The Castros’ Captive: Why Appeasing Havana Won’t Free Alan Gross 2

By Frank Calzon in Foreign Affairs (magazine)[a CFR publication]

In “Our Man in Havana,” R. M. Schneiderman suggests that Alan Gross will not be freed from his Cuban prison unless the U.S. State Department shuts down its programs supporting democracy and human rights in Cuba. This conclusion is faulty, if not utterly ridiculous. Gross, who worked for a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contractor, is serving a 15-year jail sentence for trying to help Havana’s Jewish community connect to the Internet, an act most of the world does not recognize as a crime. In 2009, Gross was seized just before he was scheduled to fly home to the United States and held for 14 months before any charges were filed against him. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson has aptly described him as a “hostage.”

What seems to gall Schneiderman is not Gross’ imprisonment, but rather that Congress mandated the democracy-promotion program in Cuba in the first place. Schneiderman characterizes the U.S. government’s continuation of such programs as a failed opportunity to do away with “the antiquated politics of the Cold War.” He is correct that the programs are modeled on those that successfully cracked the Iron Curtain and that, after the collapse of European communism, were wholeheartedly endorsed by Lech Walesa, Václav Havel, and others. But he is wrong to call the program “antiquated” when Cuba remains a Stalinist-style state. The programs’ fundamental goal remains to break through the Castro regime’s control of information that isolates the Cuban people and keeps them in bondage.

That the democracy-promotion program annoys the Cuban regime does not make it a failure of U.S. foreign policy. In fact, there is no evidence to support Schneiderman’s claim that canceling the program would have freed Gross or produced other tangible benefits. The author recounts a 2010 conversation between Fulton Armstrong, a senior adviser to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and “high-level Cuban officials.” Armstrong is quoted as telling the Cubans that the democracy programs were “stupid.” He continued, “We’re cleaning them up. Just give us time, because politically we can’t kill them.” Armstrong then asked, “Will this help you release Alan Gross?” to which he believes the Cubans said yes. This misses the fact that when it comes to Cuba, only two people are empowered to say yes — Raúl and Fidel Castro. And the Castros have a long history of biting any hand of friendship extended to them.

Indeed, even though Congress placed a hold on funding for the democracy program in 2010, Gross was tried and sentenced in March 2011. Washington may have had other reasons to think Cuba would be releasing Gross, but he did not come home with either former President Jimmy Carter nor Richardson, both of whom traveled to Havana.

By now, this story should be all too familiar. As president, Carter attempted reconciliation, establishing the U.S. Special Interests Section in Havana and making efforts at establishing some form of diplomatic relations. Castro’s response was to export thousands of prison inmates and patients from insane asylums to Florida, to send Cuban troops to fight a war in Angola in support of Soviet interests, and to assist anti-American insurgencies in Central America. Later, when U.S. President Bill Clinton again sought to improve relations, Fidel ordered two unarmed, civilian American aircraft shot down over the Straits of Florida in international waters. In response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s attempts to reduce the animosity between the two countries by easing trade restrictions and lifting limits on remittances, Raúl Castro — who has taken over for Fidel — not only ignored the president’s suggestion that Cuba reduce its taxes on remittances but also jailed Gross.

Gross is not the only person who has been punished for supporting human rights on the island. The regime has detained and expelled many visitors who dared to meet with dissidents. Among them were the current foreign minister of the Czech Republic; a cabinet secretary from Spain; Dutch, German, and European parliament members; journalists; and human rights activists. Gross’ imprisonment — set against the background of the continued repression of Cubans, the harsh punishment meted out to dissidents, and the refusal to allow prison inspections by international organizations — should serve as a wake-up call to those proposing unilateral concessions for the sake of normalization with Havana. Appeasement does not discourage the bad behavior of dictators; it emboldens it.

The time to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba will come only when Havana begins taking steps toward democracy and a free-market economy and reconsiders its alliances with North Korea, Syria, and other U.S. adversaries. Releasing Gross would be one indication that Cuba is ready to change. Obama ought to tell Raúl Castro that the United States holds him personally responsible for Gross’ well-being. Similarly, policy decisions that have increased and allowed remittances and encouraged American tourists to travel to the island can be reversed and revisited. Cuba has always played hardball, and if Castro’s government wants to continue its ways, the United States is not without rackets.

Spy-Poet Antonio Guerrero Releases Latest Book 2

The Cuban News Agency (ACN) has announced “La verdad me nombra” as the title of the latest poetry collection by convicted Wasp Network spy, Antonio Guerrero. The work debuts at this month’s Havana International Book Fair. “Compiled by poets Aitana Alberti and Alex Pausides and printed by the Capitan San Luis publishing house,” reports ACN, the poems allegedly date to Guerrero’s early incarceration, specifically September 1998-September 1999. ACN also noted that the work “includes vignettes by Gerardo Hernandez and a prologue by Rene Gonzalez….” Guerrero’s previous releases include Desde mi altura (Letras Cubanas, 2001) and Soledad para mis soledades (Coleccion Sur, 2011).

1 of Cuban 5 Wins Transfer Out of Miami Prison 2

By Louis Martin, The Militant, Vol. 77/No. 6, February 18, 2013

Ramón Labañino, one of five Cuban revolutionaries framed up and jailed by the U.S. government for more than 14 years, recently won his demand to transfer from a Miami prison where he was sent in mid-January. The Bureau of Prisons consented to the transfer following protests by Labañino’s lawyers and supporters, who argued the move to Miami put his personal safety in jeopardy.

In a Feb. 1 message from the medium security federal prison in Jesup, Ga., posted on the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five website, Labañino explains what happened. “Since June 2012, the authorities of this institution informed me that I could be assigned to an institution of low security, due to the low points and clean record that we have maintained in all these 14 years of imprisonment,” he wrote. Labañino was later assigned to the low-security federal prison in Miami “despite the fact that Ramón told the Bureau of Prisons that this was not a good idea,” his lawyer William Norris wrote in an accompanying article. In Miami, wrote Norris, “both some inmates and some staff hold deeply rooted animus to the regime in Cuba that makes Ramon’s safety, let alone fair treatment, a problem.”

Labañino eventually left the prison in Jesup Jan. 11 and arrived at the Miami facility Jan. 14. “When I was interviewed by the official who receives the new ‘tenants,’” Labañino said, “she told me in a few words that I should not be in the population of that institution for obvious reasons of personal security, and therefore she decided to send me to the ‘hole’ where I should wait for the decision that the management of the place would make later. “Thanks to your phone calls, the efficient actions or our [Cuba’s] revolutionary government and our attorneys, they finally decided to remove me quickly not only from Miami but from all Florida.” After being held eight days in solitary confinement, Labañino was sent back to Jesup, where he is now waiting for a decision to be made on where to go next.

In agreeing to the transfer, the government has drawn attention to one facet of its frame-up: the insistence of U.S. prosecutors and the presiding judge to hold the 2001 trial of the five in Miami, despite seven defense motions to move it to any other location in the country. “What happened is significant,” Norris said in a phone interview. “If the Bureau of Prisons can’t guarantee his safety in a Miami jail today, what does that say about the trial?” The 2001 trial in Miami took place against a backdrop of a constant sensational and negative media against the five, as well as harassment and intimidation of the jury by the press and counterrevolutionary Cuban American groups.
In August 2005, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta unanimously overturned the convictions and ordered a new trial outside Miami. They ruled that “an impartial jury in this case” was “an unreasonable probability” and “the perception that these [counterrevolutionary Cuban] groups could harm jurors that rendered a verdict unfavorable to their views.” But the U.S. government appealed and the decision was reversed the following year by a full 12-judge review by the same appeals court. The Supreme Court refused to hear the defense’s appeal of the reversal.

Starting in 2010, lawyers for four of the five filed habeas corpus motions arguing for new trials on the basis that some of the journalists who wrote false and inflammatory articles during the trial were at the time on the U.S. government payroll. These motions and related court documents from both sides are before Judge Joan Lenard, who presided over the 2001 trial.

