Posts Tagged ‘Cuban government’

July letter for Mr Obama

June 28, 2014

_1-Correo para Obama.Autor Adán-g

 Mr President Obama July first, 2014
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington DC 20500

Mr President,

Your fellow countryman Bowe Bergdahl was liberated Saturday May 31st in exchange for five former high Taliban officials, held in Guantanamo.
It is inadmissible that you have not yet taken measures to liberate the three Cubans Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, and Ramón Labañino who were, on the contrary, fighting against the terrorism that your country is practicing towards their island.
Cuba proposed to you a humanitarian exchange with your fellow countryman Alan Gross and you have still not responded favorably to its demand. Does this mean that the Taliban government seems to you to be the sort of people one can associate with, more so than the Cuban Government? It’s true that you have included Cuba on the list of countries supporting terrorism, whereas Qatar, the real sponsor for the jihadist groups, is not on it…
Do you know the fable by Jean de La Fontaine, “The Wolf and the Lamb”, in the United States?
Gerardo Hernández, the most heavily condemned of the three, has been condemned to two life prison sentences plus fifteen years. He is accused of “conspiring of attempting to commit murder” in the case of the two BTTR (Brothers to the Rescue) small planes shot down on February 24th 1996 under Cuban government orders. You know very well, Mister President, that this heavy charge attributed to Gerardo Hernández is a gross frame-up.
According to the indictment against Gerardo Hernández, the FBI was aware since 1994 of his mission to infiltrate Mafia terrorist organizations in Miami. If there had been the slightest suspicion against him concerning the BTTR planes tragedy, he would have been, without the least doubt, arrested in 1996. No one has ever been able to produce the least proof of his guilt; the prosecutor himself had demanded that the charge be taken out of Gerardo Hernández’s dossier, recognizing that it was impossible to prove.
However, as I recalled to you in my last letter, Hector Pesquera, the FBI official in charge of South Florida, had declared on January 22nd 2003 in a Radio Marti broadcast concerning the Avispa network for which Gerardo Hernández was the head, “I came here in May 1998. I was made aware of the situation. We then started to place emphasis on the fact that this investigation should not be only on questions of intelligence. The nature of this case must be transformed into a criminal investigation.” It is clear that, by hook or by crook, Gerardo Hernández had to have a crime tacked onto him.
This lamentable tragedy of the small planes would never have happened, and the young pilots would still be living, had the BTTR organization respected numerous warnings emitted by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) on the risks that the BTTR was taking by violating time and again Cuban airspace, going as far as flying over Havana to drop thousands of tracts.
Even though he had nothing to do with this affair, but seeing as he has been credited with being partly responsible, the least you could do in the way of justice towards Gerardo Hernández would be to find out if the Cuban government was in its rights shooting down these two small planes, no matter one’s opinions on this act. Cuban radar systems indicated that they were flying over Cuban territorial waters, whereas the United States government asserts that they were in international airspace.
This object of contention could be easily cleared up by declassifying the documents concerning the tragedy, so as to check the satellite photos that your government is holding. Gerardo’s lawyers have demanded this several times, just as did Peter Schey, lawyer and president of the Los Angeles Human and Constitutional Rights Center, on March 5th 2013.
Sadly, the different United States administrations have, every time, rejected this demand, and you have done nothing, so far, to break the deadlock on this situation, Mister President. It is absurd to take into count the parole of the prosecution’s witness Bjorn Johansen, who was working as a pilot for the “Majesty of the Seas”, to localize the exact place where the planes went down. This localisation is not reliable, first because it was founded on human observation, and also because his objectivity is contestable. Bjorn Johansen was working at the time for the « Caribbean Cruises » shipping company that was financially supporting the FNCA (Féderation Nationale Cubano-Américaine), and his second in command on the ship was Peter G. Whelpton, a member of this same FNCA.
This FNCA organization is obsessed with overthrowing the Cuban government. In 1992, it set up a clandestine structure, the “paramilitary commission”, secretly charged to organize terrorist actions. It has been recognized as being behind most of the terrorist attacks against Cuba that took place between 1990 and 1998 – the exact same terrorist attacks for which the Cuban Five came to Miami to infiltrate the terrorist groups!
Mister President, don’t you think that it’s high time to put an end to the injustice done since almost sixteen years now to the Cuban Five, by freeing the three who are still behind bars in your country? A humanitarian exchange with Alan Gross is a line being thrown to you; be wise enough to catch it, for the good of your country.
Please receive, Mr. President, the expression of my most sincere humanitarian sentiments.

Jacqueline Roussie
64360 Monein (France)

translated by William Peterson

Copies sent to: Mrs. Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Kathryn Ruemmler, Janet Napolitano, to Mr. Joe Biden, John F. Kerry, Harry Reid, Eric Holder, Neil Eggleston, Rick Scott and to Charles Rivkin, ambassador for the United States in France.

Dear Mr. Gross

June 5, 2014


By Álvaro Fernández • Published on June 5, 2014 by ProgesoWeekly

Let me begin by telling you that I was one who believed 2014 would be a very good year for you and three others still in prison. This letter is to inform you that that light of hope is beginning to flicker.

Of course I would love to see you back home. I wish the same for the three remaining members of the Cuban Five still in U.S. prisons. But your chances grow slimmer the more I listen to the president and all others who fall in line behind him.

I bet you were excited when you heard the news of the past week. President Obama had traded five, who have been described as very dangerous, Afghan Taliban guerrilla leaders for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. That’s right, five for one…

Still… you wait in a Cuban prison – for your commander in chief to take action. But you’re not a soldier, making your case different, we’ve been told. You’re simply an American citizen. By the way, the differentiation is not my take, those are words uttered by a spokesperson for the State Department, Jen Psaki. I guess this State Dept. fact makes you less important…

Your wife has led a brave campaign that demonstrates you really were a U.S. soldier, but instead of guns you carried military-grade, sophisticated telecommunications equipment. On paper you worked – although indirectly – for the U.S. government. But they’ve ignored poor Judy.

By the way, I’m a Taurus too. Born in May, just like you. And I read where you said you would not be alive by your next birthday. Your exact words were: “On May 2, I turn 65 years old and it will be my last birthday here.”

Not that I want you to die. To the contrary. Like I mentioned earlier I’d like to see you home with your wife and daughter. But if you claim that last month’s birthday was your final one in Cuba, then you better start getting your affairs in order.

The way I’m looking at this right now, if it’s up to the President and the U.S. Congress, you will probably perish in a Cuban prison.

And let me insist that it won’t be Cuba’s fault. Although Cuba will ultimately be blamed. In fact, I am starting to believe that your death is what the U.S. government wants. The ‘Alan Gross dies in a Cuban prison’ headline would be a propaganda coup for a whole bunch of people who don’t think much of you.

Yep. You’ve become a pawn in a political game. Notice I called you a pawn. Not even a rook or a knight.

The fact is that the president of the United States, his secretary of state, members of the U.S. Congress and a host of other people who labor for the U.S. government don’t seem to care much about you. They’ve demonstrated it over the past five years.

Sorry to be so blunt Mr. Gross, but it’s time you faced the facts. And like I said, start getting your things in order. Because if you’re serious about what you said, then by my next birthday, less than two weeks after yours, I promise to remember you, maybe say a prayer, for the gentleman who died in a Cuban jail because his government, and its president, did not bother to save him.

They could at least pretend, don’t you think? For example, the Cuban government has bent over backwards and frontwards and even sideways in an attempt to talk to U.S. government officials about your case. They’ve been ignored.

Jeez… in the America I thought I believed in persons like you are not left to rot. Because I keep asking myself, “What can you lose because of a simple conversation?”

Then again, there are members of congress, let’s start with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart, Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, who insist and in fact threaten the president if he dares to negotiate with the Cuban government. Here’s another question for you: “If Obama doesn’t negotiate, how’s he gonna save you?”

In other words, they want you dead. In the case of the four I mentioned, it would be a feather in their caps, especially with some of their voters – it would give them more reason to hate the Castros. And that translates to votes in some districts in this country.

But let’s be perfectly honest here. And I’ll start by stating that I voted for Obama – twice. If he’d run a third time… I would probably refrain from voting for him. Which, by the way, does not mean I would vote for the likes of Marco Rubio or even a Mitt Romney. Just wouldn’t cast a vote. Something I take very seriously.

Because Barack has had a tough time with a racist congress, I understand. But areas he’s able to control, use the power of the presidency, he’s usually punted. I’m not sure if its political cowardice, or whether he really believes he’s doing the right thing waiting for the other side to come around… The fact is that I’m tired of waiting for him.

So let me finish by stating that I hope I am totally wrong on this. I hope the president proves me wrong. I promise to write him a letter of apology if he does.

But based on the experience of the past five and one-half years, and if I was you, like I advised, start getting your affairs in order.

Sorry to bring you bad news. But somebody has to.


Alvaro F. Fernandez

The US Establishment proposes catching up in Cuba by ignoring its government

May 24, 2014


editorial La Alborada

A group of former diplomats –including some very interventionist ones–, former members of the US legislative and executive branches, retired military officers, current bankers and corporate officials, NGO heads, and some others, have sent an open letter to President Obama asking that he take action to facilitate the penetration of the Cuban economy through actions that are within his power to take.

Somehow, this is being dressed up as an effort to improve relations with Cuba. It is hardly that, however. It looks more like recommendations that might be advanced by Freedom House, USAID, DAI, NSA, CIA, NED, NGOs, and other members of Washington’s alphabet soup. The difference seems to be that these actions would be authorized openly to facilitate involvement in Cuba’s economy, in particular the developing small-business sector, by “US NGOs and other organizations.”

There is no mention whatever of doing any of it with the approval or cooperation of the Cuban government, except in one paragraph at the end of the list, which proposes that the US “engage in serious discussions with Cuban counterparts on mutual security and humanitarian concerns,” and that in so doing it “leverage these talks to press Cuban officials on matters such as the release of Alan Gross and on-going human rights concerns.”

The last part about Alan Gross is a nod to the current US posture that no improvement in relations is possible unless Gross is released unilaterally, but it does not matter: the proposals seek no improvement in relations, but only a new effort to get into Cuban business now. There is nothing urging the President to negotiate an exchange with the remaining three prisoners of the Cuban Five, nor to remove Cuba from the list of sponsors of terrorism. There is no suggestion of doing away with the blockade.

The underlying motivation is revealed in one phrase: “…the U.S. is finding itself increasingly isolated internationally in its Cuba policy.” That is to say that, while the US government and the media argue that the new Cuban economy is not going anywhere, that the Mariel EDZ will draw no investors, and that Raul Castro is incapable of making the economy work, an important sector of the US establishment recognizes that if they don’t get on the bus now they may have to wait a long time before the next one comes by.

These are some of the signers:

– John Negroponte, former Deputy Secretary of State; former Director of National Intelligence, and –based then in Honduras– coordinator of US intelligence and activities in Central America during the wars of the 1980s.

– John Adams, Brigadier General, U.S. Army (Retired); former Deputy U.S. Military Representative to NATO; former Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, U.S. Army.

– Admiral James Stavridis, Commander of U.S. Southern Command 2006–2009; Supreme Allied Commander NATO 2009–2013; Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University.

– Paul Cejas, former U.S. Ambassador; President and CEO, PLC Investments, Inc. (management of portfolio investments as well as investments in real estate and venture capital projects).

– Andres Fanjul, Fanjul Group (big sugar).

– Moises Naím, a minister under Carlos Andrés Pérez in Venezuela and currently a right-wing alarmist and proponent of taking down the governments of all of the ALBA countries. (Cuba is, of course, a founder of ALBA.)

– Ambassador Thomas Pickering, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

– Ambassador Charles Shapiro, former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, where he actively assisted coup plotters before, during, and after the coup of 2002; President, Institute of the Americas.

– George Weiksner, Vice Chairman, Credit Suisse – the same bank that yesterday agreed to pay $2.6 billion in penalties for helping wealthy US clients evade taxes in a scheme federal investigators said spanned decades.

What do they propose? Here are some examples (emphasis is ours):

– Allow unlimited remittances to non-family members for the purpose of supporting independent activity in Cuba and expand the types of goods that travelers may legally take to the Island to support micro-entrepreneurs.

– Establish new licenses for the provision ofprofessional services to independent Cuban entrepreneurs.

– Allow U.S. NGOs and other organizations to lend directly to small farmers, cooperatives, self-employed individuals, and micro-enterprises in Cuba.

– Allow Cuban entrepreneurs to participate in internships in U.S. corporations and NGOs.

– Authorize the sale of telecommunications hardware in Cuba, including cell towers, satellite dishes, and handsets.

The signers may not be aware of the ZunZuneo debacle and of the way that NSA spies on other countries through back doors built into US hardware, but it seems that they just don’t care what the Cuban government thinks of these ideas. They want Obama to open the gates for intervention.

It’s hard to come to a different conclusion given the character of the proposals. They’re not a good approach to improving relations.

Letter of January to President Obama

January 11, 2014


January 1st 2014

Mr President Obama                                                           
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington DC 20500 (USA)
Mr President,

  I had a dream. A group of terrorists in the pay of Cuba blew up, in full flight, a U.S. Airways plane, causing a large number of victims. And, as if this were not enough, mortal terrorist attacks, carried out by Cuban agents, multiplied all over your country. A bomb was discovered at a grand university, where you were to have given a speech. Luckily, Mr President, you had had the wisdom to order your counterintelligence agents to keep a watch on the terrorist underground, and they were able to just barely avoid a huge carnage.
Two small planes belonging to an anti-imperialist organization had violated, several times, your country’s airspace, to the point where they even flew over New York. They dropped thousands of tracts denouncing your political stand into the streets and buildings. After having repeatedly protested against these acts, you put an end to these intrusions by shooting down the planes. The Cuban government claimed that you had shot them down in international airspace, but they refused to give proof.
Also in my dream, North American agents who had infiltrated the terrorist underground in Havana discovered that they were preparing to sabotage other airliners going to and from your country. You then demanded that Cuba send an official delegation to Washington to meet with FBI agents, hoping that Cuba’s government would take measures against these terrorist attacks. During this meeting, the FBI handed over a mountain of documents to the Cuban delegation, proving that Cuba was responsible for these attacks. Several months later, to everybody’s surprise, Cuban authorities arrested your agents.
After a parody of justice in Havana, in an atmosphere hostile to “the imperialist agents”, stirred up by hateful newspaper articles written by reporters paid by the Cuban government, your agents were handed down heavy sentences, going as far as perpetuity for some of them. The Cuban authorities even accused one of your agents of being responsible for the planes having been shot down.
Then I woke up, in a cold sweat, wondering what your reaction would have been had this dream been real. Without the slightest doubt, you would have demanded the international community their total support for a violent reprisal against the Cuban “regime”.
Nevertheless, Mr President, if you inverse the roles of Cuba and the United States, this situation is exactly what the five Cuban agents – Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino, and René González, went through in September 1998 in Miami.
René González was let go last year, but his four compatriots are still incarcerated in different prisons in the United States. Even if these innocent patriots are keeping dignified and free in their spirits, their bodies are nevertheless still under lock and key!
Gerardo Hernández cannot even see his wife, your authorities having systematically refused her an entrée visa into the United States. This courageous woman is undoubtedly putting the security of your country in grave danger…
What a wonderful New Year’s present you could give to your own country and to Cuba were you to put an end to this injustice that has lasted for more than fifteen years! New relations, based on mutual respect between your two countries would become a reality. Such a gift would also motivate you to raise the genocidal blockade against Cuba, a blockade condemned by more than 92% of the international community last October 29th during a vote at the U.N.
Please receive, Mr President, the expression of my most sincere humanitarian sentiments.
 Jacqueline Roussie
64360 Monein (France) 
Copies sent to: Mrs. Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Kathryn Ruemmler and to Mr. Joe Biden, John F. Kerry, Rand Beers, Harry Reid, Eric Holder, Denis MacDonough, Pete Rouse, Rick Scott and Charles Rivkin, United States Ambassador in France.
 Translated by William peterson

Stephen Kimber – Capitol Hill Cubans: Let us compare facts

October 24, 2013


A blog called Capitol Hill Cubans (,) has taken me to task for my recent Washington Post commentary (,) in which I ask why the United States put the Cuban Five in jail when their primary goal was to prevent terrorist attacks on their homeland?

After “commending” the Post for allowing me to present what it calls my “defence” of the Five, Capitol Hill Cubans quickly notes that, “while Prof. Kimber is entitled to his own opinion, he’s not entitled to his own facts.”

Fair enough. So let us compare facts.

Capitol Hill Cubans is edited by Mauricio Claver-Carone, who is also a co-founder and Director of something called the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee. It is “the largest single [issue] foreign-policy political committee in the United States.” According to a 2007 report in the Miami Herald, the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC “raised about $1.5 million [between 2003 and 2007], most of it in South Florida, to lobby Congress to keep the sanctions against [Cuba] in place.” According to the Centre for Responsive Politics, Claver-Carone’s PAC doled out more than $400,000 in campaign contributions in 2012 to politicians who “have key roles on congressional committees responsible for Cuba-related issues or have demonstrated their support for the struggle for human rights in Cuba.” Including such luminaries as Cuban-American Tea Party favourite and wannabe president Ted Cruz ($15,000) and influential Republican leaders like House Speaker John Boehner ($10,000) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ($10,000).

Mauricio Claver-Carone, it is clear, has his own skin in the game of maintaining an American policy hard line against anything remotely connected to Cuba.

Claver-Carone launches his attack on my commentary by declaring that my ability to state my views in the Post is — change the channel — “in stark contrast to the five Cuban spies’ bosses in Havana, who punish diverging opinions with torture, imprisonment and potentially even death, as famed Castro regime critic Oswaldo Paya may have recently been a victim of.”

He does not, of course, mention how rare it is for a dissenting view on Cuban-American policy — let alone a “defense” of the Five — to make it into the pages of the Post.

Instead, he continues by invoking his best diversionary schoolyard “So’s-your-mother” taunt, calling on me to now “defend the countless innocent Cubans who have been victims of the Castro regime’s arbitrary and subjugated judiciary.”

Excuse me? I thought we were talking about the Cuban Five. I was.

I’m not an apologist for the Cuban government. I’m a journalist who looked into a particular espionage and murder case involving Cuba and Cubans that happened in the United States. I don’t know enough about the Paya case or the generic “countless” others he references to offer a considered opinion on them. But I did spend three years reading the 20,000+ pages of transcripts and evidence in the trial of the Cuban Five and interviewing participants on both sides of the Straits of Florida. Has Claver-Carone done the same?

Let’s look more closely at some of Claver-Carone’s “facts.”

“Prof. Kimber absurdly claims the so-called Cuban Five are venerated on the island as ‘national heroes.’ As he is surely aware, Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship, where all means of communication are controlled by the Castro brothers. Thus, if the Cuban Five constantly appear on national television and billboards across the country, it’s not because they are venerated by the Cuban people — it’s because the dictatorship compels it.”

