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    Alliance of Baptists President Calls for Release of the Cuban 5 in Letter to President Obama

    February 10, 2014

    The President
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear Mr. President,

    For the past two decades the Alliance of Baptists has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with the Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba (Fraternidad de Iglesias Bautistas de Cuba). This relationship has included visits of official delegations from both groups for the purpose of participating in annual meetings and other occasions. More than two dozen partnerships between local congregations have been nurtured and supported by the Alliance and Fraternity, most of which continue to provide vibrant evidence of mutual benefit and blessing.

    During these years the Alliance has spoken out repeatedly asking our government to reexamine its 50-year policies of isolating Cuba and her people by means of an economic embargo and travel restrictions. We recognize that any U.S. administration is limited in what it can do alone to end the outdated economic and political isolation of Cuba on the part of our country, given that Congress must specifically repeal the Helms-Burton Act before normalization of relations may come to pass. We pledge our continued efforts to that end, along with those of many other citizens.

    On a recent trip to Cuba, our Minister for Partner Relations, Rev. Ms. Paula Clayton Dempsey, met with the wives and mothers of the “Cuban 5,” intelligence agents arrested in 1998 and later convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage on what we believe were specious charges. Rev. Dempsey heard stories from these women of visas denied by the U.S. government so that, at most, yearly visits are all that have been allowed and in some cases, no visits at all have been permitted. These actions are not consistent with the high ideals of our country.

    On April 14, 2012, the Alliance of Baptists adopted a statement that called on your administration to undertake a comprehensive review of the cases of the Cuban 5. We believe the Cuban 5 should be released for time already served. In this effort, we join many respected individuals and organizations calling for a redress of the cases including President Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and several other Nobel Prize laureates; as well as the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International.

    In that regard, we write today to encourage you to pardon these five men for the time already served, an act that would be a first step toward restoring relations with Cuba as a close neighbor to the United States. Releasing the Cuban 5 undoubtedly will help in the restoration of relations between both countries. We also believe that such a step could result in the release to his family of Alan Gross.

    Together with our sisters and brothers in the Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba (Fraternidad de Iglesias Bautistas de Cuba) we yearn for a new day in U.S.-Cuba relations for the mutual benefit of the people of both these sovereign nations.

    Respectfully,

    Carol Blythe

    President, Alliance of Baptists