Havana Gives Literary Award to One of its Master Spies 2

Writer Jesus Arboleya Wins Casa de las Americas Award

Havana, (PL).- Cuban writer Jesus Arboleya said that winning the Casa de las Americas Award is a special honor because this is one of the most prestigious awards worldwide, and also because it is a revolutionary award. Arboleya earned the highest distinction in the social-historical literature category, for his book “Cuba y los cubanoamericanos. Un analisis de la emigracion cubana” (Cuba and Cuban Americans. An Analysis of Cuban Migration). The jury that unanimously granted the award, announced at the Casa de las Americas in Havana, was comprised of the French Salim Lamrani, Colombian Renan Vega Cantor, and Cuban Sergio Guerra Vilaboy. According to the decision, the jury took into account that Arboleya´s work reconstructs in detail, with solid supporting documentation, the issue of relationships between the United States and the Cuban Revolution from the perspective of migration policies between both countries. The clarity and expository text fluently allows the work to be accessible to all readers, without diminished rigor and analytical depth, and demystifies one current issue that has been subject to many interpretations, the jury added. For his part, Arboleya stated that this award, in its 54th edition, is “deeply connected to the history of our struggles, the defense of our identity, and the dignity of our people.”

Jesus Arboleya Cervera (1947), is a PhD in Historical Sciences, and has collaborated with the Center for Policy Alternatives, the Center About the United States at the University of Havana, the Center for American Studies, and the Center for European Studies, as well as having worked with the Chilean newspaper La Nacion. Among his books are “Las corrientes políticas en la comunidad de origen cubano en Estados Unidos” (The political currents in the Cuban community in the United States (1994), Havana-Miami: The US-Cuba Migration Conflict (1995), and “La contrarrevolución cubana” (The Cuban counterrevolution) (1997).

Editor’s Note: Colonel Jesus Arboleya Cervera was identified by DGI Captain Jesus Perez Mendez after his defection in 1983. Arboleya, who served as a Second Secretary at the Cuban Mission to the United Nations in New York City before transferring to the Washington-based Cuban Interests Section, was also identified by convicted spy Carlos Alvarez. During his tour, Arboleya was the architect of the 1970’s US-Cuba normalization drive, which almost succeeded in 1977 following the formation of a group of prominent Cuban-Americans who called themselves the Committee of 75. Although headed by respectable Cuban-Americans, including two clerics and several businessmen, the Committee was DGI-inspired. According to Senate testimony of March 12, 1982, at the time, Arboleya may have been the longest serving DGI officer in the United States.

On a related note, Arboleya’s co-author, Rafael Betancourt Abio, along with his brother, were founders of the pro-Castro magazine Areito in April 1974. He was also a founder of the Antonio Maceo Brigade in December 1977. On April 28, 1978, he met in D.C. with Arboleya and Ricardo Escartin Fernandez, another DGI member. Rafael Betancourt Abio was born in Havana April 23, 1952.

Cuba Rallies Allies in Greece & Haiti to Support Cuban 5 1

According to Prensa Latina, Castro supporters in Greece and Haiti are reportedly working on behalf of the Cuban Five. PRELA reports that the Greek-Cuban Association of Friendship and Solidarity presented to US Embassy officials a resolution demanding their immediate release. According to the organization´s leader, Nikos Karandreas, “the document…will be delivered to the US Embassy in Athens on Feb.13,” states PRELA. The letter also denounces the audacity of the United States for incarcerating foreign spies. The solidarity group – according to PRELA – also demands the US immediately end its embargo against Cuba and urges the end of the European Union´s “common position” on Cuba.

The Cuban News Agency (ACN), meanwhile is reporting that the Association of Haitian Professionals Graduated in Cuba has renewed its support for the release of the Cuban Five. Association executive secretary Frank Dupuche reiterated their commitment during a meeting with Cuban diplomat Junier Calderon and Yoandra Rodriguez, an official with the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP). Meanwhile, members of the Friends of Cuba Club in the southeastern region of Jacmel also demanded the release of the five convicted spies.

