Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cuban Interests Section: Washington Post "misled" readers

Cuban Interests Section. Photo: Google Street View
The Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., released the following letter today in response to an editorial published in the Washington Post on Dec. 31.

In connection to the Washington Post editorial of Saturday, December 31, the Cuban Interests Section in Washington would like to clarify that Alan Gross was not tried and sentenced in Cuba for “humanitarian work” associated with helping the Cuban Jewish community connect to the Internet. The Cuban synagogues had access to the Internet long before the arrival of Gross in Cuba.

Mr. Gross violated Cuban laws and was engaged in covert activities to destabilize Cuba. The U.S. Government had hired Mr. Gross to implement federal programs that attempted against Cuba’s constitutional order. This is considered illegal in Cuba as in many countries, including the United States.

During multiple visits to Cuba, Mr. Gross never told the people he contacted that he was working under a contract for the U.S. Government.

It is fair to point out that the Cuban Government has conveyed to the U.S. Government its willingness to find a humanitarian solution to the case of Mr. Alan Gross on reciprocal humanitarian bases.

The Cuban Interests Section notes that readers are misled when the Five Cubans in prison in the U.S. for helping to avoid terrorism against Cuba are described as “spies (...) infiltrating U.S. military installations in South Florida.”

The Cuban Five have already served 13 painful years in jail, far from their spouses, children and relatives. They did not infiltrate US military facilities. They were monitoring the terrorist activity of extremist Cuban groups in New Jersey and Florida seeking to pre-empt their further terrorist actions and to gather evidence about them that could be used to arrest those terrorists operating on U.S. territory.

Thanks to the work of the Five, Cuba was able to share with the FBI—with appropriate knowledge of and approval by then President Bill Clinton—dozens of tapes, videos and extensive details on the campaign of terror being planned and executed by these individuals. That evidence, though, was not used to arrest the terrorists, but instead was employed against the Five Cubans, in a legal process corrupted by political motivations.

Among other violations, the US government secretly paid journalists to write prejudicial articles in the media at the time of the trial, thereby undermining the defendants’ due process rights.

Their release has been demanded by, among others, eleven Nobel Prize laureates. In its 2011 Report (http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/usa/report-2011#section-155-9), Amnesty International included the case of the Five Cubans in the segment of Unfair Trials in the United States. The same conclusion was adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the former UN Commission on Human Rights in 2005 and by the 11 Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

I encourage the Washington Post to take into consideration the above arguments in its approach to these issues.

Juan Lamigueiro Leon
Deputy Chief of Mission
Cuban Interests Section
2630 16TH Street NW
Washington DC 20009

Tel. (202) 797 8518
e-mail: lamig@sicuw. org

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