[Ppnews] Cuban 5 - Another visit to Gerardo in prison

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Feb 3 10:19:00 EST 2011

Another visit to Gerardo in prison

Wednesday, 02 February 2011 11:55 Danny Glover y Saul Landau

Miami Herald allegations were “ridiculous,” he says

By Danny Glover and Saul Landau

On our third visit, the neo-fascist architecture 
of the U.S. Federal Penitentiary in Victorville 
California (built in 2006 under W. Bush) has 
become a familiar sight. The American Barbed Wire 
Industry, we think, must have lobbied hard to get 
prison construction commissars to allocate money 
for several football fields of pointed 
projections sticking out of the woven metal 
barrier; very anti-neighborly. What’s missing 
from the picture of miles of curled wire mounted 
on both sides of the walls on this monstrous 
concrete structure set in the Mojave Desert? A 
sign: “Only in America.” Where else would such a 
“monument” get built for a mission to “rehabilitate?”

Gerardo jumps from his plastic chair and we hug. 
Full of energy, smiling and in good physical 
shape, he tells us he had to wait for 25 minutes 
at the cell-block gate before a considerate guard 
finally allowed him to enter the visitors’ room 
even though other guards came and went – and 
ignored his request to see his visitors. A 
typical incident in the daily grind of a 
political prisoner in a maximum-security federal pen!

We ask him how he responded to the December 26, 
2010, Miami Herald story by Jay Weaver. The 
headline, “Cuban Spymaster Now Claims Brothers to 
the Rescue Shooting was Outside Cuban Airspace.” 
The story suggested Gerardo disagreed with Cuba’s 
version of its MIGs shooting down two Brothers to 
the Rescue planes over Cuban airspace on February 24, 1996.

“That’s ridiculous,” said Gerardo. His legal 
appeal questions the competence of his public 
defender to properly defend him, but he never 
expressed or implied differences with Cuba’s 
position. The appeal focuses on errors made by 
his trial lawyer and the prosecutor, which denied him due process.

The government also improperly concealed evidence 
(cables) that showed Gerardo had no information 
about Cuba’s intention to shoot down the Brothers’ planes.

The prosecutor never proved Cuba planned to shoot 
down the planes in international airspace, much 
less that Gerardo knew about it. But the climate 
in which the trial took place bore the stains of 
media contamination. Gerardo’s appeal shows that 
during the trial “journalists” on the U.S. 
payroll presented newspaper and TV stories that 
painted the defendants -- and Cuba -- in a bad 
light. All five Cuban agents got tried and 
sentenced in a prosecution-polluted climate.

“It’s a joke,” he laughed, referring to the 
Herald article, and his trial. “I’m sure every 
Cuban knows I have no disagreement with my 
government on shooting down the airplanes. I knew 
nothing about the flights that day, so I couldn’t 
know they would be shot down. I believe it 
happened over Cuban airspace, which is not a crime under international law.”

Neither The Herald nor the trial jury heard 
testimony or saw evidence that Gerardo possessed 
advance knowledge of Cuba’s alleged plan to shoot 
down Brothers to the Rescue planes. In the early 
1990s, the Brothers claimed their mission was to 
help rescue Cuban rafters adrift in the Florida 
straits, but after a 1995 U.S.-Cuba Migration 
accord dictated the return of Cubans to the 
island, Brothers began a new mission: flying over Havana and dropping leaflets.

On February 24, 1996, after repeated warnings not 
to fly over the island, Basulto, the President of 
the BTTR, announced his forthcoming flight, and 
the FAA also informed Cuba of flight details. The 
pilots and co-pilots of two planes died. Basulto returned safely to Miami.

Even if Gerardo had advised his government of the 
impending flights – which he did not – how would 
a Cuban intelligence agent know his government 
would shoot them down even though Cuba had every 
right to do so over its airspace?

The Miami jury convicted Gerardo of conspiracy to 
commit murder by aiding and abetting a plan to 
shoot down civilian aircraft in international 
airspace -- not proven. The judge sentenced him to two consecutive life terms.

When we suggested the reporter who said Gerardo 
disagreed with his government, but did not 
interview him, should qualify for the Mussolini 
Journalism Award, Gerardo agreed. “Yes, Mussolini 
was a journalist before he got into politics.”

The story should have said that Gerardo did not 
receive due process. Cuban agents tried in Miami 
in 2001 -- the equivalent of Jews tried in Berlin in 1938!

Gerardo, upbeat and eager to share, told us he 
grew up in Mantilla, a Havana neighborhood, where 
Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura (El Conde 
mysteries) lived. He learned the possibilities 
and depths of friendship under socialism, where 
men talk honestly from the soul and don’t have to 
compete for money, “like the guys in Abel 
Prieto’s novel, The Flight of the Cat.”

“Bitterness doesn’t help the spirit,” he said. 
“Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s Tres Tristes Tigres 
is brilliant and insightful. Compare it to his 
shrill diatribes against the revolution from which one learns nothing.”

The prison photographer – another inmate – took 
our pictures. Then we ate junk food from vending 
machines – all that’s available – and discussed reforms in Cuba.

“I thought Raul’s speech (President Raul Castro, 
December 18, 2010) was needed. We must change to 
survive. We must become productive and efficient.”

“Visiting is over,” a guard announces. Gerardo 
lines up against the wall with other prisoners. 
We huddle near the door with other visitors. He 
raises his fist. “Keep the faith.” He smiles confidently.

“He has Mandela-like qualities,” Danny says.

Saul agrees.

Saul Landau’s new film on the Cuban Five case and 
STAND UP -- will soon be available. Danny Glover 
is an activist and an actor. He produced THE 
BLACK POWER MIXTAPE – premiered at Sundance.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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