FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Holiday Visit to Gerardo’s Hell

2:30 PM, departure time the most excruciating part of visiting Gerardo Hernandez. A prison guard announced: “Visiting hours are over.” Gerardo lined up against the wall with the other inmates. We stood with wives, children and mothers. Finally, the electronically controlled, heavy metal door opened. Gerardo held up a triumphant fist. We did the same. He stayed in Hell (13 years now). We left.

We drove from the Victorville Penitentiary to the Ontario California airport, discussing the absurdity of five Cubans (one on precarious parole) who helped the United States fight terrorism but remain locked in federal penitentiaries while Luis Posada Carriles who orchestrated the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger plane (73 died) dines in Miami’s finest restaurants? In between visits to his proctologist Posada and fellow geezers continue plotting anti-Cuba violence.

Miami Federal Court judges will decide on Gerardo’s appeal, which presents new facts and evidence: Gerardo’s trial lawyer now admits he inadequately represented him; new documents show payment by the US government to Miami-based “journalists” who offered negative stories about the accused Cubans, thus tainting the trial atmosphere. Finally, the US government has still refused to deliver its “secret” map showing the exact point where on February 24, 1996 Cuban MIGs shot down two Brothers to the Rescue airplanes. The Cubans claim the incidents occurred over Cuban airspace, i.e.; no crime took place. Washington insisted the planes got hit in international air space, but the NSA said they could not release their crucial diagram: “national security.” Gerardo played no part in the drama — no matter where the shoot down occurred.

We agreed US Cuba policy bordered on the absurd. For example, the State Department placed Cuba on its terrorist list although the US has made Cuba a victim of terrorist attacks; Cuba has not reciprocated. But Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee argued: “the United States should not negotiate with a state sponsor of terrorism.”

This related to her objection to any US humanitarian approach to get Alan Gross released. Convicted in Cuba for activities related to a USAID regime change policy, Gross must either serve his fifteen year sentence or wait until the US military “liberates” the island. She called on people to assassinate Fidel Castro (see Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP).

This rhetoric hardly serves Gross’ interests. Thanks to Ileana he might stay in prison until age 75. He misses his family, as do the Cubans in US prisons.  Like Alan, they also have close relatives with serious illnesses. When my mother died in 2009 “I wasn’t in Cuba to bury her.”

Gerardo told us he and Adriana, now 42 want children. So does another member of the five, Fernando Gonzalez and his wife. The US denies visas to their wives. Time is running out. Gerardo’s face showed a flash of anguish.

The Five’s cause gets little publicity. Not so the case of Alan Gross, an American contractor sentenced to 15 years in Cuba for activities designed to undermine Cuba’s government. The Gross and Cuban Five cases, however, are different. Gerardo received two consecutive life sentences plus fifteen years for conspiring to commit espionage and aiding and abetting murder –supposedly providing information to Cuban authorities, which was public, on the February 24, 1996 fatal flights of the Brothers to the Rescue. Since the trial took place in Miami, the prosecution didn’t need to provide evidence for either charge. Imagine five Jews on trial in Berlin in 1938!

Gross, perhaps misunderstood the nature of his mission, to teach clandestinely dissidents to operate closed satellite networks to help overthrow the Cuban government. The Five came to Florida to stop terrorism, not destabilize the US government,” said Gerardo.True, Gerardo explained, Gross and the Cubans are prisoners and want to go home. But, he said, “the media reports regularly on the Jewish-American imprisoned in Havana for allegedly trying to help the Jewish community obtain internet technology. Cuban Jewish leaders deny Gross came to help them. Synagogues in Cuba had access to the Internet well before Gross’ visit,” he clarifed.

 

Nor, Gerardo smiled did “we [the Cuban Five] enter the US with tourists visas as Gross did.” In his visits to Cuba, “Gross never told his Cuban contacts he worked on a government contract. US policy says it wants regime change. Imagine Cuba sending in agents to overthrow capitalism and install a socialist government. Wow! Free health care for all — just because all human beings deserve it.”

 

Gerardo sympathized with Gross health problems. Alan gets special medical attention and doesn’t cohabit with convicted criminals. The Cuban 5 often did not receive needed medical attention in US prisons. Cuba has allowed Judy Gross to visit her husband.

 

Recently, groups of Jews picketed the Cuban Interest Section in Washington. Their signs “Cuban Gross Injustice” don’t indicate recognition of the Cuban Five. They, like the US government, demand that Cuba free Gross. They don’t demand reciprocity from Obama: free the Cubans who have already served 13 years.

 

Obama could make a humanitarian gesture to free the Cuban Five. Cuba has already “conveyed to the U.S. government its willingness to find a humanitarian solution to the Gross case on reciprocal basis.” (Cuban government press release December 2011)

 

The US media ignores the statements of 10 Nobel Prize winners, Amnesty International and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions. All agree. The Cuban Five did not get a fair trial and merit a pardon or a new trial– not in Miami.

 

Obama knows how to get Alan Gross home. After all, Israel swapped 1000 Palestinian prisoners for one captured Israeli.

Danny Glover is an activist and actor.

Saul Landau is an Institute for Policy Studies fellow. His WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP (with Danny Glover) is on dvd (cinemalibrestore.com. COUNTERPUNCH published his BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD 

 

 

March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?
Kenn Orphan
Grieving in the Anthropocene
Jeffrey Kaye
On the Death of Guantanamo Detainee 10028
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
In Salinas, Puerto Rico, Vulnerable Americans Are Still Trapped in the Ruins Left by Hurricane Maria
Ben Debney
Christchurch, the White Victim Complex and Savage Capitalism
Eric Draitser
Did Dallas Police and Local Media Collude to Cover Up Terrorist Threats against Journalist Barrett Brown?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Straighten Up and Fly Right
Jack Rasmus
Trump’s $34 Trillion Deficit and Debt Bomb
David Rosen
America’s Puppet: Meet Juan Guaidó
Jason Hirthler
Annexing the Stars: Walcott, Rhodes, and Venezuela
Samantha M. - Angelica Perkins
Our Green New Deal
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Nightmare Budget
Steven Colatrella
The 18th Brumaire of Just About Everybody: the Rise of Authoritarian Strongmen and How to Prevent and Reverse It
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Riding the Wild Bull of Nuclear Power
Michael K. Smith
Thirty Years Gone: Remembering “Cactus Ed”
Dean Baker
In Praise of Budget Deficits
Howard Lisnoff
Want Your Kids to Make it Big in the World of Elite Education in the U.S.?
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Foreign Policy is Based on Confrontation and Malevolence
John W. Whitehead
Pity the Nation: War Spending is Bankrupting America
Priti Gulati Cox
“Maria! Maria! It Was Maria That Destroyed Us!” The Human Story
Missy Comley Beattie
On Our Knees
Mike Garrity – Carole King
A Landscape Lewis and Clark Would Recognize is Under Threat
Robert Fantina
The Media-Created Front Runners
Tom Clifford
Bloody Sunday and the Charging of Soldier F
Ron Jacobs
All the Livelong Day      
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail