Cuban Political Prisoners Ask Obama to Revisit His Policy

Thursday, December 17, 2015
The following letter, signed by 126 former Cuban political prisoners, who served a combined total of 1,945 years in Castro's political prisons and labor camps, was delivered this morning to The White House:

December 17, 2015

The Honorable Barack H. Obama                                                                    
President of United States of America
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. President:

Based on our history and experience as political prisoners under Castro's totalitarian regime, the new Cuba policy established by your Administration has been a regrettable mistake. This will prolong the life of the dictatorship, is worsening the human rights situation there, marginalizing the democratic opposition and compromising U.S. national security.

The normalization of relations is creating false expectations and granting benefits to the tyrannical regime in Cuba; it is also allowing the Paris Club to forgive billions in debt providing the regime hard currency which it funnels into its most repressive institutions: the military and intelligence services giving new life to what were dying institutions. Human rights violations in Cuba have a terrible history, but the current policy has taken a bad situation and made it worse. Violent beatings against activists peacefully assembling have escalated and worsened over 2015.

Politically motivated arbitrary detentions in Cuba as of the end of November 2015 are a documented total of 7,686 and are on track to break the previous record set in 2014 with 8,899 arrests. Over the course of this year the number of detentions have escalated: 178 in January; 492 in February; 610 in March; 338 in April; 641 in May; 563 in June; 674 in July; 768 in August; 882 in September; 1,093 in October; and 1,447 in November. Political prisoners continue to be a reality in Cuba.

Despite the claim that there would be continued support for improved human rights and democratic reforms in Cuba the past year has demonstrated otherwise. Inviting the Castro regime to the VII Summit of the Americas in Panama in April of 2015, violated the democratic ideals of the summit. The dictatorship's anti-democratic and violent nature was made evident during the Summit with Cuban nationals and U.S. citizens beaten up by state security and requiring hospitalization and summit events interrupted by acts of repudiation organized by the Castro regime. The U.S. government responses were low level pro-forma protests while President Obama met with Raul Castro as an equal.

The Administration's new Cuba policy over the past year has compromised U.S. national security. First, commuting Gerardo Hernandez’s two life sentences; he was convicted for among other things conspiracy to murder three U.S. citizens and one resident of the U.S., and returning him to Cuba where he received a hero's welcome in what was an immense propaganda victory for the Castro regime, sending a dangerous signal to those who would harm Americans.

Secondly, removing Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list on May 29, 2015 despite: 1) the Castro regime being caught smuggling heavy weapons and ammunition through Colombia on February 28, 2015. 2) Being linked to international drug trafficking along with its client state Venezuela as reported on January 27, 2015. 3) Being in violation of UN international sanctions to North Korea on July 15, 2013 when caught smuggling tons of weapons and ammunition including ballistic missile technology. Ignoring this will get more Americans killed and undermine U.S. interests.

Finally, having the US Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas meet with the Castro regime’s Interior Minister Major General Carlos Fernandez Gondin in what was officially described as a visit of collaboration and engagement sends worrisome signals that should concern those who care about national security. Gondin has a history of engaging in the mistreatment of opposition activists and has an agenda to undermine U.S. interests, legitimizing him with an official visit sends a terrible message.

We the undersigned are political prisoners who collectively have served 1,945 years in prison for resisting the Castro dictatorship and fighting for democracy in our homeland of Cuba. We are writing this letter out of a deep conviction that this new U.S. Cuba policy will not only harm Cuban aspirations for a free and democratic Cuba while worsening human rights there but also endanger American lives.

Sincerely,

(Name, Years in Political Prison)

Orestes Abreu, 5
Israel Abreu Villarreal, 14
Dr. José Aguiar, 15
Nicolás Aguiar, 15
Ángel Alfonso Alemán, 18
Miguel Álvarez Cardentey , 24
Bernardo Álvares Perdomo, 10
Francisco Álvarez Rojas, 13
Jorge Arrastía, 15
 Ángel Ávalos, 17
Gabriel Astengo, 9
José Bello, 9
Emilio Bringas, 15
Rodolfo Camps Verdecia, 9
Aurelio Candelaria Velázquez, 18
Héctor Carbonell, 5
Carlos Casanova, 20
Pedro Castillo, 20
Orlando Castro, 10
Joaquín Chanyín, 18
Georgina Cid, 15
Pedro Corzo, 7
Enrique Cosío, 13
René Cruz Cruz, 17
Ángel Cuadra Landrove, 29
Ileana Curra Luzón, 3
Pascual Ovidio Delgado, 16
Ángel F. De Fana, 20
José M. Del Pino Martínez, 19
Jesús Díaz Martínez, 14
Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez, 22
Vicente Echerri, 2.5
Cándido Elejalde, 12
Guillermo Estévez, 19
Mario Fajardo, 17
Jorge Fernández, 6
José L. Fernández, 6
Oneida Fernández, 10
Alberto Fibla González, 26
Osvaldo Figueroa, 24
José Luis Fornell, 12
Pedro Fuentes Cid, 16
Ángel García Martínez, 10
Hiran González, 11 months
Teodoro González Alvarado, 16
Jesús González Martínez, 15
Rubén Gonzalo García, 18
Elias Gonzalo García, 14
Alberto Grau, 25
Manuel F. Guevara, 29
Jorge Gutiérrez Izaguirre, 18
José A. Gutiérrez Solana, 10
Basilio Guzmán Marrero, 22
Jorge Guzmán Chaple, 13
Ambrosio Guzmán, 15
Rafael Hernández , 4
Sergio Hernández, 12
Dasio René Hernández Peña, 28
Servando Infante, 18
Kemel Jamis Bernal, 14
José A. Jiménez, 12
Roberto Jiménez, 17
Tobías Junco, 10
Antonio Lamas, 22
Gloria Lassales, 6
Isidoro López, 2
Pedro López González, 10
Pedro Juan López Díaz, 10
Reinaldo López Lima, 23
Antonio López Muñoz, 27
Jesús Lucena, 18
Maritza Lugo, 5
Carlos Fausto Mariscal, 28
Ino Martel Casuso, 6
Domingo Martínez, 9
Leuterio Martínez, 12
Teodoro Martínez, 16
Emilio Martínez Venega, 14
Luis Massón, 6
Eduardo Ochoa, 9
Ángel Pardo Mazorra, 24
Ramón Méndez Pimentel, 26
Ricardo Montero Duque, 25
Eduardo Morales, 6
Alejandro Moreno Maya, 18
Olga Morgan, 14
Sixto Nicot, 18
Emelina Núñez, 6
Pablo Palmiere, 18
Roberto Martín Pérez, 28
Ildefonso Pérez, 6
Roberto Perdomo, 28
Roberto Pizano, 18
Carlos Pons, 20
Ramón (Rino) Puig, 15
Pablo Prieto Castillo, 26
José L. Pujals Mederos, 27
J. René Ramos, 21
Hernán Reyes, 8
Roger Reyes, 20
José del Río, 15
Agapito Rivera, 25
Agustín Robaina, 15
Ofelia Rodríguez, 14
Nelson Rodríguez Pérez, 9
Jesús Rodríguez Beruvides, 16
Tebelio Rodríguez San Román, 15
Aracely Rodríguez San Román, 15
Gerardo Rodríguez San Román, 15
Rodolfo Rodríguez San Román, 15
José O. Rodríguez Terreiro, 10
Ana María Rojas, 12
Nellys Rojas Morales, 9
Caridad Roque, 16
Alvin Ros, 6
Enrique Ruano Gutiérrez, 8
Ariel Semanat, 18
Evaristo Sotolongo, 16
Arturo Suárez Ramos, 23
Luis M. Tapia, 11
Efraín Taquechel, 10
Ricardo Toledo, 9
Armando Yong, 21