Social Justice Film Nights on the 3rd Thurs. of every month
7pm Thursday, Dec. 19 2994 Douglas (BCGEU Hall)
Admission by donation
Shadows of Liberty reveals the extraordinary truth behind the news media: censorship, cover-ups and corporate control. Filmmaker Jean-Philippe Tremblay takes a journey through the darker corridors of the US media, where global conglomerates call the shots. For decades, their overwhelming influence has distorted news journalism and compromised its values. In highly revealing stories, renowned journalists, activists and academics give insider accounts of a broken media system. Controversial news reports are suppressed, people are censored for speaking out, and lives are shattered as the arena for public expression is turned into a private profit zone. Tracing the story of media manipulation through the years, Shadows of Liberty poses a crucial question: why have we let a handful of powerful corporations write the news? We’re left in no doubt – media reform is urgent and freedom of the press is fundamental.
INFORMATION WORTH KNOWING ABOUT
Nelson P Valdes has published four books, academic essays and opinion pieces. Since 1972 he has been lecturer in several universities. He started his professional carrier in 1972 as a Sociology Instructor of Latin American Studies in the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and from 1973 to 1976 he was Assistant Professor of History at University of New Orleans. Since 1976 until 1991 he was Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico. From 1991 until 2008 he became a Full Professor of Sociology at the University of New Mexico and in 2009 Emeritus Professor of the University of New Mexico. Since 1973 until 2004 he has been a visiting lecturer in a number of universities in the United States, in Puerto Rico, and in the University of Habana, Cuba. Professor Valdes has also a wide-range of administrative experience in programs related to research, multimedia, etc. In 1983 he created the first computerized data base on Latin America and in 1991 he established the first computerized data base on Cuba.
December 5, 2013
President Barack Obama
The White House
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.
I was born in Cuba. When the Cuban revolution began I was 13 years old. By April 1961 I left Cuba, alone. It was part of a US government sponsored program later known as Operation Peter Pan. I was one of over 14,000 children that came to the US alone. In the United States I spent my teen age years in foster homes, then married, had a son and a daughter and eventually a grandson. From a janitor – my first job – I ended up with a doctorate in History and Sociology.
I am thankful to the United States and its institutions for the fact that I was able to make something of myself even though I never had my parents with me. I am 68 years old.
I have dedicated a significant part of my life to studying the country in which I was born as well as the country I made my own, and their relations. Because of the absence of normal diplomatic and commercial relations I have never been able – like many other Cubans – to interact in a fluid and normal manner between my two homelands. This needs to end.
I think that there is a need to have normal full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. A first step should be the full pardon of the persons who have been called “the Cuba Five”. I am well acquainted with their case. I was one of seven Cuban American scholars who submitted an amicus curiae to the Supreme Court on behalf of the imprisoned. All of us are respected scholars and specialists on Cuba and Cuban American reality. Moreover, there are many others – like us – in the United States who were born in Cuba or are of Cuban ancestry who support better relations and the release of these prisoners.
Any unbiased assessment of the case and the highly politicized circumstances under which the trial happened will have to conclude that our Justice system did not work properly, in this particular case. Political and partisan considerations worked against fairness; and at the time the Clinton administration was literally under siege. But you as my President can do something about it. Commute their sentences. In doing so you will be earning the appreciation of the Cubans who are now US citizens as well as of our relatives on the island.
It is the right thing to do. But it will also mark a profound departure from past policies. You will find that most of Cuban Americans in the United States will welcome and support your daring initiative. Moreover, such a pardon will lead to a reciprocal action from the Cuban government. They have gone on record to that effect. That means that both sides will pardon one or more citizens of the other side. Thus, your action – at the same time – will trigger the release of American citizen Alan Phillip Gross. It is not a matter of equivalent violations of the law in one or another country; rather, it will be equivalent humanitarian acts by two governments who want to initiate constructive engagement.
It is clear that the families of the Cuban Five as well as the family of Mr Gross want their respective loved ones to be freed. But neither family wishes to say anything that could affect their own relatives or the other side. Yet, both the people of the United States and Cuba would benefit.
I am also certain that if you were to announce the forthcoming Presidential pardon, Cuba will reciprocate. They have gone on record that they would do so. Then, other long-standing bilateral differences could be discussed, negotiated and hopefully resolved further in the future.
The time for better relations between both countries is now.
Thank you for your consideration. Best regards,
Nelson P Valdes
Emeritus Professor of Sociology
U.S. Blockade of Cuba Negatively Affects the Global Banking System
Havana, November 28 (RHC) – Noted Cuban-American attorney Jose Pertierra has gone on record with the observation that the banking system of the entire world is directly affected in a negative manner by the U.S. blockade of Cuba. The international expert was answering questions about the closing by the M and T Bank of the account of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington due to pressure from the U.S. Government. The Cuban Interests Section in Washington has been forced to suspend its consular services. The closing of the Cuban diplomatic bank account now joins the list of restrictive and hostile actions of the U.S. the international expert noted. A few months back the Italian bank Intesa San Paolo was fined three million dollars by the U.S. Government for conducting financial operations with Cuba. For conducting normal bank operations in which Cuba participated, London’s Lloyds Bank was fined 80 million dollars by Washington and this week Credit Suisse was fined 536 million dollars by the U.S. for crossing the line in the economic blockade against Cuba. It follows that having Cuba as a client is too risky for the world’s banks as a result of this illegal U.S. persecution Cuba. On the other hand, Pertierra said, the end of normal consular services by Cuban diplomatic offices in the United States poses a tragedy for Cuban families. Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straight are anxious for things to return to normal the noted lawyers added and, whereas in Miami and Washington, we thought that things had improved after President Obama authorized family reunions across the Florida Straits it is now evident that this is not the case.
Former U.S. Attorney General Urges Washington to Return the Guantanamo Naval Base to Cuba
Nov. 26 (RHC) – Former United States Attorney General, Ramsey Clark says his country should never have occupied Cuban territory and that it must immediately return the U.S. Naval Base it occupies in Guantanamo Bay, in eastern Cuba. In a presentation on Cuban television, Ramsey Clark said it is shameful and unacceptable that the United States tortures prisoners at its Guantanamo military installations, set up a century ago in occupied Cuban territory. Clark, who paid a private visit to Cuba, said that Washington is leaving a wide trail of attacks on several nations in the world, like Iraq and Libya, and threats to some others, such as Syria. The interventions of the United States in other countries are increasingly violent, and it appears that Washington has a great need to militarize the world. Ramsey Clark was one of the world personalities invited to attend the Ninth International Discussion for the Liberation of The Five and against terrorism, held in the eastern Cuban city of Holguin. At a ceremony during the meeting, Clark was decorated with the Order of Solidarity, by decision of the Council of State of the Republic of Cuba.
Guantanamo Must be Returned to Cuba
Nov. 20 (RHC) – Peace activists and world personalities gathered this week in the eastern Cuban city of Guantanamo, where the United States has illegally maintained a military base for more than a century now, to participate at the 3rd International Seminar for Peace and the closing of foreign military bases. Some of the personalities included the president of the World Peace Council, Maria Socorro Gomez; the president of the Cuban Movement for Peace and the Solidarity of the Peoples, Silvio Platero, and former US attorney General Ramsey Clark, who received, during the event,the Cuban Friendship Medal in recognition for his solidarity with the island. The Seminar, opened November 18th with a poster exhibition for peace and against war, by the Cuban Communicators Association, inspired in the statements and reflections of Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro on the current dangers threatening humanity. The establishment of foreign military bases in territories of other countries against their will, is a violation of national sovereignty and is part of imperialism’s economic and political strategy to promote and guarantee its interests. The military bases work as centers for fast deployment of forces, and training; they are also logistical facilities, observation points and espionage centers, and they cause irreparable ecological damage due to their use of non-conventional bacteriological, and even nuclear weapons, according to a statement by the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Fighters in Defense of Humanity. The Network of the historic antifascist movement of Europe, which was born in 2003 in one of the most dangerous moments of the warmongering escalation of the former George W. Bush administration said, “Defending peace is protecting life and the future of humankind”, Since those days, intellectuals, artists and social fighters have mobilized against the imperial destabilizing or interventionist attempts in different parts of the world, against the coups staged in Honduras and Paraguay, and the coup attempt in Ecuador, and in support of Palestine and Venezuela. During the final session of the forum in Guantanamo the president of the Cuban History Institute, Colonel Rene Gonzalez Barrios, launched his book “A USS Main stopped in Time,” which talks about the illegal US military base in that Cuban territory. Important enough was the tour by participants of the town of Caimanera, 21 kilometers South of the city, where the US base has been operating since 1903. They learned about what is everyday life like in that town, with little over 10 thousand inhabitants. The forum made it clear once again that military bases only constitute a flagrant violation of sovereignty, so in defense of peace it is a must to expose US military operations and intervention plans, which are camouflaged under euphemisms such as “the fight on terror” or the “fight on drugs,” or the so-called “peace keeping forces” or other terms being used by the United States to intervene in other countries. This is also the objective of the Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Fighters in defense of Humanity, which joined so many activists from around the world in Guantanamo to demand the closing of all foreign military bases and all infrastructure set up to launch intervention wars against other nations. For over 100 years now, the United States has illegally occupied the territory of Guantanamo against the will of the Cuban people, we are talking about a 117-square kilometer zone, which includes a concentration camp where detainees have been submitted to torture and violation of their basic human rights. Once again women and men of goodwill came together in Cuba to denounce the imperial disrespect for the rights of other nations and against its attempts to keep its world supremacy.
Cuba’s Election to the Human Rights Council, A Victory vs. Blockade
Havana, Nov 13 (Prensa Latina) – Cuba’s election for a new three-year period to the Human Rights Council (HRC) is considered a victory for the people of the island that have managed to withstand more than five decades of the U.S. blockade. Cuba’s ambassador to the human rights organizations based in Geneva, Anayansi Rodriguez, said this is a recognition for Cuba for its consistent position of rejecting double standards and manipulations in the issue of human rights. In statements to Granma newspaper, the diplomat criticized the Western powers’ efforts to turn the UN Human Rights Council into an inquiring tribunal against the South countries “which do not submit to their plans.” Cuba has promoted genuine international cooperation through dialogue and concrete execution with respective countries for economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights, she said. Havana has been promoting initiatives concerning the right to food, promotion of cultural rights, and respect for cultural diversity, Rodriguez emphasized. Also for a construction of an international, just, and equitable order, she added. Rodriguez said that HRC members “have the duty to have a consistent attitude in defense of people’s free self-determination, sovereignty, respect for diversity of political and democratic systems existing in the world.” Yesterday, the UN Human Rights Council elected Cuba and 13 other countries, including China and Russia, to begin functions in 2014.
November 5th for the Cuban 5 Retired Judge Claudia Morcom Sends a Message to Obama
Claudia Morcom has been actively engaged in civil rights and human rights work throughout her life, beginning with attending rallies for the Scottsboro frame-up victims in her childhood. She worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the National Lawyers Guild in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. Claudia Morcom was the first African American woman to work in an integrated law firm when she joined the firm of Goodman, Crockett, Eden, Robb, and Philo in the early 1960s. She was the Southern Regional Director of the National Lawyers Guild Committee for Legal Assistance from 1964-1965. In 1966, she became the Director of the Wayne County Neighborhood Legal Services Program for the indigent. She became a Wayne County Circuit Court Judge in 1983. She served as a delegate to the United Nations Council on Human Rights. Judge Claudia House Morcom worked to establish “gender and racial equality in all facets of society through her notable accomplishments in the field of law”. November 5, 2013 Dear President Obama, I am appealing to you as a colleague, a lawyer, a human rights activist and someone keenly conscious of the history of unjust imprisonment in our country. Specifically, I am writing this letter asking you to release the four remaining members of the so called “Cuban Five” whose only crime was to defend their country against unwarranted attacks. It is a simple act of justice that you can easily do. The prosecution and imprisonment of the Scottsboro brothers and the outcry to free them was one of the factors that shaped my determination to become a lawyer at a very young age. It was in an era when women, particularly Black women, were seldom if ever enrolled in law schools. As a young lawyer who organized legal defense for freedom riders in Mississippi, I saw first hand the ways in which hatred can taint our judicial system. In the years I served on the bench, I sought justice and heard all sides, especially in politically unpopular cases. Since my retirement from the bench I have continued to advocate for human rights in our country representing the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute and the International Association of Democratic Lawyers before the United Nations in Geneva and New York. Because of my long term involvement with the National Lawyers Guild I have had the opportunity to interact with lawyers, law professors and students from all over the world. The U.S. has always been looked up to as a proponent for equal justice under the law and there have been many occasions where we have allowed long standing racist and sexist injustices to denigrate our aspirations for equality. I have long been involved with the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Southern Poverty Law Center and many, many other organizations. It seems that the violation of human rights and justice unfortunately continues generation after generation. As a lawyer, senator, professor and community organizer, you too have seen all of the inequities in our systems, at state, local and national levels. You have a unique opportunity at this time to try to really demonstrate to young people of all races, ages and genders that the U.S. they have known in the past can’t continue to relegate so many as second class citizens. You have an opportunity to be an example and change the course of the future. One historic act that you can do to correct a massive injustice that is not only current but historic is to open a dialogue with Cuba without preconditions. Then as has been voted by the United Nations General Assembly for 22 consecutive years, end the embargo on Cuba. Not only for the legal justification, but for the humanitarian message it will send to the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean and justice loving people around the world. Critical to this historic rapprochement that only you can achieve is freeing the Cuban Five. Sincerely, Hon. Claudia House Morcom, retired REMEMBER ON TUESDAY NOVEMBER 5TH CONTACT PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND FOR THE FREEDOM OF THE CUBAN 5 DIFFERENT WAYS TO REACH THE WHITE HOUSE By phone: 202-456-1111 (If nobody answers the phone leave a message) If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111 By Fax: 202-456-2461 If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461 To send an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org To send a letter: President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC 20500 United States
Overwhelming Vote at U.N. General Assembly Rejects U.S. Blockade of Cuba
United Nations, October 29 (RHC) – For the 22nd consecutive annual vote, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly condemned Washington’s blockade of Cuba. The vote, held on Tuesday, saw only one country –- Israel — joining the United States in supporting the antiquated economic and trade blockade of the island. A record number of countries voted in favor of the Cuban resolution, rejecting Washington’s unilateral and extra-territorial blockade. A total of 188 member nations of the General Assembly called for an end to the U.S. measure. Three countries abstained from the vote: Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. Presenting the Cuban resolution before the UN General Assembly, just before the vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said that Washington blockade “is an uncivilized act that prevents the free circulation of persons, the free flow of information, the exchange of ideas and the development of cultural, sports and scientific relations.” The top Cuban diplomat went on to say that the U.S. policy against Cuba is suffering from an absolute international isolation and discredit and lacks every ethical or legal ground.”
Venezuelan Diplomat at the U.N. Blasts U.S. Blockade of Cuba
Havana, October 25 (RHC) – Washington’s upholding of its economic blockade of Cuba, amidst the overwhelming rejection by the international community, reveals the need to undertake reforms of the United Nations, said Venezuelan permanent representative Samuel Moncada at the UN.
In statements to Prensa Latina news agency, the diplomat recalled that Washington has turned a deaf ear to the world’s claim issued for 21 years in a row by the UN General Assembly, which will vote again on Otober 29 on the Cuban resolution demanding the lifting of the over-50-year US siege. The assembly is the meeting of all sovereign nations of the world, an entity with no precedents in history in terms of representation, so the act of disregarding its decisions reveals the urgency for changes, said the Venezuelan diplomat. Samuel Moncada denounced the U.S. blockade of Cuba by describing it as illegal and inhumane and a deeply immoral action. He said that legislation such as the 1996 US Helms Burton are immoral because they violate the sovereignty of all nations by punishing those who, from third countries do business with Cuba
Latin American Parliamentarians Condemn U.S. Blockade of Cuba
Havana, October 17 (RHC) – The Twelfth General Assembly of the Confederation of Parliamentarians of the Americas passed a resolution in Brasilia condemning the over-50-year U.S. blockade of Cuba. During the debates, dozens of parliamentarians raised their voices to condemn the negative impact by the criminal U.S. siege on the health of the people of Cuba. Speakers recalled that the application of the blockade conspires against the right of the people of Cuba to a healthy life, just as proclaimed by the Pan American and World Health Organizations. According to PL news agency, a resolution issued by the parliamentarians notes that Cuba is prevented from access to modern medical equipment, as well as drugs and lab items if they are produced by U.S. owned or controlled corporations. The Conference held in Rio de Janeiro also proclaimed the rights of the peoples of the American continent to safe water and condemned the traffic of weapons, responsible for thousands of unnecessary deaths in the hemisphere. The meeting confirmed Cuba as chair of the Health and Social Protection Comission and as Vice President of the Confederation of Parliamentarians of the Americas for the Caribbean region.
The Blockade is the greatest violation of human rights of an entire people
• Economic losses through April 2013 amount to $1.16 trillion, considering the depreciation of this currency in relation to the gold standard
Sergio Alejandro Gómez (Granma International)
The U.S. blockade of Cuba, which has continued for more than 50 years, constitutes “the greatest violation of the human rights of an entire people,” and has caused economic losses in excess of one trillion dollars, stated Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno.
Moreno officially presented the document “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States of America, to be submitted to the UN General Assembly on October 29, which contains a summary of the principal damages inflicted by this policy on the country’s society and economy.
The document was presented at Havana’s William Soler Pediatric Cardiology Center, an institution affected by limitations in terms of acquiring medicaments, reagents, spare parts for diagnostic equipment, among other implements needed to save the lives of thousands of children.
In addition to the public health sector, the Deputy Foreign Minister mentioned concrete examples of how the blockade is affecting university education, sports and foreign trade.
In spite of the fact that President Barack Obama promised a new beginning in relations with Cuba, five years later the blockade remains intact and has been intensified in some areas, such as in the financial sphere, Moreno noted.
Between January 2009 and September 9, 2013, U.S. authorities have obliged 30 U.S. and foreign entities to pay more than $2.446 billion for trading with Cuba and other sanctioned countries.
The Cuban minister emphasized the massive international opposition to this U.S. genocidal policy, which was directly rejected by 47 countries during the high-level segment of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly.
On October 29, solid support is expected from the overwhelming majority of states represented in this forum, as has been the case for the past 20 years. Last year, 188 countries voted in favor of an end to this policy against the Cuban people.
The Cuban People Demand Justice
Luis Posada Carriles is one of the terrorists protected by Washington, a criminal who holds, with full impunity, a large file for acts of violence against the Cuban people; however, Mr. Posada Carriles lives peacefully in the United States and continues to enjoy the support of the reactionary press of Miami.
