The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 72/No. 32      August 18, 2008

U.S. denies visa for wife
of Cuban 5 prisoner
(front page)
The U.S. government on July 16 denied for the ninth time a visa for Olga Salanueva to visit her imprisoned husband René González. He is one of the Cuban Five, revolutionaries arrested in 1998 on frame-up charges that they were part of a “Cuban spy network” in Florida. The five were keeping the Cuban government informed about rightist groups that have a long record of carrying out bombings and armed attacks on Cuba from U.S. soil.

González and the other four—Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando González—were convicted in 2001 and received harsh sentences.

Officials at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana told Salanueva that her visa request was denied because she had been deported from the United States and that “this ineligibility has a permanent character,” according to an article in Granma daily.

The last time Salanueva saw González was August 2000 when she was arrested in Miami and taken to see him on her way to jail. By arresting her the cops hoped to pressure González into signing a confession and testifying against the other defendants. He refused and received a 15-year sentence.

Salanueva, who was jailed for three months, was deported six days before the trial of the Cuban Five began.

Adriana Pérez accompanied Salanueva to the July 16 appointment at the US. Interest Section. She is the wife of Gerardo Hernández, who is serving a double life sentence. Pérez is requesting a visa to visit Hernández but has not received a reply. Her eight previous visa requests were turned down.

Relatives in Cuba of the rest of the five have been able to visit only once a year on average because of the long delays in obtaining visas. Guerrero’s son and sister recently visited him, but the visit was cut short when the U.S. prison in Florence, Colorado, was placed in lockdown. “Every visit with my father is a victory,” his son Tony told Prensa Latina.

Supporters have continued to win backing for both the visa fight and the fight to free the five.

The July 18-20 National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles approved a resolution calling for freedom for the five and “the immediate granting of humanitarian visas to Adriana Pérez and Olga Salanueva in order that they may visit their husbands.”

The organizations that convened the Congreso include the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, League of United Latin American Citizens, Mexican American Political Association, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, and National Day Labor Organizing Network.

The vice president of the Mexican Senate, Yeidcol Polevnsky Gurwitz, recently added her name to those protesting the visa denials.

The Namibian parliament approved a motion July 9 demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the five and the end of the U.S. embargo of Cuba.

On July 24 lawyers for the five filed a petition with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, for a rehearing on the June decision of the court, which upheld the convictions while ordering new sentencing for three of the men.

In a phone interview lead defense attorney Leonard Weinglass told the Militant that the petition requests a review of the charges and sentencing of Gerardo Hernández, who was convicted of “conspiracy to commit murder” because he had been gathering information on Brothers to the Rescue. In 1996 Cuban pilots shot down two planes flown by the right-wing outfit, which had repeatedly violated Cuban airspace despite many warnings.

The appeals court decision upholding Hernández’s conviction and sentence is “based on the fiction that there was a plan to shoot down the planes in international airspace,” Weinglass said. “But the plan was to defend Cuban airspace.” The lawyer pointed out that Cuba insists the planes were in Cuban airspace when the shoot down occurred. Further appeals of the convictions of the five are planned.  
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