at a Feb. 2014 White House meeting with lawmakers including Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy and Sen. Dick Durbin.

Obama hammered home his opposition to a straight Gross-Cuban Three trade, two people present said. Durbin, in an interview, said he “raised the possibility of using the Vatican and the Pope as intermediaries.”

Pope Francis would bring the Catholic Church’s moral influence and his status as the first pontiff from Latin America. It was also protection against harsh critics such as Cuban-American Sen. Robert Menendez.

Leahy persuaded two Catholic cardinals to ask Francis to raise Cuba and the prisoners when he met Obama in March. The Pope did so, then wrote personal letters to Obama and Castro.

“What could be better than the president being be able to tell Menendez or anybody else, ‘Hey, The Pope asked me?’” a congressional aide said.

The deal was finalised in late October in Rome, where the U.S. and Cuban teams met separately with Vatican officials, then all three teams together.

Rhodes and Zuniga met the Cubans again in December to nail down logistics for the Dec. 17 announcements of prisoner releases, easing of U.S. sanctions, normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations and Cuba’s freeing of 53 political prisoners.

Gilbert was aboard the plane to Cuba that would bring Gross home. Landing at a military airfield, Gilbert met Cuban officials who had been in charge of Gross for five years. “Many of us from both countries had tears in our eyes,” Gilbert said.

Castro and Obama, whose Cuba policy still faces vocal opposition from anti-Castro lawmakers, will come face to face at next month’s Western Hemisphere summit in Panama. Aides have dared to imagine that Obama could be the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

“We’re in new territory here,” Rhodes said.

(Additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle, Anna Yukhananov, Lesley Wroughton and Mark Hosenball in Washington, and Dan Trotta in Havana. Editing by Jason Szep and Stuart Grudgings)
http://rene4the5.com/home/?lang=en,

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.

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,

October 1, 2014

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

Mr. President

For how long, Mr. President, are you going to keep the three Cuban patriots, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino et Gerardo Hernández, locked up in prison?
For how long, Mr. President, are these three men who, without weapons, risking their lives, worked to thwart terrorist attacks committed against their country, with the guilty complaisance of the United States government, going to be imprisoned?
For how long, Mr. President, will Nobel Peace Prize holders, members of Parliament, jurists, intellectuals, artists, political leaders, union officials, clergymen and simple citizens, all over the world, have to solicit you for you to finally finish by liberating these three Cubans?
For how long, Mr. President, will we have to demonstrate to you, by “a+b”, the innocence of these three men, when you know fully well that they are not at all guilty?
For how long, Mr. President, are you going to keep Gerardo Hernández’s wife Adriana, who he hasn’t seen since he was arrested sixteen years ago, from being able to visit him?
For how long, Mr. President, is your country going to continue, in total impunity, playing worldwide policemen, scoffing at the Cuban people’s sovereignty?
This sinister farce, in which the victims are the five Cubans René González, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, is continuing today, with the last three. It has been going on for too long.
You cannot keep Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Gerardo Hernández locked up in prison any longer. The Cuban government has thrown you a line with the opportunity of a humanitarian exchange – wise up and catch it while it’s still time!
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.

Final Declaration and Action Plan of the 10th International Colloquium for the Release of the Five Heroes and against Terrorism.

September 17, 2014

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Havana, September 11th-12th, 2014

The 10th International Colloquium for the Release of the Five Heroes and against Terrorism, which concludes today in Havana, with the presence of ­­­266 delegates representing the Movement of Solidarity with Cuba in 45 countries, takes place in an important context; Fernando and René, Heroes of the Republic of Cuba have returned to their Homeland, after serving until the last minute their unfair sentences. They, along with their brothers who are still incarcerated in U.S. prisons: Antonio Ramón and Gerardo are symbols of resistance in the fight for peace and against terrorism.

After 16 years of an unfair incarceration, the U.S. government continues to defy its own and international law, violating the Human Rights of the three comrades that remain in jail and their families.

The Cuban Five were declared guilty of charges that were never proved, suffered from being arbitrarily locked-up in punishment cells, the legal team’s demands for a trial outside Miami, where there would be no anti-Cuban prejudice conditioning the jury’s verdict, were not taken into account.

The last legal resource protecting the Cuban antiterrorists, the Habeas Corpus presented by the defense before the Judge, more than 4 years ago, remains unanswered, they don’t seem to care about 5844 days of unfair imprisonment.

We have witnessed how the international claim for justice has been ignored, ten Nobel Prizewinners, governments, parliamentarians, religious, political and opinion leaders, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, International Amnesty, several human rights organizations, jurists, trade unionists and more than 6000 intellectuals and artists from all over the world, have claimed for Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio’s rights to be respected.
Former President Jimmy Carter said in April, 2011 “I believe that the detention of the Cuban Five makes no sense, there has been doubts expressed in the U.S. courts and by human rights organizations around the world. They have now been in prison 12 years and I hope that in the near future they will be freed to return to their homes”
Too much time away from their families and loved ones! Too much time for those who should not have spent one single second in prison!

Too much suffering and darkness for those who defend the truth and the light of hope and justice!

The Colloquium has based on the experience of what has been done so far, endorsed in nine previous Colloquiums successfully held in Holguín province, and has favored the Exchange of experiences and the deep and objective debate about what’s yet to be done, which is included in the Action Plan attached to this Declaration.

It can be noticed the strength and maturity reached by the Solidarity Movement for the Liberation of the Cuban Five worldwide, shown in the quality of the actions and initiatives executed, as well as in their scope. The main challenge is still to reach the U.S. power structures with that energy and experience gained, key point to solve the situation of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio.

Dear friends:

The battle for the liberation of Antonio, Ramón and Gerardo is the most urgent cause in Cuba now, along with the end of the genocide blockade. It is supported by all those who defend the inalienable right to sovereignty and dignity of the peoples.

The U.S. government in an arbitrary and illegal way has used the case of the Five Heroes, discrediting once again its legal system, to maintain its political positions against the Cuban Revolution, and in particular the socialist system. By punishing the Five Patriots, not only they are trying to condemn Cuba, but also everyone who tries to defy the Imperial Power.

The values, principles, and integrity shown by the Cuban Heroes have become a dignity bastion for the just causes of other peoples, and therefore we ratify that the International Solidarity Movement for the Liberation of the Cuban Five will maintain its activism and actions until justice is done and they return home. We are certain that united we can achieve it.

We make a call to reinforce our fight to prevent that Gerardo spends the rest of his life in prison, that Ramón health continues affecting and that Anotnio fails to meet in time with his beloved mother, in the haste of time.

To return Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio to life and to their people would represent a positive gesture of respect to International Law regulations, to honest people in the world and it would put an end to the damage inflicted to the Cuban Five and their families. It’s President Obama who can avoid the perpetuity of this colossal injustice. If he fails to do so, he will receive international repudiation and the claim of the peoples for the prevalence of Truth and Justice.

We will never stop fighting!

Say No to State terrorism against Cuba!

16 years is too much time. Not even another single minute!

Immediate and unconditional freedom for para Antonio, Gerardo and Ramón!

Action Plan resulting from the 10th International Colloquium for the Release of the Five Heroes and against Terrorism.

For all the reasons and wills endorsed in this declaration, the international solidarity movement for the cause of our Five Brothers gathered in this 10th Colloquium, and in close coordination with the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples and the International Committee for the Liberation of the Five Heroes, summon to:

1- Address every man and woman with good will, specially the people from the U.S., to support the demand for the immediate release of our three antiterrorists, demanding in every possible way Barack Obama President of the United States to end this injustice.

2- Intensify the spreading of information on the case taking into account the political scenario and the growing interest in a change of policy towards Cuba in the eve of the presidential elections that will take place in 2016, so that this becomes an additional pressure element that forces the current U.S. administration to find a humanitarian solution to the case.

