United States citizen Alan Gross has been imprisoned in Cuba since being arrested in 2009. He is currently serving a 15 year sentence for “acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the state.” A government subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (US-AID), the government’s international development agency, Gross was working to provide internet/intranet access to Cuban citizens in Jewish communities.
By Chris Simmons
Argentine-born activist Alicia Jrapko and her life partner, Bill Hackwell, were awarded the Cuban Friendship Medal by the Cuban State Council late last week. The dubious honor was initiated by the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples of the World (ICAP). Both activists work for the International Committee for the Release of the Cuban Five. Jrapko later spoke at a press conference with reporters at ICAP, where she lavished praise on the incarcerated spies. ICAP’s role in these honorifics is undoubtedly tied to long-term collaboration with the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), which dates back over 30 years. That said, ICAP is not a DI entity per se, but is believed to be roughly 90% DI-affiliated due to a large pool of collaborators who serve the small team of ICAP-embedded DI officers.
Richmond mayor faces heat for lobbying for Cuban Five in Washington D.C. instead of Hacienda residents
By Mike Aldax, Richmond [CA] Standard
In June, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin boarded a plane for Washington D.C. to lobby for the release of the Cuban Five, the five Cuban intelligence officers who were imprisoned more than a decade ago following espionage-related convictions in Miami.
During the trip, McLaughlin said she met with the state department regarding the jailed Cubans, who she said were “always in my heart.”
But some community members say the mayor has failed to keep in her heart the plight of Richmond’s most vulnerable residents.
The mayor did not use her D.C. trip as an opportunity to lobby for Richmond’s public housing tenants, despite February media reports exposing squalid conditions under an allegedly mismanaged and corrupt Richmond Housing Authority (RHA).
“What about pushing and advocating for Richmond?” outspoken resident Antoin Cloird said in a June 17 opinion piece on the community website Radio Free Richmond, adding, “the mayor ordered the immediate evacuation of the Hacienda, but she walked away as soon as the television cameras were off.”
Insect and rodent infestations, water leaks, mold and safety concerns were among the problems at Richmond’s public housing developments, particularly the Hacienda. The problems led RHA Executive Director Tim Jones to call the Hacienda “uninhabitable,” a declaration that moved City Council to vote to relocate its residents.
At the time, the mayor demanded swift action and stated she was “taking responsibility for assuring things continue to move forward without delay on all levels of review and action in regard to these Housing Authority issues.”
A half-year following that statement, however, the mayor has done little to urge swift action from the feds, and the Hacienda remains inhabited.
Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay says he was unaware of any meeting between McLaughlin and federally-elected officials such as Congressman George Miller on the housing issues. He was also unaware if the mayor had requested any such meeting, although he added he does not monitor her schedule.
The mayor and her political group, Richmond Progressive Alliance, have also neglected to campaign for the plight of RHA residents through their highly active website and social media networks.
Lindsay said the mayor did at one point sit in on a meeting held in Richmond that included an HUD regional director and members of Richmond’s city council, as she was part of an ad-hoc committee created after the problems were exposed.
Rather than seeking assistance from elected federal officials, the mayor has done more to insult them. In an interview with KQED, the mayor blamed President Barack Obama for Richmond’s poor public housing, saying the president has instead sunk “money into war” and “bailed the banks to the tune of $29 trillion.”
The quote comes at about the 6 minutes mark:
Video and remainder of story can be found here: Mayor McLaughlin
By Chris Simmons
Telesur English reported a protest in Havana earlier this week drew “thousands” demanding the release of the three remaining Wasp Network spies serving prison sentences in the United States. The demonstrators (largely students) rallied under the marketing savvy theme, “I am Cuba.” The dismal protest followed Havana’s disappointing hemispheric call for Cuban 5 support, which was answered by just 32 Latin American parliamentarians from 14 nations.
