[HCCN] Nadine Gordimer petitions Pres. Obama re Cuban Five
JUDY at ROBBINSandROBBINS.com
Sun Mar 28 12:14:03 EDT 2010
[Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer, speaking recently at the Havana Book
Fair, called on President Obama to immediately secure the release of
the five innocent Cuban men serving long sentences in US prisons. Her
concise review of the facts of their case, combined with her own
passionate response to the issues, makes a compelling and informative
read. Her statement received international coverage. The following
that I have found translated into English is a bit choppy. -- J.R.]
Yesterday, Tuesday February 16, I met with relatives of the five
Cuban political prisoners held in US jails for over 11 years. I have
had firsthand experience of the drama these families are suffering. I
was given the following information as confirmation of what I already
On June 16th and 17th, 1998, the Cuban government invited two
important FBI officials to hand them documents with evidences on
dangerous activities done by several persons residing in Florida and
seriously implicated in terrorist actions against Cuba. Up until
now, none of them have been questioned by US authorities despite the
evidence placed in the hands of the FBI.
Three months later, on September 12th, 1998, the FBI arrested five
Cubans: Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón
Labañino and René González. Crime committed? That of infiltrating,
at the risk of their own lives, the Cuban exile groups responsible
for numerous violent actions which have put an end to the lives of
many innocent people. Since 1959, terrorist actions against the
Cuban people have resulted in 3,478 dead and have left 2,099 people
After a legal process, presenting several legal violations, the five
Cubans were sentenced, collectively, to four life sentences plus 77
years, for fighting terrorism. For over 11 years now, they have been
imprisoned in 5 different maximum security prisons.
These five Cubans have been the victims of cruel and inhumane
treatment. From day one of their arrests until February 3rd, 2000,
i.e. for over 17 months, they have been in solitary confinement, with
no contact with other prisoners or even guards.
On May 27th, 2005, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
denounced the “arbitrary” detention of the Cuban five, stating that
it was a violation of international norms and demanded a new trial.
On August 9th 2005, three judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Eleventh Circuit, with 80 years of accumulated experience,
unanimously decided to declare the original verdict null and
requested a new trial.
On September 28th, 2005, the US government asked the full Court of
Appeals, made up by twelve judges, to reconsider the decision of
August 8th, 2005, a very uncommon action, according to US legal experts.
On August 9th, 2006, after strong political pressures, the Atlanta
Court of Appeals reversed the decision by the three judges and sent
the case once again to a panel.
On August 20th, 2007, the defense launched a new appeal process. In
2008, a panel formed by three judges from the Atlanta Court of
Appeals ratified the guilty verdict for the five Cubans, confirming
the sentences imposed against Gerardo and Rene and annulled the
sentences for Ramon, Antonio and Fernando because they were
considered incorrect, thus sending the cases of these three Cubans to
the Miami District Court for re-sentencing.
On that occasion the Appeals Court in full acknowledged there was no
evidence whatsoever on the obtainment or transmission of secret
information or of a national defense nature.
In 2009, the US Supreme Court, based on a request by the Obama
Administration, rejected the possibility of revising the case.
The statements made by the relatives of the five Cubans give proof of
the psychological and moral torture they have been suffering in the
hands of US legal authorities. Olga Salanueva, wife of René
González, as well as Adriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo Hernández, have
not been yet authorized to visit their love ones. On June 25th,
2002, Adriana Pérez was finally granted a US visa to visit her
husband in Los Angeles. But upon her arrival in the United States,
she was detained by the FBI, interrogated for 11 hours and then
expelled to Cuba without seeing Gerardo. Adriana has not been able to
see Gerardo for over 11 years and Olga has not seen Rene for over 10
years. Such a cruel act is unacceptable.
Now, after meeting the relatives of the five Cubans I have been able
to assess the dignity and staunchness of the mothers and wives who
have suffered, with striking strength of character this inhumane
abuse for over a decade now.
I would like to add my voice to the petition for justice for these
five innocent Cubans. I request President Obama for their immediate
release. I appeal to citizens from all over the world: it is time to
put an end to the torment these five Cubans and their relatives are
Havana, February 17th, 2010.
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