The appeal asks for letters to that effect to be sent to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Homeland Security Director Thomas Ridge, and Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The five menGerardo Hernández, Ramón Labańino, Fernando González, René González, and Antonio Guerreroare Cuban revolutionaries serving draconian sentences in U.S. prisons on frame-up charges brought by the U.S. government. The Cuban Five, as they are known, had been carrying out an internationalist mission to gather information on ultrarightist organizations with a record of violent attacks on Cuba carried out from U.S. soil with Washingtons complicity. They were arrested by FBI agents in 1998, charged with conspiracy to commit espionage and conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent. Hernández was also charged with conspiracy to commit murder. They were convicted in June 2001, given sentences ranging from 15 years to a double-life term, and sent to five federal prisons in different regions of the country.
On February 28 the five men were thrown into solitary confinement after an order by the Justice Department charging that the extensive solidarity they had received in the form of correspondence and the few visitors they were allowed made them a national security risk. An international campaign of protests was launched against this unsuccessful attempt by Washington to break them. They were released from the hole a month later. They are now in the process of appealing their convictions and sentences.
On July 25, 2002, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and FBI agents detained Pérez upon her entry into the United States at Houston Intercontinental Airport. She had arrived from Cuba that day with a visa issued by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to visit her husband, Gerardo Hernández, in a federal penitentiary in Lompoc, California, whom she has not seen for five years. After holding Pérez for 11 hours and interrogating her, the INSnow reorganized under the Homeland Security agency as the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcementrevoked her visa and deported her to Cuba.
Earlier last year U.S. authorities also revoked a visa they had issued to Salanueva. The action stopped Salanueva and her daughter from visiting René González, who is imprisoned in Edgefield, South Carolina. Washington had deported Salanueva to Cuba during her husbands trial.
As they wait for the appeals of the cases of the Cuban Five, which could take years, the families should not be denied the right to stay together, reads the July 8 appeal by the Committee to Free the Five, which is among the U.S. groups organizing the campaign to release the five men.
Letters demanding that visas be granted to Pérez and Salanueva can be sent to Secretary of State Colin Powell, 2201 C St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20520, tel: (202) 647-4000, fax: (202) 261-8577; Homeland Security Director Thomas Ridge, Washington, DC 20528; and Attorney General John Ashcroft, 950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001, tel: (202) 353-1555, e-mail: email@example.com
As part of this effort, we reprint below a June 23 letter that Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez sent to Mary-Alice Waters, president of Pathfinder Press.
We write you as two Cuban women who have been unable to communicate with our husbands because our entry into the U.S. has been prevented. Our husbands have been imprisoned in U.S. jails since Sept. 12, 1998, receiving long prison terms for being fighters against terrorism.
My name is Olga Salanueva Arango, wife of René González Sehwerert, sentenced to 15 years in prison, with whom I was living when he was arrested. Since that time our family has been subjected to humiliation and to blackmail against my husband. This treatment has been utilized as a form of psychological torture against him.
In November 2000, faced with my husbands refusal to plea bargain in exchange for his familys remaining in U.S. territory, I was arrested and jailed for three months, separated from my daughters, and deported to Cuba.
On repeated occasions the U.S. government has denied my request for a visa so I could visit my husband. In this way they have prevented us from seeing each other physically, and they have prevented communication between René and our young daughter Ivette González, who is five years old. The child was four months old at the time of the arrest. For that reason, the only face of her father she recognizes is that in photographs. She does not even remember the feeling of a fatherly embrace and kiss.
The other case is mine, Adriana Pérez Oconor, wife of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, who is serving two life sentences plus 15 years.
Each time Ive requested authorization to enter the United States to visit my husband, the government of that country has denied it to me. On the first occasion, it reached the point where they granted me such authorization, letting me travel as far as Houston. There they detained me for 11 hours, submitting me to a humiliating interrogation, and forcing me to return to Cuba without being able to fulfill the objective of my visit, which was to visit my husband, who was anxiously awaiting my visit to the jail.
Every human being who is imprisoned has a right to be treated with dignity and with the appropriate respect for his rights. Among the most elementary of these is the right to receive visits from his closest family members such as his wife and young children. These cannot be denied him as a form of torture and as an additional punishment.
We know that in you we have a friend who has shown warmth and support for our people and for all just causes. For that reason, we come to ask for your support and collaboration in denouncing this inhuman violation of our rights. For any information on the case, or to communicate with us, you can contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org
Certain of your understanding and support,
Olga Salanueva Arango and Adriana Pérez Oconor
Grant visas to family of Cuba 5!
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