FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US is Violating the Rights of the Cuban Five

by SUSAN LEE

Kevin Whitaker
Office of Cuban Affairs
United States Department of State
Washington, DC 20520
USA
11 January 2006

Dear Mr Whitaker,

Amnesty International has written to the US government previously regarding Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzáles and René Gonzáles (commonly known as the “Miami Five”) who were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in the USA after being convicted of conspiracy to act as agents of the Cuban government and related charges. One of the issues on which we have raised concern is the US government’s decision to deny René Gonzáles and Gerardo Hernández visits with their wives. Olga Salanueva, wife of René Gonzáles (sentenced to 15 years, imprisonment), has been refused entry to the USA since 2002 and René Gonzáles has consequently not seen his young daughter since she was four months, old. Adriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo Hernández (sentenced to life imprisonment), has not been permitted to visit her husband since his arrest in 1998. International standards emphasize the importance of prisoners maintaining regular contact with their families, including through visits. We are concerned that the long-term, permanent denial of visits from their immediate families has caused substantial hardship to René Gonzáles and Gerardo Hernández beyond the penalties imposed. The denial of visits has also reportedly had a detrimental impact on family members, including René Gonzáles, young child who is unable to travel without her mother. We believe that, in the absence of a clear and immediate threat posed by such visits, this measure is unnecessarily punitive and contrary both to standards for the humane treatment of prisoners and to states, obligation to protect family life.

Amnesty International is aware that visas have been denied in these cases on national security grounds, including the fact that Olga Salanueva was deported from the USA in 2000 after being accused by the US government of being an agent for Cuban intelligence. No evidence was provided on which she could respond to this claim. Amnesty International understands that Olga Salanueva continued to live legally in the USA for two and a half years during the trial proceedings against her husband and was deported only after her husband refused to enter a plea arrangement in return for her being allowed to remain in the United States. Since then, both she and Adriana Pérez have been denied visas under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act relating variously to terrorism, espionage or national security, again without detailed reasons being given. In December 2003 Amnesty International wrote to the US Justice Department urging the government to ensure that the visitor visa applications in these cases be considered with the utmost fairness and that the applicants be afforded an opportunity to make full representations. Yet two years later, no such measures appear to have been taken. Furthermore, the reasons given for denying visas to allow them to visit their husbands have reportedly changed at various points, making it more difficult for the applicants to make their case and raising questions about the good faith of the authorities in this matter. We understand that Adriana Pérez, for example, was denied a visa last September on the unsupported ground that she may seek to remain in the USA.

Such denial of family visits for convicted prisoners would represent a substantial hardship in any case. This is of even more urgent concern in the present cases given the serious questions which have been raised about the fairness of the convictions. As you will be aware, in August 2005 a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of appeals overturned the convictions of all of the above prisoners and ordered a retrial. This was based on a finding that the pervasive community prejudice against the Cuban government and its agents in the trial venue and the publicity and events surrounding the trial combined to create a situation where they were unable to obtain a fair and impartial trial. The defendants raised numerous other issues challenging the fairness of the trial which have not yet been addressed by the appeal courts. Meanwhile, in May 2005, the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion that the five had been arbitrarily deprived of liberty based on failure to guarantee the right to a fair trial in a number of key areas. The five remain in prison pending a government appeal against the Fourth Circuit’s decision, proceedings which Amnesty International shall follow closely. We urge the US government in the meantime to take every step to ensure that the five are treated fairly and are not subjected to any undue deprivations while they continue to be incarcerated, including denial of family visits.

We understand that the decision on issuing visitors, visas in the cases of Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez is now a matter for the State Department. We urge you to review this matter with a view to facilitating visits with their husbands in prison as soon as possible, with due regard to any conditions that may be required. We attach copies of some of our previous correspondence with the Justice Department on this issue.

I look forward to receiving your response.

Yours sincerely,

SUSAN LEE
Program Director
Americas Regional Program
Amnesty International

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Julian Vigo
The Government and Your i-Phone: the Latest Threat to Privacy
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Rev. William Alberts
The United Methodist Church Up to Its Old Trick: Kicking the Can of Real Inclusion Down the Road
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Lorenzo Raymond
Why Nonviolent Civil Resistance Doesn’t Work (Unless You Have Lots of Bombs)
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Ed Meek
The Republic of Fear
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
David Yearsley
Elgar’s Hegemony: the Pomp of Empire
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail