CANADIAN LABOR CONGRESS
Hassan Yussuff President / Président
Barbara Byers Secretary-Treasurer / Secrétaire-trésorière
Marie Clarke Walker Executive Vice-President / Vice-présidente exécutive
Donald Lafleur Executive Vice-President / Vice-président exécutif
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
In the last few weeks, the New York Times published a series of editorials and opinions asking your administration to change its policy toward Cuba. The centerpiece of this request involves the case of three Cuban men who have been in U.S. prisons since 1998.
Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero are part of the internationally known “Cuban Five” who came to the United States to monitor the activities of certain groups of Cuban exiles who were responsible for acts of violence, resulting in the immeasurable suffering of many Cuban families.
Unarmed, the altruistic mission of the Five aimed to save lives and prevent additional criminal acts against their people, and also against U.S. citizens. General James Clapper, the current National Director of Intelligence, testified at their trial that the Five did not damage, nor did they endanger U.S. National Security. Two of them, René González and González Fernando Llort have returned to Cuba after serving their entire sentences and the three others remain in prison to this day.
In the 16 years that have passed since the sentencing, many well-known personalities, including 10 Nobel Laureates, jurists, intellectuals, artists, trade union and religious leaders, parliamentarians, governments, human rights organizations and U.S. elected officials have repeated their calls for the freedom of these prisoners. Major international bodies such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and Amnesty International have also chimed in with similar appeals.
Former President Jimmy Carter expressed in 2011: “I believe that the detention of the Cuban Five makes no sense, there have been doubts expressed in U.S. courts and by human rights organizations around the world. They have now been in prison 12 years and I hope that in the near future they will be freed to return to their homes." .../2 President Obama, 16 years of this unjust imprisonment is unconscionable. We have added our voice to those throughout the world who are asking you to resolve this issue without further delay.
In the spirit of the holiday season, we implore you to use your constitutional powers to free the three remaining Cuban men and to enable them to join their loved ones by this New Year; a moving gesture that only a caring President of the United States can deliver.
Whilst improving the relations between the United States and Cuba, such a gesture would also enrich the lives of the mothers, wives and children who are waiting for them.
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