Book Launch Cuba and Its Neighbors: Democracy in Motion.
Casa de las Américas
182 East 111th Street
between 3rd Ave and Lexington Ave.
Closer to 3rd Ave. 6 Lex train to 110th Street Station
182 East 111th Street
between 3rd Ave and Lexington Ave.
Closer to 3rd Ave. 6 Lex train to 110th Street Station
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navenethem Pillay has met with Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva, two of the wives of the Cuban 5, and has stated that she will intercede on their behalf.
Now that Rene Gonzalez has renounced his citizenship and is completing the remainder of his parole in Cuba with his wife Olga Salanueva, this means Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo is the only member of the Cuban 5 who has not seen his wife.
For the past 14 years Gerardo Hernandez’s wife, Adriana Perez, hasn’t been allowed to visit him. The U.S. asserts that she is a risk to national security, despite the fact that the U.S. government has no proof or rationale to justify this belief. This separation is a violation of Gerardo’s civil and
international rights as a prisoner.
Mail or Fax Ms. Pillay the Project’s Letter and hold her accountable to her public statement of support.
Remind her that the U.S. community supports the Cuban 5 and their wives’ visitation rights.
Washington Post Opinion
By Stephen Kimber, Friday, October 4, 11:12 AM
Stephen Kimber teaches journalism at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Canada, and is the author of What Lies Across the Wather: The Real Story of the Cuban Five
Consider for a moment what would happen if American intelligence agents on the ground in a foreign country uncovered a major terrorist plot, with enough time to prevent it. And then consider how Americans would react if authorities in that country, rather than cooperate with us, arrest and imprison the U.S. agents for operating on their soil.
Those agents would be American heroes today. The U.S. government would move heaven and Earth to get them back.
This sort of scenario has occurred, except that, in the real-life version, which unfolded 15 years ago last month, the Americans play the role of the foreign government, and Cuba – yes, Fidel Castro’s Cuba – plays the role of the aggrieved United States.
In the early 1990s, after the demise of the Soviet Union made the collapse of Cuba’s communist government seem inevitable, Miami’s militant Cuban exile groups ratcheted up their efforts to overthrow Castro by any means possible, including terrorist attacks. In 1994, for example, Rodolfo Frometa, the leader of an exile group, was nabbed in an FBI sting trying to buy a Stinger missile, a grenade launcher and anti-tank rockets that he said he planned to use to attack Cuba. In 1995, Cuban police arrested two Cuban Americans after they tried to plant a bomb at a resort in Varadero.
Those actions clearly violated U.S. neutrality laws, but America’s justice system mostly looked the other way. Although Frometa was charged, convicted and sentenced to almost four years in jail, law enforcement agencies rarely investigated allegations involving exile militants, and if they did, prosecutors rarely pursued charges. Too often, Florida’s politicians served as apologists for the exile community’s hard-line elements.
But the Cubans had their own agents on the ground in Florida. An intelligence network known as La Red Avispa was dispatched in the early 1990s to infiltrate militant exile groups. It had some successes. Agents thwarted a 1994 plan to set off bombs at the iconic Tropicana nightclub, a tourist hot spot in Havana. And they short-circuited a 1998 scheme to send a boat filled with explosives from the Miami River to the Dominican Republic to be used in an assassination attempt against Castro.
In the spring of 1998, Cuban agents uncovered a plot to blow up an airplane filled with beach-bound tourists from Europe or Latin America. (The plot resonated: Before 2001, the most deadly act of air terrorism in the Americas had been the 1976 midair bombing of Cubana Airlines Flight 455, which killed all 73 passengers and crew members.)
Castro enlisted his friend, Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to carry a secret message about the plot to President Bill Clinton. The White House took the threat seriously enough that the Federal Aviation Administration warned airlines.
In June of that year, FBI agents flew to Havana to meet with their Cuban counterparts. During three days in a safe house, the Cubans provided the FBI with evidence their agents had gathered on various plots, including the planned airplane attack and an ongoing campaign of bombings at Havana hotels that had taken the life of an Italian Canadian businessman.
But the FBI never arrested anyone in connection with the airplane plot or the hotel attacks – even after exile militant Luis Posada Carriles bragged about his role in the Havana bombings to the New York Times in July 1998. Instead, on Sept. 12, 1998, a heavily armed FBI SWAT team arrested the members of the Cuban intelligence network in Miami.
The five agents were tried in that hostile-to-anything-Cuban city, convicted on low-bar charges of “conspiracy to commit” everything from espionage to murder and sentenced to impossibly long prison terms, including one double life sentence plus 15 years.
Fifteen years later, four of the Cubans still languish in American prisons.
Now you begin to understand why the Cuban Five – as they have become known – are national heroes in their homeland, why pictures of their younger selves loom on highway billboards all over the island, why every Cuban school child knows them by their first names: Gerardo, René, Ramon, Fernando and Antonio.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has stated that the Cuban Five “were all convicted in U.S. courts of committing crimes against the United States, including spying, treason.”
It is true that three of the five men – Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino and Fernando Gonzalez – did have, in part, military missions beyond simply infiltrating and reporting back on the activities of Miami’s exile groups. But their purpose was not to steal America’s military secrets or compromise U.S. security.
During the 1990s, Cuban authorities believed theirs might be the next Caribbean country to face an American military invasion. It wasn’t a stretch when you consider Grenada (1983), Panama (1989) and Haiti (1994). Then, too, there was the growing influence of militantly anti-Castro lobbying groups such as the Cuban American National Foundation, which were pushing Washington to overthrow Castro and his brother.
Based on its assessments of those earlier invasions, Cuban intelligence had developed a checklist of signals that an invasion might be imminent: a sudden influx of combat and reconnaissance aircraft to a southern military base, for example, or unexpected, unexplained visits by military brass to Southern Command headquarters in Miami.
Agents such as Antonio Guerrero – who worked as a janitor at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West from 1993 until his arrest in 1998 and is serving 22 years in prison – were Cuba’s low-tech equivalents of U.S. spy satellites, counting planes on runways and reporting back to Havana.
Of course, Cuban authorities were eager to vacuum up every tidbit of gossip their agents could find, and Havana occasionally pressured Guerrero to up his game; he responded mostly by sending clippings from base newspapers. No wonder. Guerrero spoke little English and had no security clearance; military secrets were well above his pay grade. And U.S. military secrets were never Cuba’s real priority – it just wanted to know if the Yankees were about to invade.
Seven months after the FBI charged the five with relatively insignificant counts – failing to register as foreign agents, using false identities and, more seriously but less specifically, conspiracy to commit espionage – prosecutors tacked on the charge that would galvanize Cuba’s exile community.
They charged Gerardo Hernandez, the leader of the network, with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the shootdown three years earlier of two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft.
Brothers to the Rescue, an anti-Castro group that had been rescuing rafters in the Straits of Florida but had lost its raison d’etre after a 1994 immigration deal between Washington and Havana, had been illegally violating Cuban airspace for more than a year, occasionally raining down anti-government leaflets on Havana. The Cubans protested the flights. The U.S. government did its best to prevent further incursions, but the wheels of the FAA bureaucracy ground slowly.
In early 1996, the Cubans sent messages to Washington through various intermediaries, warning that if the United States didn’t stop further Brothers flights, the Cubans would.
So the Cubans did. On the afternoon of Feb. 24, 1996, Cuban fighter jets blew two small, unarmed Brothers to the Rescue aircraft out of the sky, killing all four men aboard.
The Cubans claim that the planes were inside their territory. The U.S. government claims – and the International Civil Aviation Organization agreed – that the planes were in international airspace when they were attacked.
But did Hernandez really know in advance that the Cuban government planned to shoot down those planes? Was he involved in the planning?
My answer is no. During my research for a book on the Cuban Five, I reviewed all 20,000-plus pages of the trial transcript and sifted through thousands of pages of decrypted communications between Havana and its agents. I found no evidence that Hernandez had any knowledge of, or influence on, the events that day.
