Category: Cuban Five
Free Alan Gross—and the Cuban Five!
| April 18, 2014 | 8:44 pm | Action, Cuban Five, International | No comments

If the U.S. wants Cuba to release USAID contractor Alan Gross, it should give up its own political prisoners from Cuba.

Art by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban 5

Art by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban 5

Painting by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban 5

While the U.S. government has vigorously protested Cuba’s imprisonment of USAID contractor Alan Gross, it has proven unwilling to make the diplomatic overtures—like releasing the Cuban Five—that could secure his release.

Alan Gross, an American imprisoned in Cuba since December 3, 2009, recently went on a hunger strike in Havana that lasted for eight days. He did so to protest the U.S. and Cuban governments’ inaction in negotiating a solution to his tragedy.

Gross is the latest victim in a long history of conflicts between Cuba and the United States. An international development expert subcontracted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Gross entered Cuba as a non-registered foreign agent. His mission was to create a wireless internet satellite network based in Jewish community centers that would circumvent detection by the Cuban government.

Gross was quickly apprehended. But while the U.S. government has vigorously protested his treatment, it has proven unwilling to make the diplomatic overtures—like releasing the Cuban Five—that could secure his release.

Regime Change “Cockamamie”

The USAID program that landed Gross in prison was designed during the George W. Bush administration. It received approval under the Helms-Burton Act, a 1996 law that essentially committed the U.S. government to the overthrow of the Cuban regime.

Gross’ program took an indisputably covert and incendiary approach to democracy promotion, never bothering to obtain the informed consent of the Cuban Jewish community. Like most Cuban religious groups, Jews in Cuba have opposed any attempt to politicize religious organizations by turning them into tools to promote opposition to the regime. The Bush administration’s holy warriors at USAID, however, had aspirations far beyond the temple doors¾they aimed to overthrow the Cuban government. If that involved getting Cuban Jews in trouble without their consent, then so be it.

USAID made a peculiar choice in selecting Gross for actions that would come to be condemned in Cuba as subversive. Gross did not know Cuba and did not speak Spanish. He loved Cuban music, but that hardly qualified him for the covert mission he was sent on. Moreover, the U.S. government systematically misinformed Gross about Cuba. According to a confidential summary of an August 2008 meeting between USAID high officials and representatives of Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI)—the contractor that hired Gross—Bush-era USAID officials recommended that project team members “stay well informed” about Cuba by reading certain blogs. At the head of the USAID-recommended list of go-to sources about Cuba was Babalu, a rabidly right wing blog based in Miami. One of Babalu’s more recent posts labels current U.S. president Barack Obama a “Marxist tyrant” in the tradition of “Mao, Stalin, and Fidel Castro.”

Rather than revising USAID’s regime change program, the Obama administration preferred to cover up the mess that the Bush administration had left behind. Worse still, as we just learned this April, even after Gross’ arrest, USAID implemented another covert operation in Cuba: ZunZuneo, or “Cuban Twitter.”

ZunZuneo had been developed under Bush in 2007-2008, but was implemented under Obama between 2010 and 2012. The program’s designers aimed to create a Twitter-like social network among Cuban youth to mobilize “smart mobs” and further the possibility of a revolt. It involved the same disrespect for Cuban sovereignty and civil society that the Helms-Burton law has repeatedly advanced. As always, the purpose was to create chaos and destabilization—this time with the intent of generating a Cuban Spring modeled after the Arab Spring revolts.

Washington maintains that USAID does regular humanitarian work in Cuba. Yet the agency’s own officials show that to be untrue. During an April 8 budget hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee, USAID director Rajiv Shah said that the Helms-Burton law precludes any program to promote child healthcare on the island. Shah is correct. The law only authorizes humanitarian activities, travel, or trade if they are certified to serve the goal of overthrowing the Cuban government. In other words, these programs have nothing to do with promoting human rights or Cuba’s peaceful transition to democracy.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has called ZunZuneo a “cockamamie idea.” His remarks highlight the way USAID’s deviation from humanitarian aid standards in Cuba has caused tremendous harm to the organization’s more legitimate development efforts elsewhere. Citing Gross and ZunZuneo among other examples, several world governments and political parties have denounced USAID altogether as a tool of American subversion and hypocrisy.

Gross and the Cuban Five

Gross’ detention is considered arbitrary by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions that analyzed his case. According to that panel of experts, his trial in Cuba was politically motivated and lacked the international minimal standards of a fair and just legal process.

