The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.62/No.18           May 11, 1998 
Free Basque prisoner!
Ramon Aldasoro, a 42 year-old Basque refugee, was arrested in Miami in December 1997. In Miami, he worked as a sales person at a local car dealership. Since his arrest, Ramon is being held in solitary confinement pending extradition proceedings. He faces extradition to Spain, where the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, the International Prison Watch, and the UN's Human Rights Committee say torture is inflicted on detainees. The general secretary of Amnesty International, Pierre Sane, said during his visit to the Basque Country last month that human rights are being violated in Spain, and that current "anti- terrorism" legislation perpetuates torture.

The Spanish government accuses Ramon of being involved in the killing of several army and police officers in 1983-1988 - accusations based on statements of detainees extracted under torture by police. These detainees were held in incommunicado detention for a period of five days in a police barracks. If extradited to Spain, Ramon is likely to be tortured or even killed.

The Basque Congress for Peace began a letter campaign in support of Ramon Aldasoro. Please join us and send a message of support to Ramon, who is living in very hard conditions in a Miami detention center. Your message can make a difference to him that there are people who will not let him suffer alone. Please write to Ramon before May 4, as the extradition trial has been scheduled for that day. Send your letter of support to:

Ramon Aldasoro: RN 57937004, Federal Detention Center, P.O. Box 019120, Miami, Florida 33101-9120.

Olatz Arkauz,

New York, New York

Cuban political prisoners?
I am an over-the-road trucker without much time on my hands. I subscribe to the Militant and find the information necessary, particularly international news.

In order to have good discussions on various issues, one needs information. So that is why I have felt politically disarmed by the Militant's lack of coverage on Cuba's recent release of political prisoners. Or were they? I seem to recall reading a statement from Ricardo Alarcón (of Cuba) that no one can teach Cuba about democracy.

Why doesn't the Militant take this head-on? Not doing so leaves many of us ill-prepared to have discussions. Does your silence imply that even groups like Amnesty International are merely dupes of imperialism?

Mark Heinecamp

Tucson, Arizona

Editor's reply: In February 1998, the Cuban government released 299 individuals serving prison sentences for counterrevolutionary or common crimes. Of these, 75 were on a list presented by the Vatican of 302 supposed political prisoners. Cuban officials noted that a third of those on the Vatican's list had already been released from prison, and another 20 names were listed twice. Cuban officials point out that these people had been jailed for their actions, not ideas, and were being released for humanitarian reasons.

The Militant agrees with the stance that you paraphrase from Ricardo Alarcón, the president of Cuba's National Assembly of People's Power. Neither Washington nor any other imperialist power - the biggest threat to humanity today - has any right to lecture anyone about human rights. The letter above from a Basque solidarity activist is a small illustration of that. The reason the U.S. rulers rail against the Cuban revolution is precisely because workers and farmers in Cuba, under a leadership responding to their needs, have expropriated the capitalists' property for the benefit of society and over the years have won more and more control over the fundamental decisions affecting their lives.

The letters column is an open forum for all viewpoints on subjects of general interest to our readers. Please keep your letters brief. Where necessary they will be abridged. Please indicate if you prefer that your initials be used rather than your full name.

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