[HCCN] Nadine Gordimer petitions Pres. Obama re Cuban Five

Judith Robbins 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  
had obtained.

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  
permanently disabled.

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  

Nadine Gordimer
Havana, February 17th, 2010.
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