Gerardo out of ‘hole’

News from Cuba | Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Miami Five prisoner Gerardo Hernandez has been returned to the general prison population following a massive international campaign targeting the US government and prison authorities demanding that he be released from the 3x7ft punishment cell he was confined to on 21 July 2010.

Leonard Weinglass, one of the attorneys for the Five broke the news of his release late on Tuesday 3 August (UK time). Describing the conditions Gerardo had been kept in he said "Gerardo is in great spirits but he's really suffering. In 100+ degree weather, the air was so stifling that Gerardo was laying on the floor sucking in air from the bottom of the door. He couldn't take his blood pressure medicine as his doctor advised him because the weather was too hot. He couldn't use the shower because it was scalding hot water. He was given dirty bedsheets, and he had to resort to washing them in the toilet."

Weinglass noted that "we sent a five-page letter to the prison containing all the errors that they made in putting him in isolation. The letter outlined their own regulations that they violated."

An international campaign for his release from the ‘hole’ generated thousands of letters to US State Department, US Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Prisons.

In the UK, Brendan Barber of the TUC, and fourteen other General Secretaries (Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson, Unite, Dave Prentis, Unison, Paul Kenny, GMB, Billy Hayes CWU, Christine Blower, NUT, Chris Keates, NASUWT, Sally Hunt, UCU, Bob Crow, RMT, Matt Wrack, FBU, John Smith, Musicians Union, Jeremy Dear NUJ, Jonathan Ledger, NAPO, John Hannet, USDAW plus Luke Crawley from BECTU) wrote directly to Hilary Clinton calling for him to be released from the punishment cell and for his wife Adriana Perez to be granted a visa to visit him, something she has been denied for 12 years.

The letter writing campaign organised by the Cuba Solidarity Campaign in the UK also saw MPs add their names to the thousands of emails, letters and faxes sent to US authorities in the last three days.

On behalf of CSC, Communications Manager Natasha Hickman said: “We want to thank everyone who responded to this campaign so quickly. It undoubtedly had an impact in the US to help secure Gerardo’s release from the ‘hole’.

“The long term campaign for his release and that of his four comrades continues. Irma Gonzalez, daughter of Miami Five prisoner Rene Gonzalez will be speaking at public meetings around the UK in October and attending the Cuba Solidarity Campaign annual candlelit Vigil for the Five outside the US Embassy on Tuesday 19 October. I urge people to put this date in their diaries and come to show their solidarity with these five Cuban heroes. Only international pressure and support for their cause can bring them justice.”

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