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letter of may to Obama.by Open-Publishing - Monday 2 May 2011
Mr President Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington DC 20500
As I have been doing every month since your election in November 2008, I am writing you concerning the five Cuban patriots Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino, and René González, imprisoned in your country for almost thirteen years now.
When I wrote my last letter, I did not know that Jimmy Carter, along with his wife Rosalynn, was going to Cuba on the 28th of March for a three-day private non-official visit.
The words concerning the Cuban Five, spoken by this former president of the United States, who holds the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002, restored a little bit of hope for us. He spoke these words during the press conference held at the end of his visit to Cuba:
“… I believe that the detention of these five Cubans makes no sense; the American courts as well as human rights organizations all over the world have cast doubts on this case. They have now spent 12 years in prison and I hope that in the near future they will be freed and be able to go back to their families (…)”
Alluding to the two small aircraft belonging to the “Hermanos de la Rescata” organization that were shot down on February 24th 1996 by the Cuban Air Force, leading to the death of four pilots, the former president added:
“… The Cuban officials told me that they had clearly informed the president of the United States that they could not allow these aircraft to fly over the capital, and that it was their duty to protect Cuba’s sovereignty. So even if it was a serious, an extremely serious action, I have doubts concerning the long sentences inflicted on these men. But when I go back, I think I’ll have a little talk with president Obama. This is my public statement; I have previously stated the same thing to other North American officials, and with them we have spoken in favor of releasing the Cuban Five. One of the reasons, whether they are guilty or not, is that they have undergone a long prison sentence, more than 12 years. As a matter of fact, even if they’re guilty, they’ve already been sufficiently punished….”
The judge in Miami in 2001 severely sentenced Gerardo Hernandez; he was held responsible, without the slightest proof, for this tragedy. The prosecution itself admitted that it had no proof whatsoever to accuse Gerardo on this charge. To condemn someone for homicide without proof is a grave breach of human rights.
In an appeal on March 16, 2011, Mr. Hernandez swore under oath, in a well-argued speech, denying his responsibility for this act. Unfortunately, on April 26, we learnt that the government that you represent, Mr Obama, had requested the denial of the Gerardo’s habeas appeal in writing filed in federal court in Miami by the Attorney Caroline Heck Miller. This Attorney prosecuted Gerardo in Miami, and refused in 2005 to prosecute Luis Posada Carriles!
The justice system in your country is drifting closer and closer to a mafia-style justice, as we noted once again during Luis Posada Carriles’s court case. We learned, to our great indignation, on April 8th at El Paso, that Luis Posada Carriles had been cleared of the eleven charges taken against him, despite all the witnesses, documents and numerous proofs that should have indicted him.
In your country that calls itself the champion of the fight against terrorism, it is hardly normal to see a former C.I.A. agent, a terrorist who plants bombs, an assassin, a torturer and a drug dealer come out of a court case as innocent as a new-born baby and, what’s more, when he got back to Miami, they threw a party for him.
This is what Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban Five, who was not particularly surprised, wrote last April 9th, after the verdict:
“… Us, the Cuban Five, we knew very well what a trial before a jury of 12 persons is like in this country. Ours lasted more than seven months. I cannot deny that in that courtroom we felt very strongly that it was impossible for the jury to declare us guilty of crimes we had not committed. We were innocent, in every sense of the word. We watched as the witnesses, both of the defense and the prosecution, filed by, and every one of them, in one way or another and all things considered, reinforced our arguments based on solid facts; arguments that clearly showed how none of us had committed spying activities against this country, and that Gerardo had nothing to do with the tragedy of the small aircraft shot down. But the jury was not there to listen to or to deliberate on anything at all; this jury was already prejudiced, having lived for years in a city where expressing positive views on Cuba is almost a crime; one is sure to lose his job or to be physically attacked. What’s more, the members of the jury, in spite of the instructions given to them, go back to their homes where their families have read the news and the reporters, paid by the government, have written articles with the idea of creating a public opinion against us. These members of the jury couldn’t be unaware of the “perfect turmoil” described in 93 pages by the three judges that had analyzed for several years our first appeal and who demanded that our sentence be quashed…”
Your government should be extraditing Posada Carriles to Venezuela where he is accused of assassinating the 73 persons who died in the explosion of Cubana Airlines Flight 455 in 1976. The Cuban Five were arrested in 1998 after having turned over important information from Cuba to the F.B.I. This information was made up of files, audio cassettes, videos, and recordings of telephone conversations of Posada Carriles in Central America from where he organized the wave of bombings and other terrorist attacks against Cuba. These five courageous Cubans had, precisely, the mission of preventing terrorist actions such as those that Posada Carriles carried out against their country.
The Cuban five are in fact political prisoners of a country that has been fiercely and unrelentingly, for more than fifty years now, working against Cuba, using every means and in every domain possible. The blockade is denounced by the international community, but how many people know, for example, about the “Cuban Medical Professional Parole” program, put in place in 2006 by the United States? Some 37,000 Cuban medical volunteers intervene in 77 countries to help the most destitute populations. This program is designed to encourage desertion among the volunteers. Blockade, terrorism, war of the press, corruption and all sorts of things, everything is permitted! When are they going to start bombing Cuba to make it knuckle under?
I would like to finish on an optimistic note, hoping that former president Jimmy Carter will be convincing, and that his interview will help you to rapidly take the measure that will, at last, give the liberty that the Cuban Five deserve. It is a necessary condition for the beginning of better relations between your two countries anticipated by more than twelve million Cubans who know that, yes you can do this.
PS : There is an important document with this letter.
Copies sent to: Mrs. Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano, Mr. Harry Reid, Eric Holder, Pete Rouse, Donald Werrilli, John F. Kerry and to the Ambassador of the USA in France.
Here is the document:
More Chicanery in the Cases of the Cuban Five
by Wayne S. Smith Mar. 28, 2011 Reprinted from Center for International Policy
At a press conference on March 22, new exculpatory evidence was presented in the cases of two of the Cuban Five. Many Americans seem to believe the now-famous Cuban Five were spies working for Havana against the United States and therefore deserve what they got – years in prison. But that is far from the truth. In fact, while they were indeed members of the Cuban Intelligence Service, they had been sent to the U.S. not to spy on the U.S. government or any of its entities but, rather, to penetrate certain Cuban exile organizations and gather information on the terrorist activities they were conducting against Cuba. The idea was then to provide that information to the FBI so that it could move to halt those activities, as it should have done.
Three representatives of the FBI were indeed invited to Cuba in June of 1998 to receive what the Cuban agents had come up with. They returned with sixty-four folders of pertinent information. The Cubans had rather expected that the U.S. would then quickly take action against the terrorists. They were to be disappointed. Rather, apparently able to determine the identity of the sources from the information they had been handed, the FBI arrested the Cuban Five, who in 2001 were put on trial in Miami— a hotbed of anti-Castro sentiment. In hopes of beginning in a more impartial atmosphere, the Defense asked for a change of venue. But it was denied.
In addition to the biased atmosphere, the Prosecution could present no evidence that the five and been guilty of anything other than being the unregistered agents of a foreign power. And so prosecutors fell back to charging the accused with “conspiracy” to commit espionage and other illegal acts — what one does if one has no hard evidence. But evidence or not, all were convi.cted in 2001 and given long prison sentences.
Worst of all was the case of Gerardo Hernandez, accused of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shootdown in February of 1996 of two Brothers to the Rescue planes with the loss of four lives—and then convicted on the basis of no evidence at all and given two consecutive life sentences. (More on Gerardo’s case below).
Given the highly questionable nature of the case against the five, it was not surprising when in August of 2005 three judges of the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh District in Atlanta overturned the Miami court’s convictions and ordered a new trial. But that was not to the liking of the Bush administration and so on October 31 of 2005 it was ordered that the entire appeals court, all twelve judges, review the findings of the three. This was done and on June 4, 2008, the entire appeals court upheld the original convictions of the Miami court and remanded the case back to it. The will of the White House had been done.
The next year, however, with a new President in the White House, it had been thought the way might be open for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court. But in May of 2009, Barack Obama’s solicitor general, Elena Kagan, recommended that the request for a hearing be denied. How unfortunate, and sad. Injustice was not to be undone – at least at that point. There is now another chance for at least its partial undoing. In an affidavit filed by Gerardo Hernandez before the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida, he has pointed out that he was never informed that he could have a separate trial on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, a separate trial at which he would have had the right to testify on his own behalf. Had he known, had he ever been informed, he would have insisted on this separate trial and could have given testimony to establish his innocence. In his affidavit, he then provides some of that testimony – which knocks the Prosecution’s case for a loop. If his affidavit does not lead to his release, Rule of Law will have been dealt another blow.
And Antonio Guerrero’s memorandum, presented at the same time as Gerardo’s affidavit, what of it? It provides evidence that government sources paid a number of the members of the press to publish unfavorable stories about the defendants and their case. This fundamentally violated the premises of a fair trial.
On the basis of these legal briefs, both Gerardo and Antonio should be given new trials and their unjust convictions overturned. In view of past history, however, one cannot be optimistic. But at some point, justice must be done, the cases of all five must be dismissed and this stain on the honor of the U.S. System of Justice thus be removed.
Wayne S. Smith has been a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C. since 1992, and since 1983, an Adjunct Professor of Latin American Studies at the Johns Hopkins University He was Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 1979-82