3- Strengthen the information spreading work to attract attention on the impact of subversive actions against Cuba, organized and financed in U.S. territory aiming to ratify the effectiveness of terrorism against Cuba, which motivated the work of the Five Heroes inside counterrevolutionary organizations and the anti-Cuban mafia based in the U.S.

4- Support the initiatives carried out in U.S. territory in favor of the cause and in particular the IV Symposium of Accusation and Solidarity “5 Days for the Five in Washington D.C.”, in September 2015, joining it with parallel actions around the world, to make the case more visible to the media and to obtain the necessary impact in International Public Opinion.

5- To sustain the initiative presented by the South African delegation to convene an International Meeting in the first semester of the year 2015.

6- Increase the mobilization around the case of parliamentarians around the world to direct statements to their counterparts in the U.S. senate and Congress, as well as culture, science, art and sports celebrities of international prestige that can contribute to multiply the message and increase political pressure.

7- Work with higher efficiency and creativity the publicity of the different campaigns, the results of the events and the visits of the relatives of the Five, in order to achieve a wide media repercussion, giving priority to the use of materials in different formats and languages, which can be promoted in alternative media.

8- Make more efficient use of the social networks and information technologies as information instrument to counteract the media silence on the case.

9- Encourage the approval of motions and/or declarations in favor of the freedom of the Five in national, regional and local Parliaments and Legislations.

10- Continue the actions in the 5th day of every month to prioritize the letters and messages sent to President Obama and the U.S. institutions, added to demonstrations in front of that country’s diplomatic venues in the world.

11- Request to religious congregations and institutions their intervention in favor of the Five, to favor a humanitarian solution of the case.

12- Promote the support to different trade unions of the world to the Campaign, giving priority to the influence on their U.S. counterparts.

13- Achieve a higher interrelation with the legal sector in order to take advantage of every legal resource in favor of the cause and to condemn the violations and arbitrary acts of the U.S. legal system.

14- Request support from the youth organizations to join the cause, using their spaces and potentials, promoting cultural, sports, educational and social mobilization actions among others.

15- Increase the work with intellectuals, artists, athletes, and opinion leaders, to strengthen the spreading work from multiple scenarios and in their spaces of social influence.

16- Arrange solidarity actions with Cuba at national, regional and global level, aiming to increase the claim for justice and freedom for the Five. Lograr acciones concertadas de solidaridad con Cuba a nivel nacional, regional y mundial, con vistas a incrementar el clamor de justicia y libertad para los Cinco.

17- Demand the freedom of Oscar López Rivera, Puerto Rican patriot incarcerated for 33 years in U.S. prisons. Likewise, demand the freedom of the Palestinian prisoners, among them more than two hundred minors in prisons of the terrorist state of Israel. Support initiatives such as the South African Conference in Solidarity with the Five, the event Mothers of the World for the Five, the bike rides, the next Colloquium and other actions that make this injustice visible.

Other letter for Mr Obama about the Cuban 5

September 3, 2014

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Jülich, September 2, 2014

Dear Mr. President Obama,

While preparing our activities on occasion of the upcoming 16th anniversary of the arrest of the “Cuban Five” on September 12, 1998, at the same time, we are rather worried about the civil wars at so many places on earth and the war propaganda we are confronted with by our mass medias, for instance, blaming Russia for the “invasion” of Ukraine, all this misinformation and rumors seem to have been planted by the advisors in your administration.
What is shamefull for us, our German mass medias pick them up and spread the word, while, schizophrenically, on occasion of the anniversaries of World War I and World War II broadcasting historical documentations which show the audience impressively how and why those wars could happen.
As Mahatma Ghandi already correspondingly said, “human beings are not able to learn from history.”

