Maggie Alarcón

Posts Tagged ‘vanessa redgrave’

Micheal Ratner

In ACLU, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Julian Assange, National Lawyers Guild, Politics, Wikileaks on May 19, 2016 at 2:26 pm
"El autor, junto a Gerardo Hernandez su esposa Adriana Perez y Michael Ratner durante una de sus ultimas visitas a la Habana."

“The author with Gerardo Hernandez his wife Adriana Perez and Michael Ratner on one of Michaels last visits to Havana.”

 

By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

He came to Cuba often. The last time was in February 2015, on the occasion of the International Book Fair in which the Spanish edition of “Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away with Murder” was presented. It was the result of painstaking research and more than ten years demanding access from relevant authorities to official documents jealously hidden.

The work of Michael Ratner and Michael Steven Smith proved beyond doubt that the murder of Ernesto Guevara was a war crime committed by the US government and its Central Intelligence Agency, a crime that does not have a statute of limitations, although the authors are on the loose in Miami and flaunt their cowardly misdeed.
We met again in July on the occasion of the reopening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington. We were far from imagining that we would not meet again. Michael Ratner looked healthy and showed the optimism and joy that always accompanied him. On that occasion we celebrated that the Cuban Five anti-terrorist Heroes had returned home and also the fact that President Obama had had no choice but to admit the failure of Washington’s aggressive policy against Cuba.
Michael was always in solidarity with the Cuban people since as a very young person he joined the contingents of the Venceremos Brigade. That solidarity remained unwavering at all times. His participation in the legal battle for the freedom of our comrades, including the “amicus” he presented to the Supreme Court on behalf of ten Nobel Prize winners, was decisive.
A tireless fighter, for him no cause was alien. He stood always on the side of the victims and faced with courage, even at the risk of his life, the oppressors who dominated that judicial system. He also did it with rigor, integrity and love. More than a brilliant legal professional, he was a passionate fighter for justice.
He was present in 1968 at the Columbia University strike before completing his studies, and fought racial discrimination together with the NAACP. Soon after graduating he represented the victims of the brutal repression at the Attica prison. Thus he began a remarkable career –impossible to describe in just one article– which knew no borders: Nicaragua, Haiti, Guatemala, Palestine, a never ending list.
When nobody did, he undertook the defense of the hostages in the illegal naval base in Guantanamo. He convened more than 500 lawyers to do so –also for free– and achieved an unprecedented legal victory with a decision by the Supreme Court recognizing the rights of the prisoners.
Many other cases absorbed his time and energy, working in a team, without necessarily appearing in the foreground. He did not hesitate, however, to legally prosecute powerful characters like Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush whose “impeachment” he tried very hard to obtain.
He also accused Nelson Rockefeller, when he was governor, and more recently Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He published books and essays in favor of legality and human rights. He was considered one of the best American lawyers and chaired the National Lawyers Guild and the Center for Constitutional Rights and founded Palestine Rights. He combined his work as a litigator with university teaching at Columbia and Yale and helped train future jurists able to follow his example.
He was the main defender of Julian Assange and Wikileaks in the United States. An insuperable paradigm of a generation that aimed for the stars, he was an inseparable part of all their battles and will remain so until victory always.

A CubaNews/Google translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Michael Ratner

In ACLU, Cuban 5, National Lawyers Guild, Politics, Politics Relaciones Cuba EEUU, US on May 16, 2016 at 3:17 pm

ratner

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Muchas veces vino a Cuba. La última fue en febrero del 2015, con motivo de la Feria Internacional de Libro en la que fue presentada la edición en español de “¿Quién mató al Che? Como la CIA logró salir impune del asesinato”, fruto de minuciosa investigación y más de diez años reclamando a las autoridades el acceso a documentos oficiales celosamente ocultos. La obra de Michael Ratner y Michael Steven Smith demostró de manera inapelable que el asesinato de Ernesto Guevara fue un crimen de guerra cometido por el gobierno de Estados Unidos y su Agencia Central de Inteligencia, un crimen que no prescribe aunque sus autores andan sueltos en Miami y hacen ostentación de la cobarde fechoría.

