Call for humanitarian signal on Cuba

On April 10, family members of the Cuban Five will again apply for U.S. visas. For Adriana Perez, it will be the 10th time she tries to obtain a visa to see her husband, Gerardo Hernandez, who has been serving an unjust sentence in U.S. prisons for nearly 11 years. Over that time, our government has denied this husband and wife any possibility of seeing each other. It’s time for a change.

Since 1959, Cuba has been subjected to invasions, sabotage and terrorist attacks, resulting in 3,478 deaths and another 2,099 wounded, thecuban5.org reports.

In 1976, 73 people died when a bomb exploded mid-air aboard a commercial Cuban airliner. The masterminds, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, are former CIA operatives who currently live in Miami.

In 1997, a bombing at Havana’s Hotel Copacabana killed an Italian tourist. Cuban authorities arrested a man who confessed to having been paid thousands of dollars by Miami-based anti-Castro groups to plant the bomb.

The U.S. failed to act to stop such attacks. So Cuba sent five people to Miami to gather information about plans for similar acts in order to derail them before they were carried out. The five found evidence implicating specific Miami groups and individuals.

In 1998 Cuban President Fidel Castro sent a personal emissary, Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez, to deliver a note to President Clinton, asking that the U.S. take action. Castro wrote, “It is impossible to stop this terrorism without United States involvement. … Unless it is stopped now, in the future any country could be victimized by this new terrorism.”

Cuba gave the FBI detailed information on terrorist plotters in the U.S. But instead of going after those, our government arrested the Cuban Five.

Today, welcome winds of change are blowing in Washington. President Obama has made a first step to easing relations with our neighbor, Cuba, by dropping some Bush-imposed travel and financial restrictions.

Now a simple humanitarian gesture would send a message that the U.S. is launching a real “good neighbor” policy.

Contact Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ask that humanitarian visas be granted to the families of the Cuban Five.