Rene Gonzalez Sehwerert
Released October 7, 2011
René González is an American citizen, born in Chicago, Illinois, on August 13, 1956. As a son of Cuban immigrants he returned to Cuba in 1961. Rene is a pilot and flight instructor. Married to Olga Salanueva since 1983, they have two daughters: 23 year-old Irma González Salanueva, and 15 year-old Ivette González Salanueva.
From 1977 to 1979 he participated as an internationalist combatant in the war of liberation in Angola and against apartheid.
In 1990 Rene returned to the United States, and in 1996 his wife and elder daughter joined him in Miami. His daughter Ivette was born in that city in 1998.
On September 12, 1998 René was arrested. He was held in preventative custody for thirty-three months before the sentence was passed and was isolated in special cell, known as “the hole”, designed for prisoners with serious disciplinary problems for almost 17 months prior to the trial and for 48 days after the verdict was passed. In February 2003 he was once again held in solitary confinement for almost a month without any reason being given.
His trial, held at the United States District Court Southern District of Florida, under Case No. 98-721-Cr-Lenard(S), began on November 26, 2000 and concluded on June 8, 2001, in Miami, Florida, home to over half a million Cuban exiles. Miami is a community with a long history of hostility toward the Cuban government – a record that a federal appellate court in the United States later described as a “perfect storm” of prejudice, precluding a fair trial.
Following his conviction, on December 14, 2001 he was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment on the charges of General Conspiracy and Conspiracy to act as a non- registered foreign agent.
After the trial, Rene was transferred to a maximum-security prison in Loretto, Pennsylvania, before being moved to McKean Federal Correctional Institution in the same state. Later, he was taken to Edgefield FCI in South Carolina, and finally to Marianna FCI, Florida, where he served until Oct. 7, 2011.
Despite repeated appeals, Judge Joan Lenard ruled that he must stay in Florida for the next three years under conditions of “supervised release.”
Since the deportation of Rene’s wife, Olga Salanueva, in 2000, the government of the United States denied visa permits to her on 7 occasions.
After serving his entire sentence, Rene Gonzalez was released on October 7, 2011.
On March 31, 2012, U.S. District Judge Joan Lenard granted Gonzalez his request to return to Cuba to see his ill brother, with the condition that he had to obtain permission from the U.S. government and return within 15 days. After the visit, Rene returned to the United States.
On April 22, 2013 Rene Gonzalez returned to Cuba for his father’s funeral and on May 11, Judge Lenard allowed him to stay there provided that he renounce his United States citizenship.