"El autor, junto a Gerardo Hernandez su esposa Adriana Perez y Michael Ratner durante una de sus ultimas visitas a la Habana."

“El autor, junto a Gerardo Hernandez su esposa Adriana Perez y Michael Ratner durante una de sus ultimas visitas a la Habana.”

Nos encontramos de nuevo en julio en ocasión de la reapertura de la Embajada cubana en Washington. Lejos estábamos de imaginar que no nos veríamos más. Michael Ratner parecía saludable y mostraba el optimismo y la alegría que siempre le acompañaron. Celebramos entonces que ya nuestros Cinco Héroes antiterroristas habían regresado a la Patria y que el Presidente Obama no tuvo otro remedio que admitir el fracaso de la política agresiva contra Cuba.

Porque Michael fue siempre solidario con el pueblo cubano desde que muy joven integró contingentes de la Brigada Venceremos y esa solidaridad la mantuvo sin flaquezas en todo momento. Fue decisiva su participación en la batalla legal por la libertad de nuestros compañeros incluyendo el “amicus” que presentó a la Corte Suprema a nombre de diez ganadores del Premio Nobel.

Incansable luchador para él ninguna causa fue ajena. Se puso siempre del lado de las víctimas y encaró con valor, aun a riesgo de su vida, a los opresores que dominan aquel sistema judicial. Y lo hizo, además, con rigor, entereza y amor. Más que un brillante profesional del derecho fue un apasionado combatiente por la justicia.

Estuvo presente en 1968 en la huelga de la Universidad de Columbia y antes de concluir sus estudios combatió la discriminación racial junto al NAACP. Recién graduado representó a las víctimas de la brutal represión en la prisión de Attica. Inició así una trayectoria admirable imposible de describir en un artículo y que no conoció fronteras: Nicaragua, Haití, Guatemala, Palestina, y un largo etcétera.

Michael Ratner en el Club Nacional de Prensa de EEUU junto a la actriz y activista Vanessa Redgave.

Michael Ratner en el Club Nacional de Prensa de EEUU junto a la actriz y activista Vanessa Redgave.

Cuando nadie lo hacía asumió la defensa de los secuestrados en la ilegal base naval de Guantánamo, pudo incorporar a más de 500 abogados que lo hicieran también gratuitamente y alcanzó una victoria jurídica sin precedentes con la decisión de la Corte Suprema reconociendo los derechos de los prisioneros. A muchos otros casos también dedicó su tiempo y energías, trabajando en equipo, sin aparecer necesariamente en primer plano. No vaciló sin embargo en encausar legalmente a personajes poderosos como Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton y George W. Bush cuyo “impeachment” trató afanosamente de conseguir, y acusó también a Nelson Rockefeller cuando era Gobernador y más recientemente al Secretario de Defensa Donald Runsfeld. Publicó libros y ensayos a favor de la legalidad y los derechos humanos. Considerado uno de los mejores abogados norteamericanos presidió el National Lawyers Guild y el Center for Constitutional Rights y fundó el Palestine Rights. Conjugó su labor como litigante con la docencia universitaria en Columbia y Yale y ayudó a la formación de futuros juristas capaces de seguir su ejemplo.

Era el principal defensor en Estados Unidos de Julian Assange y Wikileaks. Paradigma insuperable de una generación que quiso conquistar el cielo fue parte inseparable en todas sus batallas y lo seguirá siendo hasta la victoria siempre.

“Crime” & un-just Punishment

In Blockade, Cuba, Cuban 5, Cuban Embargo, Culture on September 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Margarita Alarcón Perea

Years ago Vanessa Redgrave used the podium of the Oscars on Oscar Night to demand the rights of the Palestinian people. I remember how my mother pointed out to me that there stood a gutsy woman with principles who wasn’t going to allow an opportunity like that one pass. It was back in the early 1970’s and many more like her followed suit using the podium to voice their opinions on political and social matters.

Not that long ago, during the Bush Jr.  administrations invasion of Iraq, the Academy having learnt its lesson, prohibited any artist-presenter from using Oscar night to say anything other than what appeared on the teleprompter. This brought about an appearance of ribbons of peace on the lapels of those who were against the invasion and ribbons in red white and blue donned by those who supported the idea and or the troops.

People in the US have learned that certain podiums are simply considered inappropriate for certain outburst s of opinions.

Is this correct?

Well, no. Not everyone is in favor of establishing guidelines regarding freedom of speech. But there is an issue of ethics in the Amy Vanderbilt sort of way. One would never expect it to be appropriate to shout out in favor of the use of condoms and abortion rights in the middle of a televised wedding for example, although your right to express yourself should never be prohibited.

Last week marked the 15th anniversary of the imprisonment of 5 Cubans, known in Cuba as Heroes and incarcerated in US federal prisons wrongly accused of acts that garnered them sentences from two life sentences to 15 years.

The Cuban government organized a live concert at an open air esplanade where over 30 artists performed honoring these men and demanding that they be set free. People in attendance had yellow ribbons tied to their wrists, around their necks as scarves or on their lapels.  Ribbons were also tied to the many flag posts that separate the esplanade from the US Interest Section in Havana. Yellow ribbons indicating as they do in the US that Cubans want the Cuban Five back home where they belong.

Nearing the end  of the concert was a performance by one of Cuba’s foremost musicians, Robertico Carcassés who is the director and pianist of Interactivo (Interactive) a jazz fusion band which by all accounts is the Suma Cum Laude of musical and artistic excellence.

During the presentation, Carcassés stepped aside from his piano and began to improvise lyrics. During this improvisation he turned around and faced the US Interest Section and requested the Cuban Five be released. He also demanded an end to the 50+ year embargo the US has against Cuba and the internal embargo Cuba has against Cuba. He requested freedom of information on the island, facilitation rights in order to acquire a car and direct voting rights in order to elect a president. He also requested freedom for  “Maria”. (Street term for marijuana).

All of this is really not news to most Cubans. The internal blockade as many refer to it on the island has been an issue that goes back in time. It speaks against red tape, stupidity, and restrictions. A change to the electoral system is something that some, not that many in reality, also have issues with. In my personal opinion, the idea is beautiful but was only good on paper and stone, it died along with the Greeks as have the many columns they once built; true democracy simply doesn’t exist – at least not for now – anywhere in the world. But again, he has the right to dream.

The following day he and his band mates were called to the Cuban Institute of Music and were informed that Carcassés actions the night before had been inappropriate, self serving and were not in line with what the concert had been designed for.  This may or not be true, and it definitely is a matter of opinion. He was then informed that he would not be allowed to perform live till further notice.

Going too far?

If one agrees that a live concert honoring Five Cuban men who have dedicated the better part of their lives to protecting their home land against acts of terrorism,  is not the place for one individual to voice concerns ranging from authorization to buy a car to changing the voting process in Cuba, one also has to bear in mind that prohibiting an artist from performing goes beyond inappropriate, it is downright insane.

Yes , he could have chosen a different place to voice his opinions, yes,  some of those opinions may not necessarily be the most important issues that are wrong with the Cuban Revolution. But in the end, when you come right down to it, the punishment doesn’t  fit the “crime”.

Roberto Carcassés is a 41 year old musician not a politician. He is a man with an enormous following inside and outside of the island, he is living proof that the system of musical education in Cuba is as good as any anywhere in the world, and last week, he not only voiced his personal opinion on aspects within the country that he believes need be mended, he also turned around faced the US Interest Section in Havana and called for an end to the embargo and the freedom of the Cuban Five.

In my book,  when  someone like him does what he did,  and gets the word out on issues that are close to the Cuban peoples hearts, he doesn’t deserve a reprimand, heck! he deserves a medal.

… to err os human, to forgive divine http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2013-09-18/cuban-troubadour-singers-concert-ban-lifted