Posts Tagged ‘wife olga’

The Cuban Five Wrongly accused. Unjustly convicted. 15 Years in U.S. prisons.

September 12, 2013

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Statement from the
National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
on the 15th Anniversary of the Unjust Imprisonment of the Five

Fifteen years ago, on Sept. 12, 1998, the FBI raided the homes of five Cuban men living in Miami, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, and indicted them on trumped-up charges of espionage conspiracy and related charges. The U.S. government knew that the Five were in the United States monitoring the actions of Miami-based, U.S.-backed terrorist Cuban exile organizations that operate with impunity against the people of Cuba. It was fully aware that the men had no weapons and had never harmed any individual.

Terrorist attacks against Cuba have killed 3,478 people and injured 2,099 due to the plots carried out by these paramilitary Miami groups. But instead of arresting the perpetrators of that violence, the U.S. government arrested and prosecuted the Cuban Five, trying them in a Miami court where it was impossible for the Five to properly defend themselves against the virulent anti-Cuba atmosphere of that city.

The FBI threatened the Five with lifetime imprisonment if they did not “cooperate” and turn against each other. René González’s wife Olga Salanueva was deported before the trial because René refused to give in to U.S. pressure.

To this day, Gerardo Hernández has been denied his wife Adriana Pérez’s companionship, as Washington has refused her the right to visit Gerardo for these 15 long years.

Despite the incredible cruelty by the prison and U.S. officials, the Five have stayed strong and maintained their principled stance of the right to defend their people from terrorist violence.

They were held in complete isolation for 17 months in Miami detention before trial. The inflammatory and highly prejudicial reporting by the Miami media helped condemn the Five even before the trial’s conclusion.

After their conviction on June 8, 2001 on all counts, the Five issued a valiant statement “To the American people.” Dated June 17, 2001, it reads in part:

“We have never done anything for money. We have always lived modestly and acted humbly, living up to the sacrifices of our own people.

“We have always been moved by a strong sentiment of human solidarity, love for our homeland and contempt for that which goes against the dignity of the human being.

“The defendants in this trial are in no way repentant of what we have done to defend our country. We declare ourselves innocent and simply take comfort in the fact that we have honored our duty to our people and our homeland.

“Our loved ones understand the depth of the ideas that guide us and they will take pride in our sacrifices for Humanity in this struggle against terrorism and for the independence of Cuba.”

From Clinton to Bush to Obama, U.S. administrations have kept the Cuban Five imprisoned. But a spirited movement of supporters has arisen in the United States and worldwide, demanding the freedom of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René.

On Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, throughout the island of Cuba yellow ribbons will festoon every public space, as a show of love and commitment to their Five Heroes, until they return. We invite you to also don a yellow ribbon on their behalf.

The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five in the United States was the first organization to form in support of the Five, in late June 2001. We have dedicated ourselves to fighting for the Five’s freedom until each brother is home with his beloved family and people. For more than 12 years, we have organized hundreds of forums, protests and held numerous media events to break through the U.S. media blockade of the Five’s case. For almost five years we have led an extensive research effort to uncover and document the coverage during the Five’s trial by Miami reporters who received U.S. government monies. Their media reports were highly prejudicial to the Five. Our work has become a major focus of the Five’s Habeas Corpus appeals.

Ultimately, it is the people’s movement and mobilizing efforts that will free the Cuban heroes. Each day of their imprisonment is an intolerable abuse and those of us who are free to organize must think of more actions on their behalf.

Our theme in the National Committee has always been, “when the people of the U.S. learn of the Cuban Five’s anti-terrorist mission and their sacrifice, they will demand their freedom.” We have been witness in countless actions of that premise. Almost universally, the response of the average person who hears of the Cuban Five has been, first, shock at the unjust punishment they have endured, and then support for their freedom.

On Sept. 12, 2013, we invite you to become part of the movement for the Cuban Five’s freedom. We will provide support and ideas for how you can get involved!

Contact the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five at info@freethefive.org or call us at 415-821-6545.
* web: http://www.freethefive.org,

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

Family man in prison finds the words to bring his wife and daughter to his new country.

May 14, 2013

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by Stephen Kimber ( Book excerpt: The Cuban Five )

Editor’s Note: One of the things we tend to forget about clandestine intelligence agents is that their world really is clandestine. They can’t even tell their families or closest friends what they’re doing. When René González “stole” a plane and “defected” to the US in 1990, Cuban authorities told his wife Olga he was a traitor. It took four years of pleading and cajoling — still without telling her the complete truth — before René was able to win her back.

In honour of René Gonzalez’s final return to Cuba last month and of Mother’s Day, here’s a short excerpt from my upcoming book What Lies Across the Water, about the Cuban Five, five intelligence agents Cuba sent to Miami to infiltrate the anti-Castro groups trying to bring down the Cuban government.

Miami, May 24, 1994
René González looked again at the words he’d just written. It had been three years, five months and 16 days since his “defection” — three years, five months and 16 days since he had last seen Olga and their daughter Irma. Despite the time that had passed, René could still feel the righteous sting from that first letter Olga had written him. It had arrived about a month after he’d landed in the United States.

He’d gone to Miami for a weekend visit. His grandmother telephoned from Sarasota. “You have a letter,” she said. “From Olga.” René had rushed back, excited, eager, torn open the letter and… found himself “torn apart.” “I wish you luck in your new future,” Olga had written, “but it will not be with me.”

For the next week, he had wandered aimlessly, “like a zombie,” trying to come to terms with what those words meant. On the one hand — the hand that had willingly come to the United States to perform a patriotic mission for his homeland — René was proud of her “most dignified, moving and strong response to my defection.” He had expected nothing less. But on the other hand — that hand that desperately missed his wife, the hand that wanted to watch his little girl grow up in front of him — he was devastated.

Eventually, events and René’s persistence — and, of course, the reality that she still loved and missed the man she had married — wore her down. Olga finally relented. René applied to US Immigration for a visa to bring her and Irma to Florida.
But he refused to give up. It wasn’t in his nature. Even as he had gone about the tasks at hand — finding a job, a car, a place to live, befriending fellow exiles, joining anti-Castro groups, working as a roofer for a year in post-Hurricane Andrew Florida to earn money for his flight instructor licence, volunteering as a pilot with José Basulto’s Brothers to the Rescue group, trying to set up his own flight training school — he continued to write, to call Olga through friends, to plead for forgiveness, for the chance to reunite their family once again.

His cause had been aided — inadvertently and unfortunately — by events unfolding at home. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s economy collapsed. There were shortages of everything from electricity to food. People literally starved. Olga herself reported their house had been robbed, and everything of value stolen.

To make matters worse, the neighbours gossiped, sometimes loudly and pointedly, about René’s “treason.” Irma was old enough to ask questions, so Olga decided to move them to a smaller apartment in another Havana neighbourhood, closer to her parents. But then that building’s stairs collapsed, and they’d been forced to move into a temporary shelter.

Eventually, events and René’s persistence — and, of course, the reality that she still loved and missed the man she had married — wore her down. Olga finally relented. René applied to US Immigration for a visa to bring her and Irma to Florida.

“Speaking of that,” he wrote cheerfully, “I don’t know if I already told you that I received the notice of receipt from Immigration… They tell me that the process should take between 90 and 120 days. I imagine that, within that time, they will have already made an appointment with you at the [US] Interest Section in Havana to see if you are the same in the photograph I turned in… It was difficult for me to let go of that photograph, but it was the only one that more or less fit the requirements they were asking for. Besides, I imagine that it is more pleasant to grant a visa to a woman as pretty as you are than to any other woman. Anyway, I decided to sacrifice such a pretty photograph as long as I could have with me the original who is prettier still. Finally when you are here, I will be able to take hundreds of photos of you.

“As for me,” he continued in the same upbeat, chatty tone, “I am fine. As you must already know, I returned from Mexico… I am processing all the information I got there to start a [flying school] business I think will be successful… If it goes the way I hope, I think I can get a slice of what I have put up my sleeve to make money… With about 10 students, I could be assured of a good salary that would prepare me for when you all arrive.”

He skipped from subject to subject. His grandmother had had to postpone her planned trip back to Cuba because of her husband’s illness, he wrote.

“Speaking of trips to Cuba, I have been thinking about what could be a new alternative for you. Those who leave legally may travel [back to Cuba] a year after their departure. That means once you are here a year, you are free to travel there to visit whenever you want to. Unfortunately,” he added, “I can’t go with you because they would tear me to pieces if I show up there.

“Well, Tuti, I take leave in order to write a letter to your mother-in-law and another one to your daughter… Don’t fail to tell me when they call you at the Interest Section so I know the process is going smoothly.”

Of course René González still couldn’t tell his wife the truth about what he was really doing in the United States. If only.

– In December 1996, Olga and Irma joined René in Florida where Ivette would be born. In September 1998, René was arrested and Olga deported back to Cuba. She was not granted a visa to visit him during his 15 years in prison in the US.

René González, 1 of Cuban 5, wins battle to return to Cuba

May 13, 2013

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“I urge people to publicize our cause in the U.S.,” said René González, above with wife Olga Salanueva at May 6 press conference in Havana. “We will continue the battle until the other four are returned.”

BY LOUIS MARTIN

In a victory for the international campaign to free five Cuban revolutionaries jailed in the U.S. since 1998, René González returned to Cuba. Since González was paroled in October 2011, he had been forced to remain in the U.S. to serve a three-year term of supervised release.

González traveled to Havana April 22 under a two-week court-ordered release to attend a memorial for his father Cándido González, who died April 1. On May 3 U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard ruled he could serve the remaining half of his supervised release in Cuba on condition he renounce his U.S. citizenship and never return to the United States.

“Fighting to free Fernando [González], Antonio [Guerrero], Gerardo [Hernández] and Ramón [Labañino] will be the priority of my life,” González said May 6 at a press conference in Havana. “There can be no justice. We endured a long trial plagued with irregularities and absurd sentences. But we will continue the battle until they are returned to Cuba.”

González holds dual U.S. and Cuban citizenship, having been born in Chicago before moving to Cuba with his parents when he was five.

His first motion to serve supervised release in Cuba, filed while still in prison, was rejected by Judge Lenard on the basis of his dual citizenship, in spite of the fact that released prisoners with dual citizenship are normally allowed to serve parole in the other country.

The U.S. government urged rejection of his second motion filed last June, despite a long-standing offer by González to renounce his U.S. citizenship. Lenard granted the motion May 3 after the U.S. Justice Department reversed its position and said it would accept the offer.

“The Justice Department explained its turnabout,” an Associated Press dispatch reported May 3, “by saying that since González was already in Cuba, there was no longer concern that he would use a promise of citizenship renunciation to improperly return to the island.”

On May 6 González went to the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to begin the paperwork for renouncing his U.S. citizenship “as bystanders in the streets and on apartment balconies above applauded and called his name,” Reuters reported. Known internationally as the Cuban Five, they are called the Five Heroes in Cuba, deeply respected by millions there for their example of determination and steadfastness in defense of the Cuban Revolution.

The Five were living and working in southern Florida where, at the request of Cuban security services, they monitored and kept Havana informed of activities by armed Cuban-American counterrevolutionary groups with a long record of violent attacks on Cuba and supporters of the Cuban Revolution.

After “stealing” a crop-duster plane in Cuba and ostensibly defecting to the U.S. in December 1990, González was welcomed into counterrevolutionary circles and integrated into paramilitary groups dedicated to the overthrow of the Cuban Revolution, a goal shared by Washington.

González became a pilot in Brothers to the Rescue, an organization established in 1991 by CIA-trained operative José Basulto. In the mid-1990s the group began organizing flights penetrating Cuban airspace designed to provoke a confrontation with Washington.

Despite repeated warnings from Havana that the incursions would not continue with impunity, the U.S. government did not stop them. In January 1996 a Brothers to the Rescue operation dropped counterrevolutionary propaganda on the island. The following month, after repeated warnings to turn back, Cuban fighter jets shot down two of the group’s planes that had once again entered Cuban airspace.

The Five were arrested in FBI raids in September 1998 and framed up on various conspiracy charges. René González received the shortest sentence — 15 years on charges of failure to register as a foreign agent and conspiracy to act as the unregistered agent of a foreign government.

“I did it as a Cuban patriot and I have no regrets,” González is quoted as telling Associated Press in a recent interview. “I’ve never doubted myself for a second.”

González has family in Cuba, including his wife Olga Salanueva, two daughters Irma and Ivette and his mother Irma Sehwerert. Salanueva had been barred entry into the U.S. to visit González while he was in prison, as is Adriana Pérez, the wife of Gerardo Hernández who was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years.

In mid-April Pérez spoke at meetings in Canada organized by the United Steelworkers, one of the largest unions in the country. An example of growing support for the Five, the 650 delegates attending the Steelworkers national convention unanimously adopted a resolution pledging to campaign for the Five’s release.

The coming “5 Days for the Cuban 5,” which will take place May 30-June 5 in Washington, D.C., are being built as an opportunity to broaden the campaign to free the remaining four revolutionaries. The series of events includes an international rally June 1 in front of the White House.

“The only thing lacking is for people in the U.S. to know the case well,” González said at the Havana press conference. “That’s why I urge those here to help publicize our cause in the United States.”

Related articles:
Why revolutionaries condemn terror methods, from Boston to Colombia
Join, build ’5 days for the Cuban 5’
Cuba’s Rebel Army and peasants became ‘unbeatable force’

The Militant Vol. 77/No. 19 May 20, 2013
http://www.themilitant.com/,

‘I want to be with you at the beach in September’

May 9, 2013

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by Stephen Kimber

An excerpt from What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five, to be published in August 2013 by Fernwood Publishing.
Editor’s Note: One of the things we tend to forget about clandestine intelligence agents is that their world really is clandestine. They can’t even tell their families or closest friends what they’re doing. When René González “stole” a plane and “defected” to the U.S. in 1990, Cuban authorities told his wife Olga he was a traitor. It took four years of pleading and cajoling — still without telling her the complete truth — before René was able to win her back.

