[Pnews] Ana Belén Montes celebrated her 64th birthday last Sunday in one of the wards of hell

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Mar 8 13:48:21 EST 2021


  Ana Belén


By Rosa Miriam Elizalde on March 4, 2021

She can’t receive visitors, except from a brother. She is not allowed 
to talk on the phone, receive newspapers, magazines or watch television. 
No one is allowed to inquire about her health or why she is in a center 
for criminals with psychiatric problems when she is not insane. Nor is 
she allowed to interact with other people in that prison, where she has 
spent two decades in absolute solitude.

Ana Belén Montes celebrated her 64th birthday last Sunday in one of the 
wards of hell, a place where “the worst thing is to be locked up with 
oneself”, as Nelson Mandela wrote in his biography, knowing what he 
was saying after 27 years of confinement. A US citizen, and the daughter 
of Puerto Ricans, she has been incarcerated since 2001 in the Federal 
Medical Center (FMC) prison in Fort Worth, Texas, which is reserved for 
very dangerous and mentally ill criminals. She is listed by the US 
Bureau of Prisons as number 25037-016, is due for release on  July 1, 
2023, and when she does so, she will likely maintain the same discretion 
with which she entered prison and maintained during her life at liberty. 
She was a senior officer in the Pentagon’s Military Intelligence 
Agency (DIA) and was in charge of Cuba. She was accused of espionage, 
but her great crime has been to put conscience above personal security, 
a successful career and a gifted life in a Washington suburb.

According to her defense lawyer, Plato Cacheris, Montes committed 
espionage for moral reasons, because “she felt that Cubans were 
treated unfairly by the United States”. In a polemic article published 
in widely circulated newspapers and with privileged sources, access to 
classified documents and her scarce correspondence from prison, they try 
to portray her as a shadowy informer, the last in the deadly game of the 
cold war. But they make the mistake of quoting a letter to a relative in 
which Ana Belén says, “I don’t like being in prison at all, but 
there are certain things in life that are worth going to prison for”, 
thus leaving the reader with clues as to the true nature of this 
woman’s punishment.

In her plea to the judge who sentenced her, barely a page and a half 
that made it to the catacombs of the Internet, she states: “Your 
Honor, I engaged in the activity that has brought me before you because 
I obeyed my conscience rather than obeyed the law. I consider our 
government’s policy towards Cuba to be cruel and unjust, deeply 
unfriendly, I considered myself morally obliged to help the island 
defend itself against our efforts to impose our values and our political 
system on it…. Cuba’s right to exist, free from political and 
economic coercion, may not justify giving the island classified 
information to help it defend itself. I can only say that I did what I 
considered most appropriate to counter a great injustice”.

The trial, therefore, was not simply a case against an official who had 
the temerity to warn of abuses against a country that never did the 
United States any harm, while from that territory terrorism, 
assassination and extermination by “hunger and desperation” have 
been encouraged, as the architects of the blockade against Cuba openly 
expressed 60 years ago. It is the coordinated effort by the surveillance 
and security state to extinguish the constitutional right to expose 
crimes committed by those in power. It is the crucifixion of lone 
individuals who take personal risks to let victims know the truth – 
the Daniel Ellsbergs, the Ron Ridenhours, the deep throats and the 
Chelsea Mannings. It is the chastisement of all those inside the system 
who make public facts that challenge the official narrative, such as 
John Kiriakou, the former CIA analyst, who revealed how the US 
government used “waterboarding” techniques to torture prisoners. We 
would not have known that mass surveillance is possible and that it is 
done secretly and on a daily basis, had it not been for Edward Snowden.

In Steven Spielberg’s film The Post: The Dark Secrets of the Pentagon, 
characters wrestle with personal dilemmas that are also ethical: 
“Wouldn’t you go to jail for preventing a war?” asks journalist 
Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked thousands of documents about the US invasion 
of Vietnam in the late 1960s. Like Ana Belen, he has been considered 
equal parts traitor and hero, depending on the glasses of the judge.

There is no decent way to ignore these things any more, despite the 
dreadful lies of power. In Cuba, Vicente Feliú set the verses of the 
poet Miguel Sotomayor to music, and the song dedicated to Ana Belén 
Montes is heard at the troubadour’s concerts:

It hurts / to know you are submerged in silence / in the midst of 
dementia and loneliness.

It hurts so much / that there are mouths that are silent / when they 
should be shouting.

It hurts so much, so much / to know of your suffering when there is no 
crime / if the struggle is for justice, for life, and for peace.

It hurts so much / that my arms are handcuffed pigeons / that flutter 
without being able to free you.

Source: La Jornada 
<https://www.jornada.com.mx/2021/03/04/opinion/016a1pol>, translation 
Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau

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