Tag Archives: Cuban Five

Rene González and Alan Gross: speed and bacon

Disparates – (español)


I suppose the Latin American term for an apples and oranges comparison is peras y manzanas.  [Pears and apples.]  Somehow it doesn’t have quite the same ring.  In Spain, the expressions are funnier.  No hay que confundir el culo con las témporas. [No need to confuse the ass with the temporal bones].  No confundir churras con merinas.   [Don’t confuse the sheep that produces itchy wool with the sheep that makes merino].

But at the moment, thinking of Rene González and Alan Gross, I prefer the Spanish no mezclar la velocidad con el tocino [don’t mix up speed and bacon], because it’s an expression that highlights the absurd, and nothing is more absurd than the comparisons that are being marketed by the mainstream U.S. press on behalf of the State Department about these two men. Continue reading


Arturo Hernández’s zeal to convict the innocent

Luis Posada Carriles, left, Arturo Hernández, right

Posada Carriles’ Attorney Offered His Assistance to Convict Gerardo Hernández in Miami

José Pertierra, Cubadebate

Translation: Machetera

El Paso. February 14, 2010 — Prosecutors in the Luis Posada Carriles case revealed today that Posada Carriles’ defense attorney, Arturo Hernández, closely monitored and offered his help during the case against the Cuban Five in Miami in 2001. Continue reading

Teaching the Miami Herald to read: Gerardo Hernández’s habeas corpus appeal

On Sunday, December 28, Jay Weaver filed a story for the Miami Herald about the habeas corpus appeal for Gerardo Hernández, one of the “Cuban Five” who is currently serving a double life sentence in the maximum security federal prison at Victorville, California.  The article was subsequently translated for publication in the Herald’s Spanish language subsidiary, El Nuevo Herald.  The story and its headline (“In about-face, Cuban spy says planes were shot down over international waters”) made the sensational claim that in his appeal, Hernández had made a 180 degree turn, and is now contradicting the Cuban government’s position regarding the events of February 24, 1996, when two light aircraft belonging to the Miami group “Brothers to the Rescue” were shot down by Cuban fighter jets after being led toward Cuban airspace by their commander, José Basulto.

Sensationalism certainly attracts readers.  But it is not a substitute for a well-researched story, or the truth.  A careful reading of Hernández’s appeal does not lead to the conclusion stated by Weaver or the Herald.  I will write further about this in upcoming posts.  For now, these are my comments at both the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald (Spanish below). Continue reading

Understanding the difference between pobreza and miseria

After the rain in Haiti - Photo: Ramon Espinosa/AP

Just back from Cuba where he attended the launch of the Spanish translation of his book, “A People’s History of Science: Miners, Midwives and ‘Low Mechanicks'” at the Havana International Book Fair, Cliff Conner posted a brief note about his visit at the CubaNews listserve.  (The other People’s History guy, Howard Zinn, called Conner’s book “a delightfully refreshing new look at the history of science” and judging from the standing room only reception Conner received in Cuba, I’m guessing it’s likely well worth the read.)  At any rate, Conner’s note apparently stirred up a hornet’s nest of outrage from a couple of ex-Cubans, who it seems responded with the usual tired diatribe about “dissidents,” defectors, etcetera.

How U.S. soldiers helped Haiti prepare for the rain - Photo: Seth Robson, Stars & Stripes

Conner’s response is gracious, far more gracious than I would have been, but then this blog is called Machetera for a reason.  I asked for permission to re-post his letter here because I think it is well worth having as a reference, especially for those who’d like to make a case about the Cuban revolution failing to address poverty in Cuba.

People like for instance, Darsi Ferrer, the State Department’s new “Cuban dissident” poster child, who aside from his interest in secondhand cement, is also an aspiring filmmaker.  Really, I’d rather not call even more attention to this guy but his film, co-produced with help from CANF and some German and Czech “NGO’s” (the Czechs, always the Czechs) would make you laugh if it were not so deadly serious.  Darsi, dressed in a white doctor’s coat, with a stethoscope draped around his neck – in case you forgot he was a doctor – complains to the camera in all seriousness about the “miseria” everywhere in Cuba, caused by inadequate housing and lack of common medicines.  He does this monologue without ever breathing a word about the blockade, while his wife paws through grocery bags full of clothing straight off the boat from Miami (was that a magenta thong or brassiere near the end?), doling out pieces one by one to their very ordinary and quite healthy looking Cuban neighbors.  The film begins and returns to shots of people collecting water from pipes coming out of a wall, as though this is something terribly shocking, and you have to think that it is tragic really that Ferrer couldn’t go do a medical mission in Haiti so he could learn how people get their water there.  The whole production is scored with haunting music from the Holocaust genre in case you still didn’t get the point, and I’m sure it plays very well in drawing rooms on Capitol Hill but it’s junk.  Pure, expensive, U.S. bought and paid for junk.

Here’s Conner:

*     *     *    *

A few weeks ago CubaNews published a report I wrote of a visit in February to the Havana International Book Fair, in which I offered some observations about what I had seen in Cuba. I received (via some friends I had sent the report to) a set of thoughtful comments on it from a couple of Cuban ex-pats. I thought their commentary was worth a reply, so I wrote one; it is appended below. (The names of the people I addressed it to and the names of the Cuban ex-pats have been changed because I do not have their permission to use them.)

Hi Rhonda and George,

Greetings from Mexico City.

Thanks for sending me Jaime and Alejandro’s comments on my “report” from Cuba.  Yes, I did find them very interesting and worthwhile, although I am quite sure that they and I would have to “agree to disagree” about a number of things regarding their former homeland. I will try to respond to what they wrote point-by-point, and will ask you to kindly pass this on to them.

