10/28/13 - MINREX (Havana) - Head of the Cuban Interests Section: US Executive has prerogative to free
the Cuban Five.
Washington DC. October 28th, 2013
Cuban Interests Section's Head Jose R. Cabanas was warmly received on
Friday, October 25th, at the John Marshall Law School, in Chicago,
Illinois. Hosted by Dean John Corkery and Professor Linda Crane, Cabanas,
who has the rank of Ambassador, gave a lecture before an enthusiastic
audience of more than 150 scholars, lawyers, judges, students and general
public interested in US-Cuba policy.
Ambassador Jose. R Cabanas, Head of the Cuban Interests Section at the
John Marshall Law Shool, October 25, 2013.
Under the original title "Cuba 50 Years Later: From Revolution to
Evolution", Ambassador Cabanas made the presentation "U.S. policy toward
Cuba: Legality vs. Legitimacy", during which he described and evaluated the
current regulatory framework of the U.S. policy toward Cuba, demonstrating
its historical obsolescence and illegitimacy both domestically and
internationally, by analyzing different facets of the bilateral conflict.
Cabañas emphasized the need for a change in that framework, to accommodate
the true interests of both countries.
Followed with keen interest was the Cuban top diplomat's summary of actions
in the on-going updating of the island's economic model, a process that
experts with the Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL, by its
acronym in Spanish) have described as "the most important structural
changes" in the region in this century. Pointing to companies from numerous
countries with a presence in the Cuban economic scene, he underscored the
lost opportunities for U.S. businesses in sectors like biotechnology,
mining, services, infrastructure and tourism in Cuba resulting from the
failed policy of "embargo" and the ludicrous ban on travel for U.S.
citizens. As an example, he cited the local and regional importance of the
Mariel Special Economic Zone in Northern Havana, and Heberprot P, a drug
produced by Cuban scientists which could keep more than 70 000 diabetic
patients in the U.S. from undergoing amputation due to foot ulcers.
More than 150 scholars, lawyers, judges, students and general public
interested in US-Cuba policy attended the conference "U.S. policy toward
Cuba: Legality vs. Legitimacy" .
Ambassador Cabañas said that being only ninety miles away-"roughly the same
distance between Chicago and Milwaukee,-Cuba is the only country that
American citizens are barred from traveling to" and noted that "U.S.
citizens should have the right to travel to Cuba, to enjoy Cuban
traditional and modern culture, unparalleled beaches and pristine
scenarios, and its hospitality, whose solid rock is in its highly educated
people." Referring to "personal interest-driven, short-sighted politicians
(. ) who have entitled themselves with the capacity to tell the American
people what to think when it comes to Cuba," Cabañas ironically hinted that
" (.) perhaps they don't really trust you as the best U.S. ambassadors, or
there is some other reality in Cuba they don't want you to see."
Ambassador Cabañas closed his remarks tackling the case of the Cuban Five,
of whom four, Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and
Antonio Guerrero, still languish in US prisons 15 years after their arrest.
He described the biased environment in which they were convicted in Miami
in 2001, and referred to violations present during the trial. "Every minute
that they remain in U.S. prisons should come as a shame for the U.S. legal
system," he stated.
Cabañas noted that in 1989 President George H. W. Bush had granted
presidential pardon to Orlando Bosch, labeled by the FBI as a terrorist and
directly related to the explosion in mid-air of a Cubana airliner in 1976,
causing the instant death of all 73 people on board, and he urged President
Barack Obama to use his presidential prerogative to set the Cuban Five
free. The Five "should be admired, not punished (.) since they came to the
United States to protect the lives of both Cubans and Americans. And in so
doing, they risked their own lives." Such an act, he said, "would be highly
appreciated by the Cuban people, the Cuban Government and all peace and
justice-loving people around the world".
Cuban Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas' lecture was followed by a session of
questions and answers.
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