Statement from Ann Wright
for the September 13, 2014 Conference in Washington, DC on the Imprisonment of the Cuban Five
I thank the International
Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five for the opportunity to speak on the
injustices of the law enforcement,
judicial system and media of the United States concerning the pre-trial
incarceration, trial, sentencing and the appeals process of the Cuban Five
I am a 29-year veteran of
the U.S. Army and retired as a Colonel.
I was also a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigned in March, 2003 in
opposition to the decision of the Bush administration to invade and occupy
Iraq. Since my resignation 11 years
ago, I have spoken and written frequently about my deep concern about policies
and decisions taken by the United States government.
I, like many others who
have served in the United States government, am deeply concerned about the lack
of fairness of American law enforcement and judicial systems as it pertains to
the Cuban Five. Earlier this year, in
June, 2014, at the "5 Days for the Cuban 5" events in Washington, DC, the
international audience from countries around the world heard of their concerns
about this unfairness from former U.S. government officials --Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General;
Larry Wilkerson, Retired U.S. Army Colonel and former Chief of Staff to U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell; and Wayne Smith, former Chief of the U.S.
Interests Section in Havana.
I am proud to add my
voice to their condemnations of the American prosecutorial and judicial
processes and the American penal system.
I first met families of
the Cuban Five in 2006 in Havana, Cuba.
I had travelled there as a member of a human rights delegation sponsored
by CODEPINK: Women for Peace, that went to the gates of the U.S. military base in
Guantanamo to protest the torture and inhumane conditions of the prisoners who
had been kidnapped, tortured and imprisoned following the events of September
11, 2001, almost three years to the day, the Cuban Five were arrested.
During our trip to Cuba,
our delegation talked with the families of the Cuban Five who at that time had
been in U.S. prisons for eight years, many of those years in which the U.S.
judicial system was deeply influenced by the events of 9/11 and the subsequent
curtailment of civil and political rights in the United States for U.S. citizens
and extraordinary abridgement and violation of legal rights for non-U.S.
We know well the history
of the decision of the Clinton Administration to prosecute the Cuban Five for
their unarmed, non-violent monitoring of Miami-based terrorist organizations in
the United States to prevent further attacks against the people of Cuba who have
suffered more than 3,478 deaths and 2,099 injuries from terrorist acts from
We know the story of the
Cuban government's cooperation of providing documents, videos and other evidence
to the United states government for the investigation to lead to the prosecution
of persons residing in the United states who had committed acts of violence
against the Cuban people, including the blowing up of a Cuban airliner that
resulted in the deaths of 75 people and the explosion in a nightclub in Cuba
that killed many persons.
We know the
United States never prosecuted the perpetrators of these crimes and the
criminals currently are living in the open in the United States, including Luis
In 2008, I and several
members of CODEPINK: Women for Peace, went to Miami, found Carriles wife's home
and his presence in the home as confirmed by a housing complex gardener and went
to the Miami FBI office and reported that we have found the location of a
dangerous criminal. We put a large
banner with Carriles' photo and the
words "Criminal" in the back of a truck and went drove around Miami with the
Then we had a press conference
in Miami across the street from the Versailles restaurant, a hang-out for right
wing Cubans, announcing that we had located Carriles and that the police should
arrest him. We were attacked with
We know the Bush
administration paid reporters to write negative stories about the Cuban Five
during their trial in Miami, Florida, jeopardizing the fairness of the
trial. We know that in August 2005, a three-judge panel
of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta overturned all of the
convictions on the grounds that the Five had not received a fair trial in Miami
and that one year later, in August 2006, in spite of the strong disagreement
voiced by two of the three judges who made up the original panel, the full 12-member Court of Appeals revoked the decision of the three judges.
We know the Obama administration's
Solicitor General, now a U.S. Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan, argued that
the U.S. Supreme Court should not grant a hearing on the case of the Cuban
We know that many international
figures including 10 Nobel laureates, among them East Timor President Jose
Ramos Horta, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Rigoberta Menchu, Jose Saramago, Wole
Soyinka, Zhores Alferov, Nadine Gordimer, Gunter Grass, Dario Fo and Mairead
Maguire, as well as the Mexican Senate, the National Assembly of Panama, and
Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland (1992-1997) and former UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), and UNESCO General Director Federico
Mayor, among others, signed the amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court.
They were joined by hundreds of parliamentarians from around the world. Among
them were 75 members of the European Parliament, including two ex-presidents and
three current vice-presidents of this legislature. Also represented were
numerous legal and human rights associations from different countries in Europe,
Asia and Latin America, as well as international personalities and legal and
academic organizations in the United States.
We know that in 2005, the United
Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, concluded that, based on the facts
and the circumstances in which the trial was held, the nature of the charges and
the severity of the convictions, the imprisonment of the Five violated Article
14 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Liberties, to which
the United States is a signatory.
We know that this was the first time the UN
Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had denounced a conviction in a case in the
United States because of the violations committed during the legal
process. Despite the appeals from the
international community and the United Nations, the U.S. Supreme Court refused
to hear the case of the Cuban Five.
We know that many persons convicted
of being agents for a foreign government and for espionage against the United
States and of providing classified U.S. government documents to the State of
Israel, China and Taiwan have received much lighter sentences than the Cuban
We know that two of the Cuban Five,
Rene Gonzalez and Hernando Gonzalez have finally been released after serving
their sentences. We know that three of
the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon
Labanino and Antonio Guerrero, still remain in U.S. maximum security prisons
facing decades more of imprisonment.
What We Don't
What we don't know is how long the
United States government will continue its 50-year campaign against the
government and people of Cuba, to include using its judicial system to violate
the human and civil rights of those who attempt to prevent further criminal
attacks coming from the United States on their own
What we don't know, is when the
tipping point will come through citizen activism, that at long last, a U.S.
political administration will be willing to challenge the stranglehold the
right wing Cuban lobby in Miami has on American politics to ultimately correct
the injustices the Cuban Five have suffered.
But, we do know that, despite its
lofty pronouncements of protection of human rights around the world, the United States government seldom holds
itself accountable for its well-known abuses.
Without international and domestic
education and pressure, such as this forum tonight and other important
conferences of the International
Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, to hold the United States government
accountable for its actions, accountability will not happen in these sensitive
I am honored to have had the
opportunity to add my voice calling for justice for the Cuban Five and release of the remaining
three victims of U.S. injustice-- Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino and Antonio