Marush and I entirely agree with them about the tackiness of the Tropicana show, but I described it the way I did because I didn’t want to seem like a cultural snob. Besides, on a certain level, if you suspend your critical judgment, it can still be quite enjoyable. I also agree that the renovation process going on in Habana Vieja is better described as “restoration” than “reconstruction.”

I certainly don’t think of all Cubans living in the United States as ultra-right-wing fanatics. I do think that an ultra-right element dominated the first generation of post-revolutionary refugees, and still has a lot of political clout, but it seems that the younger generation (which apparently includes Jaime and Alejandro) is not nearly as politically homogeneous as their elders.

Although I wrote my report in a somewhat neutral voice, I am in fact a strong partisan of the Cuban economic system in contrast to the system that afflicts our country and most of the rest of the world. I adopted the neutral tone because in the context of the current (abysmally uninformed) American political discourse, even that will seem shockingly pro-Cuba to most of the people I sent it to. I wasn’t trying to be deceptive; I simply didn’t intend it to be an ideological manifesto. Continue reading

Atilio Boron on Obama’s prize

AkevittSkole2-374Consolation Prize (Amended)*- Español

By Atilio A. Boron

English translation: Machetera

In an astonishing decision, the Norwegian Nobel Committee put an end to seven months of searching among the 205 nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize and conferred it upon Barack Obama.   Piedad Córdoba, the brave Colombian senator whose efforts in search of peace for her violence-ridden country largely deserved to be rewarded with the Nobel Prize was tossed to the wayside so that it might be granted to the American president. It is not a minor surprise to know that Obama’s nomination was submitted to the Norwegian Committee two months after his inauguration. What did he do in such a short period of time on behalf of the world peace? He delivered gentle speeches and made rather nebulous exhortations to end violent confrontations. The Colombian senator, on the other hand, has spent the last ten years in a tireless effort to put an end to armed struggle and to pacify her country. She put her own body and her actions on the line. But the Norwegian Committee did not share this appreciation and Piedad was once again passed over. A woman, black, leftist, and Latin American: too many flaws and defects for the cautious members of the Committee, always politically correct, forever sanctimonious, who only by mistake would it confer the prize upon a public figure whose struggles for peace were unacceptable to the empire. The Dalai Lama is acceptable; Piedad Córdoba is not. For him, the Prize; for her, the cold shoulder. Continue reading

A State Department at the Service of Petty Interests: The Ongoing Torture of Adriana Pérez and her Husband, Gerardo Hernández

c_0016 copyCORRECTIONS: The news that Gerardo Hernández received on his birthday, June 4, 2008, was not that the Supreme Court would refuse to hear the Cuban Five’s case, but that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had reinstated his two life sentences, after a previous ruling had overturned them.  The Supreme Court’s announcement of the refusal to hear the Five’s case would come a year later, on June 15, 2009.  In a sense, the timing was even more cruel, petty and personal than outlined below.  The interview with Adriana Pérez, Gerardo’s wife, attributed in the article below to California’s La Opinión, was actually an Associated Press interview, from which La Opinión collected selected excerpts.

A State Department at the Service of Petty Interests:
Visa Denial as a Form of Torture

By Machetera

When the U.S. Government announced that it would deny Adriana Pérez a visa for the tenth time in eleven years in order to come from Cuba to the United States and visit her husband, Gerardo Hernández, incarcerated at the federal prison in Victorville, California, it carefully chose the date to break the news.  The denial was announced on July 15, the couple’s 21st wedding anniversary.  When the Supreme Court announced that it would refuse to hear the case of the Cuban Five, of whom Hernández is one, and the one facing the largest sentence, it chose the date with equal care: June 4, Hernández’s birthday.  The timing of both events was as certainly deliberate as it was petty – a stamp of the U.S. State Department, where cruelty and pettiness abound.

Pérez has not seen her husband for almost twelve years, starting since almost a year before a SWAT team tore down the door to his tiny apartment in Miami in September of 1998 and arrested him, answering his question about why he was being arrested with a snarling “You know why.”  So much for due process.  It would be only the first violation of its kind in a never-ending chain. Continue reading

Adriana Pérez speaks with La República about the Cuban Five

This interview with Adriana Pérez, wife of Gerardo Hernández, one of the Cuban Five, is almost three years old, yet it has never been translated into English until now.  It is a critically important interview for understanding exactly how the U.S. government has engaged in extraordinary punishment tactics beyond the absurdly harsh sentences meted out to the Five in 2001.  It is also important for understanding how their punishment has been extended to their families, for the crime of solidarity with one another.  Finally, it is a remarkable expression of that very solidarity.

Adriana Pérez: “Cuba delivered information to the FBI about terrorist organizations and the United States arrested the five who’d obtained it.

Adriana_Hernandez_Nordelo_Cp_0062Saturday, October 21, 2006
Julio Castro & Javier Parra for laRepública.es

Translation by Machetera

On September 12, 1998, five Cuban citizens were arrested in the United States.  It was said that they were spies, terrorists at the service of the Cuban government; that they were infiltrators who were working against U.S. national security.  They were blamed for a series of crimes that later were proven to have no legal basis whatsoever, not even remotely connected to the real story, which was that they were trying to prevent the terrorist actions of various anti-revolutionary groups in Miami, obtaining information that Cuban security later passed to U.S. FBI agents in order to prevent the possible disasters which might be caused by these violent groups.  The five are: Gerardo Hernandez Nordelo, Ramón Labañino Salazar, René González Sehwerert, Antonio Guerrero Rodríguez and Fernando González Llort.  This has come to be known internationally as the case of the Cuban Five. Continue reading