[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. Whats 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 Cubas
version of its MIGs shooting down two Brothers to
the Rescue planes over Cuban airspace on February 24, 1996.
Thats 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 Cubas
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 Cubas 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. Gerardos 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.
Its a joke, he laughed, referring to the
Herald article, and his trial. Im 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 couldnt
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 Cubas 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 dont have to
compete for money, like the guys in Abel
Prietos novel, The Flight of the Cat.
Bitterness doesnt help the spirit, he said.
Guillermo Cabrera Infantes 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 thats available and discussed reforms in Cuba.
I thought Rauls 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 Landaus new film on the Cuban Five case and
its history -- WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE
STAND UP -- will soon be available. Danny Glover
is an activist and an actor. He produced THE
BLACK POWER MIXTAPE premiered at Sundance.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the PPnews