Hernández and González were arrested along with Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, and Ramón Labañino in 1998 on frame-up charges of conspiracy to commit espionage, of being unregistered foreign agents, andin the case of Hernándezconspiracy to commit murder. In a federal trial in 2001, Guerrero and Labañino were given life sentences, and René González and Fernando González were sentenced to 15 and 19 years, respectively. Hernández received a double life sentence.
The Cuban Five, as they are known, had been monitoring the activities of Cuban-American counterrevolutionary groups based in Miami with a history of carrying out violent attacks against Cuba with the complicity of Washington.
Supporters of the imprisoned Cubans around the world have stepped up efforts to win visas for Pérez and Salanueva to see their loved ones.
Last December more than 100 prominent individuals from 27 countries, among them Nobel Peace laureates Adolfo Pérez Esquivel of Argentina and Rigoberta Menchú of Guatemala, formed the International Commission for Family Visitation Rights to campaign in support of Pérez and Salanueva.
Also in December, some 100 women in Peru attempted to deliver petitions to the U.S. embassy in Lima demanding that Pérez and Salanueva be given visas. The event was organized by the Peruvian Committee of Solidarity with the Five Cuban Prisoners.
In Uruguay more than 160 women, including trade union officials and members of the government and parliament, signed a letter that was delivered to the U.S. embassy in Montevideo, the capital, demanding visas for the two.
In an interview with BBC last July, Adriana Pérez said U.S. officials have given her a different excuse each of the previous seven times she applied for a visa. I am told I could be a danger to the security of the United States, a possible terrorist or even an illegal immigrant.
Pérez flew to the United States in 2002 to visit her husband. Even though she had been granted a U.S. visa, FBI agents detained her on arrival at the Houston airport. She was held in isolation, deprived of her passport, and interrogated without an attorney. She was finally deported back to Cuba without ever seeing her husband.
Salanueva, who lived for years in the Miami area with her husband, remained in the United States for two years after his arrest. After René González refused an FBI offer that he plead guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence, he received a letter suggesting that his familys permanent resident status could be revoked if he did not cooperate. On Aug. 16, 2000, Salanueva was arrested, handcuffed, and dragged before a federal deportation judge.
They drove me to the Miami Detention Center where René had been held since two years before, Salanueva is quoted as saying in a fact sheet in support of the five. They took me so he could see that I was in their custody, that he had one more chance to declare himself guilty, and then I could remain in the Unites States.
González still refused to plead guilty. Salanueva was held for three more months in an immigration jail before being deported to Cuba.
Family members of the other three imprisoned Cubans have only been granted one or two visits per year on average.
As a result of her mothers exclusion, Ivette González, the nine-year-old daughter of Salanueva and René González, has not seen her father even though she is a U.S. citizen by birth. The U.S. government requires that she be accompanied by a parent.
Irma Sehwerert, the mother of René González, did not get to visit to her son until September 2004, more than three years after the conviction of the five.
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