Alocución del Presidente cubano: Los Cinco ya están en Cuba
Por: Raúl Castro Ruz
Desde mi elección como Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, he reiterado en múltiples ocasiones, nuestra disposición a sostener con el gobierno de los Estados Unidos un diálogo respetuoso, basado en la igualdad soberana, para tratar los más diversos temas de forma recíproca, sin menoscabo a la independencia nacional y la autodeterminación de nuestro pueblo.
Esta es una posición que fue expresada al Gobierno de Estados Unidos, de forma pública y privada, por el compañero Fidel en diferentes momentos de nuestra larga lucha, con el planteamiento de discutir y resolver las diferencias mediante negociaciones, sin renunciar a uno solo de nuestros principios.
El heroico pueblo cubano ha demostrado, frente a grandes peligros, agresiones, adversidades y sacrificios, que es y será fiel a nuestros ideales de independencia y justicia social. Estrechamente unidos en estos 56 años de Revolución, hemos guardado profunda lealtad a los que cayeron defendiendo esos principios desde el inicio de nuestras guerras de independencia en 1868.
Ahora, llevamos adelante, pese a las dificultades, la actualización de nuestro modelo económico para construir un socialismo próspero e sostenible.
Resultado de un diálogo al más alto nivel, que incluyó una conversación telefónica que sostuve ayer con el Presidente Barack Obama, se ha podido avanzar en la solución de algunos temas de interés para ambas naciones.
Como prometió Fidel, en junio del 2001, cuando dijo: ¡Volverán!, arribaron hoy a nuestra Patria, Gerardo, Ramón y Antonio.
La enorme alegría de sus familiares y de todo nuestro pueblo, que se movilizó infatigablemente con ese objetivo, se extiende entre los cientos de comités y grupos de solidaridad; los gobiernos, parlamentos, organizaciones, instituciones y personalidades que durante estos 16 años reclamaron e hicieron denodados esfuerzos por su liberación. A todos ellos expresamos la más profunda gratitud y compromiso.
Esta decisión del Presidente Obama, merece el respeto y reconocimiento de nuestro pueblo.
Quiero agradecer y reconocer el apoyo del Vaticano, y especialmente, del Papa Francisco, al mejoramiento de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Igualmente, al Gobierno de Canadá por las facilidades creadas para la realización del diálogo de alto nivel entre los dos países.
A su vez, decidimos excarcelar y enviar a Estados Unidos a un espía de origen cubano que estuvo al servicio de esa nación.
Por otra parte, basados en razones humanitarias, hoy también fue devuelto a su país el ciudadano norteamericano Alan Gross.
De manera unilateral, como es nuestra práctica y en estricto apego a nuestro ordenamiento legal, han recibido beneficios penales los reclusos correspondientes, incluida la excarcelación de personas sobre las que el Gobierno de los Estados Unidos había mostrado interés.
Igualmente, hemos acordado el restablecimiento de las relaciones diplomáticas.
Esto no quiere decir que lo principal se haya resuelto. El bloqueo económico, comercial y financiero que provoca enormes daños humanos y económicos a nuestro país debe cesar.
Aunque las medidas del bloqueo han sido convertidas en Ley, el Presidente de los Estados Unidos puede modificar su aplicación en uso de sus facultades ejecutivas.
Proponemos al Gobierno de los Estados Unidos adoptar medidas mutuas para mejorar el clima bilateral y avanzar hacia la normalización de los vínculos entre nuestros países, basados en los principios del Derecho Internacional y la Carta de las Naciones Unidas.
Cuba reitera su disposición a sostener cooperación en los organismos multilaterales, como la Organización de Naciones Unidas.
Al reconocer que tenemos profundas diferencias, fundamentalmente en materia de soberanía nacional, democracia, derechos humanos y política exterior, reafirmo nuestra voluntad de dialogar sobre todos esos temas.
Exhorto al Gobierno de los Estados Unidos a remover los obstáculos que impiden o restringen los vínculos entre nuestros pueblos, las familias y los ciudadanos de ambos países, en particular los relativos a los viajes, el correo postal directo y las telecomunicaciones.
Los progresos alcanzados en los intercambios sostenidos demuestran que es posible encontrar solución a muchos problemas.
Como hemos repetido, debemos aprender el arte de convivir, de forma civilizada, con nuestras diferencias.
Sobre estos importantes temas volveremos a hablar más adelante.
By Adam Taylor of the Washington Post
On Wednesday, Obama administration officials confirmed to The Post that Cuba has freed American citizen Alan Gross. Gross, who was detained in December 2009 while working as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, had been accused of espionage and sentenced to 15 years in prison by Cuba. His imprisonment was a major problem in relations between Washington and Havana.
Gross was not freed by accident. According to ABC News, his release is the culmination of more than a year of “secret back-channel talks at the highest levels of both governments.” And, importantly, his release comes at the same time as an agreement by the U.S. government to release three Cuban citizens, part of the “Cuban Five.”
Here’s a breakdown of why the Cuban Five are so important.
Who are the Cubans being released?
Their names are Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino. They are part of the Cuban Five, a group of Cuban nationals convicted of spying in Miami in 2001. The two other members, René González and Fernando González, have already been released (in 2011 and earlier this year, respectively).
Why were they arrested?
The Cuban Five had been sent to South Florida by the Castro government to gather information about exile groups. As part of what was referred to as the Wasp Network, they would infiltrate anti-Castro groups and then send back information to Cuba through what the Associated Press described as “encrypted software, high-frequency radio transmissions and coded electronic phone messages.”
Cuban intelligence officers had been operating in the United States for years and been monitored by various government organizations. However, after Cuban fighters shot down two planes in 1996 that were carrying U.S. citizens working with an exile group, Brothers to the Rescue, the U.S. government began a crackdown. The FBI arrested the Cuban Five in Miami in September 1998.
In June 2001, after a lengthy trial, the five were convicted on espionage charges (Hernández was also found guilty of a conspiracy to commit murder for his involvement in the 1996 incident), and they received sentences that ranged from 15 years to life in prison.
Years of legal battle followed. René González was released in 2011 and required to serve out three years of probation in the United States, but a judge ruled in 2013 that González could stay in Cuba, where he had traveled to attend his father’s funeral, if he renounced his U.S. citizenship. Fernando González (no relation) was released earlier this year and immediately deported.
Are they a big deal in Cuba?
Yes, they’re huge: Their faces adorn murals and stamps, and “even schoolchildren can recite details of the case,” The Post’s William Booth wrote in 2009.
Havana has also argued that the Cuban Five were not spying on the United States and that their punishment was out of proportion. Many Cuban supporters also say that their trial, held in Miami, was colored by anti-Castro sentiment and the aftermath of the Elián González affair. But perhaps the biggest aspect of their support comes from how they’re perceived in the country — not as spies, but as agents working to stop terrorist attacks.
Stephen Kimber, author of “What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five,” explained that position in a 2013 article for The Post. “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,” Kimber writes, and U.S. authorities mostly looked the other way. It fell to groups such as the Cuban Five to try to protect the country, he argues.
The Wasp Network has been credited with foiling a 1994 plot to set off bombs in Havana’s iconic Tropicana nightclub, for example, though other plots, such as 1997’s bomb attacks on Havana hotels, succeeded. Castro’s government claims that the Cuban Five were arrested only after a meeting between Cuban intelligence officials and FBI agents in 1998 about alleged plots coming from exile groups in the United States. “They shot the messenger,” Ricardo Alarcón, president of Cuba’s National Assembly, told The Post in 2006.
Will there be a backlash over their release?
Almost certainly: When news of Gross’s release spread, the first headline to run on the conservative Drudge Report Web site read simply: “Obama to release three Cuban spies.” For many who support the blockade on Cuba or operate in the Cuban exile community, the Cuban Five deserved to be in prison.
When reports of a possible prisoner exchange between Washington and Havana involving Gross and the Cuban Five circulated in 2012, there was a notable pushback. “The Cuba Five should serve their sentences for spying,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told NBC News. This time is no different. “It puts a price on every American abroad,” Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday.
Probably because of this, U.S. statements on the release of the Cuban Five have been cautiously worded so far, arguing that there was no prisoner swap and that Gross was released separately on “humanitarian grounds.”
For Family of Cuban 5, ‘A Mix of Honour and Pain’
The sister of Antonio Guerrero, one of the 5 Cuban heroes detained in the United States, spoke to teleSUR English about her brother, the case, and her family’s struggle for justice.
For the family of one of the so-called Cuban 5, his illegal detention in the United States has brought mixed feelings, in an exclusive interview with teleSUR English at the Cuban Embassy in Quito.
Maria Eugenia Guerrero, the sister of Antonio Guerrero one of the Cuban imprisoned in the United States for fighting against terrorism said that, “When we found out, it was difficult. As my mother says, it has been a mixture of honor and pain. A mixture of honor, because it is an honor to have a brother that one day decided to defend his family, to defend his people, and to defend peace and humanity against terrorism. He risked his life and abandoned everything.”
Antonio Guerrero is one of the 5 Cubans arrested in the U.S. by the FBI on September 12, 1998. Known as the Cuban 5, these men infiltrated violent, right wing exile groups in Miami that were committing terrorist attacks against Cuba.
Maria Eugenia, is in Quito to present her brother’s paintings at an exhibition and share her family’s story.
The Cuban 5 were held in isolation cells for 17 months before their case was brought to court, and the men were convicted on conspiracy charges. The trial has been considered unfair by many, as it was held in Miami with a local jury.
Many in the international community doubt that there was due process. Despite the conviction of the Cuban 5, the perpetrators of terrorist attacks against the island, such as Luis Posada Carriles, the mastermind behind the 1976 bombing of Cuban Flight 455 which killed 73 people, remain free.
On the conviction of her brother and the other 4 Cubans, Guerrero said, “Their only objective was to try to obtain information about the terrorist groups operating out of Florida in order to inform the U.S. and Cuban governments so as to prevent these attacks from occurring.”
“In 1996, one of the many bombs planted in Cuba was at the Copacabana Hotel. It killed the young Italian tourist Fabio di Celmo. In Cuba, more than 3,000 people have been victims of terrorist attacks which have been perpetrated by people who to this day live freely in the United States, principally Florida,” she went on to say.
Guerrero said that from behind bars, Antonio has developed relationships with renowned artists and intellectuals, such as musician Silvio Rodriguez. He has also received over 16,000 letters of support from around the world.
The political prisoner has published books of poetry and taught himself how to paint. He now gives painting classes to his fellow prisoners at Marianna Prison, and teaches math, English and Spanish.
“He said that he has never felt like a prisoner, because he has found a way to be in contact with the outside world. He is in contact of course with his family, with his children. In our family, my brother is never absent. When my daughter turned 15, he was present, dedicating her a poem, sending her a letter,” said Guerrero.
On her brother, Guerrero said, “He is a person surrounded by friends, surrounded by love, by happiness. When we go visit him, he always comes into the visiting room with a smile on his face. And you have to take a deep breath and think how this is possible. And the whole time we are visiting – the visits are from 9 to 3 in the afternoon – the entire time we are there we are never mournful. We never speak of hatred. We tell stories and we remember songs from our youth.”
While Rene and Fernando, 2 of the Cuban 5, have already completed their sentences, Antonio is set to leave prison on September 18, 2017 and Ramon in 2024. Gerardo is sentenced to two life terms.
Through their participation in international solidarity events and direct lobbying, Maria Eugenia and the families of the 5 are working for their freedom.
She said, “My hope, is that Obama, before he finishes his term, decides to sign a presidential pardon and free the 3 Cubans. This is what we are constantly thinking about. We think that this is the moment, and that he can do this.”
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