They Are Finally Home!

This morning after more than 16 years, the 3 remaining members of the Cuban 5 were finally freed and are now home in Cuba with their loved ones. Gerardo has now been reunited with Adriana, Ramon is back with Elizabeth and his 3 beautiful daughters and Antonio is with his mother Mirta, the 84 year old tireless inspiration of this struggle, who feared she would die before she saw her son back in Cuba. And of course they are now reunited with their 2 other brothers, Rene and Fernando. This is a moment in which everyone in the solidarity movement with Cuba can rejoice. It is also a victory for the resilient people of Cuba who never wavered in their support for the Five who were always considered heroes of the homeland.

Church World Service Urges U.S. Release of Cuban 5 Detainees, and Cuba Release of U.S. Detainee

Recently returned from a visit with one of three Cubans held in American prisons, Church World Service (CWS) President and CEO the Rev. John L. McCullough reflected on the intersection of faith and politics as he prepares to travel to Cuba for visits with church leaders, Cuban government officials and the families of the imprisoned men. “CWS is calling for the humanitarian release of Mr. Gross by the Cuban government and of the remaining Cuban 5 prisoners by the U.S. government,” said McCullough. “This is a humanitarian imperative and an important step toward improving the relationship between our two countries.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES: A Prisoner Swap With Cuba

Officials at the White House are understandably anxious about the political fallout of a deal with Havana, given the criticism they faced in May after five Taliban prisoners were exchanged for an American soldier kidnapped in Afghanistan. The American government, sensibly, is averse to negotiating with terrorists or governments that hold United States citizens for ransom or political leverage. But in exceptional circumstances, it makes sense to do so. The Alan Gross case meets that criteria. In order to swap prisoners, President Obama would need to commute the sentences [of the three Cubans convicted in Miami in 2001]. Doing so would be justified considering the lengthy time they have served, the troubling questions about the fairness of their trial, and the potential diplomatic payoff in clearing the way toward a new bilateral relationship.

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson Sends Letter to Obama in Support of the Five

It is time to correct an injustice that is in your power to amend. This injustice mars majorly the American system of justice, the U.S. record on human rights and, as importantly, the lives of five men whose dedication to the security of their own country against terrorist attack should be admired and respected, not punished. Take action, Mr. President. Release immediately the three remaining imprisoned members of the Cuban Five. Admit publicly the gross injustice done to all of them and elaborate the reasons. Apologize to the Cuban people and to our citizens and, most of all, to the Cuban Five and their families. Listen to "the better angels of our nature" and put the United States back on the side of justice. Lawrence Wilkerson was chief of staff to Colin Powell at the U.S. Department of State (2002-2005). He served 31 years in the US Army (1966-1998).

US Attorney Arthur Heitzer urge people to send letters to the NYT, supporting their conclusions but adding missing parts of the story.

Welcome and rational as these New York Times 5 statements are, all basically positive, these two below on the Cuban Five omit two glaring facts that would make the NYT conclusion much more powerful: First, there was no classified U.S. govt. information nor documents involved in this case which the Times repeatedly refers to as that of five Cuban spies. Two of them had no type of espionage charges, but were still given more than 15 years each, chiefly for being agents of Cuba without registering. The three still in prison also had "conspiracy" to commit espionage charges and convictions, for which they all initially received life sentences even though they were not charged with actual espionage (as they had no classified information). Second, there is not a single reference to terrorism; the fact that these Cuban agents attempted to deter continuing terrorist activity based in South Florida against Cuba; nor to career terrorist figures like the late Orlando Bosch, whose activities were a direct part of the Five's mission, and to Luis Posada Carriles, who is still being harbored by the U.S. in Miami.

Letter to the The New York Times

Your three editorials about Cuba this month are a welcome acknowledgment that the embargo is a fossilized Cold War fiasco. A significant step could be taken by engaging in serious dialogue to secure the release of a United States Agency for International Development employee, Alan Gross, jailed in Cuba since 2009, and three Cubans, jailed in the United States for the past 15 years. Both governments claim that these men violated their laws. Both governments insist on release of their citizens as a demonstration of good faith. Serious humanitarian reasons support their release. Once they are free, their respective governments can talk about commerce, education, health and human rights. We all stand to benefit.


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René González Fernando González Antonio Guerrero Ramón Labañino Gerardo Hernández

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