Posts Tagged ‘current-events’


August 5, 2013


Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada

Fernwood Publishing of Canada has just released “What Lies Across the Water – The Real Story of the Cuban Five”, so far the most complete book available in English on a subject that Americans have had little access to: the case of Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando and René, the Cuban patriots incarcerated in the United States for fighting against terrorism

This story has been buried for fifteen years. The efforts of author Stephen Kimber to publish his book in the United States were fruitless. “How hard a sell this book turned out to be for mainstream North American publishers. We heard all sorts of explanations, of course, but the key one seemed to be belief that there wasn’t an audience in America for a book that might present a sympathetic portrait of a bunch of “Cuban spies”. I hope this book proves them wrong.”

The book is the result of thorough and deep research. The author reviewed more than twenty thousand pages of court records (U.S. vs. Gerardo Hernandez, et al) and thousands of legal pages of the longest case in American history. He also read books and newspapers about Cuba and its long confrontation with the United States, and interviewed many persons on both sides of the Florida Strait who favored one of the two sides or none.

This is not a book about the complicated and endless legal process, but it covers its essential aspects. Neither is it a biography of the Five, but its pages shows them for what they are: human beings close to the reader. The book goes far beyond and helps understand the conflict between the two countries.

It is not a lengthy work, difficult to read; quite the opposite. Its light and clear language allows readers to move along the episodes of the conflict, and finish in a few hours a story that captured them from the first page. It is the work of a master journalist, a great writer, and above all an honest intellectual committed only to what he could verify on his own.

Already in his first paragraph he tells us, “This is not the book I intended to write. That book was to be a novel, a love story set partly in Cuba.” And, of course, it was not to be a novel about The Five because “I vaguely heard of them”. In his prologue, Kimber tells us how it was that he decided to abandon his initial project and give us instead a non-fiction book which is an example of rigorous, unbiased and objective truth.

In words of its author, “the story of the Cuban Five isn’t really the story of the Five at all. Or, at least, it’s not just their story. And it isn’t a simple linear narrative. It’s a cascading accumulation of incident and irritant, of connivance and consequence, a parallel, converging, diverging narrative featuring an ensemble cast of eclectic characters on both sides of the Straits of Florida.”

“Perhaps it was the quicksand complexity of it all that ultimately convinced me this story needed to be told, and needed to be told by someone who didn’t already know which versions of which stories were true.”

Here lies the real importance of this book. It is fruit of a research carried out by someone who at the start was not a defender or sympathizer with the cause of The Five. Kimber, as many of the thousand Canadians who visit Cuba, probably bumped more than once into a propaganda poster written with naiveté or linguistic clumsiness; or heard someone speak with admiration of The Five Heroes. But he knew almost nothing when he started his research.

The author asks a question that holds the key for understanding the problem: Why did the FBI decide to arrest them and take them to public trial? Why, if it had them under surveillance for years, and knew everything they had done and were doing? By acting in this way, deviating from its normal practice, the FBI lost an important and safe source of information. It could not accuse them of anything serious and therefore the two main charges against them were not of significant crimes. The charges were of “conspiracy" for which they did not need to produce the concrete evidence that never existed.

The only explanation is political. In the summer of 1998, the first steps had been taken for what could have been collaboration between the two countries to put an end to the terrorist actions against Cuba that originated in Miami. A delegation of high ranking FBI officials, sent by decision of President Clinton, had received in Cuba abundant information on such terrorist activities and had promised to act. When news of the contacts reached Miami, Mr. Pesquera, local FBI chief who kept close links with the terrorists, arrested The Five with methods that revealed his motivation and the political nature of the operation. “If the espionage charges against the Cubans seemed thin – and they did, even then – why had the FBI decided to make such a big deal of that part of their case? “We have done this publicly,” Hector Pesquera explained in Spanish in a message that was broadcast frequently on Hispanic radio stations for the next several days, “to gather information from the public.” Huh?

Intentional or not, news of the arrests and the allegations against the Cubans did serve to ratchet up hysteria levels in the always-teetering-on-the-edge Miami exile community. WQBA-1140 AM commentator – not to forget CANF spokesperson – Ninoska Perez Castellon announced the FBI switchboard's number on air and invited people to call the Bureau (and her program) to report “suspicious characters.” It turned out there were plenty of them. One caller said he could “die in peace” if the police charged all those involved with business promoting travel to Cuba or anyone who called for better relations with Cuba. “Let them shake down every place,” declared another caller, “because there are many, many spies here.”

