March 8th, 2010
Coinciding with International Women’s Day, a group of personalities from the United States have sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and to the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, asking them to immediately grant humanitarian visas to two Cuban women so they can visit their husbands in US prisons.
For more than a decade the US government has continued to deny entry visas to Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez whose only purpose to come to the US is to visit their husbands in prison. Rene González and Gerardo Hernández respectively are two of the Cuban Five, who are serving long and unjust sentences in the United States.
The signers of the letter are US members of the International Commission for the Right of Family Visits that is comprised of more than 170 known figures from 27 countries. Recently, Argentinean members of the commission delivered a letter to the US embassy in Argentina. This letter was also sent to the US Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security.
The letter in the United States was signed by two religious personalities; former Bishop of Detroit Thomas Gumbleton and former General Secretary of the US Council of Churches Reverend Dr. Joan Brown Campbell. Also, union leaders such as the co-founder of the Farm Workers Union Dolores Huerta and the President of the ILWU Local 10 of San Francisco California Melvin MacKay.
In addition, others who added their name to the letter includes the following personalities and intellectuals: Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, the Mayor of Richmond, Gayle McLaughlin, former Congressman Esteban Torres, actor Danny Glover, writer and poet Alice Walker and Angela Davis professor of History in the University of Santa Cruz, California.
The letter also includes the former Chief of the US Embassy in Havana, Wayne Smith, as well as the Civil Rights activist Yury Kochiyama, and the President of the Media Freedom Foundation /Project Censored Peter Phillips.
The fourteen personalities sent the letter telling Clinton and Napolitano that the gesture of granting visas to Ms Salanueva and Perez “will show the world that we are represented by elected officials who want better relations with other nations and who have compassionate and humanitarian hearts.”
The letter Sent to Hillary Clinton and Janet Napolitano
March 8, 2010
US Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton
US Secretary of Homeland Security
c/c United Nations Human Rights Council
Rapporteur Against Torture
United Nations Group on Arbitrary Detentions
Dear Ms Clinton and Ms Napolitano:
We respectfully write to you to ask the State Department of the United States and the Department of Homeland Security to immediately grant HUMANITARIAN VISAS to two Cuban citizens, Adriana Pérez and Olga Salanueva, wives of prisoners Gerardo Hernández and René González respectively. They have been denied visits to their husbands in prison for 11 years.
On December 18, 2009 the Department of Homeland Security denied a humanitarian visa to Olga Salanueva. Without any explanation, they denied this elementary recourse to come to the US with the sole purpose to see her husband, René González, unjustly sentenced to 15 years in prison.
At the time of her husband’s arrest, Olga Salanueva was living with him and their two daughters; the youngest daughter is US born as well as Rene Gonzalez himself. After the arrest of her husband Ms Salanueva was detained with the purpose of pressuring her husband to collaborate with the prosecutors assuming a crime that he never committed. Three months later in December 2000, Olga was deported to Cuba. After 10 years since the deportation, the US government continues to punish this woman. There has not been any accusation or legal process against her. Additionally her status of being a mother and a wife of US citizens makes a compelling connection to the United States.
In the case of Adriana Perez; in July 2002, she traveled to the United States to visit her husband Gerardo Hernández, unjustly serving two life sentences plus 15 years in US prison. But upon her arrival, she was detained in the Houston Airport, photographed, finger printed, interrogated for 11 hours, prevented from speaking to a lawyer or Cuban diplomats and subsequently sent back to Cuba, cruelly preventing Adriana to see her husband. That was the last time that she was granted a visa to see him during the 11 years he has been imprisoned.
The last visa denial for Adriana was on July 15, 2009, the day of their 21st wedding anniversary. Four months later, on November 2, Gerardo Hernandez’s mother died. Not even on a sad event like this in the life of any human being was Adriana Perez allowed to visit her husband to console him.
The applications for humanitarian visas for Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez are supported by an important number of religious, legal and human rights institutions. From the World Council of Churches to the US Council of Christian Churches, the Cuban Council of Churches, the Association of American Jurists, Amnesty International, 170 personalities including several Nobel Prize winners, parliamentarians, elected officials, and intellectuals from all over the world.
Until the Cuban Five are freed, the below signatories demand the immediate granting of HUMANITARIAN VISAS to ADRIANA PÉREZ and OlGA SALANUEVA and MULTIPLE VISAS TO ALL THE FAMILY OF THE CUBAN FIVE.
This gesture will show the world that we are represented by elected officials who want better relations with other nations and who have compassion and humanitarian hearts.
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton – Former Catholic Bishop of Detroit
Reverend Dr. Joan Brown Campbell – Former Secretary General of the National Council of Churches of the United States
Dolores Huerta – Co-Founder of the United Farm Workers Union
Melvin MacKay – President of ILWU Local 10, San Francisco, California
Danny Glover – Actor
Gayle McLaughlin – Mayor of Richmond, California
Alice Walker – Writer
Noam Chomsky – Linguist and Writer
Howard Zinn – Historian and Writer (Honorary Member)
Esteban Torres – Former US Congressman
Wayne Smith – Former Chief of the US Interest Section in Cuba
Michael Parenti – Author
Angela Davis – Professor of History, California University, Santa Cruz
Yury Kochiyama – Civil Right activist
Peter Phillips – President of Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored