[News] Cuba's Prisoner Release

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jul 23 12:59:43 EDT 2010


[and some of the obvious omissions are the 
political prisoners being held in u.s. prisons - 
some for over 40 years - victims of Cointelpro, 
others being given 20-year sentences more 
recently for property damage - or like the Cuban 
Five, getting enormous sentences for exposing 
u.s. sponsored attacks against Cuba]

July 23 - 25, 2010


Surprise! Mainstream Media Omits Context and Key Facts

Cuba's Prisoner Release

By SAUL LANDAU and NELSON P. VALDES

On July 8, the Washington Post lead story ["Cuba 
to release 52 political prisoners, Catholic 
Church says"] reported Cuba had released five 
political prisoners with assurances of 
forty-seven more to come in the near future. 
Cuban President Raul Castro said all political 
prisoners would soon be released. On July 16, another group was freed.

The Post story and its July 9 editorial "Cuba's 
marginal gesture" omitted facts readers would 
need in order to understand the significance of 
the prisoner release. Both pieces convey the 
image of a "political prisoner" who is dedicated 
to expressing unwelcome views - perhaps a poet, 
or a whistle blower who has uncovered corruption. 
But these prisoners were in jail for committing 
crimes that would have placed them behind bars if 
they were done in the United States including 
working for a foreign government without registering, and committing violence.

For example, Orlando Zapata the hunger striker 
who died in March was convicted of aggravated, 
assault -- cutting off a man's ear with a machete 
because the man had intervened to stop a street 
brawl. He developed his reputation as a 
"dissident" while serving his sentence in prison.

When James Cason arrived in Cuba in 2003 to head 
the US diplomatic mission the State Department 
reportedly instructed him to adopt the "ugly 
American" role, to interfere blatantly in Cuba's 
domestic affairs. Roger Noriega, then Assistant 
Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere 
Affairs, recently explained on a Miami radio talk 
show that the motive was to induce Cuba to expel 
him, thus providing the Bush Administration with 
a pretext to end formal contacts with the island. 
To achieve that goal, Cason openly organized and 
paid Cuban "dissidents." Rather than expel the 
puppeteer, however, Cuba arrested the puppets 
Cason had used as human instruments for his 
machinations. (July 1, Que Pasa, Miami, referring 
to May 20 interview on WQBA Miami [Univision], "Lo que otros no dicen")

The editorial also missed the fact that the 
United States holds more political prisoners in 
Cuba (Guantanamo Base) [and in US prisons] than 
the Cuban government does . Of the 181 remaining 
Guantanamo detainees, an Obama Task Force 
recommended 48 should be released since they have 
been cleared of criminal acts. Most of these 
people were kidnapped. No warrants were issued 
for their arrests (July 9, Financial Times).

The US government justified such “arrests” post 
9/11 because Americans felt under attack from 
terrorists. We should thus be able to empathize 
with Cubans who at least issued arrest warrants 
for people who secretly received money from 
Cuba's avowed enemy. Declassified CIA documents 
attest to thousands of CIA-backed-terrorist raids 
against Cuba since the early 1960s. More Cubans 
died in these attacks than perished in the 9/11 
horrors. Cuba also suffered substantial property 
damage from CIA backed sabotage of factories and fields.

As for civil liberties, Cuba at least held formal 
trials for the dissidents and found them guilty 
of organizing at the behest of US officials as 
well as discussing future actions and accepting 
money, goods or services from US diplomats.  They 
were not charged for having opposing ideas -- 
although the expression of opposition ideas may 
have motivated the arrests. The Post editorial, 
like a similar sermon in the Los Angeles Times 
(July 10), seems to have made its judgment by using a double standard.

The US media has also portrayed Ghandi-like 
attributes of Guillermo Fariñas, the other faster 
of conscience, which might have been tempered by 
the fact of his 1995 arrest for beating the 
female director of a hospital. In 2002, he 
attacked another woman who then needed surgery.

Zapata and Fariñas may qualify as legitimate 
political oppositionists, but would the editorial 
have talked of George Jackson and other former 
Black Panthers without mentioning their criminal records?

Nowhere do the double standards applied to Cuba 
shine more dramatically than in the issue of 
terrorism. Currently, the United States harbors 
individuals accused of horrific terrorist acts - 
sabotage of a Cuban commercial airliner killing 
73 and a spate of bombings of Cuban tourist spots 
killing an Italian and wounding many. Instead of 
indicting or extraditing Luis Posada Carriles and 
Orlando Bosch for international terrorism -- CIA 
and FBI cables point to their role in sabotaging 
the airliner over Barbados in 1976 killing all 
aboard – Washington has protected them. The 
Justice Department has charged Posada with 
immigration fraud, a minor charge, and has 
allowed the case to drag on for six years.

Double standards and irony abound. Spain and the 
United States lecture Cuba on freedom after 
holding the island as a formal and informal 
economic colony respectively for 450 years. 
Somehow, both seem to claim they have a perennial 
right to dictate Cuban government behavior.

Saul Landau, a fellow of the Institute for Policy 
Studies is author of 
<http://www.easycartsecure.com/CounterPunch/CounterPunch_Books.html>A 
BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD, published by CounterPunch.

Nelson P Valdes, Professor Emeritus, Sociology Department, University of
New Mexico.




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