United States: Jailed Cuban moved from solitary

Issue 
Gerardo Hernandez

On August 3, following an international campaign of solidarity, Gerardo Hernandez was transferred from “the hole” — the punitive isolation unit at the maximum-security Victorville penitentiary in California — and returned to the general prison population.

Arrested in 1998, Hernandez was sentenced in 2001 to two life terms plus 15 years on a legally dubious espionage conviction.

Hernandez and his co-defendants — Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez — had infiltrated US-based anti-Cuban terrorist organisations so they could warn US and Cuban authorities of planned attacks. Collectively they have become known as the “Cuban Five”.

Hernandez was sent to “the hole” on July 21 for no stated reason, despite US law stipulating that solitary confinement can only be used as a response to violations of prison discipline. He was preparing for a Habeas Corpus challenge to the court on the legality of his imprisonment at the time.

President of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, noted that Hernandez had been subjected to solitary confinement every time he had an appeal before the courts.

The July 31 Granma International said: “At every stage when the Cuban antiterrorist fighter needed to have frequent contact with his attorney to present documents, he has been sent back to the hole, as has happened this time, [Alarcon] pointed out. [Hernandez] should be working with his lawyers, reading documents, giving his opinions, but he has been submitted to conditions in which he does not have access to his correspondence or telephone service.”

Hernandez has also been denied adequate treatment for serious medical conditions he has developed in jail, conditions exacerbated by being sent to the unventilated one by two meter isolation cell.

Former Cuban president, Fidel Castro told a July 30 meeting of the Cuban Young Communist League that the decision to send Hernandez to “the hole” was made after FBI officials visited the penitentiary.

“Did he do anything?”, Castro asked. “No, nothing. Four FBI officials met to decide and they decided. That's torture. There's nothing else to call it, it's torture, and its occurring in view of the whole world”.

Hernandez’s transfer out of “the hole” came as the result of worldwide protests in solidarity. The US Bureau of Prisons received almost a thousand emails follwing an appeal by the US National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. In an August 3 telephone message, he noted the worldwide solidarity and in particular that of the Cuban people and leadership.

Hernandez and his four comrades have suffered for 12 years in US prisons for trying to protect their country from a violent terror campaign that included bombings of hotels as well as violations of Cuban airspace. For more background on the case, and on the campaign for the five’s release, visit .