Cuban foreign minister exposes US plot at Geneva
Campaign News | Saturday, 27 March 2004
Reveals draft resolution written by state department to be presented by another nation
BY JOAQUIN ORAMAS of Granma International
March 25: United States seeking a new lackey
The US government is seeking a new lackey to condemn Cuba in Geneva says Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque.
During a press conference with journalists from 50 media representatives in 22 countries, at the Cuban Foreign Ministr on Thursday March 25, Mr Perez Roque revealed the plot to once again discredit Cuba at the UN Human Rights Commission.
He announced the existence of a document drafted in English presented to select group of diplomats from some of the member countries of the Human Rights Commission (HRC), containing a draft anti-Cuban resolution, which should be presented, as is now common practice, by another country acting as the United States’ lackey.
The news, said the foreign minister, is the existence of a text drafted in English and given out in a select and private meeting.
"I would like to summon any country who comes forward to present that text in the next few days to say if it is true or not that it was presented by the State Department, and if the United States is or is not the author of the attempt to once more bring up the issue of Cuba at the HRC."
Mr Perez Roque told the journalists:
"Cuba is a country that is defending the exercise of its right to self-determination, a country defending its right to exist as a nation, and one that has the right to apply its laws"
He said there was a new campaign launched by the United States claiming mistreatment and other falsehoods in the case of the 75 mercenaries sentenced to prison terms last year for their activities in the service of the U.S. Interests Section.
The Cuban foreign minister gave a detailed account of the threats and reiterated statements originating from U.S. officials.
Pérez Roque stated that Cuba will not resort to extra-judicial murder, nor will it apply torture or violence, but it will apply its laws with rigor and has done so, in line with the UN Charter and international law. It has the right to defend itself and to punish, as is the case in U.S. and universal law, those who collaborate with a foreign power that is attacking its country.
He likewise reiterated that the U.S. government and the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana are responsible for the defensive measures that the island had to adopt to prevent collaboration with the Helms-Burton Act and the policy of subversion against Cuba from within the country.
He recalled some of the characteristics of that legal procedure and refuted the fallacies disseminated by the U.S. government and the international press.
In that context he ratified that no violence or force whatsoever was employed by the police agents who arrested the mercenaries. He added that the criminal proceedings were of a summary nature, which, in Cuban legislation, means reducing the stages of the trial, but in no case limiting defendants’ guarantees. He rejected the version put about that the summary trial signified a loss of guarantees for the accused.
DEFENDANTS DESIGNATED 44 LAWYERS TO DEFEND THEM
At the same time, he stated that all the accused were aware of the charges against them and had the opportunity to defend themselves. The idea that that they only discovered the charges during their trial is untrue, a fact recognized by the accused, who exercised their right to a defense attorney. He added that there were 54 defense lawyers, 44 of them appointed by the accused or their family members, and the remaining 10 state-appointed.
He noted that all those on trial exercised the right to be heard in a public trial in a normal civil court previously constituted in line with Cuban and international legislation.
Pérez Roque confirmed that no ad hoc special court was set up to try them, no were special or emergency judges appointed. It was nothing like the situation of the detainees in the Guantánamo naval base, where U.S. prisoners are to be judged by special military courts with judges designated by them.
The foreign minister likewise stated that there were no secret trials and the trial hearings were public, with state and defense attorneys. They were divided into 29 public hearings with state and defense evidence attended by some 3,000 persons (an average of 100 per trial) including family members, witnesses, expert witnesses and other citizens.
It is a fact that some diplomats who asked to attend the trial were not able to do so, because no citizen of their country was standing trial, given that all the accused were Cuban, he clarified, adding that the Vienna Convention on diplomatic and consular relations includes the right of the diplomatic corps’ to participate when a national of their countries is being indicted.
On the other hand, exercising its power, the court did not allow press access, taking into consideration the nature of the information handled, and certain secret aspects related to the country’s security, and to avoid a publicity atmosphere that would militate against the impartiality and objectivity of the conduct in court.
In his response to the campaign of lies the foreign minister stated that both the accused and their defense lawyers exercised the right to produce evidence and witnesses in their favor.
The minister also commented that all the defense lawyers had prior access to the files on the accused, noting that the defense ream for the five Cuban political prisoners in the United States did not have access to 80% of the information used by the district attorney during their trial in Miami because it was declared classified.
OF THE 75 DEFENDANTS, 70 WERE NOT WORKING BECAUSE THEY WERE ON THE U.S. PAYROLL
The minister noted that all the accused were given the right to appeal their sentences before the Supreme Court, and the majority did so. He explained that the confiscations and seizure of goods were executed by legal order in all cases and after proving the illicit origin of the goods concerned.
He likewise gave assurances of the respect for the physical and moral integrity of the accused and that there is absolutely no evidence of coercion, pressure, threats and blackmail being used to obtain statements and confessions from the defendants.
Moving on to other details, Pérez Roque observed that 70 of the 75 sentenced mercenaries had not worked for various years, given that they were on a payroll via official U.S. agencies. They included 25 university graduates, including two with degrees in journalism; 14 who had studied up to 12th grade; 15 who had attended technical college; 18 who completed 9th grade; and one who reached 6th grade.
He said that 15 of those sentenced had a criminal record for common crimes.
The foreign minister spoke of the campaigns against Cuba dating back 45 years and quoted the example of Armandio Valladares, an ex-member of the repressive agencies of the Batista dictatorship and the member of a terrorist cell, who served a prison sentence for planting explosive devices in Havana and was presented as a sick poet languishing in Cuban jails. It was subsequently demonstrated that he was neither a poet nor an invalid.
Felipe called attention to seven lies currently being repeated ad nauseam by the enemies of the Revolution that have been expanded on by some of the media. He refuted the notion that the prisoners are incommunicado or in the block or the hole, or under 24-hour artificial light, or confined in dungeons. Nor is it the case that they have been beaten, forbidden to see their families, virtually starved or lacking water.
On the contrary, Pérez Roque detailed 16 rights within the Cuban penitential system that are also enjoyed by the 75 mercenaries: none of them has to sleep on the floor, they have access to drinking water and newspapers, to fresh air and sun. The authorities give them personal toilet items and the regulation uniform, they can watch television in the communal areas, have religious attention on request, receive an adequate diet, and the right to receive food and reading material from their family members. They also have free medical attention, family visits every three months, the right to conjugal relations every five months, they can receive and write personal correspondence, make 100 minutes worth of telephone calls per month where the conditions permit, and have the possibility of taking advantage of the progressive regime within the regulations.
DOCTORS AND FAMILY MEMBERS REPORT ON ATTENTION TO THE PRISONERS
Refuting those lies, the Cuban minister introduced two doctors and presented a video containing interviews with relatives of the prisoners.
Doctor Félix Báez, a first grade specialist in internal medicine, who is attending to the prisoner Oscar Espinosa Chepe, offered an explanation on the state of health of his patient that refuted the campaign based on his disorders and treatment.
The physician stated that Espinosa Chepe is not suffering from cancer or hepatitic cirrhosis, but from a condition provoked by the brucellosis that affected him in 1983. He confirmed that he was stable, without complications and that he is receiving constant medical attention.
He added that checks had been made to ensure that his liver is functioning properly; he has put on weight, there is no hepatitic deficiency, and his hemoglobin level reached 15.2 in the last analysis.
In the case of prisoner Marta Beatriz Roque, first-grade specialist Dr. Annet Alvarez Pérez has been attending the prisoner since July 2003 and stated that she does not have cancer of the breast, as has been stated. She is suffering from mammary dysplasia and is receiving vitamin E treatment. This is a common pathology among women and is not an indication of cancer, she explained.
"We are attending her as an in patient, we initially confirmed that she had high blood pressure and her progress has been satisfactory. We kept her under observation in the penal wing, in a room she shares with another patient; they have television and water all day. We took an ultrasound and this showed that she is not suffering from ischemic cardiopathy; it confirmed that she had a hypertensive cardiopathy.
Finally, a video interview with relatives of the prisoners was shown in which they talk of the prisoners’ treatment. In it, Teresa López Bañobre, sister of the prisoner Marcelo López Bañobre, acknowledges that she has regular three-monthly visits with him. She said that her brother has been treated with much respect, has put on weight and is receiving medical treatment.
Mireya Pentón Orozco, the mother of Léster González Pentón, affirmed that he is receiving dental care and is in correspondence with his son. He has always been treated correctly in the prison, she affirmed.
RIGHT TO CONJUGAL VISITS
In her turn, Dulce María Amador, the wife of Carmelo Agustín Diáz, stated that she is allowed to take him food and that the hospital conditions are good, to quote her husband. He is allowed to have his Bible and a magazine printed by the Catholic Church. She takes him other books and publications.
Gisela Delgado, the wife of Héctor Palacios, explains that he was operated on for gallstones on February 19 in the Pinar del Río hospital. The medical personnel were very professional, and Héctor made a good recovery.
For her part, Margarita Borges, the wife of Edel García Díaz, stated that she has the right to a conjugal visit every five months. She added that both of them have received respectful treatment. She too can take medicine and food to her husband, on top of those he is given free of charge in the prison.
María Jova, the wife of Omar Rodríguez, stated that she has never seen her husband physically injured or tortured.
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See also: 'The truth about the trials' on this website