It wasn’t so long ago that the Castro regime could produce a carefully-choreographed “spontaneous” protest of 100,000 people in an hour. Now it’s a struggle to get a few thousand demonstrators to show support for one of Havana’s major propaganda themes. Another sign of the slow, steady decline of the government’s influence……
See the original story here: Telesur
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.(Source: National Network on Cuba)
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.
Protest Letter continues here: Ann Wright
Stephen Kimber Wins Prestigious Award for Cuban 5 Book
By The International Committee to Free The Cuban Five
Stephen Kimber’s book, What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five, has won the 2014 Evelyn Richardson Award for Nonfiction at Canada’s East Coast Literary Awards.
The Five were members of a Cuban intelligence network sent to Florida in the 1990s to infiltrate Miami exile groups plotting terrorist attacks against Cuba. Though they helped prevent a number of terrorist attacks, the Five were arrested by the FBI in 1998, tried, convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Three of the five are still in jail.
Although their case is still little known in the United States, international human rights organizations — including Amnesty International and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention — have criticized their treatment in the U.S. justice system, and a dozen Nobel laureates have written in their support.
In the citation, the judges described What Lies Across the Water as “a remarkable piece of investigative journalism. Kimber has unearthed a riveting story at the heart of why there is little hope of political reconciliation between Cuba and the United States — until there is justice for the Cuban Five.” The book was previously long-listed for the Libris Award as Nonfiction Book of the Year in Canada.
Accepting the award at a ceremony in Halifax, Kimber — a professor of journalism at the University of King’s College and the award-winning author of nine other books — explained he had stumbled upon the story accidentally as a journalist, but is now also an advocate for their freedom.
He dedicated the award to the three members of the Five still imprisoned in the United States.
Meeting in DC marks 16 years in int’l fight to free Cuban 5
By Ned Measel, The Militant
WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 125 people attended a meeting here Sept. 13 to demand freedom for the Cuban Five. “Tonight’s event is part of activities taking place all over the world” to mark the 16th anniversary of their arrest on frame-up charges by the FBI, said Alicia Jrapko, U.S. coordinator of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5. (See box below.)
The meeting, sponsored by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 and held at the headquarters of the Service Employees International Union, featured the first U.S. showing of 16 new prison paintings by Antonio Guerrero, titled “Absolved by Solidarity.”
The watercolors tell the story of the Miami frame-up trial — from the denial of 11 motions for a change of venue to the long sentences and the sending of the revolutionaries to five distant prisons. The event included music, poetry, a short video, and a panel of speakers.
“It is an impossible task to show the entire trial through just 16 images,” Guerrero said in a statement displayed along with the exhibit. “We knew that we could not receive a fair trial. But nevertheless in that place, we achieved an invaluable victory and that was to denounce terrorism against our people in its own lair.”
Cheryl LaBash, an activist with the International Committee; Maria Naranjo, assistant district leader of SEIU Local 32BJ in Washington, D.C.; and Valarie Long, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union: made brief remarks to kick off the program.
José Ramón Cabañas, chief of the Cuban Interests Section, was the featured speaker. The U.S. government “called it a trial,” he said, “but we called it a political vendetta” aimed at punishing the Cuban Revolution. Cabañas took time to walk through and comment on Guerrero’s paintings.
Each of the watercolors were accompanied by an explanatory note from Guerrero.
Feature continues here: The Militant
The Vice President of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), former spy Fernando González-Llort, arrives in Madrid tomorrow to take part in the annual festival of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE). It is the first time González-Llort has traveled abroad after his release. The agenda includes a concert organized by the State Committee to Free the Five and meetings with the Federation of Cuban Residents in Spain (FACRE) and representatives of solidarity groups.
According to Cuban Ambassador in Spain, Eugenio Martínez Enríquez, dozens of Spaniards rallied in Madrid, Valencia, Alicante, Sevilla, and Barcelona last Friday to demand the immediate release of the three Wasp Network spies still in prison.
Editor’s Note: ICAP’s intelligence collaboration with the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) dates back over three decades. It is not a DI entity per se, but is believed to be roughly 90% DI-affiliated due to a large pool of collaborators who serve the small team of ICAP-embedded DI officers.
