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Issue #1655      September 10, 2014

Free the Cuban 5

Letter to Obama

Felix Kury specialises in mental health policy issues facing Latinos in the US. He has taught at San Francisco State University (SFSU) since 1988. Mr Kury teaches Latino Health Care Perspectives, Latino Family Narratives, Latino Mental Health, Cuba: Health, Education & Culture, Community Organising, and other courses. Professor Kury established the SFSU Cuba Educational Project in 1996, the first such academic exchange between Cuba and SFSU, taking over 350 students to Cuba on the study-tour. Felix Kury is Program Director and Founding Faculty Adviser for the Clínica Martín-Baró SFSU-UCSF in the Mission District of San Francisco. Clínica Martín-Baró serves uninsured, low-income persons who would otherwise have limited or no access to healthcare on a regular basis.

September 5, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC  20500

Dear President Obama,

I am writing as a Professor in the Latino Studies Department San Francisco State University (SFSU). This September will mark 16 years of unwarranted imprisonment of the Cuban Five, whose only crime was to prevent terrorist acts in Cuba from right wing paramilitary Cubans in Florida who have operated with impunity for the last 50 years. During these years, hundreds of my students at SFSU who have learned about the Cuban Five have also joined the call for their release.

The Cuban Five have never posed a threat to national security of the US. When they first were arrested, they spent time in solitary confinement, isolated from family and friends – a clear violation of their human rights, cruel and unusual punishment, and no doubt a form of torture. Two of the five, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, have both returned to Cuba, having served their sentences.

Mr Obama, I urge you to use the power of your pen to commute the sentences of Gerardo Hernandez, serving double life sentences in USP Victorville, California, Antonio Guerrero, serving 22 years in FCI Marianna, Florida, and Ramon Labañino (known as Luis Medina), serving 30 years in FCI Ashland, Kentucky.

As President, you are dealing with many challenges and controversies, such as the humanitarian crisis of Central American children, and the police brutality of the citizens of Ferguson. You promised change when you were elected. I have not seen any change in the foreign policy towards Cuba. Making such a humanitarian gesture by granting clemency will enhance the credibility and moral authority of your administration that has deteriorated as a result of listening to the wrong advisers.

As I write this letter to you I reflect on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”


Félix Salvador Kury
Program Director & Faculty Advisor
Clínica Martín-Baró, SFSU-UCSF
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco
International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

Next article – Sanctions and weapons deals, follow the money

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