Editor’s Note: For a concise summary of ICAP’s collaboration with Cuban Intelligence, see the July 5, 2012 posting, “Spy Surrogate to Host “Free the Five” Symposium:”

Ricardo Alarcon Denounces Government Manipulation of Media…….by US Reply

U.S. Media Hostility on Cuban Five Presented in Pedagogy 2013

Havana, Feb 6 (Prensa Latina) The U.S. government was behind the media hostility toward the five Cuban anti-terrorists convicted in that country shown during the the (sic) trial, said today the president of the Cuba´s parliament, Ricardo Alarcon. Speaking at the International Congress Pedagogy 2013, which brings together more than 3,000 participants from 40 countries, Alarcon said the U.S. administration paid millions for journalists to create a negative atmosphere surrounding the case and harass the jury. According to Alarcon, this way they influenced to guarantee harsh convictions for the Cuban Five, as Gerardo Hernandez, Fernando Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and René González are known worlwide.

The Cuban Five were arrested in 1998 for monitoring Miami-based terrorist groups planning actions against Cuba and received their sentences after a seven-month trial without supply evidence of the allegations made. Alarcon called on delegates to the event, which will be held from February 4 to 8, to think what they can do from their daily work to contribute to the release of the Cuban Five.

Modificado el ( miércoles, 06 de febrero de 2013 )

Iranian Official Cites Increasingly Close Tehran-Havana Ties 1

US efforts to harm Iran-LatAm ties futile: Iranian official

A senior Iranian official says the increasing relations between the Islamic Republic and Cuba rendered futile the West’s efforts to undermine Iran’s relations with Latin American countries.

Hossein Sheikholeslam_Irans Parliament Director General for International Affairs

Hossein Sheikholeslam, Iran’s Majlis (Parliament) director general for international affairs, made the remarks during a meeting with Cuban Ambassador to Iran William Carbo Ricardo in Tehran on Tuesday. Sheikholeslam said Iran has long stood by Cuba and the two countries have supported each other politically and economically despite the efforts by the United States and the West to harm Tehran-Havana relations. He went on to say that the expansion of Iran-Cuba ties has dealt a heavy blow to US propaganda campaign against the Islamic Republic’s relations with Latin America. Referring to the close relations between the two countries, Ricardo emphasized that Cuba is eager to strengthen political, economic, cultural and parliamentary cooperation with Iran.

On December 28, 2012, US President Barack Obama enacted “Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act” which calls for the US State Department to work out a strategy within six months to “address Iran’s growing hostile presence and activity” in Latin America. Since 2005, Iran has opened six new embassies in Latin America. It now has 11 embassies and 17 cultural centers in the region.

Source: PressTV, MP/MHB

The US Would be Crazy to Re-establish Ties With Cuba 2

By Juan Williams
Published February 05, 2013

Get ready for the U.S. to make a big mistake on Cuba. Sixty percent of Americans favor re-establishing ties with Cuba, in the last Gallup poll on the issue and that was four years ago. Meanwhile, more Americans are traveling to Cuba — erasing memories of Fidel Castro confiscating property and wealth while working with Russia to threaten the U.S. with missiles.
And now President Obama’s new Secretary of State is on the record calling for the U.S. to end cold war sanctions against Cuba’s communist regime. It will be a mistake for President Obama to end any part of the U.S. embargo against Cuba without insisting on a full slate of democratic freedoms, human rights and property rights in the country.

John Kerry, the new boss at the State Department, has criticized the “power of the Cuban-American lobby” and a half-century of hatred of Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro. As a senator, Kerry voted against the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which tightened trade restrictions on Cuba. Back in 2000, Kerry said: “We have a frozen, stalemated counterproductive policy [on Cuba]… There’s just a complete and total contradiction between the way we deal with China, the way we deal with Russia, the way we have been dealing with Cuba. … The only reason we don’t re-evaluate the policy is the politics of Florida.” Secretary Kerry is not alone.