However, there are exceptions like the Cuban Five:

In the full awareness of their risk when infiltrating the exile Cuban terrorist groups the Cuban Five managed unarmed to prevent more than 170 planned terrorist attacks against their homeland.
Moreover, in the awareness of their innocence they bravely stood trial and didn’t agree to any deal with the prosecution for minor sentences. May be, they trusted in the jurisdiction of the “most advanced country”, the United States of America, then.
But if they did so, they must have been disappointed. And so were all of us by observing the case since their very arrest.
Because of this, we cannot help, but continue to build a jury of millions in order to absolve and rehabilitate all of them:
Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, who unjustly are remaining in your prisons yet, as well as René González and Fernando González having served their unjust sentences already.
As one of our fellow campaigners Jaqueline Roussie from France did in her letter to you on September 1, we want to remind you of the report by Peter Schey, Director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, having been sent to you and Attorney General Eric Holder on last July 4.

We hope very much that you will notice all our efforts when organizing events in favor of the release of all the Cuban Five, marching to the White House again, throughout the cities of your country and abroad to your Embassies and Consulates all over the world and our writing, and you will – at long last – use your prerogative right to pardon the remaining three of the Cuban Five in US prisons, just for having come into the United States for the security of their own country – unarmed – for preventing further terrorist attacks against their compatriots, under your law in “Necessity of Defence” and justified by International Law according in particular to the UN Charta, Article 51.
Similar letters are going to your Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Thank you very much for your appreciated attention in advance
Yours sincerely,

Josie Michel-Brüning, Pedagogue HDip.ed. and Family therapist i.r. and Dirk Brüning, Chemical Engineer i.r.
Members of the German committee to Free the Cuban Five, one of more than 350 committees around the world.

September letter for Mr. Obama

September 1, 2014

Cinco-Heroes-Cubanos

Mr. President Obama September 1st 2014
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington DC 20500

Mr. President,

When you receive this letter, we will be not far from September 12th, the date of the sixteenth anniversary of the arrest, in Miami, of the five Cubans – Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and René Gonzalez.
The last two have served their sentence; the first three are still in prison in your country.
All over the world, citizens and organizations that respect human rights are joining forces and taking action to demand their liberation.
On the fourth of July this year, in the United States, the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law handed over to Attorney General Eric Holder, and also to you, Mr. President, an extremely complete dossier on the Cuban Five affair.
In this dossier, concerning the tragedy of the Brothers to the Rescue (BTTR) planes, for which Gerardo Hernandez was condemned to two life sentences plus fifteen years, one can read, on page 18, the conclusion:
« Following the shoot-down, the FAA revoked Basulto’s pilot’s license due to his actions; the FAA found that Basulto’s reckless operation of his aircraft on February 24, 1996 contributed to the deaths of four members of BTTR in the shoot-down.56
In summary, the record discussed in detail above shows that Gerardo Hernández had no involvement in the shoot down. He didn’t encourage the BTTR to fly on February 24. He didn’t know whether they were flying that day or when they were flying or how many planes were flying. Hernández was not part of the chain of command involved in the decision to shoot down the BTTR planes. The U.S. Government (not Hernández) advised Cuba when the BTTR planes took off. The U.S. Government watched on several radars as events unfolded. The U.S. Government not Hernández could have warned the BTTR planes to leave the area once they observed Cuban interceptors in the air. »
As for the general conclusion to this report, it finishes in these terms:
« For all of these reasons, the case of the Cuban Five should now be ended by releasing the remaining three members of the Five serving long sentences in U.S. prisons and permitting them to return home and rejoin their families in Cuba. From the standpoint of justice and sensible foreign policy, this would be the rational, moral, and humane step to take to bring this 16-year old case to an end. »
Mr. President, follow this sage advice from the members of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, those who established this report, and liberate the three Cubans who are still in prison. Sixteen years of imprisonment for innocent men is way too much; the United States stole their youth.
Please receive, Mr. President, the expression of my most sincere humanitarian sentiments.