In honour of René Gonzalez’s final return to Cuba last month and of Mother’s Day, here’s a short excerpt from my book focusing on that period when René was still trying to convince Olga to join him in Miami.

Miami, May 24, 1994

“Remember I want to be with you at the beach in September and I am not losing hope. I am sending you a very big kiss and a lot of love. From your dear husband waiting impatiently with open arms to close around you in the most tender and loving hug.”

René González looked again at the words he’d just written. It had been three years, five months and 16 days since his “defection” — three years, five months and 16 days since he had last seen Olga and their daughter Irma. Despite the time that had passed, René could still feel the righteous sting from that first letter Olga had written him. It had arrived about a month after he’d landed in the United States. He’d gone to Miami for a weekend visit. His grandmother telephoned from Sarasota. “You have a letter,” she said. “From Olga.” René had rushed back, excited, eager, tore open the letter and… found himself “torn apart.”“I wish you luck in your new future,” Olga had written, “but it will not be with me.”

For the next week, he had wandered aimlessly, “like a zombie,” trying to come to terms with what those words meant. On the one hand — the hand that had willingly come to the United States to perform a patriotic mission for his homeland — René was proud of her “most dignified, moving and strong response to my defection.” He had expected nothing less. But on the other hand — that hand that desperately missed his wife, the hand that wanted to watch his little girl grow up in front of him — he was devastated.

But he refused to give up. It wasn’t in his nature. Even as he had gone about the tasks at hand — finding a job, a car, a place to live, befriending fellow exiles, joining anti-Castro groups, working as a roofer for a year in post-Hurricane Andrew Florida to earn money for his flight instructor licence, volunteering as a pilot with José Basulto’s Brothers to the Rescue group, trying to set up his own flight training school — he continued to write, to call Olga through friends, to plead for forgiveness, for the chance to reunite their family once again.

His cause had been aided — inadvertently and unfortunately — by events unfolding at home. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s economy collapsed. There were shortages of everything from electricity to food. People — literally — starved. Olga herself reported their house had been robbed, and everything of value stolen. To make matters worse, the neighbours gossiped, sometimes loudly and pointedly, about René’s “treason.” Irma was old enough to ask questions, so Olga decided to move them to a smaller apartment in another Havana neighbourhood, closer to her parents. But then that building’s stairs collapsed, and they’d been forced to move into a temporary shelter.

Eventually, events and René’s persistence — and, of course, the reality that she still loved and missed the man she had married — wore her down. Olga finally relented. René applied to U.S. Immigration for a visa to bring her and Irma to Florida.

“Speaking of that,” he wrote cheerfully, “I don’t know if I already told you that I received the notice of receipt from Immigration… They tell me that the process should take between 90 and 120 days. I imagine that, within that time, they will have already made an appointment with you at the [U.S.] Interest Section in Havana to see if you are the same in the photograph I turned in… It was difficult for me to let go of that photograph, but it was the only one that more or less fit the requirements they were asking for. Besides, I imagine that it is more pleasant to grant a visa to a woman as pretty as you are than to any other woman. Anyway, I decided to sacrifice such a pretty photograph as long as I could have with me the original who is prettier still. Finally when you are here, I will be able to take hundreds of photos of you.

“As for me,” he continued in the same upbeat, chatty tone, “I am fine. As you must already know, I returned from Mexico… I am processing all the information I got there to start a [flying school] business I think will be successful… If it goes the way I hope, I think I can get a slice of what I have put up my sleeve to make money… With about 10 students, I could be assured of a good salary that would prepare me for when you all arrive.”
He skipped from subject to subject. His grandmother had had to postpone her planned trip back to Cuba because of her husband’s illness, he wrote.

“Speaking of trips to Cuba, I have been thinking about what could be a new alternative for you. Those who leave legally may travel [back to Cuba] a year after their departure. That means once you are here a year, you are free to travel there to visit whenever you want to. Unfortunately,” he added, “I can’t go with you because they would tear me to pieces if I show up there.

“Well, Tuti, I take leave in order to write a letter to your mother-in-law and another one to your daughter… Don’t fail to tell me when they call you at the Interest Section so I know the process is going smoothly.”

Of course René González still couldn’t tell his wife the truth about what he was really doing in the United States. If only.

In December 1996, Olga and Irma joined René in Florida where Ivette would be born. In September 1998, René was arrested and Olga deported back to Cuba. She was not granted a visa to visit him during his 15 years in prisonin the U.S.

http://cubanfive.ca/


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