Chuck Hagel, the president’s choice to become Secretary of Defense, has been an out-spoken critic of the 50-year-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba and restrictions on travel to the Caribbean nation. The former Nebraska senator has called on the U.S. to “engage” with Cuba just as we have with communist countries like Vietnam and China. President Obama’s decision to elevate two such vocal advocates for rapprochement with Cuba has attracted little press attention. But it is just the latest in a string of signals that big changes are imminent.

As a matter of politics, the Democrat in the White House did surprisingly well with Florida’s Cuban American voters in winning Florida in the 2012 election. Older Cubans who traditionally support anti-Castro Republicans largely stayed with the GOP but younger Cubans voted for President Obama. And the young voices are becoming more vocal about the need for a new era of U.S. policies that bring change to Cuba through closer ties to the U.S.

In addition, Fidel Castro is now 86 and in poor health. His brother, Raul, Cuba’s current leader, is 81. And despite the official ban on Americans traveling to Cuba there is a large loophole allowing academics and cultural leaders to go there. Those tourists generally romanticize Cuba’s revolutionary past. And American business is also anxious to see the doors open to investment in an island 90 miles from Miami and ready for an economic boom once trade with the U.S. resumes.

President Obama has been sending signals, too. In his inaugural address last month, he said he wants to “resolve our differences with other nations peacefully — not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.”
For President Obama, a man looking to make history as part of his second term legacy, that policy makes Cuba a tempting target.

Several Latin countries are joining the chorus of calls for the U.S. to change its attitude toward Cuba. They are pushing the U.S. to allow Cuba to join regional economic groups. On January 28th, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States [CELAC] even passed its rotating presidency to Cuba’s current leader, Raul Castro. CELAC’s charter mission is to promote democracy and human rights in the region and they are trusting Cuba’s dictators. With so many signs pointing in one direction – resumption of U.S. ties to Cuba – it is time to call for a STOP sign.

For example, CELAC’s decision is tragically wrong given Cuba’s awful history on human rights and democracy. Cuba continues to jail political opponents and suppress free speech. That is a fact. Independent observers can see it. José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch said Castro’s selection as CELAC president “sends a message [that Latin governments] couldn’t care less about the poor human rights record and the lack of fundamental freedoms in Cuba.” And it will be a mistake for President Obama to end any part of the U.S. embargo without insisting on a full slate of democratic freedoms, human rights and property rights in Cuba.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal last year, I expressed my disagreement with those who have suggested cozying up to Latin American dictators like the Castro brothers and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. It is personal with me. My family fled Panama in the early 1950’s to escape the poverty and open the door to education and opportunity. Those doors were shut by a Latin strong man — Panama’s Arnulfo Arias. I wrote: “My life’s major turn away from poverty came thanks to my father’s vision of his children escaping a despot like Arias. That dream of a better life is alive throughout Latin America. To romanticize any dictator is to kill those dreams by condemning poor kids in Latin America, like me, to tyrants and the burden of limited education and economic opportunity.”

Congressional Republicans remain largely united in their opposition to normalizing relations with Castro’s Cuba. They are led by Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lethnien, both Cuban Americans. New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, a Cuban American, supports continuing tight restrictions to isolate the Castro regime and promote democracy and human rights for the Cuban people. He is scheduled to become chair of the Senate Foreign Relations panel. It will be up to Rubio, Ros-Lethnien and Menendez to stop President Obama from making a big mistake and turning away from a freedom agenda for America’s neighbors in Latin America. STOP!

Juan Williams is a Fox News political analyst. He is the author of several books including “Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America–and What We Can Do About It” and “Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate.”