Jacqueline Roussie
64360 Monein (France)

Translated by William Peterson

Copies envoyées à: Mesdames Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Kathryn Ruemmler et à Messieurs. Joe Biden, John F. Kerry, Rand Beers, Harry Reid, Eric Holder, Denis MacDonough, Neil Eggleston, Rick Scott, et Charles Rivkin, ambassadeur des Etats-Unis en France.

Dear Mr. Gross

June 5, 2014

434

By Álvaro Fernández • Published on June 5, 2014 by ProgesoWeekly

Let me begin by telling you that I was one who believed 2014 would be a very good year for you and three others still in prison. This letter is to inform you that that light of hope is beginning to flicker.

Of course I would love to see you back home. I wish the same for the three remaining members of the Cuban Five still in U.S. prisons. But your chances grow slimmer the more I listen to the president and all others who fall in line behind him.

I bet you were excited when you heard the news of the past week. President Obama had traded five, who have been described as very dangerous, Afghan Taliban guerrilla leaders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. That’s right, five for one…

Still… you wait in a Cuban prison – for your commander in chief to take action. But you’re not a soldier, making your case different, we’ve been told. You’re simply an American citizen. By the way, the differentiation is not my take, those are words uttered by a spokesperson for the State Department, Jen Psaki. I guess this State Dept. fact makes you less important…

Your wife has led a brave campaign that demonstrates you really were a U.S. soldier, but instead of guns you carried military-grade, sophisticated telecommunications equipment. On paper you worked – although indirectly – for the U.S. government. But they’ve ignored poor Judy.

By the way, I’m a Taurus too. Born in May, just like you. And I read where you said you would not be alive by your next birthday. Your exact words were: “On May 2, I turn 65 years old and it will be my last birthday here.”

Not that I want you to die. To the contrary. Like I mentioned earlier I’d like to see you home with your wife and daughter. But if you claim that last month’s birthday was your final one in Cuba, then you better start getting your affairs in order.

The way I’m looking at this right now, if it’s up to the President and the U.S. Congress, you will probably perish in a Cuban prison.

And let me insist that it won’t be Cuba’s fault. Although Cuba will ultimately be blamed. In fact, I am starting to believe that your death is what the U.S. government wants. The ‘Alan Gross dies in a Cuban prison’ headline would be a propaganda coup for a whole bunch of people who don’t think much of you.

Yep. You’ve become a pawn in a political game. Notice I called you a pawn. Not even a rook or a knight.

The fact is that the president of the United States, his secretary of state, members of the U.S. Congress and a host of other people who labor for the U.S. government don’t seem to care much about you. They’ve demonstrated it over the past five years.

Sorry to be so blunt Mr. Gross, but it’s time you faced the facts. And like I said, start getting your things in order. Because if you’re serious about what you said, then by my next birthday, less than two weeks after yours, I promise to remember you, maybe say a prayer, for the gentleman who died in a Cuban jail because his government, and its president, did not bother to save him.

They could at least pretend, don’t you think? For example, the Cuban government has bent over backwards and frontwards and even sideways in an attempt to talk to U.S. government officials about your case. They’ve been ignored.

Jeez… in the America I thought I believed in persons like you are not left to rot. Because I keep asking myself, “What can you lose because of a simple conversation?”

Then again, there are members of congress, let’s start with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart, Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, who insist and in fact threaten the president if he dares to negotiate with the Cuban government. Here’s another question for you: “If Obama doesn’t negotiate, how’s he gonna save you?”

In other words, they want you dead. In the case of the four I mentioned, it would be a feather in their caps, especially with some of their voters – it would give them more reason to hate the Castros. And that translates to votes in some districts in this country.

But let’s be perfectly honest here. And I’ll start by stating that I voted for Obama – twice. If he’d run a third time… I would probably refrain from voting for him. Which, by the way, does not mean I would vote for the likes of Marco Rubio or even a Mitt Romney. Just wouldn’t cast a vote. Something I take very seriously.

Because Barack has had a tough time with a racist congress, I understand. But areas he’s able to control, use the power of the presidency, he’s usually punted. I’m not sure if its political cowardice, or whether he really believes he’s doing the right thing waiting for the other side to come around… The fact is that I’m tired of waiting for him.

So let me finish by stating that I hope I am totally wrong on this. I hope the president proves me wrong. I promise to write him a letter of apology if he does.

But based on the experience of the past five and one-half years, and if I was you, like I advised, start getting your affairs in order.

Sorry to bring you bad news. But somebody has to.

Sincerely,

Alvaro F. Fernandez

Yoani Sanchez’s Funny Interview to Joe Biden

May 31, 2014

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Written by M. H. Lagarde

I haven’t written anything about blogger Yoani Sanchez’s much trumpeted 14ymedio daily because ‘half’ always sounded ‘half humorous’ to me, especially after reading that joke in the manner of a presentation where the blogger –who years ago used to visit the United States Interests Section (USINT) furtively and now travels as a tourist to the White House–, stated that the so-called independent online outlet wouldn’t have ideological or political commitment whatsoever.

A week later, my expectations have been exceeded. 14ymedio no longer seems half humorous but humorous and a half. The last joke of the blogger appeared in an interview with US Vice President Joe Biden, who Yoani Sanchez asks whether it is true that U.S. is going to invade Cuba.

“I can give you the simplest of answers and the answer is no. As President Obama stated”, said the vice president sharply.

Because of their ingenuousness, both the question and the answer make one laugh.

It would have been much more interesting and newsworthy that US Vice President Joe Biden had answered something like that:

Yes, of course we will invade Cuba, but once again we’re waiting for the ripe fruit. Therefore we have invented mercenaries like you, who firstly should demonize Cuba in the media with an editorial policy issued by our intelligence services. It’s about repeating in Cuba the outline of color revolutions in which our predecessor George W. Bush achieved so much success in the former Soviet republics. We also have the Syrian or Libyan case as variants, or the experiment we’re carrying out in Venezuela right now. Remember my dear mercenary Yoani that we’re heirs to a history of honesty like that Adlai Stevenson boasted, when he cynically denied before OAS that United States backed the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba or when General Colin Powell justified the war on Iraq at UN.

It appears that in the vast stream of media war against Cuba the independent blogger’s humorous and a half outlet will only contribute this kind of funny interviews with senior officials from the US government.

The next interviewee could well be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who the now journalist most likely asks whether what Castro’s propaganda says that she’s a CIA agent is true or not.

Now you can figure out Mr Brennan’s answer.

Fixing U.S. intervention capabilities in Cuba

May 24, 2014

grafito_obama_kerry

by: W. T. Whitney Jr.
May 23 2014

What people think seemingly has little effect on ending what Cubans say is the longest and cruelest economic blockade http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/ga10529.doc.htmin human history http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/ga10529.doc.htm. Polls show overall U.S. disapproval, Cuban-Americans included. The UN General Assembly has repeatedly and overwhelmingly rejected the blockade. The prestigious Atlantic Council NGO recently disapproved. Former high-profile blockade defenders in Florida, notably gubernatorial candidate Charley Crist and Cuban-American sugar baron Alfonso Fajul, changed their thinking. U.S. food producers, Illinois corn producers most recently, have called for new regulatory arrangements allowing exports to expand.

Even President Obama, fundraising in Miami in November 2013, lectured Cuba’s enemies. “[T]he notion that the same policies that we put in place in 1961 would somehow still be as effective as they are today … http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/08/remarks-president-dscc-fundraising-reception-0doesn’t make sense.” Yet those in charge don’t budge. http://peoplesworld.org/where-is-u-s-cuba-policy-going/

Nevertheless, Josefina Vidal, head of the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s U.S. department, was in Washington on May 16 to discuss unspecified topics with Roberta Jacobson, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) noted that previous bi-national contacts, technically oriented, “are not comparable to Vidal’s visit to Washington, which constitutes high-level diplomatic dialogue.”

