Human Rights Report and the Cuban Five
by Arnold August
Mar. 5, 2009
Reprinted from ACN
On February 25, 2009 the U.S. State Department issued its annual Human Rights Report. The report covers every country in the world except one: the U.S.A. However, this self-exclusion is the official policy and even explicitly extends itself to U.S. activity abroad such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Appendix A to the Report indicates:
“The Country Report covers respect for human rights in foreign countries and territories world-wide; they do not purport to assess any human rights implications of actions by the United States Government or its representatives, nor do they consider human rights implications of actions by the United States Government or of coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
This self-exclusion is a natural reflex because if the principles that the U.S. State Department apply to others were to be considered pertinent in the U.S. itself, than the worst human rights violators would be the U.S. government. It would be on top of the list. In this same explanatory Appendix A it is written: “Most governments and opposition groups deny that they commit human rights abuses and sometimes go to great lengths to conceal any evidence of such acts.” The Human Rights Report is very lengthy, hundreds and hundreds of pages covering every single country in the world, except the U.S. One can say that this is going “to great lengths to conceal any evidence of such acts.”
The Appendix then goes on to explain fourteen different criteria employed in assessing human rights on the entire planet except the U.S. One of the fourteen is: “Denial of Fair Public Trial – Describes the court system and evaluates whether there is an independent judiciary and whether trials are both fair and public.” This, however, is one example of how — in the U.S. — the violation of the human rights of the Cuban Five took place and is still going on. Over ten years ago, Cuban citizens René González, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and Gerardo Hernandéz had infiltrated known terrorist groups in southern Florida in order to eventually collaborate with the U.S. security forces in putting a halt to these activities against Cuba. Instead of arresting the terrorists based on the massive and irrefutable evidence presented by the Cuban authorities to their U.S. counter-parts, the U.S security arrested the five Cuban citizens. Right from the beginning their human rights were violated. Contrary to one of the criteria listed by the State Department, the Cuban citizens were not allowed to have a fair trial. The judiciary, far from being independent, followed political orders and refused the very normal legal request by the Cuban Five attorneys to have the trial moved outside of Miami, a hot-bed of anti-Cuban sentiment fomented by the U.S.-funded organizations linked to the pre-1959 Batista regime.
Another norm elucidated in the Appendix is: “Arbitray Interference with Privacy, Family, Home or Correspondence.” In addition to refusing a fait trial, the U.S. authorities — not the “independent judiciary” — have continuously interfered with the rights of the family members of the Cuban Five to visit their loved ones. This is done by arbitrarily either putting one obstacle after another in the family members’ path, or completely disallowing two wives, Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva, to visit their respective husbands in prison for this whole period since their arrest over ten years ago. This violation of human rights, known as double punishment, has been denounced by U.S., United Nations and International human rights organizations as a violation of the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. prison regulations as well as international law.
As we head next year into the second decade of the Twenty-First Century, many changes are taking place around the world, which (whether the U.S. State Department likes it or not), include the U.S. itself. Every effort should be made to further spread the word about these human rights violations against the Cuban Five in the U.S. and demand their immediate release or a “fair trial”, to use the words of the U.S. State Department Report. In the interim, full and unhindered family visitation rights must be granted in opposition to the violation of another norm, “arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence.”
Arnold August, Montreal, is a member of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five and the Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5 of the Table de Concertation de Solidarité Québec-Cuba.