Civil Suit to Allege Cuban Security Services Killed Oswaldo Payá Reply

Report: Spanish Politician Will Sue Cuba Over Payá Death

Angel Carromero, Who Was Convicted in the Accident That Claimed Dissident Oswaldo Payá’s Life, Will Reportedly Allege That Another Car Caused the Accident

By Daniele Grasso & Juan O. Tamayo,

MADRID — A Spanish politician is preparing a lawsuit against the Cuban government alleging that another vehicle rammed his and caused the accident that killed renowned Havana dissident Oswaldo Payá, according to a digital Madrid newspaper. El Confidencial’s report Friday quoted unidentified sources as saying that Angel Carromero’s lawsuit would be backed by a signed declaration from the other survivor of the crash, Swedish politician Jens Aron Modig. Carromero has also privately told those same allegations to members of Payá’s inner circle who have been trying to gather evidence about the July 22 crash in eastern Cuba near the city of Bayamo, one knowledgeable source told El Nuevo Herald.

His Madrid lawyer, Jose Maria Viñals, was quoted in another report as saying that he has received no instructions to start a lawsuit. Payá’s brother Carlos, who lives in Madrid, and his widow in Havana, Ofelia Acevedo, said they knew nothing about the report.

Members of the Popular Party who are close to Carromero, a party activist, told El Nuevo on Friday that the lawsuit report was news to them, but one added that he had no doubt that “at some point Angel will tell his version” of the crash. El Confidencial reported that Popular Party officials had told the digital newspaper that they knew nothing about Carromero’s plans for a lawsuit although one added that he considered it “an error. It’s not the time.” The lawsuit would be based on the fact that Payá held both Cuban and Spanish citizenships because of his parents, according to the digital report.

Cuban authorities say Carromero was driving a rented car too fast, lost control and slammed into a tree. Payá died at the scene and Harold Cepero, a member of his dissident Christian Liberation Movement, died three hours later in a Bayamo Hospital. A tribunal in Bayamo sentenced Carromero to four years in prison for vehicular homicide, but he was extradited to Spain on Dec. 28 under a 1998 pact between Madrid and Havana that allows convicts to serve their sentences in their own countries. He is now under a part-time parole. Modig returned to Sweden days after the accident.

But Payá’s family has long insisted that there’s evidence Carromero was rammed and forced off the road by another vehicle, presumably driven by the State Security agents who constantly tailed the respected dissident.[emphasis added] Relatives and supporters around the world have been trying for months to gather evidence backing up the allegations that another car rammed Carromero’s, and are known to have been considering legal action that would give them subpoena powers. Their main target: Text messages that Modig allegedly sent to a woman friend in Stockholm shortly before and after the accident, reporting that another car was following them and then had rammed them from behind and forced them off the road. Carromero filmed a video while he was detained in Cuba in which he did not mention another car. Modig has claimed that he was sleeping before the crash. Both have refused to talk in public and in detail about the accident after leaving Cuba. Carromero is an activist in the Madrid youth wing of the Popular Party while Modig is the outgoing president of the youth wing of Sweden’s Christian Democratic Party. Cuba has alleged the Europeans, both 28, went to the island to deliver money to Payá.

The Popular Party government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has stayed largely out of the controversy over the cause of Payá’s death, with the dissident’s supporters alleging that it fears retaliation against Spanish business interests in Cuba.

Relatives and supporters of Payá have steadfastly declined to put public pressure on Carromero or Modig to speak out on the crash, saying that they were victims of the crash just like Payá and Cepero. Carlos Payá, who has previously confirmed that he spoke once with Carromero, told El Nuevo Herald that he would not comment on the “rumor” published by El Confidencial. “We’re talking about the death of my brother. We have to be serious,” he said. Regis Iglesias, the representative in Spain for Payá’s dissident movement, said he was also surprised by the report that Carromero is preparing to sue Cuba.

New York’s Casa de las Américas Spreads Castro Propaganda; Seeks Admittance of Cuban Spy-Wives 2

Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez: State Department of US, Please Grant the Wives Visas

by Casa de las Américas (Casa)

The Department of State is prohibiting entry, from Cuba to the US, to two of the wives of the Cuban Five. These women want to visit their husbands incarcerated in US prisons. Olga Salanueva, wife of Rene Gonzalez, and Adriana Perez, wife of Gerardo Hernandez, are law abiding and productive citizens of Cuba who simply want to visit with their respective husbands. Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernandez are two of five men referred to as the Cuban Five. They are political prisoners serving two life sentences and 98 years collectively after being railroaded by the FBI in its continued hostility toward Cuba. They were arrested on September 12, 1998. They were falsely charged with espionage conspiracy and were convicted in Miami on June 8, 2001.

These five Cuban men never committed espionage nor did they conspire to do so, their actions were not directed against the US. Instead, their mission was to prevent Cuban exile terrorist organizations in Miami from carrying out attacks on Cuba. They wanted to monitor the activities of violent Cuban exiles that were planning violent actions against innocent people in Cuba. They were trying to prevent further brutal acts against Cuba and save innocent lives.

In 1959, after the US backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown; Batista’s repressive police and army torturers took refuge in Miami. With Miami as their staging ground, they organized, planned and carried out numerous sabotage and terrorist acts against the people of Cuba. To date, the attacks have killed 3,478 Cubans. Reports of these acts are not widely publicized in US media.

Anti-Cuban terrorists placed bombs in various hotels ‒ in one instance killing an Italian tourist. A bomb was placed in the Havana airport. Bombs were placed in buses to and from the airport. The Cuban government protested these terrorist activities to the US, but to no avail. They protested to the United Nations, and they recognized that Cuba had the right to defend its sovereignty.

Cuba’s numerous appeals to Washington to stop terrorist attacks from various Miami based groups were repeatedly ignored. This is why a group of concerned Cubans in Miami infiltrated the terrorist organizations: to do what the US government could not do given that these terrorists are connected to and protected by an elite group of extremely wealthy right wing Cubans that live and control the politics of Miami and oppose all attempts between the US and Cuba to normalize their diplomatic relations.

Olga has not seen Rene since August 16, 2000. In April of 2003, the Department of State denied her a visa, invoking section 2112(f) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. Repeated requests to obtain a visa to visit her husband have been denied.

Adriana was subjected to cruel and unjustified treatment when she attempted to visit Gerardo on July 25, 2002. Upon Adriana’s arrival at the Houston Airport, she was detained by the FBI for 11 hours, isolated, deprived of her passport, photographed, fingerprinted and illegally interrogated before she was sent back to Cuba without having seen Gerardo. The FBI offered absolutely no explanation to support their decision. Thereafter, time and again, she has been denied a visa from US authorities, to visit her husband.

While the cause for the case of the Cuban Five has inspired a worldwide movement, these men have remained imprisoned for nearly 14 years. In the case of Rene Gonzalez and Gerardo Hernández they have also been denied family visits. Besides the fact that their right to a fair trial was denied because it took place in Miami, their right to have family visits has also been denied.

Recently, a conference was held at Howard University School of Law in Washington, DC with Danny Glover as the featured guest speaker. The objective of the forum was to bring light to the case of the Cuban Five as well as the inhumane act on the part of the Department of State of denying visas to Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez who simply want to visit their husbands. Many well-known celebrities have joined in the efforts of informing the rest of the nation of this great injustice. These include Bonnie Rait, Susan Sarandon, Benicio del Toro, Oliver Stone, Martin Sheen, Pete Seeger, Ry Cooder, Chrissie Hynde, Haskell Wexler, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, Ed Asner, Mike Farrell, and others.

It is time to correct this wrong and this great injustice. By signing this petition directed at the Department of State, you join in the effort of allowing Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez to obtain visas for them to visit their husbands incarcerated in US prisons.

Editor’s Note: According to its website, Casa de las Américas (Casa) is a New York-based organization of Cuban emigrants who support the revolution. Beginning in 1955, the July 26 Committee was established in NY for the purpose of supporting the armed struggle that was taking place in Cuba against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Shortly after the triumph of the revolution in 1959, the Committee was renamed Casa Cuba, which later became Casa de las Américas.