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Open Letter from an Antiterrorist to Mr John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United Stat

by Percy Francisco Alvarado Godoy Friday, Aug. 15, 2003 at 10:20 AM

Open Letter from an Antiterrorist to Mr John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United States of America

Mr John Ashcroft

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Room 440

Washington, DC. 20530-000


Mr Attorney General,

A dark spot threatens to soil the human values and ethics inculcated into the people of the United States by the Founding Fathers of your great nation. Your administration is directly responsible for this: The flagrant violation of the human rights of two of the five Cubans so unjustly imprisoned in your country. I refer to Gerardo Hernández Nordelo and René González Sehwerert.

Taking note of the VIII Amendment of the United States Constitution, which part is also to be found in the Bill of Rights, it is deemed to be cruel and unusual punishment to prevent visits to prisoners of their spouses and children. Neither René González’ wife, Olga Salanueva, and their daughters, nor Gerardo Hernández’ wife Adriana Pérez O’Connor have been able to see either man.

What type of mendacity involves putting into force cruel measures that violate international law such as UN General Assembly Resolution 3452 (1975) Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as well as the UN Universal Convention on Children’s Rights, among others?

Do you believe, Sir, that US justice is enhanced by such a mockery?

It is difficult for me to imagine kinder families put to such callous punishment. Is it that the little daughter of René González, Ivette, doesn’t have the right to hug her father as do your own children and grandchildren? You, representing US justice, should not be able to accept or conspire with such injustice if you truly love children.

A noble person never treats an enemy so badly. Rather than raise him, this diminishes him. Today, you run this risk by allowing such injustice to prevail.

The painful aspect of this situation is that these men, as did I, fought in your country to defend our people against the very same terrorism that you yourself battle. I have often asked myself what the difference is between those that died on September 11th and the thousands who have died over the last 44 years here in Cuba at the hands of terrorists that move freely in Miami and other US cities. Many of them, Sir, have criminal records longer than any al-Qaeda leader. Nonetheless, almost all of them roam free.

The punishment meted out to my five brothers has now incorporated their spousal relationships. They love their wives as do any, and yet they are not permitted the elementary right of touching them, of hugging them. If you deign to read the letters that these wives have written you might understand the pain of not being able to spend even a few moments together.

When one attempts to imprison love, tenderness and the family, Mr Ashcroft, one plunges a dagger deep into a human’s soul, and this – whether you believe it or not – makes the punishment that much greater by bringing it to the very level of the executioner’s blade.

Delve into your conscience as a human being and the commitment you have to respect love, tenderness and the family - key pillars of a people’s ethics – and stop this injustice. Whatever you do for these men and their families will lift this weight from your conscience.

I ask this of you as one who has dedicated all his life to fighting terrorism and who cried with rage and impotence on September 11th. Men like these five have fought to prevent such crimes from happening and it is a terrible injustice to punish such valor with such infamous cruelty.


Percy Francisco Alvarado Godoy

Guatemalan Writer

Member of the International Committee to Free the Five


• Mr Raadí Azarakhaki (Divison of Special Procedures), Geneva, Switzerland.

• Mr Theo C. Van Voben (Special UN Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment).

• Ms Radica Coomaraswarny (Special UN Rapporteur for the Human Rights Commission on Violence Against Women).

• Mr Louis Joinet (President of the Arbitrary Detention Workgroup of the UN Human Rights Commission).

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