By Chris Simmons
Philadelphia’s Geller Foundation granted its newly established Nelson Mandela prize to the Cuban Five – the former leaders of Cuba’s failed Wasp spy network.
In reality, the Geller Foundation is actually led by members of the New York City entity – the Center for Cuban Studies. Sandra Levinson, the Center’s Executive Director, presented the prize to released spies Rene and Fernando Gonzalez and the relatives of the still-incarcerated members of the Cuban Five. The ceremony was held last week at the headquarters of the Cuban Institute of Friendship With The Peoples (ICAP).
Former Directorate of Intelligence Officer Juan Reyes Alonso said ICAP is not a DI entity per se, but that it is overwhelmingly influenced by the intelligence service. Reyes Alonso claimed ICAP is penetrated by a small cadre of bona fide DI officers who are aided by a large staff of agents (i.e., collaborators). As a result, roughly 90% of ICAP is thought to be DI-affiliated. Similarly, the New York Times has reported on ICAP’s intelligence ties as far back as 1983.
As background, the Center for Cuban Studies hosted the first National Conference on Cuba from November 2-4, 1979. US participants included Congressman Ron Dellums, the Puerto Rican socialist party, union representatives, legal scholars, and innumerable academics. Havana sent 15 participants, to include intelligence officers Alfredo García Almeida and Ramón Sánchez-Parodi Montoto.
Two years earlier, columnist Jack Anderson had identified Cuban Mission to the United Nations (CMUN) “diplomat” Julian Enrique Torres Rizo as the chief of Havana’s US-based intelligence operations. The Center for Cuban Studies allowed Torres Rizo, a senior America Department (DA) officer, to have an office in its facility.
The America Department was the name used by the intelligence wing of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party from 1974 to the late 1980s or early 1990s. The DA was heavily involved in supporting revolutionaries and terrorists, but has since become more focused on political intelligence operations. This service is now called the America Area of the International Department of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC/ID/AA).
Experts concerned about his willingness to work with U.S. on anti-drug, anti-gang efforts
By Daniel Wiser, Washington Free Beacon
El Salvador’s purportedly moderate new president met this week with two Cuban spies convicted in the United States, raising questions about his willingness to work with U.S. officials on anti-gang and anti-drug efforts.
Salvador Sanchez Ceren met with the spies as well as Cuban President Raul Castro on the communist island, according to a Salvadoran news outlet. The two men, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez (no relation), were members of the “Cuban Five” that were convicted on charges of conspiracy and espionage in the United States and later released to Cuba.
The visit received scant media coverage but could be a sign that the new president will govern as more of a hardline leftist. Ceren, a former Marxist guerilla leader in El Salvador, promised to govern as a moderate before narrowly winning the presidential election in March.
The other three members of the Cuban spy ring are still serving prison terms in the United States. One of them, Gerardo Hernandez, was linked to the deaths of four Cuban exiles in 1996. The exiles were pilots in the Brothers to the Rescue group that aided thousands of Cuban rafters fleeing the island.
Roger Noriega, former assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs during the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview that Sanchez Ceren’s pledge to work together with the United States as a moderate leader now appears to be “pretty hollow.”
“He’s also sort of aligning himself with a failed [Cuban] model obviously in terms of economic policy and totalitarianism, and unrelenting hostility to the United States,” Noriega said. “It bodes very ill for where he wants to take El Salvador.”
A State Department spokesperson declined to comment on Sanchez Ceren’s visit to Cuba and referred the Washington Free Beacon to the Salvadoran government. “We continue to work with the government of El Salvador on our many shared interests, including regional security,” the spokesperson said.
The direction of El Salvador’s government has important implications for U.S. security.
El Salvador is “a major transit country for illegal drugs headed to the United States from source countries in South America,” according to the State Department’s 2014 report on international narcotics control. Illicit drug shipments cost American taxpayers about $193 billion in 2007 for the health care and criminal justice systems, the latest data available.
Article continues here: El Salvador President Meets with Convicted Cuban Spies