April 5, 2014
President Barack Obama
The White House
Dear President Obama:
I write you today to urge that you look at the case of the three Cubans still held hostage to our outworn and dangerous foreign policy towards Cuba. Called “The Cuban Five” by their supporters, they were sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 2001 for the crime of trying to protect the lives of their fellow citizens-and, for that matter, the lives of many U.S. citizens too. Two have been released from prison, and of the three who remain, one was sentenced to life imprisonment. I understand far too well the urgency that led the Cuban government to send these very brave men to infiltrate the Cuban exile terrorist organizations.
“Terrorist” is not too strong a word to describe the groups these men infiltrated in Miami. For decades they have ignored the laws of the United States which gave them new lives and protection. These groups were left alone by U.S. authorities to carry out a war against both Cuba and these with whom they disagree on U.S. territory. Many of them were U.S. citizens. I am one of these victimize by them.
In March, 1973, a member of one of those exile terrorist organizations placed a large plastique bomb in the Center for Cuban Studies, almost destroying the entire facility in Greenwich Village, New York City. The only part that was NOT destroyed was where I was sitting – my only injuries occurred because the blast caused the large glass window next to me to shatter and fall on me as I was typing.
For me, then, the “Cuban Five” represent a heroic effort to disrupt activities deemed illegal by our own government. It is past time for the release of the three remaining imprisoned.
Center for Cuban Studies
SANDRA LEVINSON is the President and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies, and was one of the Center’s founders in 1972. In 1991 Levinson spearheaded a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department which resulted in legalizing the importation of original Cuban art. She is currently directing works at the Cuban Art Space, which she founded in 1999, to properly house and archive the thousands of posters, photographs and artworks which the Center has collected in the past 42 years. The Center collection consists of more than 3,000 works of art, 2,000 photographs and 5,000 posters and the Art Space shows art exclusively from Cuban artists. It also sponsors talks, film showings, performances, and serves as an arena for visiting artists and writers from Cuba. In 2004 Levinson was awarded the José Maria Heredia Medal in Santiago de Cuba, that city’s most important cultural award, for her dedication to the city’s artists. Earlier, she was given Cuba’s Friendship Medal from the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples.