In 2023 Ana Belén Montes will return to Puerto Rico. She has been incarcerated for over 21 years in a federal prison in Texas.
At his request, when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016, her pardon was stopped. She has been imprisoned since 2001, however, and although perhaps due to ignorance, the resident commissioners in Washington, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, Luis Fortuño, Pedro Pierluisi and Jenniffer González did not negotiate her release before with Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Who is Ana Belen?
Born in West Germany on February 28, 1957, a Puerto Rican citizen of the United States, and a GS-14 official of the Defense Intelligence Agency, DIA, she was convicted as a “spy” for alerting Cuba to the aggressive plans that were being prepared against the Cuban people, who did not affect the national security of the US or endanger innocent lives.
In 1979, at age 22, the University of Virginia awarded her a bachelor’s degree in international relations. Later she achieved a master’s degree. In 1985 she was welcomed into the DIA. Because of her abilities, she was sent to Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, where she worked as an intelligence research specialist. In 1992 she moved to the Pentagon as an analyst.
With a fictitious position, for a time she was located in the diplomatic representation in Havana to “study” the Cuban military. In 1998, her DIA sent her back to the island so that she could “observe” the development of the visit of Pope John Paul II.
In addition to having a sweet face, a perennial smile and good manners, she was extremely discreet. While she lived alone in a simple apartment north of the US capital, she rose to become a senior analyst at the Pentagon. She had access to practically everything the intelligence community collected on the Island. She knew what the Department of Defense knew about Cuban military activities. Due to her rank, she was a member of the super-secret “inter-agency working group on Cuba”, which brings together the main analysts of federal agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and of the White House itself and the Department of State.
Arrested in 2001
She was arrested on September 20, 2001 while she was in her office at the DIA facilities at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, DC, by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Days later she was charged with conspiracy to commit espionage for Cuba. She was put on trial and at some point she was transferred to a special federal prison for offenders with physical or mental health problems, although she had neither at the time of her incarceration.
In the trial to which she was subjected, she declared with total transparency and nobility that she obeyed her conscience:
“There is an Italian proverb that is perhaps the one that best describes what I believe: The whole world is one country. In that ‘world country’, the principle of loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself, is an essential guide for harmonious relations between all our neighboring countries”.
“This principle implies tolerance and understanding for the different ways of acting of others. He mandates that we treat other nations the way we wish to be treated – with respect and consideration. It is a principle that, unfortunately, I believe we have never applied to Cuba.
“Your Honor, I got involved in the activity that has brought me before you because I obeyed my conscience more than obeying the law. I consider that the policy of our government towards Cuba is cruel and unjust, deeply unfriendly; I considered myself morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it.
“We have displayed intolerance and contempt for Cuba for four decades. We have never respected Cuba’s right to define its own destiny, its own ideals of equality and justice. I do not understand how we continue to try to dictate… how Cuba should select its leaders, who its leaders should not be, and what laws are the most appropriate for that nation. Why don’t we let them decide how they want to conduct their internal affairs, as the United States has been doing for more than two centuries?
“My greatest wish would be to see a friendly relationship emerge between the United States and Cuba. I hope that my case, in some way, stimulates our government to abandon its hostility in relation to Cuba and work together with Havana, imbued with a spirit of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding.
Hate spreads pain and suffering
“Today we see more clearly than ever that intolerance and hatred – towards individuals or governments – only spreads pain and suffering. I hope that the United States develops a policy with Cuba based on love of neighbor, a policy that recognizes that Cuba, like any other nation, wants to be treated with dignity and not with contempt.”
She is currently incarcerated at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, within the military facilities of the US Navy Air Station in Fort Worth, Texas. She is confined in the psychiatric ward, despite not suffering from this type of illness, but it is obviously a dangerous place due to the presence of other people with this type of illness and also that place and what happens in it can influence in your state of mind.
Ana is today locked up with some of the most dangerous women in the United States, where she is said to have had as neighbors in adjacent cells a former housekeeper who strangled a pregnant woman to keep her baby, a nurse who killed four patients with massive injections of adrenaline, and Lynette Fromme, “The Shrieker,” a follower of Charles Manson, who tried to assassinate President Gerard Ford.
Ana Belén Montes, a breast cancer survivor, underwent a mastectomy of the right breast and who overcame the pain with acetaminophen, should be released in 2023, due to her exemplary behavior. In 2022 she has been imprisoned for over 21 years.
Meanwhile, she is subjected to an extreme solitary confinement. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has reported that:
► She can only have contact with his closest relatives, since her conviction is for espionage.
► No one can inquire about her health or know why she is in a center for people with mental problems, when she does not suffer from them.
► She cannot receive packages.
► Only people on a list (no more than 20 who have known her before her incarceration and who have been pre-approved by the FBI) can correspond, send books, and visit Ana. When someone has tried to send her a letter, it has been returned by certified mail.
► She cannot interact with other detainees in that jail.
► She are not allowed to talk on the phone.
► She cannot receive newspapers, magazines or watch television.
► She cannot receive visits from friends. Her brother (anti-Castro official) visits her.
► Her family has either disowned her because of her love for Cuba, or is prevented from making contact with her, so that Ana has been completely isolated from the world for more than a decade.
They have her cloistered in a prison about which the American press itself has commented that “serving a sentence in the Carswell medical treatment prison can become a death sentence for female prisoners,” and where serious human rights violations of the detainees occur (police abuses, suspicious deaths where the investigation was obstructed; deaths due to lack of basic medical care; rape of inmates by guards; cases of exposure to toxic products, etc.).
She did not receive any money from Cuba. She was not recruited through sordid blackmail. She did not act out of revenge or desire for power. Knowing better than anyone the terrible risks, she faced them out of love for justice, and out of honest solidarity with Cuba. One of the charges brought against her was that of having helped to dissuade Bill Clinton and George W. Bush that the Island did not represent a military threat to the United States, and therefore that of having contributed to avoiding a war that would have meant the death of many Cubans and North Americans.
And for her contribution to peace, she deserves the support of all those who love the Homeland of Martí.