When was the last time Claver-Carone visited the island? I’m guessing the answer — given his arguments and his assumptions the Cuban people are mindless, fear-ridden automatons — is not recently. During my trips to the island I’ve talked with plenty of ordinary Cubans who can be openly critical, sometimes scathingly so, of their government and its policies.

I won’t dispute Claver-Carone’s contention that the media in Cuba is government controlled, and one could therefore argue that the billboards are more a reflection of government policy than popular will.

But my sense — again after talking to Cubans in cabs, in shops and restaurants, on the street — is that the cause of the Five transcends the usual politics.

At one point — as an experiment to test my theory — I put on a “Free the Five” t-shirt and went on a five-kilometre walk through various Havana neighbourhoods. I lost count of the number of thumbs-up, high-fives and handshakes I encountered. The T-shirt started countless conversations, not all of them sympathetic to the government but all of them supportive of the cause of the Five.

How is it possible — in this “totalitarian dictatorship” — for Cubans to sympathize with Cuban government “spies?”

The simple answer is that terrorist bombs have no ideology.

Consider the bartender in the Bodeguita del Medio, who lost his hearing to a bomb set off by a mercenary operating at the behest of Luis Posada Carriles in a terrorist campaign that Posada himself boasted was financed by the politically powerful Cuban American National Foundation. Or the mothers of the children who miraculously escaped being blown to bits by another exile terrorist bomb placed near the site of a schoolboy chess tournament.

Can Claver-Carone not understand why those Cubans might be grateful a group of Cuban government “spies” risked their own lives and futures to uncover terrorist plots against them?

That doesn’t sound so absurd to me?

“Prof. Kimber also seeks to justify the Cuban Five’s penetration of U.S. military bases, including the U.S. Southern and Central Command and Ft. Bragg, by claiming the Castro regime was somehow legitimately concerned about a U.S. invasion.”

No intention of invading Cuba? It would be helpful if Claver-Carone provided actual evidence to back up his claim. Because there is plenty of evidence to suggest the opposite.

The reality is that, in the previous decade alone, American troops had invaded Haiti, Grenada and Panama. As he well knows, the overthrow of the Castro government has been on the American agenda/wish list since the revolution.

When the U.S Department of Defense announced plans to relocate its Southern Command headquarters from Panama to Miami in 1995, the Miami Herald pointedly included — along with already-happened examples like Haiti and Panama — a hopeful “toppling of the communist government in Cuba” as among the scenarios the new command centre might be called upon to oversee.

And it is also no secret influential exile groups were lobbying the U.S. government during the 1990s to overthrow the Castro government.

Sounds like a legitimate concern to me.

“Prof. Kimber then argues that the Cuban Five could not have been tried by a ‘reasonable jury’ in Miami, home to so many Cuban exiles. Yet, he fails to mention that not a single Cuban exile served on the juries that convicted the Cuban Five.”

Where to begin? While it is true that no Cuban exile served on the jury that convicted the Five, you didn’t have to be a Cuban exile to have been influenced — perhaps even intimidated — by the poisonous anti-Cuban government atmosphere in Miami.

We could start back in the 1970s when the FBI described Miami as the “terrorist capital” of the United States, thanks to its average of 100 bombings and an assassination a week, much of it directed against Cuban Americans who weren’t considered “pure” enough in their opposition to Fidel Castro. That view was neatly summed up by Andrés Nazario Sargen, a founder of Alpha 66, who declared that “when an American citizen… helps a person in Cuba in any way, it gives the Cubans hope, which postpones their need to risk their lives to overthrow [Fidel Castro], which hurts the cause.”

Not much had changed by the 1990s. In 1994, when Human Rights Watch released a report on the state of freedom of expression in Miami — not good — the city had to assign nine police officers to protective duty at the press conference about the report just to protect the presenters.

