November 2016        

Open letter to Barack Obama

President Obama,
     Ana Belén Montes has been diagnosed with breast cancer and recently operated on. She has served more than 15 of a 25-year sentence. Friends and family are very concerned for her well being.
     Ana believed that what she did was necessary to prevent a US military intervention against Cuba based on lies, misinformation and geo-political ambition.
     She pleaded guilty as charged and has accepted her sentence with dignity and grace. Had others shared her courage and conscience, many hundreds and thousands of lives in other places that have been lost and destroyed since by unwarranted and unjustified wars could have been saved.
     Many US and Cuban lives were not exposed to the risks of an unnecessary war as a result of the actions Ana fully understood the potential consequences of.
     Mr President, due in no small part to your own courageous initiatives, Cuba-US relations have changed along the very lines that Ana profoundly believed would be best for both countries.
     When you said in Havana last year that you were there to lay the last vestiges of the cold war in Latin America to rest, the thoughts of many turned to Ana.
     I believe she has paid her debt to society and that her illness and present condition require that she be urgently released.
     Please do so.
     By virtue of circumstances, history and politics, Ana was sent to jail for believing profoundly in something you in fact made happen on US-Cuba policy some years later.
     In a spirit of mercy, forgiveness and compassion—and in the context of the new era in Cuba-US relations that will form part of your presidential legacy, I ask you, as a fellow Nobel Peace Laureate, to release Ana on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
     In the meantime, I also most respectfully ask that some of the more harsh conditions of her detention be eased so that she can, in this time of illness and worry, send and receive letters and be comforted by the love and solidarity of the many who understand her motivation and are concerned for her life.
     Changes on the political landscape mean that the reasons for such measures no longer apply and Ana’s condition and illness warrant that she be treated with mercy and kindness.
     With sincere thanks for your attention to my plea on behalf of Ana,
     In Peace and Hope,
     Mairead Maguire
     (Nobel Peace laureate)

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