[News] Cuba's Prisoner Release
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
BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD, published by CounterPunch.
Nelson P Valdes, Professor Emeritus, Sociology Department, University of
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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