Then a real breakthrough seemed to materialize. According to a report, “44 former high U.S. government officials on May 19 … sent an open letter to President Barack Obama asking for an improvement in Washington’s http://www.contrainjerencia.com/?p=87866relations with Cuba http://www.contrainjerencia.com/?p=87866.” They included John Negroponte, former Director of National Intelligence, Deputy Secretary of State, and veteran ambassador, including at the United Nations.

Joining him were five former deputy or assistant secretaries of state, two former heads of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, a former NATO supreme commander who once headed the U.S. Southern Command, an ex-U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, three former cabinet members, several former ambassadors, and David Rockefeller.

Financiers, businesspersons, and NGO heads signed on.

In fact, the letter conveyed interventionist recommendations as to new ways to make the blockade effective. “Now more than ever,” it claimed, “the United States can help the Cuban people determine their own destiny by building on the U.S. policy reforms that have already been started” by http://www.cubadebate.cu/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Carta-abierta-al-Presidente-Obama.pdfthe Obama administration http://www.cubadebate.cu/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Carta-abierta-al-Presidente-Obama.pdf. The United States should “deepen contacts between the U.S. and Cuban society [and] help Cubans increase their self-reliance and independence.” “[T]his window of opportunity may not remain open indefinitely,” the letter cautioned. Now “public opinion on Cuba policy has shifted toward greater engagement with the Cuban people.” And, “the U.S. is finding itself increasingly isolated internationally in its Cuba policy.”

Rather than engage with Cubans through ending the blockade, or bow to international opinion, the signatories remain faithful to old U.S. purposes. They urged the president to take executive actions, because “In the current political climate little can be done legislatively.”

The 1996 Helms Burton Act did leave the fate of the blockade up to Congress.

The president is urged to “Expand and safeguard travel to Cuba for all Americans,” specifically “licensed travel to include exchanges by professional organizations including those specializing in law, real estate and land titling, [also] financial services and credit.” “NGOs and academic institutions” having gained “expanded travel” could “open Cuban bank accounts with funds to support their educational programs in Cuba.” Travel suggestions are lacking for other Americans.

Obama should, “Allow unlimited remittances to non-family members for the purpose of supporting independent activity in Cuba,” also grant “new licenses for the provision of professional services to independent Cuban entrepreneurs.”

The long list of recommendations includes: U.S. loans “directly to small farmers, cooperatives, self-employed individuals, and micro-enterprises in Cuba,” sales of “telecommunications hardware,” and scholarships for “exceptional Cuban students.”

The president should authorize “the import and export of certain goods and services between the U.S. private sector and independent Cuban entrepreneurs.”

Presidential discretion would be used for implementing this far-reaching proposal that presumably would exempt it from congressional authority.

Miami-area Congressperson Joe Garcia, former head of the counter-revolutionary Cuban American National Foundation, commented. “The president’s policy of allowing more travel and remittances to Cuba,” he said, “has produced more change in Cuba in the last five years than the http://www.todayonline.com/world/open-letter-obama-calls-new-steps-promote-change-cuba?page=1previous 50 years http://www.todayonline.com/world/open-letter-obama-calls-new-steps-promote-change-cuba?page=1.” He thus articulated the establishment notion evident in this letter that a dependent Cuban people aren’t capable of shaping their own destiny, and shouldn’t have tried.

Former high officials of the national government fashioned the letter. They were reacting, one assumes, to the threat of a near-by social revolution, one reverberating through the centers of U.S. power for half a century. The list of names below the letter documents where parties primarily responsible for U.S. counter-revolutionary policies may be found. That would be in and around Washington, not in southern Florida where Cuban exiles, who supplied the proxy warriors, often take most of the heat for the blockade’s long duration.


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