Arleen Rodríguez Derivet
Two notes associated with the case of the Cuban Five which happened to be published recently by various Cuban media outlets on the same day, deal with issues so obvious, and at the same time so ignored by U.S. authorities, that it’s worth comparing the headlines.
The first had to do with the new motion presented by Rene González’s attorney, asking once again for the same thing that was called for before he left prison: that he be allowed to return to Cuba, where his home and family are. The news here was that he would renounce his U.S. citizenship in exchange for meeting his petition.
The other blindingly obvious event, never before mentioned by a legal authority in relation to the case of the Cuban Five is contained in the statements of Gabriela Knaul, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on independence of judges and lawyers. Concerned by the extremely serious irregularities in the legal process against the Five, such as the defense’s lack of access to all available evidence, she also issued a warning, finally, about something that has seemed absurd to many of us since the beginning of the appeal process: that the habeas corpus appeals presented in the defense of the Five are being considered “by the same judge who was previously in charge of the case.”
Rene doesn’t want to be a U.S. citizen. He has no interest in being one. Surely he loves and respects the place where he happened to be born due to his parents’ temporary stay in the U.S. for economic reasons, but it’s senseless for him to remain a citizen of a country that uses his citizenship to punish him over and over again, including the most cruel of all punishments: preventing him from reuniting with his family after completing nearly 14 years of unjustified incarceration, as an exemplary prisoner.
How and why does a country that pursues and deports thousands of immigrants daily assign itself the task of forcing a man to prove he is “worthy” of a citizenship he has publicly said he wishes to renounce?
Anyone can see that behind the absurd imposition of supervised parole on Rene within U.S. territory is the deliberate proposition of continued punishment for him, while allowing the world to believe that he’s already free. And that is another abuse.
Rene is being held in a territory against his will, where there are no guarantees for his life. Doesn’t the U.S. citizen Rene González have the right to demand such guarantees during the three years of supposed freedom in which he is being prevented any possibility of rebuilding his family life? Who pays for the psychological effects of these abuses?
Regarding the statements from the U.N. Special Rapporteur, it’s extremely significant that a declaration of this nature be made about an issue that, in Cuba, even adolescents recognize as a problem. That is, every time there is any mention of another step in the appeals process for the Five, we hear again that the decision is in the hands of the same judge who handed down the maximum sentences in a trial so plagued with irregularities that three judges from the Appeals Court in Atlanta in August of 2005 ordered that it be declared a mistrial and begun over.
Who knows how many other absurdities in this long absurd process will continue to arise in the short term? They are as abundant as the abuses of the Five, including the fact that Rene is no longer behind bars but neither is he free.