One of the issues Human Rights Watch flagged was the community’s response after a delegation of moderate exiles recently visited Cuba. When the moderates returned to Miami, they were verbally attacked on Spanish-language radio talk shows, shunned in the streets, subjected to harassing phone messages and death threats — “You’ll be floating in the Miami River with flies in your mouth” — their businesses were boycotted and some were even physically assaulted.

During the months leading up to jury selection for the trial of the Cuban Five, potential jurors were subject to the spectacle of militant Miamians declaring angry war on their own government over Elian González, the Cuban boy whose custody case had become their anti-Castro cause célèbre. Not to forget reading and seeing the steady drumbeat of hostile columns and commentaries in the local media, much of it — it turns out — bought and paid for by the U.S. government.

No wonder then that prosecutors in another high profile case — the trial of a group of prominent Cuban exiles accused in Puerto Rico of planning to assassinate Fidel Castro — opposed a defence motion to move that trial to Miami. The prosecutors knew better than to trust their case to a Miami jury.

“Throughout his defense, Prof. Kimber alludes to a host of alleged plots supposedly uncovered by Cuban agents. It’s worth noting that his source is the Castro dictatorship itself.”

It is worth noting, in fact, that my sources for these particular plots included the Cuban Five trial transcript and the pages of the Miami Herald.

“Finally, to add insult to injury, Prof. Kimber unequivocally states that the ringleader of the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernandez, was not aware of Castro regime’s 1996 plan to shoot-down two civilian Cessna planes, belonging to the humanitarian group Brothers to the Rescue, which resulted in the murder of three Americans and a U.S. resident (see below). He must be unaware of Operacion Escorpion (“Operation Scorpion”), the code-name used by Hernandez and the spy network for the operation to shoot-down the civilian planes.”

I am certainly aware of Operacion Escorpion, which was a plan to “perfect the confrontation” between the Cuban government and the Brothers to the Rescue exile group.

Brothers had been routinely and flagrantly illegally violating Cuban airspace for more than a year while the American government seemed powerless to rein them in. Cuban intelligence agents had also uncovered evidence that the group were test-firing missiles that could used in an attack against Cuba.

On February 24, 1996, the Cuban government shot down two of Brothers to the Rescue planes, killing four people.

The question is not what happened but whether Gerardo Hernandez, a street-level illegal intelligence officer in a state security agency that prides itself on extreme compartmentalization and limited “need to know” would have known of the Cuban military’s actual plans.

Certainly, “perfect the confrontation” is ambiguous. It could have, as even a U.S. appeal court judge acknowledged, mean anything from forcing the planes to land and arresting the participants to shooting them down.

The rest of the so-called evidence concerning the shootdown presented during the trial is equally ambiguous. The prosecutors made much of a message from Havana in the week after the shootdown congratulating Hernandez and his agents for having “dealt the Miami right a hard blow,” thanks to their role in what the message called “Operacion German.”

Operacion German? Not Operacion Escorpion. Although the prosecutors treated them as one and the same, the likelihood is that Operacion German referred to Hernandez’s success in another assignment: helping agent Juan Pablo Roque, whose code name was German and who had infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue, return home to Havana. His return to Havana happened at around the same time as the shootdown. The congratulatory message, in fact, specifically referred to the fact that Fidel Castro had visited with Roque twice “to exchange details of the operation. We have dealt the Miami Right a hard blow.”

Given that, after his return, Roque was interviewed on CNN — where he dissed his former trusting colleagues in Brothers to the Rescue and even disclosed the cell phone number of an FBI agent who’d recruited him to spy on the Brothers group — it seems much more likely that is the “hard blow” the message refers to.

That was the problem with much of the evidence in the trial. It wasn’t evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Unless, of course, you were a member of a Miami jury.

So when Claver Catone argues that the Five “were granted complete due process by our independent judiciary [and] were duly convicted by a federal jury for their illegal activities against the United States,” we should not be reassured.,

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