The Cuban Five — 2013 Summary

The return to Cuba of Rene Gonzalez, and the addition of more personalities to the demand for the immediate release of the four anti-terrorists who are still in US prisons, stand out in this past year’s struggle for the release of the Cuban Five.

U.S. judge Joan Lenard, from Florida, accepted last May 3rd  the application presented by Rene Gonzalez, asking for a modification of his supervised freedom conditions, in order to remain in Cuba in exchange of renouncing his US citizenship.

During a press conference held in Havana, Rene commented: “Although I’m in Cuba, I do not consider myself free because my brothers are still imprisoned. I hope all people of goodwill throughout the world know about the case, to find out about the injustice that has been committed against us. I want them to know that we were put on trial because someone decided that to protect their terrorists, we should be put in jail.”

Rene González was released in October 2011 after completely fulfilling his 13 year sentence. He was deprived from his wife’s visits during all that time. After that, he was punished with three more years under parole in the United States.

Due to the death of his father Candido, he was authorized to travel to Cuba to attend the funeral.

From the legal point of view, the year wraps up while we still wait for  judge Lenard’s pronouncement, stating whether she accepts or not the Habeas Corpus resource that was presented in June, 2010.
This collateral appeal with new proof that Washington was paying Miami journalists, has a complementary motion which proves how, protected by the the principle of public debate, the government handed out manipulated and distorted information to journalists, which never reached the hands of the defendants, nor their lawyers.

Recently Ramsey Clark, former US Attorney General, reiterated that the task of raising the charges against the Five belongs to the district attorney’s office, in a communication headed by judge Lenard; which should lead to the immediate release of the four Cubans who are still in prison.

Statements like this one also appeared in important documents. Amnesty International also came out against the lack of impartiality in the case of these men; due to which the U.N. Arbitrary Detentions Group also recognized the absence of guarantees for the defendants.

Over these 15 years, Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo has remained in high security prisons, under an especially severe regime, and he has been forbidden to receive the visit of his wife, Adriana Perez.

At the end of November, Gerardo was taken to lock down condition in Victorville prison, in California, where he is serving an arbitrary sentence of two life imprisonments. Gerardo was punished once again for an indiscipline committed in another penitentiary, where a prisoner died.

Even though Gerardo had nothing to do with this, he was confined to his cell, without the right to take a bath, to go to the mess hall to eat and to communicate with his family.

Also this year we found out that Ramon Labañino’s health has been affecting him. His daughter Laurita was the one that made it public: “My father has lots of problems with his knees and he immediately needs surgery; but in the condition he is in, he cannot have the operation”.

Antonio Guerrero continues writing his letters, poems and painting in Marianna prison, in Florida. In 2013, another of his books was published: Enigmas y otras conversaciones; a work born from friendship and solidarity that has been shared over the distance with personalities and friends.

Fernando Gonzalez, in the Penitentiary Center of Terrehaute, Indiana is on a countdown to end his sentence next February.  For that reason, he chose not to continue with his habeas corpus appeal, aimed at not delaying his freedom.

Last September 12, the 15th year of the Cuban anti- terrorists detention was held, and after a call made by Rene to hang yellow ribbons, the country turned into a giant sunflower that demanded the freedom of the Five in a solidarity campaign where the people were the protagonists.

The campaign had its repercussion in the five continents and more people have joined this struggle.

Alicia Jrapko, coordinator of the International Committee to Free the Five, commented about the second solidarity campaign that was held in Washington DC, which was an absolute success. Among the achievements of this campaign Jrapko cited the fact that they reached the offices of 43 lawmakers.

On the other hand, we have to say that the solidarity movement also suffered the lost of many friends.  Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and South African leader Nelson Mandela both passed away. Here in our radio station we lost our colleague, journalist Bernie Dwyer, author of many documentaries and a tireless fighter in the struggle to free the Five. Writer and screenwriter Saul Landau, the author of the testimony “Will the real terrorist please stand up?”, also died.

In Ecuador, the most representative solidarity actions carried out by the new generation were seen during the 18th World Festival of the Youth and Students, where representatives from the whole world gave their support for the freedom of the four Cubans incarcerated in the US.

In December, Cuba reiterated the willingness to establish a dialogue with the US government, to find a solution for the Allan Gross case, on a reciprocal basis, which would embrace Cuba’s humanitarian concerns related to the case of the four Cubans who still remain in US prisons.

Gross is serving a 15 year sentence in Cuba for violating Cuban laws, when he implemented a program sponsored by Washington, that was aimed at destabilizing Cuba’s constitutional order. It is not the same, but the Five do not deserve to spend one more day in prison. Barack Obama, the US President, has the chance and the power to sign for the immediate release of our brothers.

During the meetings held to condemn the 15 years of unjust imprisonment, the solidarity movement agreed to meet with Pope Francis, in Rome, to intercede in the case of the Five and go directly to the U.S. president.

We want this Christmas and New Year Eve to be the last ones that these four men spend away from their families and their homeland.

2014 will see the arrival of another hero, Fernando Gonzalez Llort, who ends his sentence at the end of February and will join the struggle for the return of his other three brothers.

15 years of injustice are enough.