June 5th, 2012
Dear President Obama,
I respectfully ask you to consider starting negotiations, based on an atmosphere of mutual respect, with President Raul Castro of Cuba, to resolve one of the main issues recently identified by the US Council of Churches of Christ and the Cuban Council of Churches. This issue is the case of the “Cuban Five” prisoners in the United States.
Four of the Cuban Five are serving long and extreme sentences in different prisons in our country for defending Cuba from terrorist actions planned on our own soil. Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, and Fernando González were arrested in 1998. Rene Gonzalez was released in October 2011 after serving his sentence but he has to remain in the U.S. for three more years under supervised probation.
For a long time, a number of personalities, members of Congress, religious, prestigious jurists, artists, intellectuals and large labor unions in the United States have raised their concerns about the unjust incarceration of these five Cuban men and are advocating for their freedom.
The need to send these men back to Cuba to be re-united with their families has also been the concern expressed by major human rights organizations, Amnesty International, the United Nations Group on Arbitrary Detention, former US President Jimmy Carter, members of the Armed Forces of the United States, 10 Nobel laureates, along with governments and parliaments from around the world. As a mayor of Richmond, I add my voice to theirs in asking for a humanitarian gesture to end this arbitrariness.
Mr. President, today on the 5th of June, I join with thousands of people from the United States and from around the world who write to you on the 5th of each month and ask you for this humanitarian approach, well within your power, in returning the five Cubans to their country and their families.
A humanitarian solution to this case will be a clear message to the world and will constitute an important foundation for the improvement of relations between the two countries. It will also demonstrate that we are a humane people with compassionate hearts.
Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor
City of Richmond, California, United States