The New York Times breaks the media blockade

In my article currently circulating in Nueva Réplica I regretted that the New York Times had not raised the case of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio in its editorial last October in which the paper called for ending the US blockade against Cuba. When I wrote it, I did not imagine that with that document, the New York paper would start an important debate, which has lasted a month and includes several editorials advocating a substantial change in the relations between the two countries. The latest one, published Sunday, November 2, proposed that the three be released and that in exchange, Cuba for humanitarian reasons would free Alan Gross who was sentenced here for participating in illegal activities to overthrow the revolutionary government. This is a fair and reasonable position. The paper is right when it defines the release of three Cuban heroes as a vital step towards civilized coexistence between two countries that are and will always be neighbors. By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

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.

President of the University of Baltimore: Maryland delegation should petition for release of Cuban Five

One hears statements from some government officials about a willingness to begin a new era of diplomatic relations the way a new era seemed to begin in U.S.-Soviet relations with the destruction of the Berlin Wall. However, there always seems to be a roadblock erected just as the parties move forward. The current roadblock involves the imprisonment in Cuba of Maryland resident Alan Gross and the imprisonment in the United States of a group known as the Cuban Five. I believe that the Maryland delegation to Congress may hold the key to opening the prison doors for all these men and subsequently opening a new era of diplomacy for these two countries. Published in Baltimore Sun

The Supreme Court, friends of justice and the free press

At the beginning of 2009 the case of the Cuban Five was presented to the Supreme Court, after the appellate court of the 11th Circuit failed to deliver justice. To represent us we resorted to Tom Goldstein, a young and prestigious lawyer, with an extensive rate of successes before that judicial body, on which he had specialized. Tom Goldstein, who could be considered an “ace” on the Supreme Court, added another advantage to the defense: As a legal commentator for CNN, specialized on cases before the highest tribunal, he offered us the hope that at last the wall of media silence would be broken. At least that was what he, with all logic, expected. Don’t get your expectations too high –some warned him with caution and better knowledge of cause- this case is no equal to any other and the press won’t be so easily inclined to cover it. From Rene González's Blog

Coming soon: Chronicle of an announced parody

this blog will start to publish a weekly review of the events which occurred on the court room, based on the journal that during those days I wrote for my wife. At the same time, the official transcript of the trial will be published on the blog on a weekly basis, in its entirety. From Rene Gonzalez's Blog

Gerardo Hernández: guilty as charged? Alan Gross: innocent as claimed?

Stephen Kimber is a Canadian writer, journalist and university professor, who traveled to Cuba as a tourist on the spring of 2009. His goal: To write a novel based on the geography, history and culture of the island. After learning, almost accidentally, of the connection between a trip by Gabriel Garcia Marquez to the United States and the subsequent arrest of the Cuban Five; his goal changed and the novel became “What Lies Across the Water”. It is the book which most truthful and completely covers the story of the case. It is the result of a careful and profound study of the legal documentation and of an exemplary rigor on the search for the facts. So far I haven’t known about the political affiliation of Kimber. I only know that I consider him a friend, a very honest man, and one of the most knowledgeable on the case of the Cuban Five. Based on that knowledge of the story he wrote this article. From Rene González's Blog

Cuba-US: The new normalization?

Normalizing relations between the two nations will require a series of presidential actions. Here is a roadmap for how that could happen…whenever. A president can exercise his or her pardon powers set out in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution to end the incarceration of the three remaining Cuban intelligence officers: Commutation of sentences (reducing them to time served) is inherent in the president’s power to pardon. In the case of the three remaining members of the original “Cuban Five” who are still in prison, a commutation of their sentences would, at this date, mean they will have served 16 years in prison. An additional advantage, apart from addressing the Cuban people’s sense of injustice, is that a commutation could help facilitate the release of USAID contractor Alan Gross, who is jailed in Cuba and not yet one-third of the way through a 15-year prison sentence. Article published in Americas Quaterly by US lawyer Robert Muse

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