The evidence instead paints a picture of a Cuban intelligence bureaucracy obsessed with compartmentalizing and controlling information. Hernandez, a field-level illegal intelligence officer, had no need to know what Cuba’s military planned. The messages and instructions from Havana were ambiguous, hardly slam-dunk evidence, particularly for a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
In one message, for example, Hernandez’s bosses refer to a plan to “perfect the confrontation” with Brothers to the Rescue, which prosecutors insisted meant shooting down the planes.
But as Judge Phyllis A. Kravitch pointed out – in her 2008 dissent from a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuitupholding the murder charge against Hernandez – “There are many ways a country could ‘confront’ foreign aircraft. Forced landings, warning shots, and forced escorted journeys out of a country’s territorial airspace are among them – as are shoot downs.” She said that prosecutors “presented no evidence” to link Hernandez to the shootdown. “I cannot say that a reasonable jury – given all the evidence – could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Hernandez agreed to a shoot down,” Kravitch wrote.
A “reasonable jury.” There’s the rub.
By the late 1990s, Miami juries had become so notorious in cases involving Cuban exiles that federal prosecutors in a different case opposed a defense motion for a change of venue from Puerto Rico to Miami for some Cuban exiles accused of plotting to assassinate Castro.
Miami “is a very difficult venue for securing a conviction for so-called freedom fighters,” former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey explained to the Miami Herald at the time. “I had some convictions, but some acquittals that defied all reason.”
Anti-Cuban militants, in fact, were considered heroes. In 2008, more than 500 Miami exile movers and shakers gathered to honor Posada’s contributions to la causa – as the effort to overthrow Castro is known in the community – at a gala dinner.
His contributions? Besides the Havana hotel attacks (“I sleep like a baby,” he told the New York Times, commenting on the tourist who was killed), Posada is the alleged mastermind of the bombing of Cubana Flight 455. Cuba and Venezuela have asked for his extradition. The United States has refused.
In 2000, Posada was arrested in Panama in connection with a plot to assassinate Castro; he was convicted and served four yearsbefore receiving a still-controversial pardon. That pardon was revoked in 2008.
The closest the U.S. government has come to prosecuting Posada was in 2009, when the Obama administration charged him – not for his role in the Havana bombings but for lying about his role on an immigration form. He was acquitted.
Today, Posada, 85, walks the streets of Miami, a living contradiction in America’s war on terrorism. How to square his freedom with President George W. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 declaration that “any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime?” How to square Posada’s freedom with the continued imprisonment of the Cuban Five, whose primary goal was to prevent terrorist attacks?
It is a contradiction Americans should consider.
A collective fierce voice demanding, “Not another war” is resounding across the country and around the world.
Now is the moment to make our voices heard.
The coming days provide the last chance to mobilize popular resistance to the military strike. The people fear both the political and economic consequences of another costly war. Millions believe the pretext for the war is another Big Lie like the lies used before the Vietnam, Iraq and Libya wars. We need to join together to loudly oppose this new war.
Poised to launch weapons of mass death on the Syrian people, the administration has called time out to try to win over the population and Congress with a “full-court press” assault of war propaganda. We must meet this with a “full-court press” response.
Along with the dozens of protests held last week in the U.S. and hundreds worldwide, the anti-attack forces have called major actions in the next week and a full week of lobbying and local actions.
Under the slogans of “Hands off Syria! Not another war!” the International Action Center initiated a call for a united regional action of all antiwar forces for September 7 at Times Square at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, NYC at 1 p.m.
Other actions on Saturday, September 7 include a protest called by the Answer Coalition in front of the White House at noon. There are also regional coalitions organizing demonstrations in Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, among other cities.
Many groups are also organizing delegations to congressional offices in the coming week before congressional members head back to DC on Sept 9. The delegations range from polite visits to demonstrations to plans for encampments on the doorstep.
Full listings of endorsing organizations and cities where actions are planned can be found at iacenter.org. Click HERE to view an endorsers list. Click HERE to endorse, support or list a local action. Click HERE to find an action near you. Or see unacpeace.org
Broad support is also growing for an initiative by the Syrian American Forum to hold its “Hands Off Syria, Don’t bomb Syria” March on Washington on Sept. 9, when Congress is due to reconvene. The group is organizing buses from the Midwest, South New York and other areas for a Monday rally in front of the White House.
Already 50 organizations have endorsed and are mobilizing for these and other actions, including the United National Antiwar Coalition. Among them is “coordinated day of varied actions directed at Congress” on Friday, Sept. 6, from 4-6 p.m. Click HERE to view a full listing of actions. Click HERE to view an endorsers list.
Statement of the International Action Center:
The people have made it crystal clear: We don’t want another war!
Last week there were demonstrations and rallies against bombing Syria in at least 48 U.S. cities. This Saturday, the 1:00 PM Times Square demonstration will be one of dozens across the country. On Monday, September 9, as Congress goes back into session, the Syrian American Forum and others will protest in front of the White House, then march to the U.S. Congress.
The cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan exceeds $4 trillion dollars.
The cruise missiles the US is planning to fire at Syria cost $1.5 million apiece. The profits of the missile’s maker, Raytheon, is soaring — but our cities are crumbling. People are hurting from joblessness, foreclosures, sequester cuts and furloughs. Hospitals and schools are closing.
We need funds for job programs, healthcare and education, NOT billions wasted on war and destruction.
War propaganda always accompanies war. In 2003 before the massive attack on Iraq, it was the lie of “weapons of mass destruction.”
In 1991 in the first US war on Iraq it was wild claim that Iraqi soldiers were killing “incubator babies.”
In the Vietnam War it was the testimony that U.S. ships were being fired on in the Gulf of Tonkin.
It is ludicrous to think that the Assad regime used chemical weapons on the same day that UN weapons inspectors arrived in Syria. The inspectors were less than ten miles away from the attack and had been invited by the Syrian government.
The U.S. is the last country on earth that should start a war on the basis of combatting war crimes.
The Pentagon’s 2004 assault on the city of Fallujah, Iraq alone left the residents there with staggering rates of cancer, birth defects and infant mortality due to the U.S. military’s use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus.
Just last month the recipient of $1.5 billion in annual military aid, the Egyptian government, brutally cleared the streets, killing many hundreds at protest encampments that included men, women and children.
By far, the world’s largest stockpile of chemical, nuclear and every other kind of weapon belongs to the United States — the only country to have used nuclear weapons on civilians.
No, President Barack Obama and Sec. of State John Kerry don’t care about the people of Syria one bit. What they care about is removing a government that gives aid to the Palestinian resistance, Hezbollah and other victims of the Israeli brutality. The repressive regimes in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf kingdoms beat down the people of the region so that U.S. oil companies can have unfettered access to oil profits.
We don’t want another war for the 1%. The rich will win and the people in the U.S., Syria and the entire Middle East region will lose.
Hands off Syria!
Some of the organizations, coalitions and community groups endorsing Sat. Sept 7 demonstrations:
Syrian American Forum
United National Antiwar Coalition-UNAC
May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights
International Action Center
Islamic Leadership Council/Majlis Ash-Shura of Metro NY
Harlem Tenants Council
La Peña del Bronx
U.S. Peace Council
Veterans For Peace / Chapter 021, NJ
People’s Power Movement
World Can’t Wait
International League for People’s Struggles/US
People’s Organization for Progress
Jersey City Peace Movement
Fight Imperialism Stand Together – FIST
Pakistan USA Freedom Forum
Honduras USA Resistencia
Al Quds Committee
Islamic Leadership Council/Majlis Ash-Shura of Metro NY
Grannies for Peace
Black Waxx, NY
Guyanese American Workers United, New York, NY
Wisconsin Bail Out The People Movement
Advocates For Peace And Social Justice, West New York, NJ
SI Solidarity Iran
People’s Video Network
Originally posted by International Action Center
originally posted by International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5
Gerardo Hernandez Sends a Heartfelt Letter to his Friend Saul Landau: “It is just a Journey Saul, the other is not true”
(For Saúl Landau, with admiration and affection)
It is not true Saul, do not repeat it. I know, others are also saying it, but it is not true. There is a pain in the voice of Carmen when she answers my call, but it cannot be true.
You may say that Yes, old friends have called you and others have come from afar to see you, and the tributes have already begun. Even your own body loudly says it is true. But that does not matter, I know that it is not true. How could it be true, with so many people who admire you and love you? Adriana, whenever we talk, asks me to call you again. (And if that does not mean much to you it’s because you don’t know how she defends and fights for each and every minute of my phone time). Everyone asks for you Saul from all around the world, and like me they all know that it is just a journey, that the other is not true.
A trip where? I do not know with certainty. It is like a close play in a baseball game where no one can agree on the outcome. It is a journey that many do not return, but you’re one of the privileged ones. You’ll be here whenever Danny visits me, and in Cuba when the Five are reunited. You will return whenever someone reads one of your books, or see one of your documentaries. How could you not be there when someone asks who filmed those images of Fidel pushing the jeep stuck in the mud on that road? Or so many other images you captured while traveling half of Cuba with him in 1968? Do you think that you will not be there when someone sees “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up” and will get to understand the case of the Five? Don’t even mention that my friend! You will always be there when people see the interview with Salvador Allende, perhaps the only or at least the most important written in English, as well as when someone discovers those still unpublished images of Fidel talking at home with Harry Belafonte.
It is just a journey Saul, the other is not true. You’ll come when someone wants to know everything about the bomb that killed Letelier and Moffit in the heart of Washington DC. When someone wants to understand Chiapas or the maquiladoras. When they read your poems, or your always accurate articles. When people mention your Medal of Friendship of Cuba, your Bernardo O’Higgins of Chile, your Emmy, and so many other awards and decorations. You will come whenever I tell someone that I had the privilege to meet you, learn from you, enjoy your sense of humor, and when they ask me to whom do I owe my brotherhood with Danny Glover. You’ll always be with your family, with your friends, with your students.
Of course it is not true Saul, I know that it is only a journey. What I don’t know is if we will be able to communicate, so I don’t want to wait for your departure to tell you; thank you for everything, my brother, it was an honor to share with you. On behalf of the Five, our families, and so many good Cubans, thank you!
I will not deny that we are sad, but at the same time we are happy to know that in your case, when it happens, it will only be a trip, because you knew how to earn that privilege.
Very soon I’ll be calling you again, but you know, do not repeat it, because it is not true Saul. It is not true that you are going to die.
Gerardo Hernández Nordelo
United States Penitentiary, Victorville, California.
Saul Landau is courageously fighting a life threatening illness.
Gerardo’s letter was read to Saul Landau by one of his children.
For 15 years, the Cuban 5 have endured physical and psychological torture in U.S. prisons! Their only “crime” was protecting their homeland Cuba and the United States from acts of terrorism
Thousands of people around the world will be protesting, picketing, engaging in a myraid of actions in support of the International movement to Free the Cuban 5! Join us as we raise our united voices on the International Day to Free the Cuban 5!
The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5
Fore more information of the Project contact: FreetheCuban5@gmail.com or call the Free the Cuban 5 Hotline at: 718-601-4751. Visit our website: www.freethecuban5.org
Endorsers:The ProLibertad Freedom Campaign, Frente Socialista-Comite de Nueva York, Free Mumia Coalition, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Radical Women, Freedom Socialist Party, December 12th Movement, New York City Jericho Movement, Fuerza de la Revolucion, Da Urban Butterflies, International Action Center, Justice for Trayvon Martin Peoples Assembly, May 1st Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights, Latin America & Caribbean Committee of the IAC, Workers World Party, and The Venceremos Brigade…