President Barack Obama The White House Washington, DC
Dear President Obama,
As a naturalized citizen of the United States I want to ask you, my President, to commute the sentences of four persons, often known as the Cuban Five. Their names are: Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González. [The fifth, René González,was recently released from prison after serving his sentence].
I am particularly interested in their case because I think their imprisonment, the result of a flawed trial, is a roadblock to normal relations between the United States and Cuba. Let me explain.
Esperanza Spalding - We Are America from on ESP Media on Viemo.
Grammy Award-winning musician has a problem with using the phrase "protest song" to describe her new recording, "We Are America." The song, along with its accompanying music video, demands congressional action to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.
" 'Protest' doesn't seem accurate to me," she tells NPR's Celeste Headlee. "We weren't thinking of a 'protest' song, we're thinking of a 'let's get together and do something pro-active, creative and productive' song."
Democracy Now presented today an exclusive with René González, former Cuban intelligence agent and freed member of the Cuban Five:
I'm Amy Goodman, with a Democracy Now! exclusive. We turn now to René González, the only freed member of the Cuban Five. He was released in October of 2011. He returned to Cuba in April of this year after being jailed in the United States for 13 years. I recently spoke to him from Havana via Democracy Now! video stream. I began by asking him why he came to the United States to investigate militant Cuban exile groups.
In August 1962, I was an ordinary Cuban child who had just turned eight years old. I can still remember the commotion all over Havana after someone sailed a boat to within a mile of the city's coastline and fired acannon at a hotel. They then turned north and headed for safe haven in Miami.
That experience repeated itself for me and for my four comrades, who are still in US prisons, as I was until recently. The five of us grew up in Cuba, witnessing the kidnapping and assassination of Cuban fishermen, and the culprits would then return to their safe haven in Miami. A gunboat crew attacked and killed the crew of a Spanish freighter off the coast of Cuba and then returned to their safe haven in Miami. In 1976, two terrorists of Cuban origin, after having organized the bombing of a Cubana airliner which killed 73 people, found safe haven back in Miami. Twenty years later, one orchestrated a bombing campaign against Cuban hotels, which cost the life of an Italian citizen.
The Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González, are five Cuban men who are unjustly imprisoned in the United States after being arrested by the FBI on 12 September 1998 and convicted in US federal court in Miami in 2001, in a political prosecution by the US government.
This September marks 15 years since their arrest. The Five were falsely accused by the US government of committing espionage and conspiracy against the United States, and other related charges.
On the 15th anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban Five, the Hero of the Republic of Cuba Rene Gonzalez, has asked his people to saturate the island with yellow ribbons. "My desire is that on September 12 yellow ribbons will appear in trees, on balconies, on people's arms, on their pets or however they want to display it. That way this expression will make it impossible for visitors and the foreign media to ignore the fact that the Cuban people are still waiting for four of their sons who are imprisoned in the United States."
Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree
As we approach 15 years of the incarceration of the Five, it is important for us to reflect once again that these were men who's only mission in coming to the US was to defend their people. We must remember that they have been suffering for 15 years the most elemental violation of human rights including separation from their loved ones, but yet hold no hate or rancor towards the American people who have been denied the truth and even the existence of the Cuban 5.
From the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, we call on all people and committees in solidarity with the Cuban 5 to join Rene, the families of the Five and the Cuban people to bring yellow ribbons to all the activities taking place from September 5 to October 6, especially on September 12.
Bringing yellow ribbons to all the marches, rallies, and vigils that will be taking place in the United States and in front of US embassies around the world will be a strong visual expression against an injustice that has gone on way too long.
Yet more proof, if any were needed, to confirm just how much of US taxpayer's money is wasted by groups purporting to help bring Democracy to Cuba has been posted by Tracey Eaton on his blog Along the Malecon. He provides this link to the USAID website that details how much and to which organisations the millions of dollars are distributed each year. Some websearching provides illuminating reading.
On August 13th, Fidel Castro became 87 years old. He has been out of power since he got very ill in 2006 and retired in 2008. Seven years have gone by. We were told by the world mass media that Raúl Castro did not have the wherewithal to rule. And yet, there has been no political or social challenge to the successful transition. Indeed, Cuba has been more stable than many countries in Europe. Moreover, the influence and expansion of ties with the world have increased. And Raul Castro might even have more legitimacy than expected.
ON many occasions, I have asked my students what might be the principal reasons to support for saying that it’s good to live in Cuba. The majority of the responses refer to universal health care, education, social security. These are precisely the pillars of our socialist model, but they constitute, for many young people, common realities of our daily lives, thus becoming altogether customary, frozen in the popular discourse, practically irrelevant as a result of constant repetition.
I would go so far as to say that there is a Cuban model of wellbeing that has been incorporated with such uncritical familiarity that it has become invisible to us, paradoxically more often noted by those who are no longer here, after having lost it, or by visitors who live in other realities in their countries of origin. In daily life in Cuba, most conversation is generally about the difficulties, above all those of an economic nature. Very rarely is there talk of our assets or strengths.