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Wife of Cuban Five Member Asks US President for Human Gesture

Adriana Pérez O'Connor. Photo: Along the Malecon

Adriana Pérez O'Connor. Photo: Along the Malecon

Adriana Perez O’Connor has spent 14 years without seeing her husband, Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban Five imprisoned in the United States for conspiracy to commit espionage, and hope that the international pressure forces U.S. President Barack Obama to adopt a measure that enables them to meet again.

“The solution is now in Obama’s hands,” the EFE news agency reported a statement spoken by Pérez O’Connor, who is in Geneva to talk with officials from different UN agencies in order to increase pressures on Washington, which according to the Cuban government and their relatives is viewed as a politically biased case.

Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, Antonio Guerrero and Rene Gonzalez were convicted to different sentences by a court in Florida in 2001 for conspiracy and operating as foreign agents without notifying the U.S. government.

They integrated the “Avispa” (Wasp) spy ring, which was dismantled three years ago in South Florida, and acknowledged at the trial that they were agents of the Cuban government, but they were not spying on U.S., but on “exile terrorist groups” plotting against Cuba.

Only one of them is now on the streets. This is Rene Gonzalez, who was released from prison in October after serving 13 years, but may not return to Cuba until 2014, after finishing a three-year probation.

The penalty was strongest for Hernandez, sentenced to two life sentences and 15 years of imprisonment after a trial, which according to various international bodies and NGOs did not contain basic guarantees.

The demands of the Cuban government and their families reached the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which urged Washington in 2005 to provide a solution to the Cuban Five case, whose situation have been supported, among others, by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and 10 Nobel Peace laureates.

According to Pérez O’Connor, thanks to the international pressure in the recent 14 years, the perception on the case has been successfully changed, after remembering that at first no one would listen because it was globally accepted the fact that they had been surprised while spying on the U.S., thus the sentences were fair.

In this regard, “the battle of truth” has been won, but not the struggle through legal means, the only way to release their relatives or at least allow U.S. authorities to ease regulations related to the visits, she said.

The U.S. authorities has repeatedly denied Perez O’Connor a visa to travel to this country and visit her husband in jail, and she has no hope that the situation would change.

“We have exhausted all legal resources. We could neither managed to get our visa nor systematize regular visits by relatives, which is a right for prisoners,” said Hernandez’s wife, who maintains contact with her husband through “reviewed and censored” letters, and phone talks “that can not last more than fifteen minutes,” she added.

The “Five” families assume that there is no going back in the U.S. courts and have chosen to “influence Obama, who is also a Nobel Peace laureate, to put an end to this injustice.”

“We know that the U.S. administration is not going to make a spontaneous and voluntary decision. It has to be under international scrutiny, under the requirement of all the people able to transmit to this government an interest on such case, which damages the U.S. image, “she said.

“It has been nearly 14 years since they were imprisoned -continued Perez O’Connor- so it is time enough to make a gesture.”

Adriana Pérez O’Connor, 42, has not seen her husband face to face since she was 28, a time that she is aware that they would not recover, but on which she does not think because what matters is “fighting with conviction that we are going to have them back.”

She met Gerardo Hernandez at the university and said that, despite the distance, still maintains the same complicity with him and share the same plans for the future, a word she rarely uses.

She thought many times about the reunion with her husband, but would rather not talk about it and let the moment take shape by itself when it comes, “what I think of it I keep it to myself.”

Taken from
Translated by Osmany Gonzalez Tocabens

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