[Ppnews] Cuban Five - The Dangers and Degradations of Daily Prison Life
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jan 15 11:41:14 EST 2013
January 14, 2013
Gerardo's New Writ
The Dangers and Degradations of Daily Prison Life
by DANNY GLOVER and SAUL LANDAU
We wait with a Latina woman and two of her kids until the prison guard
at the entrance desk calls our number. We pass through the X-ray machine
and get our wrists stamped. Then we sit and stare at a religious display
in the show case -- church-state separation?--- where visitors wait
before electronic door #1 gets opened from an indoor control system nearby.
When we enter the prison's visiting room, a red headed prison guard
stares at Saul's trousers, then at his face and says "You can't come in
here, dressed like that."
Huh? Saul sagely replies.
"Tan trousers and gray sweat shirts, forbidden. Inmates dress like that."
A guard accompanies Saul back to the entrance building and gives him
directions to the nearest Target, the only store within miles, and just
off the highway, he says, where he can buy a new pair of trousers.
Saul accomplishes his costume change, returns to the US Maximum Security
Penitentiary in Victorville, California and joins a new waiting crowd of
women and children, all black or Latino, waiting for an hour while the
prisoners get counted.
Back through X-ray, the invisible stamp placed on Saul's wrist gets read
by a hand-held stamp reader and he re-entered the visitor's room,
embraces Gerardo and sits with him and Danny to discuss the legal case
of the Five Cubans (Gerardo, Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando
Gonzalez, Ramon Labañino and Rene Gonzalez (on parole and restricted to
south Florida), who infiltrated violent exile groups in Miami to stop
the campaign of bombing Cuban hotels. The FBI arrested the Five in 1998
and charged them with serious offenses, Gerardo with conspiracy to
commit espionage and aiding and abetting murder.
An intimidated jury -- the media photographed their license plates,
thereby making them identifiable --- convicted them and Judge Joan
Lenard imposed very harsh sentences, later diminished by an appeals
court, except for Gerardo's two life sentences.
Gerardo describes the dangers of daily life in prison, like the routine
fights between inmates, some resulting in death, where one inmate shanks
the other; or an inmate stabbed a prison guard in the eye with a pen.
We scan the room, seeing prisoners benignly meeting and talking with
family members, or playing cards with girl friends. Four guards watch
diligently from an elevated perch.
We discuss with Gerardo the motion filed by Martin Garbus, his attorney,
for his latest appeal. Garbus found documents about how "the government
attempted to influence the trial by paying journalists to write for the
/Miami Herald/, and /El Nuevo Herald/, and put on local radio and TV
materials that the government intended for use to influence the
community and the jury to return a judgment of conviction against the
The courts did not know about these efforts, nor did the defense
counsel. The judge tried to insulate the jury from outside influences,
but according to Garbus "neither she nor anyone else other than the
government had any idea of the massive amounts of energy, money and time
that was being used to influence this jury.
In the United States government is not allowed to pay money for what is
called domestic propaganda. If the government wants to take a political
position it's absolutely entitled to do it. What they can't do is hire
somebody, not tell the American listening audience who that person is
being paid by, and not tell the American listening audience that the
person who is articulating a position is articulating a government
position. That violates the law." And, Garbus concluded, the propaganda
paid for by the US government polluted public opinion. Ricardo Alarcon,
Cuba's Parliamentary President called this funding of propagandists
during a trial a "conspiracy of the Government with the local Miami
media to convict the accused beforehand and make a fair trial
impossible. The substance of this conspiracy was using that media to
unleash a propaganda campaign of unprecedented hatred and hostility. For
that they employed a considerable number of "journalists" --- in
reality, undercover Government agents --- who published articles and
commentaries that were repeated day and night, producing a real storm of
Gerardo nibbles on chips we bought from the prison vending machines and
reminds us that we won't see middle class people "in here, those who can
afford high paid lawyers."
He hopes Garbus' latest habeas corpus writ convinces an appeals court to
declare the trial unjust and demand a new trial or acquittal. But he
cannot plan his life around it, or around getting early release from two
life sentences. His wife, Adriana, cannot visit him because the US
government denies her visa requests. She has recently been proposed as a
delegate for Cuba's Parliament.
Gerardo bears his deprivations with stoic discipline. He maintains his
regime inside this unhealthy place, doing exercise, reading, answering
letters and drawing cartoons. He watches the news and reads the NY
Times, which, like all his mail, get opened and read by special prison
Maybe President Obama might agree to Cuba's proposal to exchange --
independent humanitarian gestures -- the Cuban 5 for Alan Gross, the
contract agent who worked for AID and tried to set up non-trackable
satellite systems inside Cuba as part of an effort to subvert its
government. Gross was convicted and sentenced to 15 years by a Cuban court.
For a You tube video with Danny Glover and Peter Coyote taken from the
trial transcript go to
/*Danny Glover* is an activist and actor. /
/*Saul Landau's* FIDEL and WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP a
available on dvd from cinemalibrestudio.com./
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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