But Cuba is not the only government holding political prisoners. The same UN body also considers “arbitrary” the 1998 detention of five Cuban agents, three of whom remain in prison, by the U.S. government. The “Cuban Five” infiltrated anti-Castro groups with a long pedigree of violent actions against Cuba—acts that were planned on U.S. soil with the knowledge of the U.S. government. Most assessments agree that the Cuban agents caused no harm to U.S. national security. According to the UN panel, the political circus surrounding the trial of the Cuban Five in Miami made a fair and just trial impossible. The Cuban government has indicated that it will release Gross if the United States releases the three “Cuban Five” agents who remain in prison.

Aiming to inspire parallel acts of international conciliation, Uruguayan president José Mujica has indicated his country’s willingness to accept some of the detainees who remain imprisoned in the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. This would contribute to the closure of a camp that has brought tremendous harm to America’s reputation and raised serious questions about Washington’s commitment to international human rights. Mujica said that he hopes the gesture will lead Obama to think about the potential benefit for U.S.-Latin America relations that would follow a release of the three Cubans still in U.S. prisons.

But the same pro-embargo crowd that sent Alan Gross on the ill-conceived covert action leading to his arrest is now willing to keep him locked in prison. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have called on the White House to demand Cuba’s “unilateral and unconditional” release of Gross—an irrational requirement. Their insistence is a transparent attempt to torpedo Obama’s overall dialogue with Cuba, even when improving relations between the two countries would clearly serve the national interests of the United States.

Rather than seek a realistic solution to Gross’ tragedy, the Obama administration has engaged in semantic nonsense. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her successor John Kerry have both held that Gross was not a spy. They are correct only at the most technical level, since he did not seek secret information. Still, Cuba’s description of Gross as part of a subversive regime-change strategy is difficult to dispute, not the least because U.S. legislation says so openly. In the meantime, while the U.S. and Cuban governments engage in the “spy-not spy” discussion, Gross remains a prisoner.

Gross will be released only as a result of diplomatic compromise. Gross has written to Obama “on behalf of every American who might ever find himself or herself in trouble abroad” and asked him “to direct his administration to take meaningful, proactive steps to secure my immediate release.”

It’s time to do it.
Arturo Lopez-Levy is a PhD Candidate at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies of the University of Denver. You can follow him on TwitterCuban five UN @turylevy .

Boston bombing sheds light on anti-Cuban terror
| May 8, 2013 | 9:37 pm | Action, Cuban Five | No comments

By Tom Whitney

May 8, 2013

Bombs set off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15 killed three and wounded over 200 people. The metropolitan area became a virtual war zone. Officials at every level let loose with doomsday-style retaliatory proclamations. For many, however, the clamor served to resurrect memories of U.S. terrorism against Cuba and anti-terrorist verbiage that is full of contradictions.

Almost one year before the Marathon bombings, on April 27, 2012, the office of a tourist agency in Coral Gables, Florida that promotes charter flights and legal travel to Cuba was firebombed and destroyed. A local blogger said of owner Vivian Mannerud, “Too bad she was not inside the office.”

Ms. Mannerud pointed out recently that, “to this day, not one elected official — and in particular, James Cason, mayor of Coral Gables — has ever come out to denounce this act of terrorism.” There are still no suspects and few signs of ongoing investigation. The Boston and Florida situations are very different, and perhaps the lack of deaths and injuries in the Florida case account for some of the muted response there. But in the past even when Cuba and supporters of Cuba are beset with chaos and calamity reminiscent of the Boston experience, impunity prevailed.

Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada engineered the murderous downing of a fully loaded Cuban airliner at sea in 1976. Posada alone arranged for hotel bombings in Cuba in 1997. They found safe haven in Florida.

The U.S. government itself is a purveyor of terrorism. Wars, drones, economic sanctions, puppet insurgencies, torture regimens, and prison abuses terrorize peoples throughout the world. The United States exports spies and informants and supports the militarized police forces and national armies of puppet governments. Terror fostered by the United States aggravates hostilities and swells enemy ranks. Vicious cycles ensue and conflicts expand. Openings multiply for the U.S. government to claim victimization and to rationalize its own terror attacks.

Cuba stands alone as remaining apart from this deadly interchange. Anti-Cuban terror flows in only one direction. Cuban sources indicate that U.S. – based terrorists have killed almost 3500 people over 50 years, either Cubans or friends of Cuba. By contrast, U.S. military and intelligence officials now and then reiterate that Cuba represents no military or economic threat to the United States.

Yet the U. S. government maintains Cuba on its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Apologists point to Basque separatists welcomed in Cuba and to sanctuary given leftist Colombian guerrillas. Spain, of course, asked that Cuba take in the Basques, and Colombia embraced Cuba’s offer to host government negotiations with the guerrillas. And political refuge provided for Assata Shakur has long been cited.

