Cindy Sheehan: Free The Cuban Five Statement – OpEd


Dear President Obama,

As a citizen of the United States of America whose son, Casey died in Iraq allegedly protecting his country against terrorism in an invasion that was based on lies and destruction, I call on you to free the Five Cuban anti-terrorists, four of whom are still incarcerated in US prisons.

The fifth, René Gonzalez was released last October from Marianna prison in Florida after serving his full unjust sentence having been found guilty on charges of conspiracy based on a legally flawed court hearing in Miami. René is also a citizen of the US and was entitled to a fair trial with an unprejudiced jury, a situation that was impossible for him to have in that city.

Roberto González, René’s only sibling and an important member of the Cuban Five’s legal team, is gravely ill with cancer in a Havana hospital. Although René has served his unjust sentence of more than 13 years in U.S. prison, as a punitive measure he is being forced to serve a further three years probation in the United States. As a result he is unable to be with his brother at this critical time, unless he receives special permission to do so.

His attorney Phil Horowitz has filed an emergency court petition requesting permission for René to return to Cuba for only two weeks to visit his brother in the hospital. The petition states, “Over the past nearly five months since his release from incarceration, the defendant has faithfully complied with each and every condition of his supervised release.” Horowitz says, “The motion that is being filed is not unusual; it is common for a defendant to seek court permission on an emergency basis, to travel internationally for health concerns of a family member.”

We urge you, President Obama to immediately allow René to travel Cuba for two weeks as a humanitarian gesture.

René is also suffering the absence of his wife, Olga who he hasn’t seen since he was imprisoned nearly 14 years ago because US immigration will not give Olga a visa to travel to Miami to see him. This is also a tragic situation that needs to be addressed.

You have the power, Mr. President, to grant permission for the Cuban Five to return home to Cuba where they belong. You have the power, Mr. President to make sure that Olga gets a visa to enter the US to see her beloved husband, Rene. You have the power, Mr. President to make sure that René Gonzalez goes to Havana for two weeks to see his dying brother. For the sake of humanity, Mr. President, exercise that power.

Cindy Lee Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan is an American anti-war activist whose son, Specialist Casey Sheehan, was killed during his service in the Iraq War by the Mehdi Army on April 4, 2004. She attracted national and international media attention in August 2005 for her extended anti-war protest at a makeshift camp outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranch — a stand which drew both passionate support and angry criticism. More of her writings can be found at Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox: Writing from the Emprire.

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