Posts Tagged ‘rene gonzalez’

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.

We Will Never Give up Denouncing the Injustice, Says René Gonzàlez

September 10, 2014

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Lisbon (Prensa Latina) Cuban hero René González, who is attending today a Festival of the Communist journal Avante, said his priority is to fight for the release of his three comrades still in U.S. prisons.

Rene, along with Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino and Gerardo Hernandez, were arrested in the United States in September, 1998, and subject to a trial plagued with irregularities and given unfair, harsh prison sentences for monitoring Miami-based violent groups operating against Cuba.

Rene and Fernando are back in Cuba after fully serving their prison sentences, but Ramon, Gerardo and Antonio remain in prison.
“We wil never give up the right to continue denouncing the injustice that has been committed,” said Rene in an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina, the full version of which we are posting here now:
PL: The Cuban Five were arrested nearly 16 years ago in Miami and given harsh sentences. Could you refer to the circumstances under which the trial was conducted?
Rene: The trial was carried out in an atmosphere that could be compared to a Roman circus. A frightening atmosphere of overwhelming propaganda against The Cuban Five which was orchestrated by journalists secretly paid by the U.S. government. It was held in Miami, which was wrong, as this is the only place in the world where you were unable to get an impartial jury to have a fair trial.
This has been acknowledged by human rights bodies, which said the trial was in violation of all international regulations, including the U.S. Constitution.
PL: What has helped you be so firm through all these years?
René: I think it is the morale. Knowing that we had morale in facing the prosecutors that they will never have gave us strength. Besides the justice of what we had been doing. You cannot judge anyone for protecting human life, which is the most valuable asset.
That combination of factors has given us the necessary strength and will continue doing so, plus our formation as a result of our Revolution that taught us a commitment to human dignity.
PL: You and Fernando Gonzalez returned to your country, but three of your comrades are still in prison. What is their legal situation?
Rene: The legal solution rests on the judge to rule about the motion 2255 or habeas corpus that later, if needed, would go all over the winding road from the district court to the supreme court.
This is an extrajudicial appeal because all judicial appeals have been lodged already. The process got to the end when the supreme court arbitrarily refused to revise it.
What is important for the people to know is that this is a case determined by political reasons and their solution will be motivated by the political calculations to be made by the judge and the U.S. government.
Hence the importance we attach to solidarity and to demand the U.S. government to do justice.
As the case becomes a burden to them and keeping our comrades in prison turns into a heavier burden to them they will make the right political decision, which is to apply their laws to the 2255 and in this case the comrades will return to Cuba.
PL:Regarding world solidarity, what is your opinion about the fact that so many world figures and movements support the release of The Cuban Five?
René: First we have to thank all these people for all their solidarity. After hard work for many years the wall of silence of the media has been broken and many honest people worldwide have joined the cause of The Cuban Five. We need to boost solidarity, multiply it and above all launch it over Washington, over the U.S. establishment that in the end will have to make a decision and we need all that energy to focus on them so they make the right decision.
PL: If your attitude has been brave, so has been your family’s. I think this has also given you plenty of strength all this time.
Rene: Of course, the role of the family is invaluable. The wives, the children, our parents and siblings, all have played an important role in this struggle.
They have represented the cause abroad. We cannot forget that I left prison just a year and a half ago, but for 15 years our relatives fought the political and public battles.
And they have done it good, with great dignity. Every success has been a source of resistance for us. I think they are heroes in this story.
PL-¿How do you feel back in your country?
René: I feel happy, fulfilled, honored, also because of the privilege that the Cuban people offer me every time we walk the streets of Havana and they come to us and greet us. I also feel committed to my three brothers who were in fact defending the Cuban people.
P: ¿What is your mission now?
Rene: My priority is to fight for my three comrades to be released and sent back to Cuba.

The Cuban 5: Obama is On the Wrong Side of History

March 19, 2014

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by Brendan Ogle *

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Here’s a true story. It’s about a Chicago-born US citizen who has dedicated his life to fighting terrorist attacks against his country. It’s about a man that left his wife and 1 year old daughter to infiltrate renowned terrorist groups who have planned and executed many bombings and killed innocent victims, including tourists. This man worked assiduously and brilliantly in this anti-terrorist endeavour and put his life at risk to save others on many occasions. As well as providing evidence to the US state forces that helped catch and jail drug dealers and crooks he was a major part of a unit which presented a very thick file to the FBI about embedded terrorists on US territory.

His reward?

He, along with four fellow members of his intelligence unit, were turned upon by a highly politicised US judicial system in South Florida and jailed by the USA, in his case for 15 years. He spent the early part of his incarceration in a solitary confinement unit usually reserved for the most violent prisoners and yet the man has never been accused of, let alone found guilty of, any violent act.

Confused?

Well the story is true, current and, if you are the man’s colleague Gerardo Hernandez – sentenced to two life terms and 15 years – an outcome that involves freedom in his lifetime is not planned. When I tell you that René González and his four colleagues were working for Cuban intelligence to protect Cuba from terrorists based in Miami perhaps you will be less surprised. But you should be no less appalled.

There is something about sitting in the English Law Society in London’s Chancery Lane listening to this case that makes its facts all the more remarkable. That the facts were last week put to an International Commission of three esteemed Justices from France, South Africa and India is a good thing, for international justice has miserably failed these men to date. That the evidence includes contributions not only from the participants and their families, but from people of unquestionable international diplomatic and legal renown must surely mean that the USA will soon see sense and free the Cuban Five. We will return to the evidence later but for now, what is the case, and the International Commission about?

First let us imagine a small island of 14 million citizens just 90 miles from the Florida Keys and the southernmost coast of the world’s only remaining superpower, at least in the traditional sense. This island, Cuba, went from being a Spanish colony to an American plaything and, eventually the playground of the mob and America’s leading gangsters. Cuba was the mobs Las Vegas before Las Vegas was developed. All that changed in 1959 when Fidel Castro led a peasant revolution that, to the surprise of the watching world, drove the mob, their prostitutes and their drugs back across the Florida Straits to South Florida and Miami. Castro then declared the revolution to be a socialist revolution, some would say communist, and began to forge alliances with China and the Soviet Union, right on America’s doorstep. Those that stayed and backed Castro have remained remarkably loyal in very trying circumstances. These circumstances include a US blockade that has stymied the Cuban economy, is denounced every year in the United Nations but which America’s UN veto allows it to maintain without UN sanction. Those that left, especially those who left in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, remain hate filled and bitter towards Castro, socialist Cuba and the revolution which they are determined to overthrow using whatever means is necessary. Despite their efforts Castro’s revolution has outlasted eleven US Presidents.

It is in this context that terrorism against Cuba has been a fact of life almost since the very start in 1959. While Castro’s victory at the Bay of Pigs and the infamous missile crisis of 1963, when Khruschev and Kennedy brought the world to the nuclear brink in a game of bluff, have been written and reported on voluminously the small island’s fight against ongoing terrorism is a lonely and often silent one. And while it would be wrong to blame the US as a nation for this terrorism, the fact remains that the terrorists live, fund raise and plan their acts from South Florida and have done so for over fifty years. It is probably the case that most readers have not heard about this terrorism against Cuba, about the long list of hotel bombings, crop poisonings including precious tobacco plants, infrastructure sabotage efforts and the never ending and bizarre attempts on Fidel Castro’s life that range from exploding cigars to beard poisoning agents.

For example, you probably don’t know about the blowing out of the sky of a passenger jet in October 1976 which killed all 73 people on board. This was the worst terrorist attack on a passenger plane in all of the Americas until 9/11. The 73 passengers were mostly Cuban athletes – a fencing team whose average age was 21 to be precise – en route to the Pan American games when two terrorists planted bombs in a camera and toothpaste tube, checked their bags in, didn’t board and waited for the plane to blow to pieces and plunge into the sea killing all on board. As soon as it did so bomber Hernan Ricardo phoned his Cuban exile boss ‘ El Jefe Orlando Bosch’ back in Miami to confirm ‘a bus with 73 dogs went off a cliff and all got killed’.

Those who planned this atrocity were convicted in a Venezuelan Court – long before Chavez and when that country was ultra-right wing to boot – but managed to escape and were welcomed back to Miami as heroes by George and Jeb Bush. They now live there with impunity, boasting about their murder in the slum they call ‘Little Havana’.

And if you didn’t know about that atrocity you almost certainly haven’t heard about Fabio Di Celmo. Fabio was a young Italian killed on 4 September 1997 when a bomb planted by these same terrorist groups in Havana’s Copacabana Hotel hurled a piece of shrapnel that lodged in his neck and severed his jugular. This bomb was one of dozens planted in tourist hotels by terrorists to try to kill Cuba’s then fledgling tourist industry in the mid 1990s. Last week at the International Commission the pain was still evident in his father Guistino Di Celmo’s face and voice as he told the Judges about the day the Miami based fanatics took the life of his beautiful son. These incidents and many others are why Cuba needs and has one of the most sophisticated counter-intelligence agencies in the world. Rene Gonzalez and his four colleagues, ‘The Cuban Five’, are a key part of this agency. Even so, despite their efforts it is a little known fact that to date 3278 Cubans have been killed by terrorism against Cuba since Castro took power in 1959.

Ramsey Clark addressed the International Commission last week. Clark was Lyndon B. Johnson’s first Deputy Attorney General and knows more than most about the obsessive mania of the Cuban exiles who fled Castro’s Cuba and settled in South Florida. He knows for example that they hated Kennedy almost as much as Castro for nothing more than not using USA nuclear weapons to obliterate Castro, Cuba and perhaps half the planet during the missile crisis of 1963. Clark spoke last week in a slow American drawl that seemed to amplify his sadness at his countries behaviour towards the Cuban Five. So angry is he that not only does he say that ‘justice for the five is a great measure of justice, or the lack of it in the USA’ but he describes the five as ‘patriots who left their families to prevent crimes, prevent terrorism, before it began. If that is a crime then the law is an ass’. He believes that President Obama, a man he and many in the hall have had hope in which has been unfulfilled to date, ‘should send the five home in Airforce One with apologies from America’.

Also attending on behalf of the incarcerated Cubans was none other than European Parliament Vice President Miguel Angel Martinez. Martinez lambasted the UK Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision last week to deny René González a visa to give evidence to the Commission. René has completed his full 15-year sentence and addressed the Commission via Skype from Havana. When the Law Society Human Rights group appealed May’s decision to the Law Courts the Judge had ‘weighed González’s right to give evidence against the right of the Home Secretary to deny him a visa as a convicted felon’ and backed May’s decision while commenting that González could give his evidence through telephone. González’ wife and daughter were however in Chancery Lane to witness two lengthy standing ovations from the watching crowd before and after he gave his evidence.

González’ evidence could have come from any James Bond movie. He calmly told how he had ‘hijacked’ a small plane from an airfield outside Havana and flown the 90 short miles to Key West. This ‘escape to exile’ was so secret he couldn’t even tell wife Olga who, initially believing he had actually defected, threatened to end their marriage. Once in Miami he was quickly welcomed as a useful resource (he had a pilot’s license) by the real Cuban exiles. He settled down as a secret member of ‘the infiltration team’ and spent his time gathering evidence of plots to attack Cuba by exile groups.

One of these groups was called ‘Brothers to the Rescue’ (BTTR). The Group had initially been established to help spot and rescue rafters escaping Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union had plunged the island nation into profound economic difficulty. However when Castro opened the nations doors and told anyone who wanted to leave they could simply go the daring escape attempts ended. Just because BTTR’s stated reason for existing, and fundraising, had disappeared didn’t mean the group vanished however. As money, some of which was funded by drug deals that Gonzalez was spying on and passing information onto the US authorities about, continued to pour in BTTR flew another 1800 missions without spotting a single rafter. Castro’s open door policy and President Clinton’s decision to put ‘escapee’s’ in holding camps including Guantanamo Bay had stemmed the human tide. Instead BTTR engaged in increasingly reckless low level flying missions not only into Cuban airspace but actually over Havana dropping propaganda leaflets aimed at starting a counter revolution. During informal contacts (there are no full and official diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba) between the Cuban defence ministry and the White House the Cubans appealed to the US to stop these unlawful flights and, when the flights continued, made it clear that they would act if they didn’t stop.

On 24th February 1996 BTTR flew three planes towards Havana and greeted Havana air traffic control as follows, ‘For your information Havana centre our area of operations are north of Havana today. So we will be in your area and in contact with you. A cordial greeting from Brothers to the Rescue and its president, Jose Basulto, who is speaking to you’. A couple of minutes later Basulto told the Cubans that ‘we are crossing parallel 24 in five minutes and we will maintain about three to four hours in your area’. Havana warned the planes that they were entering a military zone, all recorded, but Basulto shot back ‘we are conscious we are in danger each time we cross the area south of 24, but we are ready to do it. It is our right as free Cubans’. On this occasion however Castro and the Cuban military had had enough. They scrambled 2 Cuban Airforce MIG’s and shot two of the three BTTR planes out of the sky killing those on board.

René and the ‘infiltration team’ were completely ignorant of these events back in Miami. But the shootings caused such anger among Cuban exiles that the US felt it had to act. As the exiles, their media and their money whipped up a frenzy the US authorities in South Florida came under pressure to find someone to blame. They looked close to home for their bodies. In fact they looked to the people who had been infiltrating these activities and passing the information back to them in the first place. Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez were ultimately arrested and charged with a number of offences. Because none of what became known as the Cuban Five had actually ‘done’ anything, conspiracy charges were the legal means used to convict the men allied to a charge of hiding their identities (a basic requirement for intelligence agencies the world over).

Ricardo Alarcon, a respected and senior diplomat and for many years Cuba’s New York based delegate to the UN told the Commission last Friday that the ‘offence’ of ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ was like charging someone with spying but without having proof of illegal spying. In his view all of the team’s activities were lawful and were actions which Cuba was entitled to engage in for its own defence. In case Alarcon might be accused of bias the strongest arguments on this point were made in evidence by German law Professor Norman Paech. He gave evidence, and provided a paper to the Commission, which outlined in detail how the case ‘should be judged as an international argument between Cuba and the USA, not as a case of five individuals acting alone and in an isolated way. In this regard the right of Cuba to defend itself against terrorist attack is fully enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter’ stated Paech. It will be interesting to see what the Commission has to say on this point. The Commission was also attended by renowned British lawyer Gareth Peirce.

As I sat and listened to all of this my thoughts inevitably turned to President Obama. Last week, as I planned my trip to the Commission, I had watched him tell us that Russia is ‘on the wrong side of history’ in relation to the Ukrainian crisis. Yet the President is aware of the Cuban Five case. Surely he must be aware that if his words are to be taken seriously on Ukraine, Iran, North Korea or anywhere else that the USA must address the Cuban Five issue. On what side of history does yet more cynical pandering by yet another White House administration to Castro’s violent enemies in South Florida put his administration? Realistically we must accept that, tragic as they are, miscarriages of justice do happen. We had our Birmingham Six, Guildford Four and Maguire Seven abominations with Britain. In each case the Police and Justice system convicted the wrong people, for awful crimes, in an atmosphere of public hysteria. Even last week the papers in London were full of scandal about Metropolitan Police abuse against the family of Stephen Laurence, 26 years after the black youth was senselessly murdered in south London.

The test for leaders like President Obama is not to avoid inheriting such scandals. No, the test is whether they right them when they have the chance. Failure to do so leaves administrations such as his open to accusations of complicity in injustice and at the moment, President Obama has failed to act as only he now can. Maybe when the International Commission’s report is filed it will help him to realise that if his style as President is ever to be matched by substance then it’s time to free the Cuban Five. Or, as European Parliament Vice President Miguel Angel Martinez told the Commission, ‘President Obama, yes you can’!

* Brendan Ogle is a trade union official and activist of many years. He is the former Secretary of the ESB Group of Unions and also the former head of the Irish Locomotive Drivers Association. In 2004 Brendan’s book ‘Off The Rails’ was published critiquing trade union issues that he had been involved in. Brendan has had many articles published on trade unions and related matters over a prolonged period.

[Ed. note: some minor errors in the original — the spelling of Ramsey Clark’s name, and the President under whom he served, the number of people on board Cubana 455 — have been corrected in this version. Also, the annual vote against the U.S. blockade of Cuba occurs in the General Assembly, not the Security Council, and the U.S. does not have a veto, it simply has the power to continue thumbing its nose at the wishes of the world]

– See more at: http://www.irishleftreview.org/2014/03/18/cuban-5-obama-wrong-side-history/#sthash.tYYs0JaA.dpuf,

British Government refuses visa for René González !

March 4, 2014

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Late on Monday 3 March, just a few hours before he was due to fly from Havana to London, René González, was refused a visa to enter in the UK.

René González is the principal witnesses for the International Commission of Inquiry into the case of the Cuban Five which takes place at the Law Society in London on 7 and 8 March.

In its letter of refusal, the UK Immigration and Visa Office states that it is due to point 320 (2b) of UK immigration law, which says entry can be denied to a person who has been sentenced to more than four years in prison. Although, dispensation can be granted in exceptional circumstances, the UK government states that it does not consider Mr González’s attendance at the International Commission to be reason enough to justify this or “outweighed by the public interest in maintaining a refusal.”

Rob Miller, director of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, one of the organisers of the Commission said this morning:

“ We are deeply disappointed and surprised by the decision to refuse a visa to René González.

“The British government has the opportunity to show discretion on visa applications in circumstances like this but has chosen not to do so with regards to René González’s application. In the context of the already highly politicised case of the Miami Five, such a decision can only be interpreted as a political one.

“We have taken legal advice and will be appealing this decision including seeking an urgent Judicial Review if necessary.”

González returned home to Cuba in May 2013 after serving 13 years in prison and 18 months of supervised released in the United States. He was arrested with four other members of the Miami Five in 1998 after infiltrating Florida-based responsible for carrying out terrorist attacks against Cuba.

The fairness of their trial has been questioned by international human rights groups including Amnesty International. One of the aims of the Commission of Inquiry is to investigate this aspect of the case. Twenty international witnesses and commissioners including their US legal team, family members, victims of terrorism against Cuba, and experts on international law, US- Cuba relations and human rights are arriving in Britain this week to take part in the International Commission of Inquiry and associated events on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 March.

Former Unite general secretary and leading Miami five campaigner, Tony Woodley said: “The decision to refuse René González a visa to enter the UK is deeply unsettling. I can’t see the public interest in refusing René entry into the UK. On the contrary it is in the public interest to lay bare the circumstances surrounding the arrest and imprisonment of the Miami Five. For the sake of openness and transparency we hope the UK government thinks again and allows René González to attend the commission.”

“The Commission and events will still continue this weekend, and we are making every effort to get this decision overturned and enable Rene to come to Britain to participate. Thousands of people in the UK, including hundreds of MPs, have been campaigning for the freedom and justice for the Five for more than ten years and are waiting to welcome Rene to Britain,” said Mr Miller.

Rene Gonzalez Claims for Freedom for the Cuban Five

February 13, 2014

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Rene Gonzalez, the only Cuban anti-terrorist fighter who is now a member of the Cuban Five, but the only who has been released, started his own account in social network Twitter Wednesday, and took the chance to claim for the freedom of his comrades in prison in the US. rene4the5 is Rene Gonzalez account and he said he wanted to talk about the case of the Cuban Five personally.

Rene, together with Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González, monitored the activities of anti-Cuban groups in the US national territory.

“ I want to talk about the case of the Cuban Five, not to disregard any way to talk to the US public opinion, reach the interest of the US people, “ said Gonzalez to Cuban website CUBADEBATE Wednesday.
Rene Gonzalez has been very active in the campaign for the release of his comrades, since he got out of prison and returned to Cuba.

The campaign urges US President Barack Obama to use his power prerrogatives to get the freedom of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters.

Rene Gonzalez said he will be in London in March to take part in an international meeting, with the purpose to attract parliamentaries of the entire world, to create an international commission to get the release of his comrades.

The decision, he said, will have the sponsoring of renowned world personalities.

In his first “ Tweet “ (message on Twitter) Rene wrote “ A Husband, A Father, A Grandfather. Becuase I defended life, I had to fulfill 15 years in prison. Now, another four men, my brothers the day of today, are still suffering prison. End the injustice. “
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(prensalatina)

Media Silence on Cuban Anti-terrorists” Case Denounced

January 14, 2014

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Havana, Jan 14 (Prensa Latina) Cuban antiterrorist fighter Rene Gonzalez posted at the website Voices for the Five that the legal process he and his four compatriots have lived through since 1998 is one of the most silenced events in the history of the United States.
Gonzalez stated in his message that the trial against him, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando Gonzalez was deliberately hidden from the U.S. people by large media corporations.

The trial was minimized despite being one of the longest ever in the United States, related to issues such as terrorism, charge of conspiracy to commit murder, and the direct implications for relations between Washington and Havana, Gonzalez stated.

The sentences of the Cuban Five, as these men are internationally known, are described as unjust by more than 3,500 messages posted at http://www.voicesforthefive.com, responding to the fact that they were punished for preventing terrorist actions against Cuba sponsored by groups based in Miami.

Rene Gonzalez, who is in Cuba after completing his prison sentence and renouncing his U.S. citizenship, thanked the website’s subscribers for their support to the case of the Five and the initiative to organize an International Commission of Inquiry in London, to investigate the case.

The commission, to be held on March 7-8, will be essential to breaking the wall of silence built around the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, and to showing the world the violations and injustice committed during the judicial process, he said.

This project is supported by 100 figures from various walks of life around the world, who will try to show the world the reality about terrorism and the real struggle against it.

Among the activities scheduled for those days are statements by Rene Gonzalez, relatives of his four compatriots who remain imprisoned, and a review of the evidence in the case by a panel of recognized lawyers.

René González Urges to Develop New Strategies in the Struggle for the Cuban Five Release

October 8, 2013

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Nuevitas, Camagüey – Rene Gonzalez, the only one of the Cuban Five who has been released from prison, called to develop new strategies and make every Cuban a key player in the struggle for the freedom of his four brothers, still unjustly held in U.S. prisons.

The only one of the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters who is in Cuba after serving 13 years in prison and an additional measure of punishment consisting on three years’ probation in the United States, Gonzalez telephoned participants at the 3rd International Colloquium for the Freedom of the Cuban Five and against Terrorism in the municipality of Nuevitas.

He reminded those present in the forum that on September 12th, exactly 15 years after their arrest in Miami, a campaign was successfully launched in Cuba urging everyone to speak out against such injustice.

In the course of the telephone conversation, the also Hero of the Republic of Cuba considered important that people come back again to take on the streets, and from each house, neighborhood, school and workplace the Cubans continue demanding their brothers’ release from prison.

González extolled the imaginativeness and spontaneity of the young Cubans, and praised the role they have been playing in this struggle, especially now when a new window of opportunity has been opened.

He also asked attendees to put into practice all kind of initiatives to add millions of people around the world to the cause of the Cuban Five, who have remained imprisoned in the United States for monitoring Miami-based violent groups which have been and continue organizing terrorist actions against Cuba.
The hero stressed the need for a strategy change and called all Cubans to take concrete actions from their own homes, streets, workplaces or schools. (PL/Radio Cadena Agramonte).

Rene Gonzalez Honors Heroes of 1953 Attack on the Moncada Garrison

July 18, 2013

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“Honor to the Martyrs of Moncada, whose spirit inspired the stance maintained since the very first days by the Cuban Five before their imperialist prosecutors.” The statement was made by anti-terrorist fighter Rene Gonzalez as he paid tribute to the heroes from the province of Artemisa, who took part in the assault of the Moncada garrison on July 26, 1953.

During a visit to the mausoleum that pays homage in Artemisa to 17 youths killed in action 60 years ago at the assault on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, or days after the event took place, Rene Gonzalez stressed that the battle for the return to Cuba of his compatriots still held in US jails will succeed.

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Antonio Guerrero, along Gonzalez were given extremely long and unfair prison sentences in the US after they monitored Florida-based terrorist organizations. Rene Gonzalez returned to Cuba after he met his prison sentence and US authorities accepted the modification of his parole in exchange for the renouncing of his American citizenship.

They will all return once Cuba builds a new victorious history over the hatred of the empire, said Gonzalez and he added that in the face of the enemy’s hatred the first word that inspired them to keep firm was Moncada, an example revealing that the braveness and honesty of a man are put to test at difficult circumstances, such as the situation of his compatriots.

Gonzalez said that his meeting with university students in Artemisa was emotional and he called on the youths to address the problems and find the solutions through their research studies. He also invited the students to live their lives fully in a stage of life in which collective aspirations must come first than individual ones.

Accompanied by his wife Olga, Gonzalez is also visiting places of economic, social and political interest in Artemisa and he is learning about the new government structures experimentally operating in that territory for two years now.

Cubanews/lcg/lcg

A Chat with a Cuban Agent Back from Miami

May 28, 2013

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(Rene is considered a hero in Cuba. As we were preparing to do our interview, we could not go a block without someone stopping him to pay their respects. Photo: Raquel Perez)

Fernando Ravsberg*

On September 12, 1998, the FBI dismantled a network of Cuban spies who had been monitoring anti-Castro groups based in Miami. A number of these spies negotiated with the prosecution to have their sentences reduced, but five refused to do so. Their convictions, which included life sentences, were the most severe.
One of these five Cuban men was pilot Rene Gonzalez, recently released from a US prison, following nearly 13 years of incarceration and another nearly two years on parole. Now back living in Cuba, he agreed to talk to me about his life as an agent, his activities in the United States and his time in prison.

