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Let Cuba Live
October Monthly Letter to Obama on the Cuban FiveSince October 6, 2009, retired professor Jacqueline Roussie, who lives in Monein, France, has written her monthly letter to President Obama on the Cuban Five political prisoners. Widely circulated in Europe, they ask in one way or another that they be freed. The 36th such letter appears below as translated by Tom Whitney from a Spanish version of the letter. It seems likely that if thousands of others throughout the world followed Ms. Roussie’s example, the impact would be considerable. Here’s the link to this letter in Spanish and to all 35 other letters.
October 1, 2012
Last September 12 was the 14th anniversary of the detention of the five Cubans Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and René González.
They’ve added to Gerardo and René’s sentences by punishing them further through their not being able to receive visits from their wives. Your administration systematically denies them entry visas into the United States, this in spite of protests from humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International.
The United States should have given some consideration to these Cuban agents who fight against terrorism. You may remember, for example, that, thanks to their help, President Ronald Reagan escaped an attack during the summer of 1984 when he was running for re-election. As soon as the Cuban government knew that an extreme right wing group in North Carolina was preparing an attack against the President, they informed U.S. authorities. The contact person was Robert C. Muller, security chief of the U.S. mission at the United Nations.
In 1998 when the Five knew that future attacks would target airplanes, Cuban authorities, with the same faithfulness they showed in 1984, handed over to a FBI delegation a quite complete dossier so that the conspirators could be arrested. But as incredible as it seems, it was the Cuban agents themselves who were arrested two months later and subjected to the most atrocious treatment that’s humanly possible.
After their arrest, the Five remained 17 months in solitary confinement cells in their Miami prison, which is contrary to U.S. law. Amidst an atmosphere of hate and fear, the jury in their trial convicted the Five in 2001 and sentenced them quite severely, giving Gerardo Hernandez two life sentences and 15 years. This atmosphere of hate was fueled by journalists paid by the federal government in Florida, which we have known about since 2006.
If there were a little bit of justice in your country, not only would the five Cubans not remain in prison, but also, as ex-Attorney general Ramsey Clark has said, they would be honored as “heroes of humanity.”
Last September 17, during the Washington – Havana videoconference, when he was asked what would have happened if a case like this had presented itself when he was U.S. Attorney General, Clark declared, “If I were attorney general today and they informed me about this propaganda campaign during the trial of the Five. I would have had to throw out the charges. Any attorney general would have to do the same for reasons of ethics and morality.”
He’d have to, of course! But, remember August 5, 2005 Mr. President: three judges of the Atlanta Federal Appeals Court had voided the convictions of the Five and asked for a new trial away from Miami. In a highly unusual action in U. S. judicial history, George Bush’s attorney general appealed the decision of those judges.
Why is there such wrath against the Five? Might it be blackmail on the part of terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles who threaten that if the Five are freed, they’ll reveal actions quite unworthy of former national leaders? We’ll know some day.
Meanwhile those Cubans are still prisoners or on probation. Petitions on collateral pleas are currently being processed. Will Gerardo Hernandez finally have the opportunity to present all those trial irregularities? That’s what the petition two months ago is seeking.
The facts are serious nevertheless. Buying off journalists is no minor crime. The worst of it is that honest journalists who denounced that contempt for their profession received threats and were forced to get away in order to protect their families. This is what happened in particular to the Miami Herald reporter Oscar Corral.
Being a lawyer, you ought to be very concerned that justice be done for these brave men who have endured the worst kind of suffering for more than 14 years. This suffering cannot be erased completely, and for Gerado, Fernando, and their wives, the pain of not being able to have children is irreversible.
Mr. President, your country’s elections are approaching, and your re-election is not assured. If at least before those elections, you might give your approval for the Five being freed, your country would grow in stature. You would have a place in history as the President who knew to initiate new relations between Cuba and the United States, which vast majorities of inhabitants of both countries want.