Adriana Pérez: "We
are keeping alive the hope that they will return"
Guillermo Nova (*)
THE life of her husband, Gerardo
Hernández, has all the elements of a movie. Leaving
behind his family and work, using a false identity,
he infiltrated terrorist groups to help stop planned
attacks on the Cuban people. The Nobel Prize winner
Gabriel García Márquez delivered a letter to
President Clinton from Fidel Castro outlining
criminal activities underway in Florida. Informed of
the situation, the FBI decided to arrest five Cubans
gathering information on groups like Brothers to the
Rescue. One of these men was Gerardo, who was
convicted by a jury in Miami and sentenced to two
life terms in prison.
But his story is as a real life one.
Adriana is firm in her explanation of the issues,
but her voice cannot belie emotion when she recalls
the man behind the hero. As we say goodbye, she asks,
with a smile, if I think the media in the United
States will publish the interview.
Do you think that the sentences your
husbands received were a reward granted to
anti-Castro forces in Florida?
We are totally convinced of that,
since in the U.S. even self-confessed spies have
been traded or deported or have been given much
lighter sentences that the ones they [the Five] were
given. Their sentences were meant to satisfy the
demands of Cuban-American representatives in
Congress who have always been supporters of these
organizations which asked for blood and wanted the
U.S. government to take reprisals against them.
And why were they treated
Because this is clearly a political
trial, given their being Cuban, given that the trial
was held in the city of Miami, a change of venue was
requested and denied, which all gives the impression
that this arrest was due to pressure from the
community in Miami.
If you describe this as a political
trial, do you believe that a political solution is
At some earlier point, we trusted,
to some degree, that justice was possible within the
U.S. legal system, but over 13 years we have
witnessed charges made with no evidence, juries
under pressure, press coverage bought to make false
reports, among other things and after 13 years we
have exhausted all of the legal options.
Gerardo Hernández' defense has
submitted a habeas corpus. What exactly is being
We consider as new evidence the
payments made by the U.S. government to journalists
who were following the case, in order to ensure
negative coverage of the Five, poisoning even more
the environment and prejudicing the jury, which was
denounced by The New York Times in 2006.
Additionally, Gerardo's defense did
not have access to all the technical evidence, such
as the U.S. radar reports which show that he had
nothing to do with the downing of the Brothers to
the Rescue planes, which occurred in Cuban national
waters in 1996 after Cuba had submitted 26
diplomatic notes to the U.S. government stating that
this organization's aircraft were violating Cuban
How have different U.S.
administrations approached the case?
We've been through three
administrations. It was Clinton's which arrested
them when they could have deported them. Then came
Bush, when everything worsened legally and
politically, there was no change whatsoever in their
positions, and then the Obama administration which
has not offered any solution to the problem.
Over these 13 years, have you been
able to see your husband?
Throughout all of this time, the
U.S. government has repeatedly denied Olga, the wife
of René González and myself visas to visit them,
something which we are entitled to do once a month,
as are relatives of any other prisoner. We have
demanded this right which we have.
The U.S. accuses the Cuban
government of using the case of the Five to fuel
conflict between the two countries and hide internal
The conflict between the U.S. and
Cuba is more than 50 years old, that's why we made
the Revolution since we already had a conflict with
them, but it should be clear that we Cubans were not
the ones who have politicized the case, but rather
the U.S. press and courts. We have not attacked the
United States, we do not have a blockade, we do not
take measures against the people, so who then is
promoting a political campaign? We Cubans? All we
want is to live in peace.
Your husband is considered a hero by
the Cuban people. How do you feel being the wife of
The personal side is the hardest for
us, from our private point of view they are the
heroes of our lives. Gerardo is for me a man of many
virtues and values, who I fell in love with and am
still in love with, a man I deeply respect for what
he did, but in our day to day lives, the wound is
open. Being in a situation like this is very hard,
with moments of hopelessness when you feel weak, but
you don't lose heart.
How do you draw strength?
I cannot tell you that the strength
emerges like natural spring water, but you think
about them, they have withstood difficult conditions
in prison, not being able to see each other for
years; if they have withstood the pressure, lost a
portion of their youth… how are you not going to do
so? But also, there is a balance between love and
commitment, not the banal or superficial kind but
the reality that we share in what they did, because
they are no different from other Cubans. Here we can
criticize what we don't like, but in the final hour
this people stands firm.
Do you think about your life when
you are together again?
Saying no would be a lie, since this
is the hope I live with, why we keep the hope alive.
We have many, many plans. First to try and forget
all that we have lived, to heal and close the wounds.
We have learned to value other things and remember
that we are not alone. What we have done has taken a
toll on our lives, but it has been worth it. For
them we have kept the hope alive that they will
return since they cannot deny us the right to dream
of a better future, they cannot take away our desire
for happiness and we struggle for that everyday.
(Taken from La República)