Church Groups Refused Permission to Visit Cuban Five Prisoners
The U.S. National Council of Christian Churches, which has 36 religious affiliates, have had their request turned down by the U.S. authorities to grant visas, on strictly humanitarian grounds, to the wives of two of the five Cuban political prisoners incarcerated in the United States.
Robert Edgar, Secretary General of the Council, formally asked the U.S. government to authorize that Rene Gonzlezs wife, Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez, who is married to Gerardo Hernández, could pay a Christmas visit to their husbands whom they have not seen since they were sentenced in l998.
The President of Cubas Council of Churches, Dr. Reinerio Arce Valentín had asked the U.S. Interests Section in Havana to intervene in, what he called, a basic human request. Dr. Arce stated that they had decided to accompany the families of the five, particularly those of René and Gerardo, on a pastoral visit because in their view it is now a matter of urgency that the families have visiting access to each other. Both wives and Renes youngest daughter Ivette, have been deprived of even the minimum contact with the prisoners for years.
The Reverend Dora Arce, moderator of the Synod of the Presbyterian reformed Church in Cuba has also been refused, for the second time, a visa to make a pastoral visit to Antonio Guerrero, imprisoned in Florence, Colorado. The church minister had intended to go to see him in June and recently had lodged all the necessary papers with the U.S. prison authorities but without success.
BBC, December 19, 2003