Why did you agree to go the United States and act as a spy there?
-I am part of a generation of Cubans who grew up under the threat of terrorist actions against the country. I’ve never forgotten the hijacking of Cuban fishing vessels and the murder of their crews, which were often perpetrated by terrorist groups based in Miami. I was one of the millions of people who attended the massive gathering held in honor of those who were killed off the coast of Barbados, in the terrorist bombing of a Cuban airliner. So, when I was asked to do this, I didn’t hesitate. I felt it was my duty as a patriot.

Is it ethical to spy on another country?
-I believe it is ethical to defend yourself when you are being attacked and that was what I set out to do. The most powerful nation in the world has attacked us for many years and we have the right to defend ourselves, provided we do no harm to the American people. At no point was it our intention to do anyone any harm, we merely exercised our right to defend ourselves.

When you lead that kind of double-life, you probably also meet good people along the way. Did you feel you were betraying those people at any point?
-The human element can complicate things. In all of these groups, you find good people who actually believe in what they’re doing, or people who are manipulated or harbor prejudices. You learn to recognize them, to identify those who are good people and those who are not. You realize that many of these people would have stayed on board (with the Revolution) under different circumstances and you begin to treat them with the kindness that they deserve.
I don’t want to mention any names, so as not to cause anyone any trouble over there, but I met people who had been officials in Batista’s army, elderly people, and I’m still like a son to them, just as they are like parents to me.

What kind of information were you after? It’s my understanding some of you were operating in a military base.
-One of us was at a military base. He was divulging public information, he never had access to anything classified and never looked for it. His job was to compile as much publicly available information about the Cayo Hueso base as he could, because the base is a place where you can pick up signs of a possible terrorist attack against Cuba.

What did the others do?
-Gerardo was in charge of coordinating the network’s activities. I had infiltrated several organizations: Brothers to the Rescue (Hermanos al Rescate), Democracy (Democracia), United Liberation Command (Comando de Liberación Unido) and others. I went through quite a number of different groups, because anyone who needs a small plane for their operations also needs a pilot and I was available.
On the subject of Brothers to Rescue, Gerardo is accused of causing the deaths of its four pilots. Did you actually have anything to do with that?
We had nothing to do with that. I would say that the most audacious thing the prosecution did to politicize the trial was to present the charges of the Brothers to the Rescue incident. Gerardo can’t even be accused of murder; he can only be accused of conspiracy to commit murder, that is, working with others, the government of Cuba, in this case, to commit murder, which would lead to the illicit death of a person not living in Cuba. Neither of the two charges could be substantiated.

Why were the sentences so severe then?
-It’s something that goes beyond these incidents; it’s the profound hatred towards Cuba they feel. I would go as far as saying it’s an act of revenge, for Cuba’s endurance. The US government has an unhealthy obsession with Cuba, an obsession that is responsible for the irrational policies of the last 50 years.
The sentences are irrational. They reveal that the prosecution is subservient to the terrorists who run Miami. The FBI chief himself boasted of having ties to those individuals.
If this is the case, why did the Cuban government provide the FBI with the information that led to your capture?
In 1998, Gabriel Garcia Marquez acted as a kind of liaison [for President Fidel Castro] to approach two FBI officials and offer them our cooperation in the fight against terrorism. These officials were given a folder containing evidence. But it wasn’t the information Cuba offered them which led to our capture. The evidence suggests that we were already under investigation at the time.
I also think that, ethically speaking, the fight against terrorism ought to unite our governments, over and above our ideological differences. I am for cooperation with other governments in this sense.

Were you given an opportunity to negotiate? Why did you refuse to?
-Yes, of course. They also offered us good deals. One had his sentence reduced to 5 years, and he was being charged with the same crime as Antonio Guerrero, that is, they would have sentenced him to life in prison. It’s hard for some people to turn down an offer like.
You have to debase yourself as a person. When you’re offered a deal, the US prosecutors tell you that, if you don’t lie in court and if you refuse to do what you’re told, you’re going to rot in jail. You have to decide whether to lie or not.
And you know you’re being used to accuse your country of espionage and attack it, to gather false evidence against Cuba. A Cuban agent confirming everything the prosecutors claim about Fidel, about the Cuban government, about Raul, would have been used to put together such evidence.
So, we’re talking about two very important factors, your dignity as a human being and Cuba’s defense. We went on a mission knowing it could cost us our lives, not just a prison term, and we did it to protect the Cuban people.