Nothing disturbs the sleep of the man who was for more than 25 years an agent of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, and mastermind of the bombing of a Cuban airliner on October 6th, 1976, killing all 73 people on board.
Thirty-seven years have passed since that horrific crime that caused the death of all Cuba’s junior fencing team and 11 young Guyanese students traveling to Havana to study medicine.
Posada Carriles, who along with his accomplice Orlando Bosh, managed to escape from a prison in Venezuela, has never been tried for his countless list of crimes against the Cuban people, which includes a series of hotel bombings in Havana in 1997.
The United States has always tried to hide its close ties to such a terrorist. Let’s not forget that Posada Carriles is closely linked to the Bush family, primarily George Bush, Sr, who was CIA director and president of that nation.
Then under President Bush Jr., who said he was carrying out a war against terrorism, held the judicial farce to process Carriles for lying to immigration officials about his illegal entry into the U.S. in 2005.
The judicial show and his release was an insult to the Cuban people that still cry out for justice for the victims of the crime in Barbados, a fact for which Venezuela has requested the extradition of Posada Carriles, a request which has not been answered by Washington.
But it is also an insult to the people of the United States, and an emphatic denial to the alleged war on terrorism declared by the White House. 37 years since the crime of Barbados, Posada Carriles continues enjoying a safe haven in the U.S. city of Miami, where the trial took place against five Cubans detained in 1998 for trying to prevent these criminal actions, and four of them continue today in unjust imprisonment in U.S. jails, the country of wars and massive human rights violations in the world.
Reverend Jesse Jackson Calls for Actions Against the U.S. Blockade of Cuba
During a religious ceremony at the Havana-based Ebenezer Baptist Church, Reverend Jackson said that the blockade affects the life of the Cuban people and hinders relations between the two nations. The US Reverend said that the Church must fight against the blockade, PL news agency reported on Sunday. The sanctions posed by Washington against Cuba affect the use of the Internet on the island, telephone calls and transportation, among other consequences for the Cuban and the US people, he said. During the religious ceremony, organized by the Cuban Council of Churches, participants recalled previous visits by the outstanding civil rights activist to Cuba in 1984 and 1988. Reverend Jackson recalled his meetings with Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro. Meanwhile, Cuban Reverend Raul Suarez, director of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Center, stressed the contribution by Jackson to relations between the US and the Cuban people. He said that the US activist has favored a new stage for relations between the churches and the state, which he described as a “blessing for our country, our people and the Cuban Revolution.”
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
U.S. Attorney Arthur Heitzer Asks Obama to “make things right” and Free the Cuban 5
Attorney Arthur Heitzer has practiced civil rights and employment law in Milwaukee, WI since 1975, where he has repeatedly been named among the “Best Lawyers,” as well as having been listed in Who’s Who in American Law and among Super Lawyers. He is an honors graduate of both the University of Wisconsin Law School and of Marquette University, where he was elected president of the student body and helped lead a movement against institutional racism which resulted in creation of the Educational Opportunity Program in 1968, a national model for recruiting and retaining students of color. He has held leadership roles in the Wisconsin Bar Association and the National Lawyers Guild, where he chairs its Cuba Subcommittee. He has been to Cuba numerous times, as part of sister church and sister city delegations, as well as professional research projects. September 5, 2013 Dear President Obama: I am a Midwesterner, born and bred. Like most of the people around me, I believe in hard work and fair play. That’s why, since my first visit to Cuba right before starting law school at the University of Wisconsin in 1972, I’ve been troubled by the contrast between people of Cuba who universally seem to love and show generosity to visitors from the U.S., and our government’s policies designed since 1962 to impose “hunger and hardship” on the Cuban people. This letter is about the Cuban Five, asking you to act promptly to free them; still incarcerated are Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando González, plus René González was recently freed after serving over 13 years in prison. As a lawyer in Wisconsin, I had the opportunity visit and get to know personally one of the Five, Fernando Gonzalez, when he was held at the Oxford Federal Correctional Institution a bit north of Madison, WI. I cannot imagine a more temperate, reasoned and educated individual, and I joked that if he ever got out, he could be the Cuban ambassador to the U.S. Let me first explain a bit about his role, which I think exemplifies what the case of the Cuban Five is all about. Then I’ll show evidence that even U.S. authorities have treated them as being political prisoners. I. Fernando was only in the U.S. a short time before being arrested with the rest of the Cuban Five. They were all working for Cuba, to try to prevent further acts of terrorism and mass murder. Fernando in particular was attempting to monitor Orlando Bosch, who not only advocated murder of civilians for political purposes, but Bosch acted as well, most notoriously in engineering the bombing of a Cubana civilian airliner in October 1976, killing all 73 on board, including a victorious team of young fencers and medical students coming from South America. Joe D. Whitley Acting Associate Attorney General, and later the first General Counsel to the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, wrote in 1989 that “For 30 years Bosch has been resolute and unwavering in his advocacy of terrorist violence… His actions have been those of a terrorist, unfettered by laws or human decency, threatening and inflicting violence without regard to the identity of his victims.” But despite that and his illegal entry, Bosch was allowed to remain in the U.S., and without prosecution or confinement until he died in Miami in 2011. His partner in engineering the 1976 Cubana bombing, Luis Posada Carriles, still lives unfettered in Miami, where they have both been publicly honored, and your administration has failed to either try Posada for terrorism or honor an extradition request for him to face trial in Venezuela. On August 16, 2006, while Fernando and the rest of the Five were finishing their eighth year in jail, Bosch continued to publicly justify this bombing, in an interview in Barcelona’s LaVanguardia newspaper, where he also declared that “a bomb is a proof of rebelliousness, a proof of bravery.” Contrast that with your own remarks on April 16, 2013, after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, that “Anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, that is an act of terrorism.” But that was Boston. Cuba claims to have lost over 3,000 of it people due to terrorism, much of it CIA inspired. The Cuban Five were sent to Miami, which the FBI had labeled as the “terrorist capital of the U.S.,” to try to prevent further deaths and mayhem. To do this dangerous undercover work, most of the Five adopted aliases, and used false identification to match. Fernando’s alias is listed as the lead defendant in the court papers and on the appeals. Although when the U.S. media mentions this case at all, it often refers to the Five as “convicted spies,” that is not true. Their trial of over six months did not include any claims or evidence of any classified U.S. information, so none of them were ever charged with actual espionage, and only three of them were charged with “conspiracy”– supposedly, planning to do something which the evidence showed they did not actually do. For that, the judge initially gave them life sentences. The Five all acted as agents of Cuba, and like the U.S. contractor Alan Gross now held in Cuba on a 15 years sentence, none of them registered with their host government to report their undercover work. On September 12, 2013, the four who remain in jail will begin their 16th year of imprisonment. II. You have gone to Miami and publicly called for “justice for Cuba’s political prisoners…” But the imprisonment of the Cuban 5 in the U.S. was clearly a political act as well. Here are a few examples of decisions in their case which were clearly “political”: 1. The decision to arrest them in violent, pre-dawn raids on September 12, 1998, while still allowing the career terrorists whom they were monitoring to live and operate freely in the U.S. 2. The decision to charge and later try them on grounds that for nationals of other countries, such as Russia, would lead to sending them home; and the extraordinary decision by Janet Reno to add a “conspiracy to commit murder” charge against Gerardo Hernandez, prior to her return to Florida and her run for Governor. 3. The decision to force their trial to take place in Miami, rather than let it be moved even to another county in Florida. The Miami jurors in the trial expressed strong feelings against the Cuban government these defendants all admittedly worked for; and the U.S. Justice Department in another case noted that a fair trial with less direct Cuban government involvement could not be held in Miami because of such sentiments. 4. The decisions to hold each of the Five in solitary confinement/special isolation for 17 months, to seek and obtain maximum sentences unheard of in a case where no U.S. interests or secrets were compromised, as well as to consistently deny two of their wives and children visas to visit them. These have been criticized by Amnesty International, and by the relevant body of the United Nations. The trial and confinement of the Cuban Five is the only U.S. domestic criminal proceeding to be found unjust by both these bodies. 5. Although the Cuban Five have been held in separate U.S. prisons and their conduct in prison has been exemplary, every one of them was simultaneously put and held in “the hole” around the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003; they were eventually returned to their respective prison populations after a public campaign on their behalf. No justification for these simultaneous actions has ever been provided to my knowledge. 6. Despite a unanimous three-judge panel decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2005 that the Cuban Five’s conviction was the result of a “perfect storm” of hatred towards the Cuban revolution combined with intimidation, violence and threats in Miami, and prosecutorial misconduct, the Bush administration refused to accept a new trial outside of Miami, and instead pursued an unusual review by all members of that circuit, which then set aside the unanimous appellate opinion. That original court decision footnoted some of the extensive history of “exile” violence that the Five were attempting to deter. 7. The subsequent revelation that the U.S. government had paid the reporters for the Miami media who contributed to the prejudice against these Cuban agents and defendants, was a fact unknown to the defense or the judge at the time. The editor of one the influential Miami dailies that was implicated, El Nuevo Herald, then explained that serious compromise of journalistic ethics was not significant, because it was one of the paper’s founding principles to oppose the Cuban government. Finally, and getting back to my Midwestern roots, the political nature of their imprisonment was also demonstrated by the authorities’ reaction in Oxford, WI when information about Fernando and the Cuban 5 started reaching the public. Each summer more than 10,000 Wisconsin progressives gathered just 20 miles away, in Baraboo, WI at “Fighting Bob” Fest, named after the famous “Fighting Bob” Lafollette; and for several years we worked to educate them about this case. By September 2007, hundreds of people came up to sign our petitions, under a banner with picture of Fernando and the caption “What Do You Know About Wisconsin’s Most Famous Political Prisoner?” We had a prison visit scheduled and confirmed by prison authorities to meet with Fernando that next week, but within 3 days of that gathering a prison representative called and said the visit was cancelled for no reason that could be disclosed, but it would be rescheduled. In fact, Fernando was being shipped away to Terre Haute, IND, where the case of the Five was not nearly so well known. I asked Sen. Russ Feingold to inquire as to the reason for the transfer, and was advised that the warden requested it based on alleged security concerns – even though there had never been the slightest infraction asserted against Fernando. When our government authorities act in fear of the public becoming educated, something’s not right. So fair play is all we ask. The continued incarceration of any of the Five is not fair. When the people in the Heartland hear about this case, they agree. But it is both your job and your power to make things right, sooner rather than later. Sincerely, Arthur Heitzer, Attorney at Law Milwaukee, WI Chair, National Lawyers Guild Cuba Subcommittee
U.S. Historian Jane Franklin Asks Obama to Free the Five
Historian Jane Franklin has written two books about Cuba: “Cuban Foreign Relations 1959-1982″ (Center for Cuban Studies, New York, 1984) and “Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History” (Ocean Press, Melbourne, Australia, second edition 1997). She is co-author of “Vietnam and America: A Documented History” (Grove Press: New York, 1985, enlarged edition 1995). Her chronology of the history of Panama is in “The U.S. Invasion of Panama” (South End Press: Boston, 1991). She has published numerous articles, poems and film reviews and has lectured extensively about Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. She is a frequent speaker and radio commentator about U.S.-Cuba relations. Some of her work can be accessed at http://www.janefranklin.info August 5, 2013 President Barack Obama 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20500 USA Dear President Obama, You were born in 1961 so you were not old enough to experience in person the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and the Anti-War Movement, all flowing together in a beautiful wave of change. You were only six years old (coming up on seven) when came the shocks of the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy, changing the politics of a crucial presidential election that had held the possibility of real change. If you had been a decade older, I think you, as an African-American, might now be in a position to better understand the Cuban Revolution and why its destruction has been a persistent goal of U.S. foreign policy ever since 1959 when Cuban revolutionaries won their battle for independence and sovereignty. The State of Siege began under President Eisenhower with the trade embargo explicitly designed to starve the Cuban people into submission and has continued to this day. When invasion failed to overthrow the Cuban Government in 1961, the year of your birth, the CIA and the FBI trained thousands of Cuban operatives for the covert war against Cuba — more armed attacks including the buildup to a planned second invasion timed for October 1962 (Operation Mongoose), infiltration, propaganda, arson, and murders. A network of terrorists continues to thrive in Florida and New Jersey. I wonder if you know much about Operation Mongoose. It led directly to the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was pregnant with my third child when that happened, and you cannot imagine how it felt to be a mother of two young daughters and an unborn son when the whole world was threatened with annihilation. My five-year-old woke me up one morning to ask, “Mommy, is the world going to end?” You can read all about that invasion plan in my book, Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History, in case you need a reminder. In order to combat the terrorism, Cuba has spent precious resources on developing an amazingly effective State Security Department and assigning agents like the Cuban Five to investigate terrorist groups. But Cuban intelligence agents were not able to stop terrorists from blowing up a Cubana passenger plane in 1976, the first time in the Western Hemisphere that a passenger plane was used as a terrorist weapon. That didn’t happen again until 9/11. Both the CIA and the FBI knew at that time that Luis Posada and the late Orlando Bosch masterminded the bombing. Yet I’m sure you must be aware that Bosch walked free in Miami until his death and of course you know that Posada continues to live as a hero in Miami despite Venezuela’s request for his extradition for trial on 73 murder charges after killing 73 people aboard that plane. As Venezuelan President Maduro has recently pointed out, it’s hypocritical to demand that nobody give asylum to Edward Snowden while at the same time refusing to respond to Venezuela’s request for extradition of Luis Posada. Just two months before the arrests of the Cuban Five in 1998, Posada told New York Times reporters that “the CIA taught us everything – everything….They taught us explosives, how to kill, bomb, trained us in acts of sabotage.” He prided himself on his long years of support from the CIA, the FBI, and the Cuban American National Foundation. He bragged about masterminding the bombing campaign that struck Havana hotels and restaurants in 1997 and 1998, killing one Italian businessman and injuring other people. Cuba charged that those responsible for the Havana bombings were based in the United States. The U.S. State Department responded that it would investigate if Cuba would provide “substantive information” to support its contention. That was in September 1997. Nine months later, in June 1998, Cuba gave the FBI reams of “substantive information” gathered by Cuban agents. Then in July, a month later, came those confessions of Posada himself on the front pages of The New York Times for two days! Yet nevertheless, with all that information and the confessions in hand, instead of investigating the terrorists, as the State Department had said it would, the FBI arrested the investigators. Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero, and René González were put in solitary confinement for 17 months even before trial. Thus began the long story of their unjust trial and incarceration. You hold in your hands the power to release them to Cuba as lawmakers from around the world have urged you to do. Think of the carnage if all the Cuban agents had been imprisoned by the U.S. Justice Department. For example, in the year 2000, even as the Cuban Five were going to trial, Cuban intelligence agents foiled a major assassination plot in Panama where Posada and his co-assassins planned to use plastique to blow up the auditorium in which President Castro was to speak. Those Cuban agents not only saved the life of Fidel Castro but saved from danger about 2,000 people who filled the auditorium to hear him speak. Cuban agents have even saved the life of a U.S. president. In 1984 Cuba informed U.S. United Nations Mission Security Chief Robert Muller that an extreme right-wing group was planning to assassinate President Ronald Reagan during a planned trip to North Carolina. The FBI consequently arrested several people and Robert Muller thanked the Cuban official who had given him information that included the names of the would-be assassins; the date, time and hour of their plan; the location of their weapons; etc. The Cuban Five are counterterrorists whose investigations were to expose terrorist plots against Cuba and perhaps even against the United States. Please use your power to release the Cuban Five. Sincerely, Jane Franklin Born and raised in North Carolina and now a resident of New Jersey REMEMBER ON THE 5TH DAY OF EACH MONTH TO CONTACT PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA TO JOIN THE WORLDWIDE DEMAND FOR THE FREEDOM OF HE CUBAN 5 DIFFERENT WAYS TO REACH THE WHITE HOUSE By phone: 202-456-1111 (If nobody answers the phone leave a message) If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111 By Fax: 202-456-2461 If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461 To send an e-mail: email@example.com To send a letter: President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW Washington, DC 20500 United States
The Roots of the US Espionage
By Urbino Amaya (Radio Rebelde) - Long before the former contractors of the National Security Agency, Edward Snowden could announce the links between the US intelligence services and the main enterprises operating on internet, the espionage was already a systematic practice, even before the Cold War times when the agents of the Federal Investigation Department filled through monitoring services and surveillance methods thousand of people who were then branded as communists. It was perhaps due to the force of the habit that the US espionage became practically a dark tradition. It was during the Second World War when Allen Dulles, who was the then future director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), gained category as an international spy from his Swiss enclave. It was his prestige in that sense which he used once that conflict had finished by organizing plots, coups and invasions in order to favor the transnational enterprises and against the third-world nations. The recent revelations about the US global espionage mechanism, its methods were analyzed on Tuesday on the local Mesa Redonda program with the participation of the journalist, Reynaldo Taladrid and some specialists from the Cuban Ministry of Informatics and Communications, Mr. Carlos del Porto. Long before the expansion of the internet worldwide, Washington destroyed the most distinguished diplomatic protocols by having even planted cameras and microphones at the embassies of its allies and enemies which are located in the US soil, so it is an antecedent about a reiterated and demonstrated true in relation to the actions carried out by its doers: The United States does not have friends, it has only partners. The appearance of internet came practically at the shadow of the US intelligence services. Its strategic origin is part of the corporation’s commercial environment and the powerful servers which are installed and even under strict surveillance by the US enterprises which carried out a type of symbiosis with the main US security agencies. The Microsoft enterprise, which is the big enterprise created by the multimillionaire Bill Gates was the first in joining the net of espionage which is a service paid to control pf the flow of information that it is a clear contravention of the first Emend of the US Constitution. The complicity in respect of the violation of the law is reiterated in the granting of key posts in the computer services: the current chief of the Facebook social network is a former official of the National Security Agencies. The great connection of wires in the US territory offers to the departments of espionage services an easy access. The section, for instance, that is located in the city of Miami controls the majority of the communications in Latin America; therefore, the emails, phone calls or any delivery system remains under the control of the US agencies. David Brooks, who is a correspondent in Washington of the La Jornada daily from Mexico, reveled that the revelations brought into light by Snowden or the delivery of classified information by the soldier Bradley Manning to the Wikileaks network reinforced the images about Washington as a world gendarme of which is violations of its own laws affect the entire planet. Nevertheless, the contributions made by the panelists from the local Mesa Redonda Program went even further when it was proven that the US espionage is not a chance or isolated action; on the contrary, it is an US governmental habit deeply rooted with which it is necessary to coexist with the responsibility to protect the business and defensive secrets of a nation before that reality that seems to have appeared from the incredible Orwell world.