National Lawyers Guild Honors Ailing Cuban Lawyer, Urges Obama Administration to Permit Cuban Five Brother Visit

March 11, 2012
Nathan Tempey
Communications Coordinator
(212) 679-5100, ext. 15

The National Lawyers Guild made Cuban lawyer Roberto González an honorary member today in recognition of his contributions as a human rights defender and, in particular, his efforts in the case of the Cuban Five.

“Roberto’s career and his steadfast support of his brother are emblematic of the Guild’s basic principle that human rights are more sacred than property interests. We are proud to count him in our numbers,” said NLG Executive Director Heidi Boghosian.

Roberto González is a member of the legal team representing the Cuban Five, a group of political prisoners which includes his brother, René González, who was released five months ago after over 13 years in prison. Since his release, René González has been forced to serve time on probation in the United States rather than being allowed to return home to Cuba, despite the fact that  Roberto, his only sibling, is gravely ill with cancer in a Havana hospital. René González recently petitioned the court to allow him to return to Cuba for two weeks to visit his brother.

The NLG calls on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to show the compassion that has been so lacking from U.S. relations with Cuba by allowing his immediate return for at least those two weeks.

Over the course of the trial and imprisonment of the Cuban Five, the Guild filed three amicus briefs in support of efforts to have their convictions reversed. The most recent, filed in 2009, was one of a record number of 12 amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to review the convictions. The Guild’s brief focused on the prosecution's biased method of eliminating prospective jurors, in violation of the seminal ruling in the case of Batson v. Kentucky. This violation of due process was exacerbated by the overwhelming hostility to the Cuban government in Miami and the charged political atmosphere surrounding the case, which made finding an impartial jury locally virtually impossible.

For more information on the case of the Cuban Five visit http://www.freethefive.org/.

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.

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