Having previously served as a volunteer Caribbean Specialist with Amnesty International USA, I have great respect for the organization’s work on behalf of human rights. Regrettably, the same cannot be said for the efforts of AI’s London-based headquarters.
On its website, AI professes to toil “to end grave abuses of human rights. Our vision is for every person to enjoy all the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards. We are independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion…..”(http://www.amnesty.org/en/who-we-are). That is, unless your name is Alan Gross or if you are a Cuban spy who committed espionage against the United States. Despite Gross’ years-long imprisonment by Cuba, AI has proven itself capable of only devoting two sentences to this injustice in its 2012 Annual Report (http://www.amnesty.org/en/ region/ cuba/report-2012).
In contrast, its 2011 Annual Report devoted the paragraph “Unfair Trials” exclusively to convicted Cuban spy-murderer, Gerardo Hernández. Amnesty’s coverage focused on a defense team appeal “based, in part, on evidence that the US government had secretly paid journalists to write prejudicial articles in the media at the time of trial, thereby undermining the defendants’ due process rights. In October, Amnesty International sent a report to the Attorney General outlining the organization’s concerns in the case.” (http://www.amnesty.org/en/region /usa/report-2011).
AI’s bias is even more apparent in its October 13, 2010 press release which called for the US Attorney General to review the case of the five spies (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/ info/AMR51/096/2010/en). This press release accompanied a disturbingly inaccurate, unbalanced and prejudicial 22-page report by the spy-loving London office (http://www.amnesty .org/en/ library/info/AMR51/093/2010/en).
Earlier, on March 25, 2009, AI released an Appeal For Action under the headline: “Unjust Punishment: Cuban Wives Denied Visas for Ninth Time” (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library /info/AMR51/041/2009/en). In this plea to its membership, AI falsely claimed “The reasons cited for the denials are based on claims that both women are threats to national security. Yet neither woman has faced charges in connection with such claims, nor has any credible evidence been produced to substantiate the allegation.” The disingenuous appeal was followed on March 26th with the press release: “Miami Five wives again denied visas to visit their husbands” (http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/news/miami-five-wives-again-denied-visas-visit-husbands-20090326). Unfortunately for London, this Havana-promoted lie about the two wives had been exposed nine months earlier in the US State Department media release: “The “Cuban Five: Cuban intelligence operatives often misrepresented as political prisoners” (June 9, 2008) http://www.docstoc.com/docs/14807527 /The-%E2%80%9CCuban-Five%E2%80%9D.
Details about spy-wife Adriana Perez’s espionage training had not yet come to light when AI released its January 17, 2007 public statement, “Unnecessarily punitive — Amnesty International calls for temporary visas to be granted to two wives of the Cuban Five” (http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR51/013/2007/en/869da977-d3ba-11dd-a329-2f46302a8cc6/amr510132007en.html). As a result, we can partially forgive their zealous action. However, René González’s wife — Olga Salanueva, had been “outed” as a Cuban spy years earlier operating under the alias Ida González. Two publicly available sources which Amnesty researchers somehow overlooked were Kirk Nielsen’s February 2001 story, “Inside The Wasp’s Nest,” Miami New Times, http://www.miaminewtimes.com/2001 -02-22/news/inside-the-wasp-s-nest/ and Estrecho de Traicion: La Historia de la Fatidica Union entre Ana Margarita y Juan Pablo Roque, a Spanish-language book published in 1999 by Ana Margarita Martínez with Diana Montané.
Human rights are an important issue: one not to be undermined by sloppy research and ideologues. Amnesty International members have worked too long and too hard for its global efforts to be damaged by well-intentioned but misguided and dishonest Castro apologists in London. Headquarters should admit its error and immediately remove all its “Cuban Five” materials from the internet. Additionally, London should follow the lead of other human rights organizations and finally become an advocate for the release of Alan Gross.