How were you treated in prison?
-While on trial, they put us in solitary confinement, in the prison’s punishment ward, and kept us there for 17 months. They were very rough with us, our families were mistreated, I wasn’t allowed to see my daughters, the medical attention we got was lousy. They tried to break us, but we had enough moral fortitude to resist.
Outside Miami, the political aspects of the case aren’t as determining, you’re just another inmate. It also depends on the prison’s security level. It’s crime that Gerardo should be kept in a maximum security prison, because these are very violent places, where very dangerous confrontations between gangs take place.
I was lucky, because I was put in a medium security prison, in the Eastern United States, where there aren’t as many gangs and violent acts are less frequent.

Do you believe that exchanging your comrades for Alan Gross is a fair proposal?
-I don’t know whether “exchanging” is the right word. No one wants to us it, politicians are complicated people. But I think it is, yes. I think all six families would benefit from it. I don’t think any side should have to make a unilateral gesture, it seems absurd, an arrogant suggestion.
I have nothing against Mr. Gross. I believe that politically-motivated crimes should be dealt with a certain degree of benevolence, provided it’s not an atrocious crime, because these are prompted by convictions that deserve respect, whatever these are. I would be pleased to see this matter resolved and above all to see the two governments settle all of the problems they have.

Why do you think the US government doesn’t exchange the Five, as they did with Russian spies?
-Wayne Smith, a former top US diplomat in Cuba, says that Cuba has the same effect on the US government that the full moon has on a werewolf.
Cuba breaks with an entire tradition of domination in the continent, a history which had known no exception until the Cuban revolution, hence their contempt. They hate Cuba for the Bay of Pigs, for the Missile Crisis, for existing and serving as an example for others.
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(*) Visit BBC correspondent Fernando Ravsberg’s blog (in Spanish): http://cartasdesdecuba.com/,
this is a HavanaTimes translation

Goodwill People Please for Cuban Antiterrorist’s Return Home

May 10, 2013

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Washington, May 10 (Prensa Latina) For goodwill people who know the injustice against the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters unjustly held in the United States is of great joy that Rene Gonzalez permanently stays in Cuba, said Andres Gomez, director of Areito magazine website

In an article released yesterday, the Cuban journalist resident in Miami, said that on Friday, May 3, Judge Joan Lenard, of the Southern District Court of Florida, accepted to modify the terms of supervised release for three years by Gonzalez, who was released from prison in October 2011 after completing his sentence, but had to remain in this country.

Gomez recalled that on April 3, Rene Gonzalez filed a request by his lawyer Philip Horowitz to Judge Lenard to travel to Cuba for two weeks, to attend a memorial service for his father, Candido Rene Gonzalez, who died in Havana on April 2. Later, “on April 29, during a visit to his family in Cuba, Rene filed through the court by his legal representative a supplementary petition to his motion to modify the terms of supervised release, in exchange for his formal resignation to U.S. citizenship,” the text states.

“Rene was born in Chicago on August 13, 1956, and he is therefore a U.S. citizen by birth, also a citizen of Cuba by choice,” and his family is on the Caribbean island, Gomez said.

The Five, as Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, and Rene Gonzalez are internationally known, were detained on September 12, 1998 in the city of Miami, and after 17 months in solitary confinement, they were sentenced in December 2001 at a trial riddled with irregularities, according to some experts’ reports.

The mission that took them to U.S. territory was monitoring and restraining actions that with total impunity Cuban-American violent groups have planned, organized, and executed from southern Florida against the civilian population of the Caribbean country, which have left about 3,400 deaths and more than 2,000 people with disabilities over the last 50 years.

Fernando Gonzalez should release from prison in February 2014, whose initial penalty was 19 years, but after being resentenced in 2009, he was imposed 17 years and nine months.

Meanwhile, Gerardo Hernandez is serving his double life sentence plus 15 years, while Labañino and Guerrero, also resentenced, are serving a sentence of 30 years; and 21 years, 10 months, and five years of supervised release, respectively.


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