Sentencing variations show U.S. bias against Cuban Five


Sentencing variations show U.S. bias against Cuban Five
by Tom Whitney

Defenders of the Cuban Five political prisoners see their convictions and
sentencing as evidence of extreme prejudice. To compare sentences they received
with sentences handed out to those who actually spied on the U.S. government may
serve as corroboration. Prior to September 12, 1998 when they entered prison
Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René
González were in Florida monitoring groups carrying out anti – Cuban terror

The future trial of Benjamin Bishop, arrested March 15 in Hawaii, may provide an
opportunity for comparison. He is accused of spying on the U.S. government for
China. The retired Army officer worked as a private contractor for the U.S.
Pacific Command.

Bishop reportedly was romantically involved with a Chinese student residing in
the United States. As reported on, “Bishop provided the woman
with information relating to nuclear weapons, including intelligence on how the
U.S. detects low- and medium-range ballistic missiles and information on
early-warning radar systems.”

An AP story claimed his contact quizzed him on U.S. knowledge about “operation
of a particular naval asset of People’s Republic of China.” U.S. authorities
searching his house in Honolulu turned up documents marked “secret.” Bishop had
held a top secret security clearance for over 10 years, but was not authorized
to take classified material home.

The charge against Bishop calls for up to 20 years in prison. The number of
years of his potential sentence may serve as objective verification of U.S.
prejudice against the Five, especially when contrasted with the prison years
they face.

Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino each received life sentences
on the charge of conspiracy to commit espionage. Gerardo Hernadez received a
second life sentence on the widely disputed charge of conspiracy to commit
murder. Fernando Gonzáles and René Gonzáles were sentenced to 19 and 15 years,
respectively, on minor charges. The first three prisoners will spend from 10 to
18 additional years in prison on those same lesser charges.

Benjamin Bishop’s likely punishment, if convicted, will probably be in line with
sentences given others in similar circumstances. Except for one convicted of
conspiracy, they all spied on U.S. government agencies. These are their stories:

a.. Khaled Abdel-Latif Dumeisi, Jordanian, was convicted of spying for the
Iraqi Government and not registering as a foreign agent. In 2004 he received a 3
year, 10 prison sentence.

a.. Leandro Aragoncillo, U.S. citizen, in 2007 was convicted of passing 800
classified documents to the Philippine government. He received a 10 – year
prison sentence.

a.. Michael Ray Aquino, Filipino citizen and colleague of Aragoncillo,
received a 6 year, 4 month prison sentence.

a.. Gregg Bergersen, U. S. citizen, gave U.S. defense information to Taiwan
and in 2008 received a 4 year, 9 month prison sentence.

a.. James W. Fondren Jr., U. S. citizen, gave classified Defense Department
documents to the Chinese government. He received a three – year prison sentence.

a.. Col. Lawrence Anthony Franklyn, U.S. citizen, gave classified national
defense information to Israel. In 2005, he received a 12 year, 7 month prison

a.. José Padilla, a U.S. citizen, was convicted in 2007 of conspiracy to
commit terrorist acts against the United States and conspiracy to commit murder.
He received a 17 year, 4 month prison sentence.

The fact that on appeal life sentences for Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino
were reduced to 21 years, 10 months, and 30 years, respectively, takes little
away from marked discrepancy between long sentences awarded the Five and
sentences like those given to convicted spies or the one Bishop may receive. The
contrast is all the more stark given, one, that the Cuban Five monitored private
organizations, not the U.S. government and, two, they were not convicted of

The factual basis of prejudice against the Five is hardly confined to numbers.
Part of the reality includes 17 months the Cuban Five spent in solitary
confinement after being arrested, U.S. subsidies for journalists to influence
their jury through the media, and nullification of their convictions by an
appeals court panel on grounds of Miami-area prejudice, later overturned.

Persecution of the Cuban Five is so extreme as to revive the perennial question
of why Cuba. Foremost among possible explanations would be the vigor and long
duration of Cuba’s struggle for independence from U.S. domination.

A chain of resistance began with Jose Marti’s 19th century campaign against U.S.
and Cuban annexationists. It continued with an anti-racism movement violently
repressed by U.S. troops in 1912, anti-imperialist upsurge in the 1930’s, and
the present revolutionary government in power since 1959. That was the big fish
that got away.

2 Responses to “Sentencing variations show U.S. bias against Cuban Five”

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  2. Defending Ana Belen Montes and Other Prisoners of Empire Says:

    […] excessively long sentences. But Montes’ sentence is not extra-long, according to U. S. norms. One report speaks of six spies serving shorter sentences than hers, another one reports on five spies serving […]

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