Visa campaign launched for Cuban Five families

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Prisoners need to see their families. The United Nations Human Rights Commission urges a minimum standard that prisoners be allowed “regular” communication with family “by correspondence and by receiving visits.”

The International Free the Five Committee recently urged the United States government to grant entry visas to relatives of the five Cuban men jailed in U.S. prisons since 1998. Known as anti-terrorist fighters, they are collectively called “The Cuban Five.”

Gerardo Hernandez, Rene Gonzalez, Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez were arrested in 1998. They were charged with putting U.S. national security at risk and other charges, but they stated before a jury that were only monitoring Miami-based anti-Cuban terrorist organizations. They are currently serving harsh sentences ranging from 15 years to double life terms.

The committee’s request was made in a letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder, and signed by world outstanding personalities.

The letter especially urged Washington to grant visas to Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva to visit their husbands, Gerardo Hernandez and Rene Gonzalez, respectively.

“We are aware of these two women have requested visas nine times, and the State Department has repeatedly denied their petition, based on arbitrary arguments,” the letter states.

UN General Assembly chairman Miguel D’Escoto, Nobel Peace prizewinners Rigoberta Menchu and Adolfo Esquivel, US writer Noam Chomsky, and members of the Argentinean organization Grandmothers and Mothers of Plaza de Mayo are among the personalities signing the request.

On April 10, Perez and Salanueva have an appointment in the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to request their visas. This will be the tenth time that Perez will request a visa to see her husband. During a decade, the U.S. government has denied this couple the possibility of seeing each other.

The international committee urges the public to contact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton no later than April 10 to request the following:

• To immediately grant a humanitarian visa to Adriana Pérez to visit her husband Gerardo Hernández and put an end to the violation of the right of family visits.

• To grant visas for the other members of the family of the Cuban Five.

Contact information: U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20520 Fax number: 202-647-2283. Phone number: 202-647-4000.

The Committee also asks individuals to contact the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, to request the following:

To immediately grant a humanitarian visa to Salanueva. On July 2008, Olga was (unjustly) classified as “permanently ineligible.” Ask Napolitano to exempt Salanueva of that condition by granting her a humanitarian visa to visit her husband Rene González.

Contact information: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528,

Fax number: 202-282-8401, Comment line: 202-282-8495. Operator Number: 202-282-8000

Copies of the requests can be sent to High Commissioner for Human Rights:

InfoDesk@ohchr.org.