Having escaped from a U.S. prison, the black liberation combatant moved to Cuba. Conveniently enough, the United States was recently able simultaneously to announce that Cuba will remain on its list of terror – sponsoring states and that Assata Shakur was being placed on the FBI’s ten “most wanted terrorist” list, also that the bounty for her capture and return to the United States was re-set at $2 million. Many legal observers remain highly critical of the prosecution and trial in 1977 through which she was convicted of murdering a New Jersey policeman.

Why then, if Cuba is quite blameless as a sponsor of terrorism, have terror attacks against Cuba continued?

The assumption here is that the U.S. government, as minder of an empire, is serious about its duty to counter revolutionary and anti-imperialist movements from their earliest stirrings to their taking of power and beyond. U.S. governments have been dealing with Cuban revolutionaries for almost 150 years. In reaction to anti-annexationist, anti-racist independence struggles led by Jose Marti and Antonio Maceo, the United States ended up invading Cuba. U. S. troops helped beat down an Afro-Cuban uprising in 1912. In the early 1930’s student and labor mobilizations, anti-imperialist in nature, were harbingers of a socialist revolution that took charge in 1959. Special treatment for Cuba may stem, in part, from an anti-imperialism that never quit.

That’s not all U.S. power brokers have to worry about. Despite bashings, Cuba poses the threat of a good example. The socialist state has ensured prolonged life expectancy, low infant mortality, ready access to high quality education and jobs, adequate nutrition and housing, and inculcation of ethical, communitarian, and culturally-inherited values. Cubans even weather natural disasters in exemplary fashion. Cuba’s adventures in international solidarity add insult to injury. Beleaguered Cuba contested apartheid in southern Africa, cares for the sick and injured throughout the world, and educates young people from all over.

And annoyingly Cuba defends itself against terror in targeted, non-violent ways not likely to provoke retaliation. Cuban volunteers moved to Florida to monitor U.S. based terrorists so that Cuba could prepare against attacks, maybe prevent them. For their pains, the Cuban Five, as they are known, were subjected to a biased trial and long, cruel sentences. A worldwide movement is demanding that U.S. President Obama release them.

Because the Five targeted violent private organizations operating from bases in Florida, their activities and their trial highlighted the general role of proxy warriors. Use of proxies frees central authorities from having publically to take responsibility for state – sponsored terror campaigns. In effect, the Five helped elucidate similarities among a variety of non-state perpetrators, specifically between Florida private paramilitary groups and terrorist individuals and autonomous groups elsewhere, even those at war with the United States. That bit of political education may have earned the Cuban Five a good part of their wildly excessive penalties.

Mariela Castro: Freedom for Alan Gross and the Cuban 5
| June 13, 2012 | 8:42 pm | Cuban Five | No comments

Here is a video of Mariela Castro speaking about the Cuban 5. Will the United States be able to engage in rational diplomacy?

Solidarity and freedom for the Cuban Five
| November 11, 2010 | 9:45 pm | Cuban Five | No comments

WPC, Solidarity and Freedom for the Cuban Five


From: World Peace Council, Thursday, 11 November 2010 ,


Solidarity and Freedom for the Cuban Five

The World Peace Council (WPC) is initiating a campaign in solidarity with the just cause of the liberation of the Cuban Five political prisoners who have been unjustly punished and are being held in US prisons.

We call upon all peace loving organizations and forces in the world to rally around the WPC campaign under the slogan: “Solidarity with Socialist Cuba-Free the Cuban Five” and carry out actions in support of their liberation.

More than twelve (12) years of injustice have passed for those Cuban Five, for their families, for their wives and their children in inalienable violation of their human rights, evidence of the imperialist double standards USA government’s policy fomenting state terrorism towards third countries and particularly against Cuba.

The USA Supreme Court’s shamelessness of rejecting the petition of the Cuban Five and particularly of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, -condemned to two life imprisonments, plus 15 years which have been denounced as a violation by the Arbitrary Detentions’ Commission of Human Rights Council of the United Nations, shows what is the real political motivation: the US government’s policy towards the Cuban Revolution.

We call on you to reverse this difficult situation for these human lives- the US government has banned the visits by their wives and daughter to two of the prisoners- and confront the hostile media manipulation in the USA which has contributed to their unjust convictions.

We call upon you to exercise pressure on the US government through petitions and publications, events and protests demand from it the unconditional release of the Cuban Five. Their imprisonment constitutes, amongst other things, an act of political revenge of the USA towards Cuba and its Revolution, which we vehemently reject.

We call upon you to denounce the “Common Position” of the European Union by which it is flagrantly interfering in the Cuban domestic affairs and are complicit with the activities of the USA.

This WPC campaign will be also an opportunity to show to the world the achievements and sacrifices of the Cuban society, for more than 50 years under Blockade and the contribution of Cuba for the peoples in the world, including in the USA. It will be a service to the defense of truth and in solidarity with the struggling people of Cuba and its national sovereignty and independence.

Your solidarity contribution will be highly appreciated in your help to disseminate and to discuss this truth. This campaign will culminate in May 2011 with the holding of an International Conference in the Cuban Province Guantanamo, which will confront the US presence and abuse of the Military Base and its attached concentration camp.

Cuba is not alone!

Long live the anti-imperialist Solidarity!

Free the Cuban Five!

World Peace Council November 2010


Solidaridad por la liberación de los Cinco Cubanos presos en los Estados Unidos

El Consejo Mundial por la Paz, está iniciando una campaña de solidaridad por la justa causa de la liberación de los Cinco presos políticos cubanos quienes han sido injustamente condenados y están en cárceles de los Estados Unidos.

Hacemos un llamado a todas las organizaciones y fuerzas de paz en todo el mundo, para que realicen una marcha bajo el auspicio del Consejo Mundial por la Paz con el eslogan “Solidaridad con la Cuba Socialista – Liberación de los Cinco Cubanos” y llevar a cabo acciones en apoyo a su liberación.

Han pasado 12 años de injusticia para esos Cinco Cubanos, para sus familias, paras sus esposas y para sus hijos en inalienable violación de sus derechos humanos, por evidenciar ante el mundo el doble rasero del gobierno de los Estados Unidos al fomentar el terrorismo de estado hacia terceros países y en particular hacia Cuba.

La desvergüenza de la Corte Suprema estadounidense de rechazar y escuchar la petición de los Cinco, en particular la de Gerardo Hernández Nordelo – condenado a dos cadenas perpetuas, mas 15 años ha sido denunciada por la Comisión de Detenciones Arbitrarias del Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas; pone al descubierto el motivo político del verdadero responsable: la política gobierno estadounidense hacia la Revolución Cubana.

Les convocamos para revertir esta difícil situación de estas vidas humanas a quien dos de ellos el gobierno de los Estados Unidos les prohíbe ser visitados por sus esposas e hija, víctimas de una hostil manipulación por la parte de los medios estadounidenses los que han contribuido a sus injustas condenas.

Hacemos un llamado a ejercer una presión sobre el gobierno de los Estados Unidos a través de las peticiones y publicaciones, eventos y protestas demandando la incondicional liberación de los Cinco cubanos. Su encarcelamiento constituye, entre otras cosas, un acto de venganza política del gobierno de los Estados Unidos de América hacia Cuba y su Revolución, lo cual nosotros vehementemente rechazamos.

Hacemos un llamado también, para denunciar la “Posición común” de la Unión Europea mediante la cual flagrantemente interfiere en los asuntos domésticos (internos) de Cuba en notoria complicidad con las actividades de los Estados Unidos.

Esta campaña del Consejo Mundial por la Paz, también será una oportunidad para mostrar al mundo los logros y sacrificios de la sociedad cubana, por más de 50 años bajo el Bloqueo y el asedio y exponer la contribución de Cuba para los pueblos del mundo, incluyendo el de los Estados Unidos de América. Será un servicio en defensa de la verdad y la solidaridad con la batalla que libra el pueblo de Cuba por su soberanía nacional e independencia.

Su contribución a la solidaridad será altamente apreciada en su ayuda para diseminar y difundir esta verdad. Esta campaña culminará en el 2011 en el mes de mayo con un Seminario Internacional en la Provincia cubana de Guantánamo, en la que confrontaremos la presencia norteamericana y el abuso de la Base Militar y su campamento de concentración anexado.

¡Cuba no está sola!

¡Viva la Solidaridad antiimperialista!

¡Libertad para los Cinco Cubanos !

Consejo Mundial por la Paz

Noviembre 2010

Amnesty International report on the Cuban Five
| October 31, 2010 | 9:18 pm | Cuban Five | No comments

Check out this article from Amnesty International on the Cuban Five

Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro demand an end to the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban 5
| September 19, 2010 | 9:27 pm | Cuban Five | No comments

Check out this link from Granma International

Visiting Gerardo in prison
| September 15, 2010 | 9:37 pm | Cuban Five | No comments

Here is a link to an article by Danny Glover about visiting one of the Cuban Five in prison in California.