U.S. mum on humanitarian visit for Cuban 5 prisoner

The lawyer for Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5 political prisoners held in the United States, filed an emergency motion in federal court Feb. 24 seeking a two-week humanitarian visit to Havana to visit his brother who reportedly is seriously ill with cancer.

“Travel for Rene is not for political purposes, but purely on humanitarian grounds,” said Gonzalez’s lawyer Phil Horowitz on a media teleconference March 2.

Gonzalez is on probation in Florida until 2014. However, Horowitz said courts previously have allowed temporary releases to visit a loved one in another country.

Horowitz said he has successfully petitioned for other clients in similar circumstances. “I have filed a request for a U.S. citizen on supervised release to go to Colombia,” he said.

So far the court has not responded. The judge, Joan A. Lenard, can take as much time as she needs to rule.

Horowitz insisted that Gonzalez would return to the U. S. after the two-week visit to finish up his supervised release sentence. He said Gonzalez would not want to be an “international pariah” nor would he want the other Cuban 5 prisoners to suffer the consequences if he broke the law.

Another Cuban 5 prisoner, Antonio Guerrero, is due to be released in four years, and is also a dual citizen who may be in a similar situation as Gonzalez.

“We want to have Rene show a shining example on what can and can’t be done. He doesn’t want to do anything negative that would reflect upon Tony and his release,” said Horowitz.

The public is urged to contact the White House at 202-456-1111 and urge the president to allow Gonzalez to return to Cuba for two weeks as a humanitarian gesture.

For more information on the case of the Cuban Five and the international campaign to free them click here.

Photo: Rene Gonzalez, center. (AP)



Teresa Albano
Teresa Albano

Teresa Albano is a staff writer for People's World and an award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Chicago, Albano is a member of the Chicago News Guild-Communications Workers of America and has been covering political, labor and social justice issues for more than 25 years. Albano was the first woman editor-in-chief of People's World, 2003-2010, leading the transition from weekly print to daily online publishing and establishing PW's social media presence.

Albano lived in New York City for 13 years and has traveled throughout the United States and abroad, including to India, Cuba, Angola, Italy and to Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. She received awards from International Labor Communications Association, National Federation of Press Women and Illinois Woman Press Association, including its prestigious Silver Feather Award. Albano attends Northeastern Illinois University and recently received NEIU's Future Alumni Leader award. She will graduate in December 2016. 

Combining her passion for swimming and for social justice, she founded the blog, Swimming Social, during the 2016 Rio Games.