Rene Gonzalez was released last week after serving 13 years in US prisons. Rene is part of the Cuban Five —Gerardo Hernández, Ramon Labañino, Fernando González, Antonio Guerrero and René González— who were given harsh sentences ranging from 15 years to double consecutive life terms plus 15 years in a trial plagued with irregularities and held in a highly biased Miami court.
The five Cubans were working to uncover information about terrorist activities being planned and carried out against Cuba by ultra-rightwing organizations based in southern Florida with a long record of terrorist actions against Cuba and the Cuban people. When they turned their information over to authorities they were arrested and have been in jail ever since.
In May 2005, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention adopted an opinion on the case in which it concluded that US government had failed to guarantee the Cuban five a fair trial under Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty the USA has ratified. While noting that the case was still pending before the US appeal courts, The Working Group stated that its findings were made on the basis of the facts and circumstances described, the responses received from the US government and further comments by the complaint’s source.
The letter is part of a US campaign called Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 campaign.
On October 7 Rene Gonzalez was released after serving his full sentence, but a South Florida district judge denied his return to Cuba. “Not only is the order to serve an additional 3 years of parole in the US extraordinary and punitive, it is the kind of gratuitous insult that further aggravates the unnecessary tension between the US and Cuba. It only adds injury to insult that the separation of this family be extended for another 3 years,” states the letter.
During Rene Gonzalez’s 13 years in federal prison, the US government denied his wife Olga Salanueva entry visas to visit him. The letter to President Obama points out that if Gonzalez remains in the US, his life will be in danger from anti-Cuban terrorist organizations based in Florida. The actors and artists ask President Obama; “How, sir, can Mr. Gonzalez’s safety be ensured in the middle of an environment that generates so much insecurity?”
President Obama recently made a statement that he is open to new relations with Cuba. In the letter the actors and artists responded, “Please know that allowing Rene Gonzalez to be reunited with his wife, daughters and parents in Cuba would be the kind of humane gesture that would set the stage for just such a development.”
Actor Mike Farrell reacting when he heard the news said, “I pray that President Obama understands the injustice that has been done to Rene Gonzalez and others of the Cuban 5 in the name of political gamesmanship. There is no benefit to the United States in the continued persecution of these men, there is only harm. Mr. Gonzalez has served a wrongful sentence and should now be allowed to rejoin his family rather than be subject to continued persecution, harassment and serious danger by being forced to remain, during his period of parole, among those who wish him harm. If political retribution is allowed to pervert the justice system, what hope is there for our society?”
US actors and artists who signed the letter includes; Edward Asner, Jackson Browne, Peter Coyote, James Cromwell, Hector Elizondo, Mike Farrell, Richard Foos, Max Gail, Danny Glover, Elliott Gould, Si Kahn, Greg Landau, Francisco Letelier, Esai Morales, Michael O’Keefe, Bonnie Raitt, Susan Sarandon, Pete Seeger, Betty and Stanley K. Sheinbaum, Andy Spahn and Haskell Wexler, reported Prensa Latina.
Formed in September, 2010, on the 12th anniversary of the incarceration of Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez, Rene Gonzalez and Ramon Labañino,
Actors and Artists United for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, sent a letter to President Obama asking for their release.
In April, 2011, they sent a letter to former President Jimmy Carter commending him for his recent visit to the island, calling for improved relations with Cuba and for the release of the Cuban 5. This campaign, co-chaired by actor and activist Danny Glover and Ed Asner, is part of a series of projects sponsored by the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, which advocate for the release from US prisons and safe return home for these five men, known in their country as heroes for preventing acts of terrorism against Cuba.
On September 16, South Florida District Judge Joan Lenard stated that Gonzalez had to serve three additional years of supervised release without leaving the US once his 13-year sentence ended. The court denied a request from Gonzalez defense team to allow him to return to Cuba to be reunited with his family, after being released.(Juventud Rebelde).