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



 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
David Yearsley
A Rising Star Over a Dark Forest
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman