Posted by Jeff from d53-152-230.try.wideopenwest.com (22.214.171.124) on Friday, April 25, 2003 at 4:23PM :
In Reply to: Part II posted by Jeff from d53-152-230.try.wideopenwest.com (126.96.36.199) on Friday, April 25, 2003 at 4:23PM :
Felipe Pérez: There have been those hijackings, as well as other plans and attempts that we have managed to abort. There has also been an increase in illegal migrant trafficking, based in Miami, a profitable business in Miami, with the use of speedboats that come to the Cuban coasts, pick up illegal emigrants and take them back to U.S. territory. After that, the policy whereby these persons are welcomed and automatically granted permanent residence in the United States does the rest, which no doubt becomes an incentive for other potential emigrants who, otherwise, will not get visas from the Interests Section to legally emigrate to the United States. There has been an increase in actions, plans and incentives for all these types of behavior.
Moderator: One last question. Lucía.
Felipe Pérez: Yes Lucia, to finish up the press conference.
Lucía Newman (CNN): Yes, thank you.
If Mr. James Cason, the head of the U.S. Interests Section, is the main subversive conspirator, promoter, and organizer of dissidence in Cuba, if he – as you say -- has systematically violated all international norms of diplomatic conduct, why hasn’t your government declared him persona non grata, instead of sentencing 75 Cuban citizens to extremely long prison terms, an action that has had a strongly negative impact all over the world?
Felipe Pérez: Thank you, Lucía.
Well, the fact that we have not yet done so does not mean that we will not do it at any given moment. What we have done is to reserve ourselves the right to do it.
We know that the Cuban mob groups, with which Mr. Cason meets on a weekly basis, are wishing for that to happen, because they know that that would be a signal that could be manipulated before American public opinion. They dream of this. They have never liked the decision adopted by President Carter to open this Interests Section, to reach an agreement with us to open it. Declaring Cason persona non grata would be like a gift to all those groups that hope for just that to happen. And probably it will also be a gift to Mr. Cason. There is every indication that he would like to go back to Miami as a hero who has been expelled from Cuba. So far we have not decided to indulge him, but this does not mean that we have totally ruled out the possibility of doing so. We reserve the right to act as we deem necessary to defend our sovereignty.
You have said that these persons have been sentenced to extremely long prison terms. However, I should remind you that such sentences are not as long as the ones imposed, for example, on Gerardo Hernández, a Cuban who is innocent, who was convicted by a court in Miami to serve two life terms plus 15 years in prison. That is to say, he would need to live two lives, be born again, and spend 15 years in prison to be free. That sentence is much longer, as are the sentences of some of the other Cuban political prisoners in U.S. jails who are serving their terms in conditions that openly violate the international standards that proscribe the degrading and humiliating treatment of prisoners. They have often been taken to punishment cells and been unjustly kept there, as a result of a vicious and scandalous legal process, full of violations, and after being convicted to serve sentences that have in fact been inspired by political motivations. This is not the case for these persons, who have not been placed in the “SHU” (Special Housing Unit) or in any punishment cell. None of them has been convicted to serve two life terms plus 15 years in prison, and therefore I believe that the term “long” is relative. It all depends on what you are comparing this to. If you compare these sentences with that imposed on Gerardo, these are minor sentences.
Anyway, we do not feel pleased to see our courts adopting such measures. We would not like these things to happen, but these things do happen as a result of the incentives, the actions undertaken, and the use of American taxpayers’ money to promote subversion in Cuba. It is our duty and our right to defend the stability of our country and its sovereignty. Therefore, those terms are relative. It all depends on what you are comparing them to.
I should say that what we would like to see in the Court of Atlanta, during the appeal process that is in progress, instead of having others trying to teach Cuba a lesson on the organization of the administration of justice administration, is an end to the trials that have led to the unjust imprisonment of five young men who have tried to prevent the commission of terrorist acts which could take a high toll not only on the lives of Cubans but probably on the lives of American citizens, as well as citizens from other countries.
Moderator: Thank you very much, Minister, for the information you have provided.
Felipe Pérez: Thank you.
NEW YORK, 21/04/03
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