Josefina Vidal on ALAN GROSS

Contrary to many reports, including one in The Washington Post, this is not the “first time” that Cuba has expressed its “willingness to dialogue” with the U.S. Government about the case of Alan Gross. Nor is it the first time Cuba has indicated that the ball is in Washington’s court. Here is the September 12 statement by Josefina Vidal, who heads the department of U.S. affairs at the Foreign Ministry and here is the transcript of her May 10 interview by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. She clearly says, “Cuba reiterates the willingness to dialogue” and awaits a response.
Jane Franklin

Statement by Josefina Vidal, Head for United States affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Transcript of May 10, 2012, Interview by Wolf Blitzer on CNN

BLITZER: The letter I received from the top Cuban diplomat here in Washington, Jorge Bolanos (ph) clearly suggested to me that the Castro government is interested in a prisoner swap exchanging Alan Gross for members of the so-called “Cuban five”. They’re serving lengthy prison sentences in the United States after being convicted on spy charges. I’ve been reaching out to both Cuban and U.S. officials to try to clarify their positions and to also try to keep the lines of communication open.


And Josefina Vidal is joining us now from Havana. She’s the head of North American Affairs for the Cuban Foreign Ministry. Are you prepared to tell us what you want in exchange for the release of Alan Gross?

JOSEFINA VIDAL, CUBAN FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL: Wolf, thank you for having me in your program. We have conveyed to the U.S. government our willingness to have a dialogue to try to solve all our problems and to normalize relations between our two countries. In this specific case we have made clear to the U.S. government as you said that we are ready to have a negotiation in order to try to find a solution, a humanitarian solution to Mr. Gross’ case on a reciprocal basis.

I am not — we are not advancing any specific formula. It has to be discussed with the U.S. government because the U.S. government has a direct responsibility on the situation for the situation of Mr. Alan Gross, but again, we have been waiting for a response on the side of the U.S. government on this specific matter.

BLITZER: So there are no active discussions or negotiations underway right now between the Cuban government and the U.S. government to try to free Alan Gross?

VIDAL: We have conveyed to the U.S. side that we are ready to sit down to talk and to have a negotiation on this matter, and as I mentioned already to you, we have been waiting for a response. We are ready to do that.

BLITZER: Is there, from your perspective, is there a linkage between the release of Alan Gross and the release of what’s called the “Cuban five”?

VIDAL: Again, we are not advancing a specific solution, a specific formula. It has to be discussed among us, but definitely Cuba has legitimate concerns, humanitarian concerns related to the situation of the “Cuban five”.

BLITZER: What do you say in response to what the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN?

VIDAL: You know Mr. Gross was not working in Cuba as a volunteer, aid worker. He was detained in Cuba because of conducting a well-financed program by the U.S. government aimed at provoking changes in Cuba, attempting against Cuba’s constitutional order. So Mr. Gross when he was retained was a professional under a contract by the U.S. government fulfilling this, trying to implement this program financed by the — by some U.S. agencies.


VIDAL: But he was — he was, of course, in violation —

BLITZER: What evidence do you have that he was doing that?

VIDAL: He was convicted for violating Cuban laws, attempting against Cuba’s constitutional order is not just a crime in Cuba. It is also a crime in the United States and in many other countries and this is the reason why he was convicted because of attempting against our independence, our constitutional order.

BLITZER: Mr. Gross told me that when he brought all of the equipment in the people at the airport, the authorities saw the equipment and they said you have to pay duty on it, 100 percent. He didn’t want to pay 100 percent so they just said pay $100 and you can bring the equipment in, but they inspected all of those cell phones and all of the satellite phones, whatever he was bringing in and allowed him to bring it into the country. As a result, he says he doesn’t understand why he was arrested.

VIDAL: It has been written in some media reports Mr. Gross misled U.S.-Cuban authorities about the kind of equipment he was introducing into the country without the proper authorities and he also misled members of the Cuban- Jewish community about the purposes of his trip to Cuba and what he was doing in Cuba.

BLITZER: Alan Gross says his 90-year-old mother is dying from cancer in Texas right now. She can’t travel. She can’t get on an airplane. He would like to spend two weeks and he promises he would come back to Cuba if you let him say good-bye, in effect to his mother. What’s wrong with that?

VIDAL: In the case of Mr. Alan Gross he has started to serve his prison terms three years ago, and the conditions under which he is now do not allow him to go outside of Cuba.

BLITZER: Even for humanitarian reasons to visit his 90-year-old mother who has cancer and is dying? Are you open at all to letting him say good-bye to her?

VIDAL: In the case of Mr. Gross, we have guaranteed for him a good treatment as he himself told you. He’s in good shape. He receives specialized medical treatment, balanced meals. He receives visits, regular consular access and visits by friends, by religious and political leaders from the U.S. and other countries and we have facilitated for their families and friends all the visits they have requested so far.


BLITZER: I also asked Josefina Vidal about other issues involving U.S.-Cuba relations. I told her what I’m hearing from my U.S. sources about what Cuba could do to improve the relationship. Stand by for part two of this exclusive interview and look, look who is reading the weather forecast.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rain, of course, will be heaviest over the borders and around Edinboro (ph) where it could lead to difficult conditions on the roads.



BLITZER: The case of the jailed American, Alan Gross, is a new thorn between the United States and Cuba after a half a century of tensions. I spoke about the prospects of improved U.S.-Cuban relations with Josefina Vidal, the head of North American Affairs for the Cuban Foreign Ministry.


BLITZER: What do you think of President Obama and his efforts over these past three and a half years to reach out to try to improve relations between the United States and Cuba?

VIDAL: This is our position, I mean, for many years the Cuban government has been conveying to the U.S. side our willingness to have a comprehensive, political dialogue with the United States to solve all our historical problems and to move on in order to have a productive, beneficial relationship for the benefit of our both people, and this is our position. We have related (ph) that to the U.S. government and we are continuing — are willing to have the possibility to see that future for our two countries.

BLITZER: Is there any dialogue under way right now between your government and the Obama administration?

VIDAL: We have had talks in the last two or three years. As soon as the new president, President Obama took office, some level of official dialogue that suffered a lot during the previous administration that was established and we have had our biannual migration talks and we have talked — we have conveyed in those meetings the position I just described to you about Cuba’s willingness to — for the best of our two countries, to find a civilized — civilized (INAUDIBLE) with the United States.

BLITZER: Are you hopeful? Are you optimistic that the relationship will improve over these next few months?

VIDAL: We are always hopeful. We have been waiting for that moment for more than 50 years, but we are still strong believers that the future is possible for the good and the benefit of the U.S., of Cuba, of our both mutual national interests and for our people.

BLITZER: Based on my conversations with very high U.S. officials, Ms. Vidal, I can tell you that if you were to make a gesture and release Alan Gross, he served already two and a half years that would go a long way in setting the stage for an improved U.S.- Cuban relationship.

In that regard I have to be honest with you, Wolf, and tell you that we see this statement as a new pretext by the U.S. side in order to — not to move on, on our bilateral relationships. We have seen all over our history that any time one pretext disappears, there is another one ready at hand in order to try to justify not to normalize the relations with Cuba.

BLITZER: It sounds like a relatively easy situation for you, test the United States, send Alan Gross home and see what happens. If there’s no improvement, what have you lost?

VIDAL: As I mentioned to you in the beginning of our interview, this is something that Cuba cannot do unilaterally, because there is a responsibility by the United States government for the situation of Mr. Alan Gross, so this is a topic, this is a matter, an issue that has to be discussed directly between Cuba and the United States in order to look for a solution.

BLITZER: And you’re saying the U.S. is not ready to discuss Alan Gross’ situation with Cuba? Is that what you’re saying?

VIDAL: We have been waiting for a response and a reaction by the United States government to what we have conveyed about our willingness to sit down, to have a conversation and to initiate a negotiation on that matter.

BLITZER: We will continue this conversation, Josefina Vidal. Thank you so much for joining us and we will continue to talk. We’ll stay in close touch.

VIDAL: It is my pleasure, Wolf. Thank you.


BLITZER: And we’ve received State Department reaction to my interview with Josefina Vidal. Let me read the statement that they gave us. “We reject the suggestion that this is a matter for negotiation. Alan Gross is unjustifiably imprisoned and his case is not related to the ‘Cuban five’. Josefina Vidal’s statements only seem to reinforce Alan Gross’ view that he is a hostage of the Cuban regime.”

The statement goes on. “The continuing imprisonment of Alan Gross is deplorable, it is wrong, and it is a violation of human decency as well as human rights. We raise this issue with the Cuban government at every possible opportunity. We call on people around the world to raise this issue with the Cuban government because Mr. Gross deserves to come home.”

The U.S. statement adds “we will continue to use every appropriate channel to press the Cuban government for Mr. Gross’ release so he can return to his family where he belongs. To date, the government of Cuba has presented no realistic proposal for Alan Gross’ release”, that statement coming in from the State Department. By the way, the full interview with Josefina Vidal we posted on our website,

Revolution of Forms: Cuba’s Forgotten Architecture Schools

John Loomis, Benjamin Murray, Alysa Nahmias

Wednesday, 7pm

Revolution of Forms: Cuba’s Forgotten Art Schools examines the convergence of architecture, ideology, and culture in 1960s Cuba through the design of the Escuelas Nacionales de Arte (National Art Schools), conceived and initiated by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara soon after the Revolution’s victory. The utopian vision of architects Ricardo Porro, Roberto Gottardi, and Vittorio Garatti integrated issues of culture, ethnicity, and place, reinventing architecture just as the Revolution hoped to reinvent society.

As the utopian dream succumbed to dystopian reality, construction was halted and the architects fell out of political favor. The 2011 documentary Unfinished Spaces explores the current state of the schools and follows the exiled architects, who were invited back by Castro to finish their unrealized dream. Revolution of Forms author John Loomis will be joined by Unfinished Spaces co-directors Benjamin Murray and Alysa Nahmias for a conversation on the history of the schools and their rediscovery as visionary architectural masterpieces, now officially recognized by the Cuban government as national treasures.

NYC’s Architecture and Design Bookstore

MON — SAT, 11AM — 7PM, Thursdays UNTIL 9PM

Revolution of Forms: Cuba’s Forgotten Architecture Schools

Sept.5th for the Cuban 5, Rev. Joan Brown Campbell sends a message to Obama‏

September 5th for the Cuban 5, Rev. Joan Brown Campbell Joins the International Campaign and Sends a Message to Obama

September 12th will mark the 14th anniversary of the unfair imprisonment of the 5 Cuban Patriots. On the 5th of this month, joining thousands of people from all over the world, Rev. Joan Brown Campbell is sending a letter to President Obama asking him to release the Cuban 5.

Photo: Katrien Demuynck, taken during a meeting of religious leaders in April during the events “5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washingto DC”.

Dr. Campbell was the first woman to be Associate Executive Director of the Greater Cleveland Council of Churches; the first woman to be Executive Director of the U.S. office of the World Council of Churches; the first ordained woman to be General Secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; and today, she is the first woman Director of Religion at the historic Chautauqua Institution. Dr. Campbell is truly a “first woman.” In every job she has held, she was the first woman to carry that responsibility.

As General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ, Dr. Campbell played a crucial role in the fight for the return of 6 year old Elian Gonzalez to Cuba in 2000.


September 5, 2012

Dear President Obama,

Today I joined with thousands of people from all over the world to ask you for a humanitarian gesture to allow 5 Cuban men, four of them in US prisons and one under supervised probation to return home to their loved ones.

In December of last year a delegation led by the Reverend Dr. Michael Kinnamon, Former General Secretary of the US National Council of Churches of Christ visited Cuba. They held a number of important meetings including one with the Council of Churches of Cuba. In these meetings they shared days of pray and reflection. They then issued a joint statement in which they committed to work towards the normalization of the relations between the US and Cuba. The relationship between the U.S. National Council of Churches and the Cuban Council is 70+ years old and predates the revolution.

The statement of the churches indicates that to obtain that desired and necessary objective, a number of humanitarian questions must be solved, “that are cause of the lack of unjustifiable understanding and an unnecessary human suffering”. The greatest obstacle mentioned in their declaration was the US blockade against Cuba. Voting on the lifting of the blockade has been brought up in 20 occasions at the General Assembly of United Nations.

Another obstacles mentioned in the joint statement is the imprisonment in the United States of “Five Cubans”, from a trial full of irregularities, whose sentences “have been declared unjust by numerous human right organizations, including Amnesty International and even the United Nations”.

Members of the delegation met with the mothers and spouses of the Cuban 5 as a show of support for the freedom of their children and spouses.

The Cuban 5, as they are internationally known, were no threat to US national security. Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González sacrificed their lives to monitor terrorist groups based in Miami. They came to this country to alert and protect Cuban and North American people from criminal actions that have cost the life of thousands of Cubans and foreign citizens like Fabio Di Celmo, a young Italian who died in 1997 product of a bombing in a Havana hotel.

The Cuban government asked the U.S. government to put an end to the impunity of violent organizations that seriously threaten both countries. In June 1998 a delegation of high-level FBI went to Havana due to the magnitude of the complaint. Cuban officials gave the FBI all the information they had on these criminal groups to cease their actions. Incredibly, three months later the FBI arrested the messengers of this critical information, the Cuban 5.

This month of September will mark the 14 anniversary of the arrest of these five men; and so far no terrorist has been convicted, while the Cuban 5 still remain imprisoned.

On October 7 of last year, Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5, served his sentence of 15 years and was released, but the U.S. government prevented him from returning to Cuba to be reunited with his loved ones. René is being forced to stay for three years of probation in South Florida where his life is in constant danger. As an additional punishment, the U.S. government refuses to grant a visa to his wife Olga Salanueva to visit him in the U.S.

President Obama, I have visited Cuba over 30 times, I have met the families of the Cuban 5 and I share their suffering. It is time to free the Cuban 5 as a sign of our humanity. This same concern is felt by the entire Cuban people, leaders of all religions, lawyers, intellectuals, artists, 10 Nobel Prize recipients, parliaments, governments, Christians and Catholics in Latin America and thousands around the world.

More than a decade ago, when I was the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, I had the opportunity to get involved in the return of Elian Gonzalez to Cuba. He was a young child, a victim of the contentious relations between the United States and Cuba. During that time I was able to meet his grandmothers and his father and I experienced the pain of a Cuban family.

I feel there is a similarity between both cases, although Elian was child separated from his family, the Cuban 5 have spent 14 years without watching their children grow, and be with their parents as they grow older. Some of them have lost family members during these long years of incarceration. Furthermore, as Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban 5 are at the center of U.S./Cuba relations.

President Obama, the people of the United States and Cuba wish to live in peace, harmony and brotherhood. There is no reason for our country to continue such an inhumane policy towards the island nation. Releasing the Cuban 5 undoubtedly will help in the restoration of relations between both countries.

Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell




By phone: 202-456-1111  (If nobody answers the phone leave a message)

If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code
+ 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111

By Fax: 202-456-2461

If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area
Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461

To send an e-mail:

To send a letter
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
United States

To send an electronic message write to:

Leonard Peltier 68th Birthday


Free the Cuban 5:
Fourteen Years of Unjust Incarceration!

Viva Puerto Rico Libre!
13th Anniversary of the Release of Most Puerto Rican PPs/POWs!

Still in Prison and/or Recently Captured:

Avelino Gonzalez Claudio, Oscar López Rivera, and Norberto Gonzalez Claudio

Saturday, September 8, 2012 • 6:00 to 9:30 p.m.

Riverside Church • Room 411 MLK
91 Claremont Ave., NY, NY

Speakers and Performers:

The Kasibahagua Taino Cultural Society • Rebel Diaz

Atty. Michael Kuzma on Leonard Peltier

Updates on the Puerto Rican POWs & The Cuban 5

This is a fundraiser for commissary for the POWs.
Be prepared to be generous!

Light Refreshments! $5 to $10 donation at the door!

For more information: • 718-325-4407

Co-Sponsored by: Riverside Church Prison Ministry,
NYC Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Ctte., NYC Jericho Movement,
ProLibertad Freedom Campaign, Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5

XVI Conference of Heads of State and Government

Message from MINH in XVI Conference of Heads of State and Government of the NAM

Written by Olga Sanabria / MINH

XVI Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, 2012, Tehran

Ladies and Gentlemen, Heads of State and Government,
Ambassadors and Ambassadors,
Delegates all

First of all we thank the Islamic Republic of Iran for the welcome you have given us in this beautiful, dynamic and hospitable city of Tehran. The friendship of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the cause of Puerto Rico has become manifest in the Decolonization Committee of the United Nations, and also why we express our gratitude, as we express it to Cuba, other countries Committee and all the friendly countries of Puerto Rico. Again, the Non-Aligned Movement reaffirmed the inalienable right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence in accordance with General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of the United Nations General Assembly and calls for the immediate implementation of the resolutions of UN Puerto Rico. On August 18 marked 40 years since the first resolution on Puerto Rico’s decolonization committee in 1972, and now are 31 resolutions of the Committee thereon.

Again we stand before you as a force which advocates independence for Puerto Rico because Puerto Rico’s colonial status has only real and fair solution under international law and within the framework of the International Community. The power relationship between colonizers and colonialism sufferers has not been and can not be part of the solution to a problem contrary to international law and human rights. So Puerto Rico is subject to the international agenda and the Latin American and Caribbean region where the newly formed Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) to include in its agenda the case of Puerto Rico and the total eradication of colonialism in our region, as including the case of the Falkland Islands.

In Puerto Rico, since his election in 2008 the current government and colonial annexation has abused its majority in the legislature to undermine colonial institutions and civil, cultural, social and civic Puerto Ricans (as). Abuse was the recent referendum, in which using a campaign of fear and manipulation was intended to reduce the people choose their own rights and also shrink the legislature. But in that referendum the people said Enough! Voted NO and dealt a stunning defeat to the colonial government. In a referendum held in November colonial policies that could have consequences for the interior, but not directed towards a process of decolonization, as will any plebiscite or mechanism that takes place outside the application of international law to our case.

Despite all the abuses of power in Puerto Rico has forged a consensus anticolonial and exchange a claim which is added to maintain our distinctive achievement of Latin American and Caribbean cultural identity, widely recognized by the international community. And adds to many other historical achievements of the Puerto Rican people in their struggle. At present, our agenda remains intense struggle, including the struggle for freedom of Oscar López Rivera, who has over 31 years imprisoned for his actions in favor of the independence of Puerto Rico. Thirty-one years is a cruel and inhumane and we strongly urge the demand for the release of Oscar López Rivera, and other Puerto Rican political prisoners.

It is being reciprocated the support expressed in the nineteenth century Puerto Ricans (as) to the struggle for independence in our region, in particular in favor of the independence of Cuba. Today we reaffirm our support for the struggles that are taking place in the world for the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, non-interference in the internal affairs of States and directed the war from the outside, as in the case of Syria, the right to development and energy sovereignty, as in the case of Iran, and the essential struggle for peace. As we express support for the struggles of the Palestinian and Sahrawi.

To conclude international support for self-determination and independence of the people of Puerto Rico have to keep growing. The achievements of the people of Puerto Rico will continue to grow and achieve our independence.

Thank you very much.
Free the Cuban Five!
Freedom for Oscar López Rivera!
Viva Puerto Rico Libre!
Message Olga I. Davila Sanabria, Member of the National – National Hostos Independence Movement of Puerto Rico (MINH) – Executive Secretary of the Committee of Puerto Rico to the United Nations

Note: In the Final Declaration of NAM, in the paragraph on Puerto Rico (under section The right to self-determination and independence), NAM reaffirmed the right of the people of Puerto Rico to self-determination and independence on the basis of the resolution 1514 (XV) of the General Assembly [United Nations], and expressed its unwavering support for the resolutions on Puerto Rico adopted by the Committee of UN Decolonization Committee calling for their immediate implementation.


“Ours may be one of the most ridiculous accusations of espionage in the history of this country”- Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, The Cuban 5

This September 12th, 2012 will mark the 14th year anniversary of the arrest of the Cuban 5; five US held Cuban political prisoners incarcerated for protecting Cuba from U.S. sponsored terrorist actions.

In 2006, President Ricardo Alarcon, of the Cuban Parliament, declared Sept. 12th through October 6th to be a period of time to raise awareness on the case of the Cuban 5. The Popular Education Project to Free the Cuban 5 is committed to building an international movement for the Cuban 5’s freedom by extending this period of time to be a full month (Sept. 12th-October 12th) and calling it “Free the Cuban 5 Month.” During this month we organize a calendar of events to raise awareness about the Cuban 5 and how people can support their release!

Please support the Free the Cuban 5 picket on Sept 12th, the Vicente Feliu concert on Saturday Sept. 15th at 1199, the special Film screening of “South of the Border” on Sept. 22nd and support the Cuban 5 call in day on Oct. 12th!

A Move to Free the Cuban Five

Danny Glover and Saul Landau


Gerardo Hernandez, Danny Glover y Saul Landau (director del documental). Gerardo Hernandez, Danny Glover and Saul Landau, director of the documentary. Photo courtesy Saul Landau

People stop in Victorville California 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles because they have to see someone at one of its several prisons (federal, state, county and city) or have prison-related business, or
because they’re hot and tired coming back from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and the thought of a swimming pool and an air conditioned room seem irresistible.

We book rooms so we can get to the prison early and spend more time with Gerardo Hernandez. We know the way from Highway 15 west into rolling desert hills from whence one sees a massive gray concrete structure – the federal penitentiary complex.

We fill out the forms, pass through the X-ray machine, get patted down by a guard, get our wrists stamped with indelible ink that shows up under a scanner in the next room, and by 8:45 we are seated in the Visiting room, with black and Latino wives and kids who are seeing husbands and daddies.

Gerardo emerges; we hug and start talking. He told us that Martin Garbus, his lawyer, had filed a new writ (available at declaring Gerardo’s trial violated basic law and the Constitution, and should be voided – freeing him and his comrades from their long sentences.

Documents show, according to the brief, that the U.S. government paid a host of Miami-based journalists to file negative stories on Gerardo and his fellow defendants (The Cuban 5). These U.S. government paid-for stories appeared in newspapers, magazines, radio and TV and influenced public opinion in the community, including jury members and their families, the writ argues, and therefore calls into deep question whether a fair trial in Miami was possible for the five accused men.

The brief states that the U.S. “government’s successful secret subversion of the Miami print, radio, and television media to pursue a conviction was unprecedented,” and “violated the integrity of the trial and the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.”

Garbus further argues that “The Government, through millions of dollars of illegal payments and at least a thousand articles published over a six- year period, interfered with the trial and persuaded the jury to convict. The Government’s Response to this motion is factually barren and legally incorrect. The conviction must now be vacated.”

In the lengthy brief, Garbus shows how journalists wrote and spoke for news outlets for the sole purpose of painting a distorted picture of what the defendants were doing, which was trying to prevent Miami-based terrorism in Cuba, and instead, as Garbus’ brief shows, to portray them as military spies trying to prepare south Florida for a military invasion from Cuba.

The Miami Herald fired the journalists on the grounds they had broken a basic code – taking money from the government to write stories. The brief states that “Thomas Fiedler, the Executive Editor and Vice President of The Miami Herald, when talking about the monies paid to his staff members and members of other media entities by the Government, said it was wrongful because it was “to carry out the mission of the U.S. Government, a propaganda mission. It was wrong even if it had not been secret.” It was secret because the government officials knew it wrong and illegal.

Gerardo and four companions have served almost 14 years in federal lock up for trying to stop right wing Miami thugs from bombing Havana. In 1997, a series of bombs hit hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs. One tourist died and many Cuban workers in these establishments were wounded. The bombings were orchestrated by Luis Posada Carriles, resident of Miami today, and financed by right wing exile money.

As we sat in the visiting room surrounded by mostly people of color, with four guards watching us and the other visitors, we nibbled on salted snacks from the vending machine (“prison gourmet”).

Gerardo told us about his time in “the hole,” for no bad behavior on his part, but for his “protection”! He spoke of deprivation of the routine monotony. “Look around,” he said, “you don’t see a lot of middle class people here. There were none. Most of the prisoners were black or Latino, plus one who Gerardo thought was a descendent of poor Okies. All share a lack of money to hire good lawyers.

“I was transferred here from Lompoc in 2004 because Lompoc was not going to be a maximum security prison any more,” Gerardo told us. As if this cultured, disciplined man needed maximum security. We wondered how we would endure the punishment of imprisonment in a supposedly correctional and rehabilitative institution, where no correction or rehabilitation takes place.

We drove from the prison to the Ontario airport and asked ourselves: What, we asked ourselves, was a well-educated Cuban man doing in such a place? The U.S. government knew the Cuban agents had infiltrated Cuban exile groups that intended to cause damage to Cuba’s tourist economy. The five were fighting terrorism and sharing information with the FBI. They should never have been charged and now, almost 14 years of prison later, they should at last be freed.

President Obama could and should pardon them and send them home. Cuba has indicated it would respond by freeing Alan Gross, who worked for a company contracted to USAID with a design to destabilize the Cuban government and was convicted in Cuba. It’s time for President Obama to put this issue on his agenda.

Danny Glover is an activist and actor.

STAND UP plays in Portland Sept. 12, Clinton
Theater and Toronto Sept. 21.

Cuba convicts 12 of corruption in nickel industry

Cuba convicts ex-officials, workers at joint Canadian nickel concern in corruption probe

By Peter Orsi, Associated Press | Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) — A Cuban court has convicted a dozen people of corruption, including high-ranking government officials, an executive at a state-run nickel company and workers from a project operating under a Cuban-Canadian joint concern, official media announced Tuesday.

In a case involving a contract for the expansion of the Pedro Soto Alba nickel and cobalt processing plant at the Moa mine, the sentences range from four to 12 years, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported.

The court in the eastern province of Holguin took into account “the gravity of these acts and their harmful consequences in one of the strategic activities for the nation’s economy, and the conduct of the accused, characterized by the loss of ethical values and deception,” the bulletin read.

The announcement was the first official confirmation of a probe that since last year has been the source of rumor and private discussion by diplomats on the island, part of a wider crackdown on graft that has caught up several foreigners and sent a chill through the small foreign business community.

The stiffest prison terms were handed down to Alfredo Rafael Zayas Lopez (12 years), Ricardo Gonzalez Sanchez (10 years) and Antonio Orizon de los Reyes Bermudez (eight years), all former vice ministers at the Ministry of Basic Industry, which oversees nickel production.

Cristobal de la Caridad Saavedra Montero, business director of state-run Cubaniquel, was given six years.

Accounting executive Alfredo Barallobre Rodriguez and deputy production director Orlando Carmenaty Olmo of Empresa Moa Nickel SA.

The Moa Joint Venture that controls the mining operation is operated in tandem by Cuba and Toronto-based mining company Sherritt International Corp., were sentenced to six and five years, respectively.

Sherritt representatives did not immediately reply to phone and email messages seeking comment.

Moa currently produces 37,000 tons of nickel and cobalt per year, according to Sherritt’s website.

Six other people also were sentenced. All can appeal.

Two foreign business executives told The Associated Press in November that the same probe had led to the shuttering of Canadian companies Tri-Star Caribbean and Tokmakjian Group as well as the investment firm Coral Capital Group, headed up a Briton.

Two Canadians and a Czech who were reportedly detained in the case were not listed Tuesday among those convicted.

Nickel production is one of Cuba’s main sources of foreign income, along with tourism. In April a senior government official said the mineral accounted for 30 percent of exports in 2011, which would put nickel revenues at $1.8 billion for the year based on recently released overall export figures.

Cuba convicts 12 of corruption in nickel industry

Save the date; U.S. tour of VICENTE FELIU

Download English version Leaflet both in Color or in Black/White

Enjoy an Evening of Music with a Leading Voice of the Nueva Trova Movement from Cuba, VICENTE FELIU, in Concert with Latin Grammy Award Winner ALEJANDRO VALDEZ

Saturday, September 15th

Special Cultural Presentation by
VIicente & Alejandro in CONCERT

Martin Luther King, Jr. Labor Center
310 West 43 Street, Manhattan
(Between 8th & 9th Ave.)
Reception: 7:00 p.m.
Light Refreshments
Time: 8:00 p.m.

Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and René González, the Cuban 5, were arrested by the F.B.I. on “conspiracy” and other trumped-up charges. The real reason for their imprisonment was that they infiltrated and gathered information on right-wing Cuban-American groups in Miami in order to prevent terrorist attacks against Cuba by these groups. The Cuban 5 have been imprisoned for more than 13 years – for defending the sovereignty of their homeland.

Suggested Donation $10.00 (No One Turned Away For Lack of Funds)

Organized by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 in collaboration with World Organization for Right of the People to Health Care, Inc., IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Casa de las Americas, July 26 Coalition and the National Network on Cuba.

U.S. still says Cuba on its list of “countries which sponsor international terrorism”

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On July 31st, the U.S. State Department once again included Cuba on its arbitrary, unilateral list of “countries which sponsor international terrorism.”

Yet again, the only reason Cuba is kept on this list is exposed as an attempt to justify the U.S. blockade of our country, as well as the adoption of new measures to limit our financial and commercial transactions, to strangle the Cuban economy and impose a regime which responds to U.S. interests.

On this occasion, the U.S. government attempts to sustain this discredited exercise with a new, slanderous accusation as to the supposed failure of Cuba’s banking system to take measures to confront money laundering and financial transactions linked to terrorism.

With this tall tale the United States hopes to conceal the fact that Cuba regularly provides precise, truthful information to the appropriate United Nations bodies charged with addressing these issues and others related to confronting terrorism. The U.S. blatantly ignores the Cuban government’s repeated proposals, made again as recently as February, 2012, to agree upon a bilateral program to confront terrorism. The U.S. government has not responded.

The United States does not have any moral authority whatsoever to judge us. It is widely known that the U.S. government has used state terrorism as a weapon in its policy toward Cuba, causing 3,478 deaths and 2,099 permanent injuries and has harbored, over time, dozens of terrorists, some of whom live freely within the country, while Cuba’s five anti-terrorist fighters remain unjustly imprisoned or detained. The U.S. is also the principal center of money laundering on the planet and the lack of regulation of its financial system detonated the current global economic crisis.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs forcefully rejects the manipulation of an issue as sensitive as terrorism for such narrow political ends against Cuba and demands that the U.S. government stop lying and put an end to this shameful practice which offends the Cuban people and discredits international efforts in the struggle against terrorism.

Havana, August 1st, 2012

U.S. still says Cuba on its list of “countries which sponsor international terrorism”

Defending the Cuban Revolution