Campaign for visiting rights for the Miami 5 wives
The TUC is joining a new Amnesty International campaign to secure visiting rights for Adriana Pérez and Olga Salanueva, Cuban nationals whose husbands are serving lengthy prison sentences in the USA. They have for the ninth time been denied temporary visas allowing them to visit their husbands and Olga Salanueva has been told that she is now permanently ineligible for a visa.
The US authorities have denied successive visa applications from both women over the course of seven years. The reasons cited for the denials are based on claims that both women are threats to national security. Yet neither woman has faced charges in connection with such claims, nor has any credible evidence been produced to substantiate the allegation. Over the years, the grounds cited for denying temporary visas has varied, highlighting an inconsistency in the authorities’ reasoning for prohibiting the women's visits to their husbands. Adriana Pérez’s latest application was rejected in January 2009 due to her status as "non-eligible" under the US ‘Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002’. This legislation restricts the "issuance of visas to non-immigrant’s from countries that are state sponsors of international terrorism".
"I have lived in Cuba since I was born, yet this is the first time that US authorities have used this piece of legislation to deny me a visa. It is a paradox that the families of the other ‘Cuban Five’, who also live in Cuba, continue to receive visas in spite of this Act". Adriana Pérez – March 2009
Olga Salanueva’s most recent application was refused on the grounds that she was deported from the US in November 2000.
The women’s husbands, René González and Gerardo Hernández, are part of a group known as the ‘Miami Five’, who have been imprisoned in the USA since 1998. They were found guilty of "acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government" and related charges.
Denying prisoners visits from their family in these circumstances is unnecessarily punitive and contrary to standards for humane treatment of prisoners and states’ obligations to protect family life. The organization has urged that these restrictions be reviewed, drawing the government’s attention to international standards that stress the importance of the family and the right of all prisoners to maintain contact with their families and to receive visits. In the case of prisoners whose families live outside the USA, indefinite or even permanent denial of visits from the prisoner’s immediate family is a severe deprivation to the individual.
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