People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 39

September 27, 2009

Eleven Years of Hell in USA


THE All India Lawyers Union (AILU) observed September 12, 2009 as the beginning of the eleventh year of imprisonment of three Cuban Citizens: Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, Ramon Labanino Salazar and Fernando Gonzales LIort, and two US citizens, Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez and Rene Gonzales Sehwerert, with a Seminar on Declaration of Human Rights and the Cuban Five at the Gandhi Peace Foundation New Delhi. Nordelo, born on June 4, 1965 and graduated in 1989 in International Political Relations, is a cartoonist whose works have been published in many journals. He has been sentenced to two life terms and fifteen years. Salazar, born on June 9, 1963 and graduated summa cum laude in economics, has been sentenced to one life term and eighteen years. Llort born on August 18, 1963, graduated magna cum laude in International Political Relations in 1987, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. Antonio Guerrero Rodriguez is an aerodrome construction engineer and poet who was born in 1958. He has been sentenced to a similar term. They have been in prison for eleven years now --- against all norms of human rights, undergoing mental and physical torture. 

Inaugurating the seminar on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Release of the Cuban Five, Suneet Chopra, art critic and writer, pointed out how the issue of human rights came to the forefront in the United Nations as a result of the atrocities of the Nazis of the period of World War II. But a serious flaw remained. The USA was one of the judges at the war crimes tribunals but it was one of the greatest criminals of the war, having bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki when Japan had all but lost the war, targeting an over three hundred thousand civilians. That crime was ignored by the United Nations, as were later war crimes in Korea, Indochina, Latin America and the half-century old illegal and inhuman blockade of Cuba that continues despite the demands of the UN General Assembly each year to lift it. It was ironic that the USA is making a hue and cry all over the world for human rights and about its war against terrorism since 2001 when it still jails five people whose only crime was to unearth the gangs of terrorists in Miami, responsible, among other acts of terrorism including murder, for the mass murder of innocent passengers on a civilian aircraft they bombed in 1976. These terrorists are now free citizens of the US while those who exposed them are still in jail. He concluded by pointing out that this hypocritical and one-sided view of human rights abuse must be given up today �if we wish to avoid the tragedies of tomorrow.�

He was followed by Jitendra Sharma, senior advocate and president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, who, as one of the amei curiae, appealed for the release of the five. He outlined how justice was flagrantly denied in this case. The case was conducted in a condition of near hysteria in Miami, terrorising both jurors and witnesses. Worse, the jury and evidence made available were tampered with, and finally even constitutional provisions under US law were violated under pressure from the Bush administration. He demonstrated in detail how the proceedings were grossly unfair and faulty and a new administration was duty bound to release them so that justice was done.

After his deposition spoke Eduardo Iglesias Quintano, deputy chief of mission of the Embassy of Cuba, who pointed out that the only crime the Cuban people had committed was �to start and make a triumphant socialist revolution that brought Cuba its true and undefeated independence, sovereignty and dignity� from the control exercised over it by the USA whose neo-colony it was.

For that, a constant illegal state of war has been sustained by successive US administrations. That includes the blockade even of medicines and humanitarian aid, acts of terror including murder and assassination, invasions backed by the CIA and psychological and biological warfare. The five were imprisoned because they were determined to expose these attempts to export terror while �the United States has given privileged shelter to the most criminal and fascist Cubans turning them easily into US citizens.� In these circumstances, it was only for applying the right of self-defence (that) our Cuban heroes were imprisoned --- for fighting terrorism not only against the Cuban people but against the whole of Latin America and the United States itself. It was a shocking revelation that the terrorists given safe haven in the USA had in fact committed acts of terror there too.

His deposition was followed by that of Dr Vibha Maurya, professor of Spanish at Delhi University, who reminded us of how ordinary human beings became extraordinary when they chose to resist injustice. She quoted their heartening messages from their websites in which they remind us how the solidarity and support of the Cuban people and those of the world had kept them firm and unflinching for so long. She also reminded the gathering of the necessity of keeping up the pressure on the US administration as it kept the spirits of the Cuban Five high as well.

D K Agarwal, general secretary of the AILU, then concluded the seminar, which he was presiding over, with a detailed analysis that the continued imprisonment of the Cuban Five in violation of the articles 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These articles guarantee the right to life, liberty and security of persons against torture and inhuman treatment, equal protection before the law without discrimination, against arbitrary arrest and detention, and the freedom of opinion and expression, as well as ensuring a free and fair public hearing. But none of this has happened in the case of the Cuban five.

The gathering of nearly 200 intellectuals, lawyers, activists and concerned students and academics then proposed to send a letter of protest to the US president, demanding their immediate release. The AILU has also decided to broaden the campaign for their release among the legal practitioners in the country. Puneet Agarwal, a leading functionary of AILU, proposed the vote of thanks.