Exile groups like the Cuban American National Foundation jumped on news of the arrests, “which we now see has been threatening vital security interests of the United States,” to lobby for even tougher measures against Cuba. The day after Pesquera’s press conference, CANF’s chair Alberto Hernández and vice chair Jorge Mas Santos would fire off a letter to Senator Bob Graham, a supportive member of the Senate’s intelligence committee, to ask him to stage a public hearing in Miami about Cuban espionage.”

While all this was happening, right there in Miami, under the nose of Mr. Pesquera and completely undisturbed, the terrorists who would carry out the brutal attack on September 11, 2001, were training.

The environment of hatred created by Miami local media, defined in 2005 by the panel of the Court of Appeals as “a perfect storm created when the surge of pervasive community sentiment, and extensive publicity both before and during the trial, merged with the improper prosecutorial references” , led to the unanimous decision of the magistrates to rescind the trial. It was much later, in 2006, that it was known that those who unleashed the “storm” received generous and covert payment from the Federal Government.

Kimber’s book appears when the case has reached a crucial moment waiting for the Miami Court to rule on the collateral appeals (Habeas Corpus) whose main ground is the Government conspiracy that financed and organized the media campaign that poisoned the environment in Miami and that was initiated by none other than the FBI. Let us hope the Judge reads this book before making her ruling.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.

May 5th for the Cuban 5

May 3, 2013


Santos Crespo, President of Local 372 in New York City Sends a Letter to Obama in Support of the Five

Santos Crespo is the President of Local 372 since June 2011. Local 372 represents nearly 25,000 Department of Education employees who provide essential support services to the 1.1 million children – and their families – in New York City public schools. Local 372 members, who are sometimes referred to as “non-pedagogical” employees because they are non-teaching staff, work in the cafeterias handling food and monitoring children in schoolyards to ensure their safety, in classrooms providing anti-violence/gang and drug prevention counseling, in homeless shelters to ensure that parents send their children to school despite living in a shelter, on trucks bringing supplies to the schools. Local 372 is the largest union within DC 37, which is the largest municipal union in New York City.

May 5, 2013

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

As a worker and life time union leader who has lived by the motto, “An injury to one is an injury to all”, I am asking you to take the moral high road towards justice by releasing the Cuban 5 who are serving shocking long sentences in U.S. prisons. As you know these five Cuban men — Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez came to this country to monitor the activities of anti Cuban terrorists in Miami. They came unarmed with no intention of harming the people or security of the U.S. but rather to protect their own island nation; what could be nobler. As a compassionate person you not only have the power but the responsibility to reunite them with their families in Cuba.

The labor movement around the world has had the opportunity to meet the family members of the Cuban 5 and is taking action to build a movement for their freedom. The labor movement in Canada is making the case of the Cuban 5 a political priority including the Steelworkers, Food and Commercial Workers and Postal Workers. And of course throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, the injustice done to these men is well known and an example of the breech between your administration and our neighbors in the Southern hemisphere.

With great enthusiasm our union movement contributed our brains, energy and finances in supporting both of your election campaigns. Latinos and workers in general voted for you in record numbers and here in the U.S. we are beginning to reach them about this case. The loud but shrinking voices from Southern Florida do not speak for us in the labor movement. It is becoming clearer that the majority of people even in Florida want normalization of relations with Cuba and you yourself have said that improving relations with the people of Latin America is important to your presidency. One small thing you could do to get that desire started is to free the Cuban 5 now.

Santos Crespo
President Local 372



By phone: 202-456-1111 (If nobody answers the phone leave a message)
If calling from outside the United States, dial first the International Area Code
+ 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-1111
By Fax: 202-456-2461
If fax is sent from outside the United States, dial first the International Area
Code + 1 (US country code) followed by 202-456-2461
To send an e-mail:

To send a letter:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20500
United States


For more information about the Cuban 5 visit:

II Annual “5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington DC” May 30 to June 5
To endorse:

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