Our Readers' Opinions
February 11, 2011

President Obama, release the Cuban 5


Mike Browne
P.O Box 1153
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Tel: (784) 593-0831
Email: Mikebrowne1153@yahoo.com

February 5th, 2011

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

Today, February 5th, I write in response to an appeal by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, launched for 2011 under the theme THE 5th OF EACH MONTH FOR THE 5, LET’S RAISE OUR VOICES FOR THE HEROES.{{more}}

The letter, containing the appeal, notes “President Obama has more than enough proof of the innocence of the Cuban 5. He knows that they never were a threat to US National Security, that they carried no guns and that their only objective was to monitor terrorist organizations based in Miami to avoid the death of more innocent people”

This is my first letter to you calling for the release of the Cuban 5. It is copied to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, His Excellency Pablo Rodriguez, Cuban ambassador to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the local media.

Given your familiarity with the issue of the Cuban 5, the following brief recap is for my Vincentian compatriots who benefit substantially from Cuban international support and solidarity:

a) The United States of America in general and Miami in particular have been (and continue to be) the base of numerous terrorist attacks on Cuba ever since the successful Cuban revolution of over half a century ago. Many have been the terrorist plots hatched in and executed from Miami on revolutionary Cuba.

b) Five (5) Cuban patriotic intellectuals (university graduates) worked in Miami providing the Cuban government with intelligence on the terrorist plans of the anti-Cuba groups and organizations, with a view to pre-empting dangerous and harmful actions against the Cuban people.

c) In 1998, the Cuban 5 were arrested by the FBI, and presented with several charges, including espionage and conspiracy to murder. As the American defence-lawyer Leonard Weinglass stated, the Cuban 5 “had no guns, no explosives, created no harm in the United States, did not involve themselves in any classified information here, did not interfere with national security.” Yet they were given prison sentences of two (2) life-terms (Gerado Hernandez Nordelo) ; one life-term (Ramon Labanino Salazar); one life-term (Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez), 19 years (Fernando Gonzalez Llort); 15 years (Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert).

d) As a result of the injustice in these cases, an international movement calling for the release of the Cuban 5 has sprung up, and numerous appeals to US administrations have been submitted. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is part of this international movement with the establishment of a local Committee for the Cuban 5.

e) Much documentation and several publications are available on the Cuban 5. I quote from one such book, ONLY IN MIAMI, the words of the five, contained in a “Message of the Cuban 5 to the American people”, given on June 17, 2001, when the trial ended:

“Our tiny nation, which has heroically survived four decades of aggression and threats to its national security, of subversive plans, sabotages and destabilization, has every right to defend itself from its enemies who keep using US territory to plan, organize and finance terrorist actions, breaking your own laws in the process.

Our country is also entitled to peace, respect for its sovereignty and for our most sacred interests. In the four years that we have spent in this country, we have never stopped wondering why it is that our two peoples cannot live in peace. How is it possible for the interests of the extreme right— including terrorist groups made up of Cuban Americans— to strain relations between two peoples who are so close geographically and who could easily maintain relations based on respect and equality.

In our prison-stay, we have had the time to reflect on our behavior in this country. We can say, without the shadow of doubt, that neither with our attitude nor our actions have we in any way interfered with, or jeopardized the security of the American people. What we have certainly done is contribute to exposing terrorist plans and actions against our people, thus preventing the death of innocent Cubans and Americans.

Why is it necessary for Cuban patriots to stay away from their loved ones and postpone an otherwise joyful life with their families and people to carry out the honorable duty of protecting their homeland?

Why are the US authorities tolerant of these terrorists who act against our country? Why don’t they investigate or take action against the terrorist plans denounced by Cuba or try to prevent the numerous attempts against the life of our leaders?

Why is it that the professed authors of these and other terrorist actions are still loose in South Florida as was clearly established during the trial?

Who trained them and who is allowing them to carry out their plans?

Who is really endangering the security of the United States of America?

They are the terrorist groups made up of Cuban Americans and their political and economic mentors in the US who erode the credibility of this country, giving this nation an appearance of ruthlessness and misleading its institutions to an inconsistent, prejudiced and erratic behavior. They are the same individuals who are an obstacle to a serious and sensitive approach to Cuba-related issues.

Such groups and their mentors have joined in a coordinated drive to bring about conflict between our two countries. To that end, they keep promoting in the legislative and the executive branches of government increasingly aggressive measures against Cuba.

They want to continue a long-standing history of invasions, sabotages, biological aggressions and other similar actions, while sparing no effort to create situations that might lead to incidents of grave consequences to both our peoples.

The result of such aggression against Cuba is that 3,478 people were killed and 2,099 were maimed between 1959 and 1999, not to mention very costly material losses.

They persist in their propaganda campaigns offering the US people a distorted image of Cuba and trying to prevent with different pretexts, laws and regulations, Americans from traveling freely to Cuba to know firsthand the real situation there. They also set every obstacle in areas of common interest such as illegal migration and drug-trafficking that bring so much pain to the American people.

All this is compounded by their constant request for ever larger amounts of money from the government, thus affecting the American taxpayers, simply to finance their actions against Cuba. The enormous amount of money that keeps pouring into radio and TV broadcasts, as well as financing their contacts on the island, take away resources that could better be used to solve social problems affecting Americans.

There are recent examples of these groups’ clout and pressures on the Miami community, its government agencies and even its judicial system.

It would be in the best interest of the American people to get rid of the bad influence of such extremists and terrorists who cause so much damage to the United States by breaking its own laws.

We have never done anything for money. We have always lived modestly and acted humbly, living up to the sacrifices of our own people.

We have always been moved by a strong sentiment of human solidarity, love for our homeland and contempt for that which goes against the dignity of the human being.

The defendants in this trial are in no way repentant of what we have done to defend our country. We declare ourselves not guilty and simply take comfort in the fact that we have honored our duty to our people and our homeland. Our loved ones understand the depth of the ideas that guide us and they will take pride in our sacrifices for Humanity in this struggle against terrorism and for the independence of Cuba.”

President Obama, that these clear words were issued less than three months before the terrorist attacks of September 11th on your own country is not without significance.

Today, I add my voice to the collective global chorus calling for the release of the Cuban 5. Such a release is logical and consistent with your pledge and the US policy to fight terrorism, and indeed strengthens such a policy.

In anticipation of your positive response.

Mike Browne
CC. Dr. R.E. Gonsalves, P.M. SVG
H.E. Pablo Rodriguez,
Cuban Ambassador to SVG
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